Tip 1 – have a Will and review it periodically
Having a Will makes it easy for your beneficiaries and means your estate can be distributed according to your wishes.
The alternative is called intestacy and is expensive and lengthy for your beneficiaries. Furthermore, your estate may not be distributed to whom you would like. In NSW, for example, if a member of a couple passes away intestate, the children of their relationship will generally not be entitled to anything. In other States, amounts automatically go to children when you may prefer your entire estate to initially pass to your spouse.
The person or people who administer your Will are known as the ‘Executors”. They should be people you trust, with reasonable financial acumen. Quite often people nominate their spouse for this role, knowing they can seek professional assistance in fulfilling it.
Tip 2 – decide how much of your wealth you want to keep away from your Estate
This is bound up with how you:
- own your assets, and
- nominations you make in relation to your superannuation and insurance
One reason to send or keep assets away from your estate is if you think your beneficiaries or other people may fight over your estate. Estate fights can be lengthy, bitter and expensive – with the estate usually picking up the legal fees.
Another reason might be where you want assets to pass direct to your beneficiaries more quickly than they would than if they were to go via the Estate.
Jointly owned assets will pass to the survivor rather go to the estate – a common example is the family home. Similarly, assets held in family trusts will continue to be held in trust if a family member dies.
You can nominate superannuation (including insurance held in super) to be paid either to your estate or direct to certain beneficiaries, such as your spouse or children or a combination of these two alternatives.
Tip 3 – decide how much wealth you want to send to your Estate
Conversely, one reason to ensure assets pass to your estate is if you want the best chance of protecting your beneficiaries against future events that may occur.
Some or all of the inheritance you pass on to your:
- children may be lost in the event they divorce or separate from their parents
- spouse may be lost in the event they re-marry and subsequently divorce
- beneficiaries may be lost in the event they are bankrupted. For example, this can be a risk if they run their own business
A simple Will does not provide protection for your beneficiaries in these scenarios, but a Will that establishes a testamentary discretionary trust can protect your beneficiaries for decades after you pass away.
It’s worthwhile discussing these issues with a financial adviser to determine what is best for you. Your adviser can help prioritise your objectives and work out the trade-offs in your estate planning strategy – as there is no ‘silver bullet’, one size fits all strategy. Your adviser can then work with a specialist solicitor who will provide the legal advice and prepare and explain the legal documentation to you.
*Source: MLC Technical News
How can a financial planner help?
Seeking expert advice from a financial planner is an important part of your preparation for retirement. Consulting with a financial planner can help you:
- Understand which assets from part of your Estate
- Why you should have a Will
- How to move money tax effectively
- Benefits of a testamentary trust
- Options for non-estate assets
Are you ready to secure your financial future?
Your initial, no-obligation consultation with a Knowledge IQ Financial Planner is complimentary. Make an appointment for a time that suits you.