Living a financially organised life inevitably also means preparing for a financially organised death.
Having a sound estate plan in place is more than just writing a Will, and is definitely not something that should be left until the last minute. Developing a strategic estate plan is essential when you are planning for retirement. So, where do you start?
Is your Will up to date?
This sounds like an obvious question. But your Will can become null and void simply with a change of your circumstances….such as getting married. The biggest issue we often encounter is where there has been a separation, this does not nullify a will and can mean your former spouse remains as Executor and beneficiary!
Anyone who is over the age of 18 and has any assets should make a Will. And while your Will can be a relatively simply document, it’s important to remember it determines how your assets are distributed after you die, so the content and detail in your will is important.
If you die without a Will, the state will determine how your assets are distributed. This often leads to conflict and legal challenges from dissatisfied family members. Not ideal! It makes the whole process long, emotional and often quite costly – often at the estates expense.
Have you thought about your beneficiaries?
You will have many policies and accounts that will let you assign beneficiaries to receive funds after your death.
Your superannuation generally sits outside your will so will not be distributed to your beneficiaries with the rest of your estate, however it should be noted you can make it part of your estate if you wish. Take some time to ensure that you have correct beneficiary nominations for your superannuation.
What about dependents?
If you died tomorrow, who would look after your dependents? Have you thought about what your plan would be and who should be appointed as guardians? Considering funds for care and education is an important element of your estate planning when you have dependents to consider.
Who will oversee my will on my behalf?
You will need to appoint an Executor to carry out your wishes and oversee the distribution of your estate. This can be an extensive job – paying debts, collecting assets, possibly converting assets to cash and managing beneficiaries’ expectations. Make sure the person, or people, you appoint are willing to manage this responsibility.
What about Powers of Attorney?
In planning your estate it’s important to consider creating a Power of Attorney and Powers of Guardianship. These appointed representatives will manage your affairs if you are incapacitated and can’t make decisions for yourself. You can appoint different people to different POA roles – eg to make decisions around your medical treatment, or your financial affairs.
Will tax have an effect on my estate?
There is no ‘inheritance tax’ in Australia, but that doesn’t mean your beneficiaries can necessarily avoid tax all together. Beneficiaries are often slugged with Capital Gains Tax, but there are measure you can put in place to minimise these taxes.
Your estate plan is definitely something you want to get right the first time. Contact us and find out how we can help you.