EQT offers litigation avoidance advice

Advisers can help avoid estate planning disputes by reviewing their clients’ executor selection and guiding the executor through the estate distribution process, says Equity Trustees.

Advisers are well placed to help their clients select an executor for their estate, ensuring the selected party has an “in depth” understanding of their client’s estate, Anna Hacker, wills and estates accredited specialist at Equity Trustees, told ifa.

“The adviser can really go through what the role of the executor is and explain it’s not just about selecting someone who understand finances, it needs to be someone who fully understands the client’s estate and their wishes,” she said.

Hacker also said the adviser should be working with the executor throughout the entire estate administration process, to ensure the “legacy” of the estate is continued as the client chose.

“The benefit there is, if you have an executor or a trustee appointed who maybe doesn’t have that financial knowledge, then at least they can defer to someone else for advice,” she said.

“The client can be comfortable that there is someone assisting [the executor], someone who knows what they’re doing and someone that knows their estate” she added.

An inexperienced or incompetent executor can be detrimental to an estate and its beneficiaries, said Hacker, and non-professionals are often not prepared for the complexity of the task.

“How can an inexperienced executor expect to deal with such issues as capital gains tax, income tax, any investment decisions that may be required, superannuation balances, and the correct interpretation of ambiguously expressed directions?” she said.

“The legal problems that can occur from a badly thought out or unprofessionally drafted will may cause family disputes and complications that make it necessary for the executor to seek independent professional advice.”

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