Estate planning for unforeseen circumstances

Date: Jan 14, 2013

The importance of estate planning is most clearly seen when unforseen circumstances occur.

While it is certain that you will die how you die is unpredictable. For example transport related deaths account for 1,477 fatalities in Australia, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. The leading cause of death in Australia is heart disease, which in many cases results in sudden deaths.

It is likely many of those who died in transport related deaths or of heart disease woke up that morning assuming they would live another day and never considered estate planning. This is why it is so important to think ahead regarding your assets and how you want your family to be taken care of should unforseen circumstances occur.

An example of how important estate planning is the case of actor Heath Ledger who failed to include his daughter in his will. Ledger’s will, dated 2003 two years before the birth of his daughter Matilda, left his estate to his siblings and parents. Ledger’s family eventually agreed the estate would go to Matilda Rose. Ledger’s failure to update his will required his former partner and mother of Matilda Rose to engage in a legal process to secure her daughter's future.

Unforseen circumstances affecting your estate are not limited to death. Non-lethal conditions such as serious head injuries can prevent you from managing your own affairs. Bills can be paid and medical decisions can be made by someone who has been nominated as your power of attorney if you are suffering from an illness that takes away your capacity for decision making. If you fail to nominate someone to act as your attorney decisions affecting your life for example what treatment you receive or finances could be made by someone who you do not completely trust.

By ensuring that you have engaged in estate planning and executed a will that is up to date and tailors for all eventual circumstances, your family members can rest assured that they will not have to go through a legal process when they should be mourning a loss. Similarly you can be secure in the knowledge that if something happens to you the person you choose will have management of your affairs.

To talk to an experienced wills and estates lawyer to discuss estate planning tailored to your circumstances and needs call Dominic Wilson on 02 8268 4000.