25 March 2024

What is the difference between a Will and estate planning?

Clifford Gouldson Lawyers


Clifford Gouldson Lawyers is a leading regional provider of legal services to the business, government and not for profit sectors. Established in Toowoomba more than 15 years ago with a commitment to offering specialised expertise in a regional setting we now provide our services across multiple offices within Queensland and interstate.
For people with complex circumstances, an estate plan may result in a suite of documents, just one of which is a Will.
Australia Family and Matrimonial
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Do you just want a new Will? Or need some Estate Planning...or both?

When most people talk to a lawyer about a new, or their first, Will, what is really happening is that the lawyer is assessing their estate planning needs and providing advice as to the right approach to take and what that person's needs are from a range of legal documents and actions.

For people with complicated family circumstances, investment, or business situations an estate plan may result in a suite of documents, just one of which will be a Will.

Within this potential suite of documents, your Will is the document that sets out a plan for who you want to control your affairs after you have passed away, and who will ultimately receive your estate assets, noting that some assets may bypass your estate.

However, an Estate Plan is much more than that and may include:

  • Creating a family succession plan that takes action long before you pass away;
  • Taking actions during your lifetime designed to protect your assets if you anticipate a challenge to your Will;
  • Appointing trusted people to make your medical, personal and/or financial decisions if you lose the capacity to make these decisions yourself;
  • Instructions for care if you become unable to care for yourself, before death;
  • Naming a guardian for any minor children (and providing written guidance to these people as to how best to fulfil these roles);
  • Providing for family members with special needs without benefits;
  • Providing for loved ones who might be minors, irresponsible with money, or who may need future protection from litigation, creditors, or relationship breakdowns;
  • Providing for the transfer of your business if you have a serious illness or injury, or upon your death;
  • Specific directions regarding your superannuation and life insurance; and
  • Actions to minimise taxes, court costs and unnecessary legal fees on your death.

An Estate Plan is also an ongoing process, rather than something enacted once. As such, an Estate Plan and the various documents required in your circumstances should be reviewed and updated as family and financial situations change over your lifetime.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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