It’s surprising how many people think that because they’ve written their will, the job of estate planning is complete. Estate planning is so much more than just a will. It’s the process of putting your affairs in order now, to ensure your estate is managed efficiently, as you intend it, in the case mental impairment and, ultimately, death.
Estate planning is particularly relevant for people who are in business, those who have assets that aren’t in their own name for example assets owned in companies or trusts. These assets may not be dealt with under a simple Will.
Components of estate planning
Will: legal document stating what you want to happen to your assets in the event of your death.
Testamentary trust: written into your will, it appoints a trustee to look after your assets until your beneficiaries come of age or achieve another specific benchmark (for example achieving a particular qualification).
Statement of wishes: a supplementary document to the will which expresses your wishes for your estate following your death.
Discretionary/family trusts: money or property that sits outside the estate and is not governed by the content of a will. Trustees dictate the control and allocation of assets and income for the benefit of the beneficiaries.
Binding death benefit nominations: written direction to superannuation trustee, setting out how superannuation death benefits are to be distributed.
Reversionary pensions: continued payment of your superannuation benefits to your beneficiary.
Personal insurances: Life Cover pays a lump sum amount to named beneficiaries on the event of your death.
Power of attorney (financial matters): legal document through which you appoint another person, or people, to make decisions about your assets and finances in the event of illness, incapacitation, or if you are travelling.
Power of attorney (personal matters): legal document through which you appoint another person, or people, to make lifestyle decisions for you, such as where and with whom you live, should you be incapable of making decisions for yourself.
Medical treatment decisionmaker: legal appointment of a person or persons who can consent to and refuse medical treatment on your behalf, should you cease to have decision-making ability.
How Matthews Steer can assist with your estate planning
While lawyers have to draw up the majority of estate planning documentation, as accountants and advisors we can support and project manage the process, help to untangle complicated financial affairs, and assist with structuring taxation, superannuation and life insurance from a financial planning point of view.
We keep estate planning front-of-mind for our clients, revisiting the considerations annually.
We are trusted advisors, providing clarity on the structure of financial affairs, working with your lawyers, and offering ongoing consultancy to help your legal team develop an estate plan.
We are a second pair of eyes, and a safe pair of hands, reviewing legal estate planning documentation to ensure your financial affairs are accurately represented.
We provide financial planning advice in the form of superannuation and life insurance strategy.
We provide tax advice in relation to your estate plan.
Estate planning: your beneficiaries will thank you
Estate planning doesn’t just provide peace of mind that your assets will go where you intend them to go, that your business legacy will continue as you wish it to, and that you won’t be taxed unnecessarily on the component parts of your estate. One of the most important reasons to get your estate planning in order is to make the process of executing your estate as simple as possible for the people you are leaving behind. If you have complex and complicated affairs, it may be significant work for your beneficiaries to untangle the intricacies of your estate, and there have been all too many cases where it’s taken years – and significant legal costs – to resolve insufficiently planned estates.
Not sure where to start with the process of estate planning? Contact Damian James and the team at Matthews Steer and we will help you navigate the complexities of getting your affairs in order, efficiently and effectively, in collaboration with your legal team.