Estate planning: How to protect your family from the unexpected.
Our lives are increasingly busy and complicated. Your business, your job, your family and your health each require time and attention. But, finding time for everything is tough, and things get overlooked. One area often missed is planning for the unexpected.
Have you ever considered what would happen if you suddenly weren’t around? Where would your family’s income come from – would they have immediate access to money to pay bills and cover mortgages? Who would run your business? Unexpected death or disability is traumatic for all those affected. The last thing you want for the people you care about is for them to be under financial stress, or worried about legal decisions. Sadly, this horrible situation is too common for many Australian families.
Are you prepared?
Estate Planning is not an enjoyable topic to discuss, but it’s an important one. Have you prepared a will? This year, Paul Clitheroe reported over 50% of Australian adults don’t have a will. Although surprisingly high, this statistic is just the beginning. When it comes to estate planning, there's a lot more to consider beyond preparing your will. Having an estate plan means you have taken a whole-life approach to your finances and legal affairs, leaving you confident your family’s future will be protected should the unexpected happen.
A well-prepared estate plan should cover:
- Your last will and testament
- Financial and Health Care powers of attorney
- Business succession plan
- Death benefit nomination
- Testamentary trusts
- Guardianship orders
- Superannuation and insurances
- Philanthropic giving
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when you prepare for the unexpected, so it’s no surprise estate planning often gets deprioritised. Fortunately, there are services you can access to guide you through the process while eliminating the hard work and complexities.
More than just the numbers
Estate planning involves much more than merely taking care of the numbers. When done well, estate planning takes a whole-life approach to your unique circumstances by considering all facets of your personal and business life. Professional estate planning should engage the knowledge and expertise of a financial planner, accountant and lawyer. Together this group of trusted advisers will work with you to understand your unique situation, whether you be a business owner, senior executive or retiree.
Depending on your situation, some of the factors considered in the preparation of your plan will include:
- Do you have all your business, legal and financial affairs in order?
- Have you recently reviewed your wealth protection plan?
- Does your business contingency plan secure your family’s future?
If estate planning is sounding like too much hard work, remember, with the right team of experts, it can be relatively stress-free. Good estate planners will guide you through the entire process, not only providing financial and business accounting advice but also jointly attending any necessary legal meetings with you.
When things don’t go to plan
The objective of an estate plan is to make sure that on your death, your assets pass to the people you want to benefit. If you still aren’t sure if an estate plan is right for you, then consider what could happen to your assets without one.
When a person dies, the Supreme Court must rule their will is their last valid will; this ruling is called a Grant of Probate. Once probate gets granted, the executor of the estate can begin collecting and distributing assets according to the will. Unfortunately, things don't always go to plan. When a will passes through probate, it can be contested or held up, effectively lengthening the time it takes for beneficiaries to access the funds. Sadly, this often means families go without access to super funds or business profits for months and even longer. With a formal, carefully prepared and documented estate plan, these issues can largely be prevented.
Stephan Buhlman, Financial Planner and Director at WLM, explains ‘When it comes to estate planning nothing should be left to chance. Having your wishes articulated and formally written down is critical, especially if your will gets contested in court. It’s about giving people peace of mind’.
Take the next step to securing your families future
Fortunately, the WLM team is here to help. Our experienced financial planners, accountants and lawyer partners, will guide you through the whole process, doing the hard work for you. The result? Confidence, your family, is protected in the event of the unexpected. Contact our team today and take the first step towards protecting your family's future.
For more information on our Financial Planning services, click here.
To learn more about the importance of estate planning read:
- How we helped another family in their hour of need.
- What would happen if...
- More Information on Estate Planning