Nour Alsalemi

Wills & Estate Planning during COVID-19 – Planning for your future during unprecedented times

Estate and succession planning has always been an important consideration for individuals planning how to transfer assets to the next generation and preserve their legacy. However, the COVID-19 pandemic, has focused attention on the need to increase access to valid will-making, including through the use of technology. Talk of death and estate planning inevitably includes discussion of both the practicalities and formal requirements for making a valid will, such as the traditional need for a physical gathering of lawyers, will-makers and witnesses, and the inevitable compliance challenges which arise given the COVID-19 responses.

It is not surprising that the financial uncertainty and personal anxiety caused by COVID-19 have resulted in many people undertaking a review of their estate planning arrangements. Able Defence Lawyers recommend that clients should review their wills when there is a significant change to their assets or personal circumstances. For some, this may have occurred recently as a result of COVID-19.

The impacts of COVID-19 have also caused many delays with distributions and disposing of assets. When dealing with a loved one’s principal place of residence, it is important to note that section 118-195 of the Income Tax Assessment Act 1997 (Cth) provides that in order to be eligible for the main residence CGT exemption, the disposal of any property acquired post-September 1985 must occur and be settled within two years of the date of death. At Able Defence Lawyers we understand the significance of ensuring estates are dealt with in a timely manner.

While the COVID-19 pandemic directly impacts how we would normally conduct our wills and estate matters, we are committed to working with our clients to achieve the best outcome available during this time.

In addition, Able Defence Lawyers has implemented procedures to minimise the impact of COVID-19, we are actioning the following measures to directly assist our estate planning clients;

  • Conferences and meeting to take instructions for the preparation and/or updating of estate planning documentation will occur by telephone, video call or Zoom;
  • Quotes are to be provided over email or phone only;
  • Where clients wish to execute their estate planning documents from home, we will provide in-depth instructions and will be available by telephone to walk clients through the process;
  • The guidelines of the Electronic Transactions Amendment (COVID-19 Witnessing of Documents) Regulation 2020 will be applied at all times, Permit remote witnessing of signatures and attestation of documents by audio visual link.

As we grapple with the uncertainty of how long COVID-19 and its impacts will last, it is advisable for clients to reflect on their wills, the gifts that they have made and who they have appointed as executors and trustees. These are important questions whenever a client is considering their estate planning, but they are especially so now.

We are tailoring our delivery of service for clients affected by COVID-19 on different levels. If you require assistance preparing or updating your current estate planning documentation, contact us to see how we may best assist you.

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