Estate Planning? – Deadly secrets
Every family is different and has different needs, wishes and risks to take into account.
Whilst no two solutions will ever be the same, our key Estate Planning fundamentals include:
- Death and Taxes, the two certainties in life. Most people plan to die (sometime), but rarely do we “die to plan”.
- Immediate good health often stalls our Estate Planning actions, but watch out for the big red bus coming around the corner. Our death, or the death of a loved one, may be one step away.
- Will we or won’t we? The absence of a will may mean archaic legislation determines how our estate is distributed.
- Living Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney are free online at http://www.publicadvocate.wa.gov.au/
- Continuing testamentary trusts can be a preferred option, as opposed to the bequest of a large amount to a young child which they automatically receive when they reach a specific age.
- Be careful if asking an accountant or lawyer to act as Executor; you may give them an ongoing right to charge fees for an extended period (although circumstances do sometimes require this).
- Blended families add complexity and risk that an estate will be challenged; everyone has differing views as to what is fair.
- If there is a risk that an estate will be contested, then strategies exist to reduce that risk.
- Be conscious of the remarriage risk in these modern times; will your children ultimately benefit if your surviving spouse finds another partner?
- Whilst we have no Death Duties, we do have Capital Gains Tax. Consider after tax values and ongoing income tax payable in order to avoid the inheritance of unwanted and perhaps ongoing tax liabilities.
- Don’t wait until you die to help your intended recipients (who may themselves be self sufficient then). Most young families need help financially in their 30’s and 40’s when raising children and paying school fees.
- Educate your children financially, and inform them about your estate plan and assets.
- Be conscious of the asset protection needs of your surviving spouse and children.
- Pre-arranged funeral plans may reduce the friction for surviving spouses and siblings who in a time of grief (having never agreed on anything before) are now trying to agree on your funeral arrangements.
- Garbage in = garbage out; business structures, trusts, corporate beneficiaries, loan accounts and (self managed) superannuation all add complexity. Work with your accountant and lawyer to understand what is an estate or non-estate asset and how to bring it all together.
Do your bucket list, live life to the fullest but be careful crossing the road.