Having a comprehensive estate plan will help you to distribute the assets and money you’ve worked so hard for throughout your life to those you wish to receive them after you die.
“Thinking about your estate plan now and putting something in place before you die will save your family of lot of time and stress” says Peter Stewart “as well as giving you peace of mind that they will be looked after financially.”
Does your current estate plan have:
- An up-to-date Will. A Will is a vital part of every estate plan, as it’s the legal document that records how you would like your assets and money passed to your beneficiaries.
“Not having a current Will that clearly sets out how you’d like your estate distributed could cause your family considerable heartache” says Peter Stewart “as it opens it up to potential legal disputes, the cost of which could decrease the value of your estate significantly.”
“Once you have a legal Will in place, you should then look to review and update it as your personal and financial situation changes, otherwise it could be ruled invalid.”
- Adequate life insurance. Having life insurance in place is a cash payment to your estate that can be used to support your family, pay off your mortgage, pre-pay your children’s school fees or invest for your family’s future.
“Taking out life insurance, whether in your own name or through your super fund, can be a relatively inexpensive way to protect your family’s future” says Peter Stewart.
“If you have a share in a business, key person insurance is an important consideration for business owners as it can help to protect the value of your business and its key people.”
“One thing people tend to forget about is reviewing their level of cover. It is a good idea to check that the sum you’re insured for reflects your current financial situation.” adds Peter.
“People often don’t update their insurance as their mortgage and expenses increase, which can often leave their family with a shortfall after they die.”
- A death benefit nomination for your super. We also find that many people don’t realise that their super doesn’t form part of their estate, which is why many don’t nominate who should receive their super when they die. They also do not realise that a beneficiary must be a spouse or a child.
“This can be a huge problem, given super is often the biggest asset that many people have” says Peter Stewart.
“Not having a nomination in place means the trustee of your super fund, not you, determines who receives your super benefit after you die.”
“While providing your fund with a binding nomination removes any uncertainty over who receives your super, it only lasts for three years, so you should check to make sure it is current” adds Peter Stewart.
- An enduring power of attorney. This is a legal agreement that allows you to nominate a trusted person to make financial or legal decisions on your behalf.
“Putting an enduring power of attorney in place while you’re still capable is a wise move” says Peter Stewart “otherwise it can mean your financial affairs will be looked after by an external party, like the Public Trustee, if you become sick or mentally incapable.”
“You can continue to manage your finances while you’re able to, knowing that there’s someone that can take over for you as you get older.”
“An enduring power of attorney is definitely worth considering if your partner is not interested in your finances, or if you have a share in a business because it is one area that they will want some help if you were to pass away suddenly” adds Peter Stewart.
“You want important decisions to be made by an experienced person with only your family’s best interests at heart.”
- A plan for your beneficiaries. Leaving money to your family as a cash lump sum is often not the best or most tax-effective approach if your beneficiaries are minors or are disabled.
“There are a range of trust structures that can be used to hold assets and money on behalf of your beneficiaries” says Peter Stewart “that won’t allow their inheritance to be frittered away.”
“For instance, if you have a disabled beneficiary, there are special disability trusts with tax concessions that can be used to pay for their ongoing care, education and medical expenses.”
“For beneficiaries that are minors, you could look to use a protective trust, which pays out the income while protecting the capital.”
“Having these structures in place well in advance also means your estate can be executed and finalised quickly and efficiently.”
It’s never too early to start working on your estate plan, however many people keep putting it off due to the paperwork and complexity involved.
A financial adviser can help you to put together a logical plan that will give you peace of mind that the assets and money you’ve worked so hard for are passed on according to your wishes.
To find out more, please contact Peter Stewart from Benchmark Consultants on 92932922 or at email@example.com.
*Peter Stewart is an Authorised Representative of RI Advice Group Pty Limited (ABN 23 001 774 125), Australian Financial Services Licence 238429. This editorial does not consider your personal circumstances and is general advice only. You should not act on the information provided without first obtaining professional financial advice specific to your circumstances. From time to time we may send you informative updates and details of the range of services we can provide. If you no longer want to receive this information please contact our office to opt out.