This is all too often put in the too hard basket but if you don’t want to leave your loved ones in a financial and legal mess when you finally leave this world then Estate Planning is the way to go. This is an area of massive neglect in Australia and it causes many financial and family breakdowns when loved ones pass away.
At Jeffrey P Whitton & Associates we can help you create the financial outcomes for the ones you care about.
Estate planning is a process designed to help you protect the wealth you have built over your lifetime so that it is managed and distributed smoothly according to your wishes. More than just a Will, an Estate Plan also takes into account your superannuation and Powers of Attorney as well as assets held solely in your name, jointly with others, or assets held in private companies or trusts.
Estate planning seeks to ensure your estate is passed on to your intended beneficiaries in a financially efficient and tax-effective way. This is because the choices you make can have significant implications for tax purposes, as well as how and when distributions can be made for some beneficiaries.
You should also review your Estate Plan at least once every three years and whenever your circumstances change, such as;
- Living with a partner, getting married, separating or getting divorced.
- As soon as you have children or step children
- Buying real estate or other valuable assets
- Buying, selling or operating a business
- If you have superannuation (super may not be covered by you Will)
- If you have family members with special needs or children who are vulnerable
- If you set up a family trust or company
Creating a sound Estate Plan requires the involvement of legal and financial specialists. That’s why we partner with a panel of Solicitors to work with us in providing this service to you. We strongly recommend that you contact us to discuss your personal circumstances.
What is a Will?
A Will details how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. An “Executor” is the person you nominate who is responsible for implementing your wishes as set out in your Will after your death. If you have young children, you can also specify in your Will who is to be their guardian.
Is a Will necessary?
Everyone should have a legal Will, even if only as a safeguard against the unknown. While it can be upsetting to think of squabbling among family, the reality is that when someone dies, arguments over money, assets or bequests are more common than you may think. In some cases, this can cause a complete breakdown in relationships.
Remember, if you do not have a valid Will you die ‘intestate’, which means that the public trustee in your state will be appointed to look after your affairs. State law may result in an unequal or unintended distribution of your estate. It is also important that your Executor knows that you have a Will and where it is kept.
What is an Enduring Power of Attorney?
An Enduring Power of Attorney is the document which specifics who is authorised to make financial decisions for you if you are alive but unable to do so yourself.
Should I give someone a Power of Attorney?
If you lose the ability to look after your financial affairs due to an accident or due to old age, then someone will inevitably be required to take control of your finances. If you haven’t appointed someone to manage your affairs, then in the event that you lose this ability it will be up to a court or tribunal to decide who takes this control.
Giving a person a Power of Attorney means you authorise that person to take over management of your financial affairs and act on your behalf. It’s a big responsibility, both for you in choosing the person you choose and for the person you choose, should they every be required to act on your behalf.
A Testamentary Trust Will
We can tell you how a “Testamentary Trust” Will can:
- Reduce the amount of tax that a beneficiary may have to pay
- Protect against a beneficiary squandering their inheritance
- Protect your assets if a beneficiary is bankrupt or at risk of being sued
- Provide support to someone who has mental health problems or who faces drug/alcohol/gambling or other issues and
- Provide protection in the event of the breakdown of a beneficiaries marriage