29 Jun Your Guide to Effective Estate Planning
Most people don’t realise or think about the complex issues that arise if you were to die or suddenly become incapacitated. If not planned for, your estate might not be carried out as you would like it to be, causing problems for family and loved ones. To help you to understand and start planning, we have put together a guide on effectively planning your estate for the future.
Develop an effective Strategy
Planning for the future ensures your family, and those who rely on you, are not left with debt or complex legal issues. If not properly planned, your estate will be decided by the state, which can cause family disputes, undue stress and can also diminish your assets through fees and taxes. With careful planning, you will decide how your assets will be distributed to your family and how any tax implications from your assets will be managed.
Prepare A Valid Will
The importance of preparing a will should not be underestimated. Passing away without a valid will in place can not only cause undue stress, but your estate may not be distributed as you wanted it and there are also added tax liabilities if this occurs.
If you wish to exclude a dependant for some reason, be sure to seek professional advice. If a dependant is not adequately provided for in your well, they may have the ability to contest it, leading to legal fees which are paid by the estate.
You also need to make sure you keep your will up to date, especially as your circumstances change. Things that may require changes to your will could include:
- Sale of significant assets
- Setting up a family trust
- Purchase of new assets
- Taking out a loan
- Restructuring your affairs
- Restructuring your super or SMSF
Which assets are excluded from wills?
Certain assets are not covered under your will and need to be addressed separately in order to be distributed accordingly:
In order to dictate how you would like your superannuation distributed, you will need to complete a beneficiary nomination with your super fund and indicate how you would like it dispersed.
Joint Assets or Investments
Upon death, any jointly held assets, such as a house owned with your significant other, will revert to the joint owner.
Life Insurance Policies
Generally speaking, life insurance policies will require you to name a beneficiary such as a family member or spouse, otherwise you can name your estate as the beneficiary and dictate how you would like it distributed in your will.
Choosing an Executor
The executor of your estate is responsible for the distribution and management of the estate. Executors have many challenges, such as potentially disgruntled family members and financial, tax and management issues. Whoever you choose as the executor to your estate needs to fully understand the nature of the role and the responsibility it carries. It should also be noted that your executor should be significantly younger than you so that they are likely to out-live you.
Understanding Testamentary Trusts
A testamentary trust is set up within your will and is used to minimise tax, protect assets and provide flexibility in how and when assets are distributed. Setting up a testamentary trust incurs a cost, so it is worth getting some expert advice as to whether it’s a suitable option for your estate plan.
Do you have an Advanced Health Directive?
An Advanced Health Directive (AHD) is a legally binding document used to give specific instructions regarding future heath decisions. Having this document in place is especially important if a person is sick, injured or incapable of communicating their wishes. The AHD effectively becomes your voice in a situation where you are unable to dictate your wishes regarding medical, surgical, palliative care and life-sustaining measures.
Reviewing your Estate Plan
Regularly reviewing your estate plan is vital, especially your will and super beneficiary nominations any time your circumstances change. You should also make sure you chosen executor and family members are aware of where your will is located and the contact details or your professional estate advisor.
Whether your will is simple or complex, it’s vital to start your estate planning early and seek professional advice regarding your options. Good financial planning in conjunction with the smooth process of the will is the basis for successful estate planning.
At Conrad Carlile, we are experienced in estate planning and can guarantee no deviation from the succession plan for your assets. Contact our team today to discuss your estate planning requirements and relax knowing your hard-earned assets will be dealt with in the manner you choose.