Estate Planning

Estate Planning Lawyers Melbourne

Looking to make a plan for the future? Want to make sure that your family and close friends are cared for in the event of your death? When it comes to hiring a qualified estate planning lawyer, Melbourne clients know they cannot go past the staff here at Aitken Partners.

We are proud to be one of Melbourne’s most sought-after law firms, working to uphold the rights and final wishes of clients across Victoria for close to 100 years.

We provide an open service to all our valued clients, having honest and direct conversations about the circumstances of their legal standing early in the relationship.

This approach to legal service allows us to develop long-standing relationships with our clients, working with them to ensure their estate plan is always up to date and fairly balanced.

Wills

A Will is an important legal document, which deals with the distribution of your assets and property when you pass away.

The gifts made by your will on your death are one of the biggest and most important financial transactions you will ever make. Unfortunately, when this transaction takes place you won’t be around to make sure everything goes to plan. This is why it is important to have clear plans in place, with every contingency covered, and why you can’t ignore the need to have a professionally drafted Will.

There are two main purposes to a Will:

  • To appoint an executor, who will take control of your assets after you die; and
  • To choose your beneficiaries, that is, the people who will benefit from your estate.

A will can also include provisions to deal with the guardianship of your children, your burial and funeral wishes, and provide special terms or trusts for the management of your estate.

Estate planning

‘Estate planning’ is a loose term to describe planning in anticipation of significant life events, such as retirement, death, loss of mental capacity, marital breakdown, or major business or financial transactions. The goal of an estate plan is to ensure that the passing of your wealth, assets and entities is managed in a controlled way, no matter what life throws at you.

The average Australian today has much more complex financial arrangements than in decades past. In addition to the family home, car and bank accounts, it is now common for people to have:

  • Superannuation;
  • Shares and property investments;
  • Family trusts;
  • Personal businesses or companies;
  • Life insurance.

In most cases, a Will on its own is not effective to deal with these assets on your death. Special consideration is needed to make sure that these assets are transferred on your death in a legally and tax effective way through a documented estate plan. You also need to be sure that these assets are safe from risk while you are alive.

An estate plan will also deal with your circumstances and planning while you’re alive, to protect your assets from creditors and avoid unexpected tax liabilities.

At Aitken Partners we are with you through every step of the process. Some major law firms throughout Melbourne offer only a vague or basic level of estate planning services, without taking the time to understand and account for the ins and outs of your case and current circumstances. We are committed to doing things a little differently. 

Our staff take the time to work with each of our clients, providing a level of personalised service that boutique firms simply cannot offer. We will always provide a clear and straightforward explanation of your legal standing, informing you of any changes or updates that are necessary to ensure that your estate plan or will is valid and up to date.

Testamentary trusts

A trust is a legal structure where a person (the trustee) owns and manages assets for the benefit of one or more people (the beneficiaries).

In Australia, it is common for a trust to be ‘discretionary’, meaning that the trustee chooses not only how the assets are managed but also the amounts that each beneficiary receives. When a trust is discretionary, the beneficiaries don’t have a direct entitlement to the assets of the trust, which keeps the assets quarantined from many legal risks that the beneficiaries might face during their lives.

A trust is also a flexible vehicle for investment and producing income, allowing the trustee to use their discretion in a way that minimises tax for the trust and for the beneficiaries.

A trust created by a Will is known as a ‘testamentary trust’. Commonly, these trusts are discretionary, however the terms can be tailored to suit the needs of the Will-maker and their beneficiaries.

Testamentary trusts can:

  • Last for up to 80 years (if established in Victoria), allowing for long term management of assets;
  • Allow more tax-effective management of assets, and can distribute income to minors without incurring penalty tax rates;
  • Help quarantine the assets from claims made against beneficiaries, such as claims by creditors or family law proceedings;
  • Put control of assets in the hands of somebody better suited to manage them, such as where:
    • A beneficiary is disabled or is unable to manage their own affairs; or
    • A beneficiary has addiction problems, is frivolous with money.

Ask us about:

  • Making a Will;
  • How testamentary trusts may benefit your estate;
  • How to ensure your superannuation passes to your intended recipients on your death;
  • How you can avoid tax on your superannuation death benefits;
  • How you can pass control of your trusts, companies, businesses and self-managed superannuation funds;
  • How to structure a business buy-out on your death with an insurance funded buy/sell agreement.

The most direct benefit of hiring an expert to handle matters relating to your Will or estate, is that you will be working with someone who can provide strong legal support and representation should any issues or disputes arise after your death. We will help to navigate through the often-convoluted language of Will and estate law, providing a clear and swift resolution that is in-line, to the very last letter, of the terms of your will.

Whether you are looking to write or finalise your Will, create a plan for your estate or set-up a testamentary trust, our staff have the experience and understanding necessary to ensure the job is completed correctly.

Aitken Partners also employs qualified team of divorce attorneys and family law solicitors, who can represent you in mediations and child custody hearings and assist in finalising your legal separation in an efficient and respectful manner.

For more information on how we can assist you through a range of legal matters, or to book a consultation with a team of leading estate planning lawyers, Melbourne clients can simply contact the local firm that is trusted across Victoria and throughout the country. Call Aitken Partners today on +61 3 8600 6000.

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