An important part of our Estate Planning process is to ensure that the assets accumulated during a person’s lifetime are distributed in accordance with their wishes upon their death.
A common misconception is that the assets of an estate will automatically pass to a spouse or family on death. However the following assets, which can be of substantial monetary value, may not necessarily form part of a person’s estate:
- The family home (if owned as joint tenants, it automatically passes to the surviving tenant);
- An individual’s superannuation entitlement (e.g. their member balance and/or death benefit);
- Assets held within a discretionary or unit trust;
- Assets held within a company; and
- The proceeds of life insurance policies (depending on ownership).
Without an appropriate record of how you intend to distribute your assets, there is the risk that intended beneficiaries may receive little, or none, of your estate. Estate planning is a complex area and appropriate professional advice should therefore be obtained before making any decisions in this area.
The key to getting this right is to ensure that all of your professional advisers are communicating with each other and are on the same page. Your solicitor, accountant and financial planner all need to have a solid understanding as to why certain entities or structures have been established for you.
Our role is to project-manage this communication process so that nothing can slip between the cracks. In many cases we work with our clients advisers but we also have our preferred service providers where required.
Our preferred Estate Planning Law Firms are:
The other critical element in the Estate Planning process is to establish ongoing income streams for a family particularly when one of the ‘bread-winners’ has passed away prematurely. In Australia we have a number of choices available here and it is essential that one understands the advantages and disadvantages of each of those options.
Taking the time to weigh up those options allows you to make an informed choice ensuring that, where possible, the ATO is not a beneficiary of your estate.