By Dani Jones

This is a phrase I too often hear as a solicitor.  Succession planning is not a topic many people like to think about let alone discuss with loved ones or a solicitor.  I find a common trend especially amongst young people is that “I’ll get around to it later” or “everything will just go to my spouse or children so I don’t have to worry.”

Its thinking like this that puts things like preparing a Will and Power of Attorney on the back pedal for most people, young and old alike.  What most people don’t realise is that by having the “uncomfortable conversation” now and creating a succession plan you can save your loved ones allot of heart ache and time during a sad transition in their lives.

My motto has always been “it’s better to have one and not need it then need one and not have it” because when it comes to the later, it’s too late and your loved ones are the people who will suffer.

Not having a Will does not necessarily affect you while you are living but can have a dramatic effect on the people you leave behind.

Did dad want to be buried or cremated, did mum want Jane to have her wedding ring, did my partner want his house transferred to his kids to provide for them?

Its questions like this that can be avoided by taking some time now to make a plan and formalise a Will.

Even if you have had these discussions with your loved ones, what’s to say they won’t forget or want clarification at an emotional part of their life.

From a practical point of view, having a Will ensures a smooth transfer of assets to loved ones without the additional paperwork, time and expense of having to go through the messiness intestacy (not having a Will) brings.

It is especially important for young families to consider appointing guardians and perhaps even establishing trusts to ensure their children are properly cared for and provided for in the event of a tragedy.

I have also noticed a common thought amongst people that “I don’t own a house or any great assets and therefore I don’t need a succession plan.”  What people who think like this don’t realise is that death benefits from superannuation can end up amounting to quite large sums and thought needs to be put into who should receive these benefits and how these benefits should be paid.

There is also a risk that the Public Trustee may get involved and administer the estate or assist with the administration which ultimately entitles them to charge additional fees that would not ordinarily be incurred had there been a Will in place.  In short, this could potentially lead to less money for your loved ones as the Public Trustee fees will deducted out of your estate.

Talking about succession planning is tough but it’s better to take a little time now and “get it over with” then to leave it too late.

If you haven’t considered a succession plan or haven’t updated your succession plan for some time I encourage you to seek professional assistance with doing same.

If you have any further questions or want to talk about a new or updated succession plan, please do not hesitate to contact me at dani.jones@btlawyers.com.au