Many Australians are unaware of the power of a trustee in deciding whether or not everyone gets what was left to them in a will.
A trustee is appointed by either the deceased or the state to administer proceeds of a person’s estate.
Sydney-based law firm Townsend Business and Corporate Lawyers stressed the importance of estate holders asking the right questions before choosing a trustee.
For example: “How do your children get on with their children? Is there any friction?” These questions need to be asked when deciding who the trustee should be as the trustee will have a lot of power when it comes to the estate.
According to Townsend Business and Corporate Lawyers, if a trustee does not get along with another member of the family, it is important to have an additional trustee to ensure that they do not affect the wishes of the distributor of the trust.
Estate planning is for everyone
While many assume that estate planning is exclusively for the wealthy, Australians forget that accumulated assets and associated disputes happen at all layers of society.
They suggest that estate planning should be for anyone who has something to leave a family member after they die, regardless of how big their bank balance is.
Townsend Business and Corporate Lawyers suggested the option of multiple trustees if there is a risk of family conflict.
According to the ATO, multiple trustees still hold the same powers as a single trustee. The trustees are responsible for managing the trust's tax affairs, including registering the trust in the tax system, lodging trust tax returns and paying some tax liabilities.