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Separation and Estate Planning

Why should I think about my estate planning if I separate?

Experiencing a relationship breakdown can be a difficult and emotional time, however, if this occurs it is critical that you promptly consider your estate planning to:

  • ensure your estate passes to those you wish to inherit and,
  • that you have nominated attorneys to make decisions on your behalf, if you lose capacity.

Jointly owned property

It is common for couples to own property as joint tenants. This means, that if one of the joint tenants dies, the surviving joint tenant will inherit the deceased person’s share by way of survivorship. If this occurs, your separated partner will inherit your share of jointly owned property – which may not be your intention!

If you have separated, consider whether you wish property owned as joint tenants to pass to your former partner if you die? If not, then steps should be taken to sever the joint tenancy and make a Will to pass your interest in the property to your intended beneficiaries.

Enduring Powers of Attorney

Similarly, it is common that couples nominate each other as their attorney to make financial and personal/health decisions on their behalf. Additionally, a person will often have given their spouse “immediate” power to make financial decisions on their behalf. If you separate and this applies, it is imperative you revoke any existing Enduring Power of Attorney and execute a new Enduring Power of Attorney nominating the persons you wish to make decisions on your behalf, if you lose capacity.

Beneficiaries

Nominated beneficiaries of superannuation death benefits and life insurance policies should be reviewed and updated, if necessary. Family businesses, discretionary trusts and other assets should also be reviewed, to ensure your interests are protected.

How Bell Legal Group can help?

The experienced team at Bell Legal Group will discuss your estate planning with you and ensure your wishes can be carried out considering all circumstances.

For information and assistance on any estate planning or estate administration matter, please contact a member of our Wills, Trusts and Estate Planning Team at Bell Legal Group on (07) 5597 3366 or email law@belllegal.com.au.

This publication was written by Janine O’Brien, Associate in Bell Legal Group’s specialist Wills and Estate Planning Team. It is for information only and is not legal advice. You should obtain advice that is specific to your circumstances and not rely on this publication as legal advice.