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Estate planning certainty

Estate planning certainty for the ones you love and for whom you intend to provide, is facilitated by undertaking this important exercise whilst you have the capacity to do so. There is nothing more certain than ‘death and taxes’ as we have all been reminded over many decades: tax commitments can, with assistance from expert advising accountants, be determined both as to amount and timing; our mortality is less capable of being programmed! Death is a fact of life, but the aftermath will be more celebrated if you have made appropriate, documented plans.

When we have a family death experience, there are generally-speaking, two major issues to deal with (apart from the funeral arrangements for a few in the family): they are –

  1. the emotional upheaval (one of the most stressful experienced during a lifetime, for the closest family members); and
  2.  the financial aftermath.

The emotional upheaval lines up with other ‘stress majors’ such as divorce, public speaking and financial demise. Whilst our advisors are not qualified psychologists we do empathise with clients involved in these situations – and are able to recommend professionals who can help in particular circumstances.

The financial aftermath can either add to or reduce the stress following the death. The two key aspects for ensuring that you reduce the stress for your loved ones are:

  • ensuring that your estate plan has been documented, is validly able to be executed and is current; and
  • ensure that your financial affairs are in order.

Estate Planning has become a more important part of the advice that we assist our clients to round off their wealth management plans: we are able to refer to appropriate legal advisors for Will and associated documentation preparation – and more importantly, to help prepare the documentation to work through with the advisor so as to minimise the final overall costs.

Estate Planning is much more than having a valid Will, or even a Will and an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) – it is an overall plan that deals with what is to happen after you die: matters that should be considered for inclusion as appropriate, are –

  • funeral arrangements;
  • guide as to location of all relevant documents;
  • gather assets (including superannuation; and life insurance policy proceeds) and distribute according to requirements and wishes;
  • payment of pre- and estate debts;
  • provision for the care of dependants;
  • ensure adequate funding available for fulfilment of your wishes;
  • has ‘equality’ been considered?;
  • are bequests able to be funded (and have any relevant taxes been provided for)?;
  • are there any personal items ‘wishes’ that are not dealt with in the Will?; and
  • who is going to administer the estate?

Whilst the above list is not complete, it is a guide as to some of the matters that, if you make proper provision about, will make the process for your loved ones much simpler to cope with.

When considering the financial aspects of the estate planning, due attention needs to be paid to the type of asset (and the market/ tax consequences that might prevail at the relevant time/ flow from a distribution) and to what type of beneficiary it is to pass. This can be particularly awkward for a trustee if there is a mix say, of property and/ or business goodwill and/ or a share portfolio and cash – each asset type being allocated to different family members, but ‘meant to be’ in equal proportions.

Continuum Financial Planners’ experienced advisers are able to assist with all of these issues: giving guidance on Estate Planning preparation; and financial planning (including the use of insurance to ‘balance up’ distribution issues). These are critical matters: you just don’t know how soon these documents are likely to be called upon – use the following link to Contact Us to review your situation – or call our office to arrange a meeting with one of our advisers, on 07 3421 3456. (Initial interview for a client new to the firm will be at no cost to you.)

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