Category Archives: Blog

The Radel Family Christmas Newsletter

Wow another year has passed and my boys are home from school and working on the farm.  It is hot and dry but we remain optimistic for a good season and sustained cattle prices!

 

Last weekend we cleaned the yard and house (and relocated spiders!) and put up our minimalist Christmas lights. The place looks far more festive now and brought a new energy and urgency to the list of jobs yet to be done! Wright Clarke Solicitors is currently assisting many clients get those last few jobs off their lists and so we are very busy. Regionally it is rather quiet at Christmas and so our whole team is having a much deserved 3 week break to recharge and prepare to help more people next year.

We have branded and weaned and have a few little poddy calves at home this year. And of course “Cassie” our famous poddy from last year. She is that one in a lifetime calf. Raised on the bottle she has wandered our garden and horse paddocks at will for 12 months now.  She is an avid TV fan and usually stands at the louvres to watch and be with the family. She has on occasion ventured into our TV room for the odd game of football or cricket!

 

Cassie will sell her soul for a slice of bread and has been known to steal from the ponies (one brave calf I must say!) but has recently decided that she loves rockmelon!!

We had a small shower last weekend and there is a lovely greenness at home now. It is rather funny to come home and have the old Jack Russell race out to greet you followed by our over indulged young cattle dog and then this great galumphing Santa Gertrudis heifer. Such merriment make the stress of the day slip away instantly!

 

Everyone here wishes you all joy and laughter over the Christmas season wherever you may and look forward to helping you all next year!

 

 

What is Estate Planning and Why Do I Need One?

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is more than simply making a Will. It is the process of anticipating and arranging for the management and disposal of your estate during your life and after your death.

It should provide you with peace of mind that your family will be secure if something happens to you. If well-crafted it can minimise any tax paid by your heirs and help avoid any family disputes. It should also include documents that govern how you will be cared for, medically and financially, if you become unable to make your own decisions in the future.

Every family is different and it needs consideration of all aspects to determine the best plan.

Estate planning is also vital to any financial plan. A good estate plan requires the involvement of skilled legal, accounting and financial specialists to ensure the right funds get into the right hands at the right time.

Laws change so your estate plan needs to be regularly reviewed and updated to ensure it is still achieving what you want it to achieve.

Some of the major estate planning tasks include:

✓ Understanding your assets and what can be done with them upon death
✓ Creating a Will
✓ Limiting disputes by setting up trusts for beneficiaries transferring assets now
✓ Establishing a guardian for living dependents
✓ Naming an executor of the estate to oversee the terms of the will
✓ Creating/updating beneficiaries on plans such as life insurance & superannuation
✓ Setting up funeral arrangements
✓ Setting up durable power of attorney (POA) to direct other assets and investments
✓ Placing assets outside of your estate to avoid litigation

Transferring the family farm or other businesses has never been more affordable

Recent changes to tax legislation and stamp duty rules has made now an excellent time to consider how you want to manage the family farm or business for the future. Up until now tax consequences and stamp duty have made this unviable for many families but the new rules are making a big difference. Previous rules were very strict but now there is a lot more flexibility if your farming or other business meets certain criteria.

So if you have ever discussed selling or gifting the farm or your business to family members now is the time to talk to us about the new rules.

How do I avoid my family fighting over my will?

In our modern world families no longer accept their loved ones’ decisions as set out in their will and more and more people are commencing court action against estates. The costs both financially and emotionally to families is enormous. Proper estate planning involves more than drafting a will. Considering transferring your assets to entities that are not impacted by your will, managing superannuation and debt and generally letting you know where the risks to your estate plan lie and how they can be minimised is an essential part of the estate planning process.

Managing family expectations and then setting up your assets in entities that are difficult to contest when you die is one of the many ways we can help ensure that your wishes are put in place. Traditionally some of these options were very expensive but new taxation and stamp duty provisions have made estate planning far more affordable.

I have a great estate plan in place so what else can go wrong?

It is also important to consider how your assets are dealt with if you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself. It is amazing how often a great estate management plan can be affected by an attorney dealing with assets without considering the impact on your will. Many fail to consider these implications and a ‘standard’ or ‘kit form’ power of attorney can be as disastrous as a will kit. Worse still if you have no power of attorney the courts determine who will manage your affairs and often will appoint the Public Trustee. Can a stranger manage your assets for you???

Call Wright Clarke Solicitors on (07) 4992 2722 to arrange an appointment to discuss your Estate Plan today.

Why you shouldn’t die without a Will

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Anna Radel, Principal at Wright Clarke Solicitors, explains what can happen if you die without a Will and what you can do to prevent this happening to your family.

“If you don’t have a will when you die, your money, property and possessions will be shared out according to the law instead of your wishes.  This can mean they pass to someone you hadn’t intended – or that someone you want to pass things onto ends up with nothing”.

Don’t let this happen to your family

We recently had a tragic situation where a man died leaving a wife and young children to sort out his affairs. There was no will but there were debts and a business to run. Bank accounts were frozen and mortgage payments had to be met without the funds being able to be accessed. Court documentation was needed to get the administration underway adding to administration costs. When the estate was finally wound up a large percentage of the estate had to be put in trust for his children leaving the wife with limited financial resources.

This man was too busy running his business to think about a will and assumed it would all go to his wife so she could look after their children. He also thought seeing a solicitor would cost too much money.

We were able to support the mother and help her understand her financial situation with the assistance of her accountant and financial planner but the facts remain that a simple well drafted will would have ensured the father’s wishes were recorded and the cost of administering the estate kept to a minimum. Death is always a tragedy but ensuring your estate runs smoothly is one way of reducing the trauma for your family.

Call Wright Clarke Solicitors on (07) 4992 2722 to arrange an appointment to discuss your Will today.

 

A Country Practice

For Brisbane born and raised Anna Radel, her biggest life adventure began when she first helped out at her step-father’s cattle property Tireen near Eidsvold.

Early Years

After school Anna worked in a busy Brisbane legal practice and attended university at night to study law. Falling in love with rural life she moved to her step-father’s property permanently. Working cattle and helping on the property by day Anna studied law by night. After graduating law externally (and before the internet) Anna continued her legal career in law firms in Monto and Rockhampton where she worked in general practice and litigation.Anna and her husband (Craig Radel of Braedella Brahmans) bought a cattle property at Biloela.

“As a farmer, I understand life on the land and therefore what is important from a legal or agribusiness perspective. I have a lot in common with my clients and they appreciate that first-hand experience.”

 RADEL FAMILY:Craig and Anna with sons Angus and Jackson.

Today they run two certified organic cattle properties with the help of their teenage sons Angus and Jackson. In 2002 Anna bought out the two partners of Wright Clarke Solicitors in Biloela – up the road from the family farm. Far from a quiet country practice, Anna has a thriving law firm employing six staff and working for clients around the region and further afield. “As a farmer, I understand life on the land and therefore what is important from a legal or agribusiness perspective,” she said. “I have a lot in common with my clients and they appreciate that first-hand experience.”

Issues & Challenges

So what are the issues and challenges affecting the modern day farmer? According to Anna the ever increasing level of regulation of all aspects of rural life is by far our greatest challenge. Just being aware of what we need to know these days is a huge burden on rural businesses. Our industry is one of the few where we live on the same property as we operate our business. For instance a simple activity that would be relatively unregulated on non-business land on our farms could breach Workplace Health and Safety regulations. We manage very valuable asset bases for a minimal return and yet everything we do is regulated by people who have never been involved in farming or understand the synergy between farmer and farm.

And then there is whether we want our children to follow in our footsteps and how to best manage that transition.

It’s a far cry from her city upbringing but Anna loves the rural life, the wonderful people she meets and opportunities it gives her. City people work hard too there is no doubt about it but few would truly understand the commitment to the farm and the sacrifices made by our farmers. Helping rural families through the legal minefield of modern life is a great way to feel you have done something positive.

Have you thought about who will get the family farm?

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Your farm represents a lifetime of hard work, and it can often be difficult to avoid disputes when transferring it to the next generation.  The majority of farmers in Australia haven’t discussed succession planning.

Business succession planning outlines what will happen and who will take over your business when you leave, whether by choice or by circumstance. The aim is to provide the business with a smooth transition so that disruption is minimised.

Succession planning involves many complex issues, spanning legal, financial and management arenas, so it’s important that you seek legal advice to ensure all your bases covered.

Each business is different of course, but you will likely need to consider:

  • Goals and objectives of all parties ?
  • Do you require an ongoing income from the business?
  • What impact will there be on all members of your family?
  • Identify your potential successors and objectively assess their capability, needs, commitment, skills and experience.
  • Minimising Capital Gains Tax, Stamp Duty and Income Tax for you and your family and remaining partners
  • What will happen in the case of catastrophic injury or death?
  • Define roles and responsibilities of current family members, business owners and employees
  • Business valuation – is there a plan to increase the value of the business particularly if it is to be sold?
  • How will you exit and by when?

Wright Clarke Solicitors will liaise with your financial advisors to ensure cost effective practical solutions to these issues.  We also have experience in bringing reluctant parties to the table in a friendly safe environment ensuring all parties are heard and understood and their needs met and issues resolved in most situations.

I’ve been appointed as an Enduring Power of Attorney – what do I do?

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Life always comes with unexpected surprises. Many are pleasant but not all are. Often people are asked to handle a friend or family member’s affairs and whilst most people want to help, the red tape of life does make the task complex to say the least.

To be able to handle someone else’s affairs legally you must be appointed their attorney. An Enduring Power of Attorney is the most common form these days. This document authorises the attorney to act even when the person has lost capacity (due to accident illness etc). The attorney must always act in the best interest of the person who appointed them and in some instances the attorney must act for the best interest of the other person even where such an action is in conflict with what is financially best for the attorney themselves. This is a position of ultimate trust.

Often the power only starts when the person is unable to act for themselves and if this is sudden or family members aren’t aware who should be making decisions this can cause stress and arguments. Do you know where to find their personal health and financial records? Has the person given details of what is important to them?

Any person acting as an attorney should keep detailed records of what they have done as the attorney and what money has been spent on. Any substantial decisions should be made after consulting with experts that can guide you such as doctors for health decisions and accounts and lawyers for financial and legal decisions. Keep records of their advice.

Most attorneys don’t charge for assisting and this is often a thankless task. For advice on how to best manage someone else’s affairs or who to appoint to handle your affairs in the event that you cannot do so, please contact Anna Radel at Wright Clarke Solicitors for a consultation.

 

Who do you trust to help you through the tough times

If you were to suffer a sudden and severe illness who is going to manage your affairs? Who will deal with the doctors, medicare, pay your bills manage your investments make claims on insurance policies and keep your family operating as well as possible after this trauma? If you don’t have a valid effective Enduring Power of Attorney your family may not be able to pay the bills or ensure that you get the treatment they know you would want. Applications to court may be necessary which is both expensive and time consuming.

Taking the time now to properly consider your affairs and how you want things managed can make a big difference to how well your family copes with the trauma of losing you.

It is important that your family and close friends know who to contact if something should happen to you.

Are you involved in business? If so then who will act for you in your business, trust or superannuation matters? Do they understand what assets you would sell and what you want to keep for your estate? What do you want them to do if you lose capacity and you have to face assisted living facilities and large medical bills. A poorly advised attorney can wreak havoc on your carefully planned will simply by selling the wrong assets or drawing funds from the wrong account.

There is no substitute for properly prepared estate planning documents. If you care about how your affairs are managed and how you are treated when you can no longer make these decisions yourself please call 07 4992 2722 to arrange a time to meet with Anna Radel at Wright Clarke Solicitors.

7 Steps to build a better business and family

You work long hours in your business so don’t let unplanned for risks undo all that hard work! Follow our 7 simple steps to ensure your business and family are protected.

7 Steps to build a better business and family

 

  1. Stress Less.  Take some time out to plan your affairs. You don’t want to be rushing through your estate planning or other legal matters because you’re going overseas or there is a major event in your life.
  2. Get Organised. Do you have a Will and Enduring Power of Attorney? Is it current? Do you know if it will actually deliver the result that you intend? Take the time to ensure that all your assets are considered as many are not covered in a standard will.
  3. Take Control. While your superannuation assets might not form part of your estate in the event of your death, you can certainly control how they are to be dealt with in that event, for example by making a binding death nomination. Again though it is important to review this regularly to ensure that it is in keeping with your current succession plan.
  4. Prepare Properly. We all put a great deal of effort into planning a party or a trip away but loathe to sort out our legal matters. Take our personal and business legal health checks and then sit down with our professional team to map out a future plan to ensure all your legal matters are up to date.
  5. Dream Big. Take your business to the next level.  If you are running a business now is the perfect time to consider what goals you wish to achieve in the coming year and whether your business structure suits your present commercial needs.
  6. Protect your assets. Will an unexpected claim cause all your hard work to crash. Book an appointment with Anna Radel to ensure that your business and personal assets are protected from potential risks.
  7. Get advice early. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Wright Clarke Solicitors is happy to provide some initial general advice of the hidden risks in that handshake deal on a complimentary basis to our clients. We can also prepare and negotiate a specifically drafted legal document having regard to your specific circumstances that can reduce these risks and provide guidance on areas where disputes most commonly occur. It is too late when the deal has gone bad.

If you’d like assistance with legal needs contact our team for a Complimentary Legal Health Check.

When do I need legal advice on my business structures?

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So you’ve seen your accountant and developed strategies to manage your income and future planning. Recommendations often include trusts, companies and self-managed superannuation. Before implementing any strategy it’s important that you understand your legal obligations.

At Wright Clarke Solicitors, business structures are what we do. When we are talking to you about any aspect of your farming or rural business, four of the things that we will constantly be thinking about are:

  • How can we protect your assets?
  • How can we save you tax?
  • How can this be organised for business succession?
  • How will this fit in to your estate plan?

We offer plain English advice and practical solutions tailored to your needs. Early knowledge is always the most cost effective way to manage your legal affairs.

Don’t leave your business to chance – contact Wright Clarke Solicitors to ensure your business is protected.

 

DIY Wills and Will Kits

DIY Wills and Will Kits

Do It Yourself Wills and Will kits are a tempting option for those on a budget because they offer a cheap solution to having a will drafted by your solicitor.

Wills drafted by suitably experienced estate planners are no longer cheap however it is important to understand that an estate planning solicitor does a lot more behind the scenes with regard to reviewing your situation. Without legal training you often unaware of the implications your personal and financial situation could have.

But my affairs are simple?

Many people think their affairs are simple and a will kit would be suitable. However quite often it is found that people do not have the simple affairs they initially thought. The law covering estates is complex. An understanding of the multiple pieces of legislation surrounding estate planning as well as a sound understanding of how the courts interpret the common law is important to make sure your wishes are fully put in place.

The following common situations are rarely appropriately covered by a will kit:

  • Blended families and children from multiple relationships;
  • Children and/or grandchildren under 18 years of age;
  • Other parties financially dependent upon you;
  • Family members with a disability;
  • Family members facing insolvency;
  • Family law matters;
  • Consideration of taxation issues;
  • Assets held by other entities such as companies;
  • Family trusts; and
  • Dealing with superannuation and life insurances.

 

In fact, most of the professional fees that you pay are not for the piece of paper that is your will, but for the review of your situation and the advice given to you situations such as jointly owned assets, assets held by other entities, practical considerations and knowing the risks that your estate is exposed to from members of your family contesting your will.

 

The following is a summary of the most common mistakes with will kits that we have seen over the years that have resulted in many thousands of dollars being expended by the estate in rectifying the omissions:

1. Failing to appropriately identify parties in your will

This can be incorrect spelling, failing to think ahead (i.e. at the time you did the will you had two children and down the track you had more), failing to appropriately describe people so that they can be identified. This then requires an application to the court and evidence given identifying the person you intended to name in your will.

2. Failing to properly execute your will

The use of white out, not signing every page, not having two adult witnesses witnessing the will, having the wrong clause stating how the will was reviewed by the willmaker for instance where the willmaker cannot read, is sight impaired or cannot sign, can all render a will invalid. Failing to properly date it can also leave wills susceptible to a challenge that it was made before what was in fact a previous will.

3. Not appointing appropriate executors and trustees

Many times people appoint their family members without giving consideration to whether they can appropriately manage the responsibility. Sometimes the role of an executor or trustee can last for many years, such as where there are minor beneficiaries to be cared for or a life interest over property. It is very important to ensure that the people appointed can manage any of these issues and can work together efficiently.

4. Giving away assets that you don’t actually own or cannot be divested through your will

It is important to understand how you hold property. The investment house that you intend to leave to your son could be owned by your family trust and the control of that passes from the trustee to somebody other than the son you intend to leave it to. You may wish to leave your interest in a bank account that is held jointly with your spouse to your children, because of the nature of the bank account those wishes will not be carried into effect.

5. Leaving family members out of your will

Sometimes you can inadvertently leave out a gift to a family member or in fact you do not intend to leave them anything for a variety of reasons. An estate lawyer can assist you with the appropriate documents to lend weight to your decisions and provide advice about the risk of your estate being contested so that you can make an informed decision.

6. Poor drafting of gifts

You may choose to leave the house you live in to your children. If you subsequently move house and this is not appropriately drafted, that gift would fail and the house that you have moved into in substitution for the house referred to in your will would not be gifted to your children. Again an application to the court would be required to attempt to rectify this however the costs are high and the outcome is often uncertain.

7. Failure to understand estate planning laws

Failure to give consideration to the tax implications on which the way your gift is dealt with; sometimes the wording used in a will can result in a transfer of an asset become a taxable transfer whereas separate or different wording would result in it being a tax free transition.

8. Handwritten amendments

As most will kits are fill in the blank wills it is important that all of areas are appropriately signed, initialled and witnessed by all parties necessary to sign the will in each and every instance. Failure to do so could render those gifts or the entire will invalid.

9. Mistakes

Often people think they have dealt with all of their assets and fail to put in a residue clause. This can result in a partial intestacy of your will and the assets not appropriately dealt with in your will kit will be dealt with under the succession law which may not be in accordance with your intended wishes.

Each of these omissions can result in the failure of your wishes to be put into effect and potentially thousands of extra dollars in legal expenses being borne by your estate. It is always advised that you have your will and other estate planning documents prepared by a solicitor who is experienced in estate planning.

 

At Wright Clarke Solicitors we are happy to give you a complimentary half-hour estate planning review so that we can provide you with an estimate of costs and provide you with advice on how to best manage your affairs so that your wishes can be put in place for your family after you’re gone. We can also come up with arrangements in order to assist you with paying for your estate planning if necessary.

Please contact Emily Templeman, our estate planning and administration clerk on 07 4992 2722 if you are interested in arranging a consultation.

The return to school battle!

January and early February have been a flurry of school based activity. Both my children now are boarding at The Rockhampton Grammar School. So January was busy with cricket and golf training, fencing and cattle work as well as arguments with contact and the sewing machine!!! 

My goodness the busyness of getting school books uniforms and casual clothes kept my mind off the fact that I would be home alone (except for a husband that crashes each night exhausted on the couch!!). It was hard sending my eldest last year, but to send them both this year resulted in a two hour drive home in tears!!  

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I have been looking for some me time for 13 years and now that I have it – I would give it up in a heartbeat to have my lads back home!!

 I find it amazing how the jobs seem to take no time at all when you are not hollering at them to stop fighting or clowning about and feed the dogs, check the eggs, feed the poddy calf.  I now wonder why I didn’t just do it myself – oh that’s right I was washing folding ironing cleaning and shopping for food (my poor husband had the fun of cooking most nights!!!) not to mention adjudicating the incessant pre-teens squabbles and hiding iPad’s.

My eldest  son took an entire year to settle into boarding last year. Thanks to the tireless efforts of a well-equipped and generous minded staff he finished the year well and waded back into the fray with hardly a backwards glance.  A cricket tragic, he was off in a cloud of dust to the cricket nets!!!

My younger son had a few ups and downs but has found some mates and will no doubt find his rhythm soon. The teary phone calls are less often and he seems to be having lots of fun! 

Choosing the right path for your children is always a challenge – every option has its pros and cons. The discipline and focused education was vital to my boys who are not naturally academic. The exposure to so many children from other areas helps them understand others and truly realise the world is a lot bigger than Biloela! 

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So term one has begun and now I am taking the time to follow my own advice. This week I am completing our legal health check for our personal affairs. Whilst we never want to think about early death or sudden serious injury – riding the quad bike through mud paddocks to get to town for work  made me stop and think – did we consider the risks and what if a nasty accident had occurred? Well after I complete this check I will know what I need to do to ensure my boys are safe and cared for if something happens to me!  

Have you considered the potential outcome of sudden death or illness on your family? Our free personal health check questionnaire can help narrow down issues that need to be considered and we can formulate a plan to ensure that all bases are covered and your family provided for legally in the event of an accident or illness.

Email or call our office on 07 4992 2722 and arrange a time for me to contact you by telephone to discuss your situation and see how we can help you. Sign up for our emails and let us know what legal issues interest you.