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Testimonials

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Estate Planning

Simon Bennett heads up the Estate and Business Succession division of LawSource. Simon has a Masters of Commerce from the University of Wollongong and expects to receive his Masters of Law from the University of New South Wales this year. He has over 5 years experience in advising on estate planning.

'Estate Planning' involves developing a strategy that will allow you, with minimum fuss and expense, to have a comfortable lifestyle whilst planning for the successful and seamless transfer of you assets to your heirs when you pass away.

The law in the area of estate planning is continually changing and is becoming increasingly complicated. It draws on many areas of law including: wills, trusts, taxation, stamp duty, company law, bankruptcy, superannuation, family law and litigation.

Being so complex, it is important to seek specialist advice when developing an estate plan. As well as ensuring you plan complies with the law, estate planning experts will be able to guide you in tailoring a plan that is specifically suited to your needs and wishes.

Successful estate planning firstly involves establishing your situation, identify relevant issues and setting realistic goals. You will need to collaborate closely with you financial planner, accountant and lawyer to establish a suitable structure that will meet you objectives and wishes.

WHAT IS THE BEST ESTATE PLAN FOR YOU?

Each person's situation is unique and goals vary accordingly. As such, there are a number of options available when choosing an estate plan.

An effective estate plan can only be created with a clear understanding of your goals and the particular circumstances of your heirs coupled with a comprehensive understanding of taxation issues. To create the most appropriate estate plan, you should consider all financial and non-financial perspectives

Take for example the use of a testamentary trust. This option may be useful in situations where there is a disabled child beneficiary, if assets need to be protected for beneficiaries in bankruptcy or if you or your beneficiaries are experiencing marital problems. It can provide taxation advantages and allows a trustee to control and monitor testamentary funds.

IS MY EXISTING ESTATE PLAN SUFFICIENT?

Your estate plan should be continually reviewed as your circumstances change. You should review your plan in the following circumstances:

  • Marriage to a new spouse or entering into de facto relationship by yourself or beneficiary
  • Birth and/or death of children, grandchildren or any other beneficiaries
  • Change in assets including sale of assets (eg, family home) specially given in a will
  • Bankruptcy or yourself or a beneficiary
  • Cash gifts that do not take into account inflation
  • Disagreements between executors jointly appointed
  • Potential for litigation by not adequately benefiting a beneficiary

WHAT DOCUMENTS SHOULD BE INCULDED IN AN ESTATE PLAN?

An estate plan should include:

  • Enduring Power of Attorney
  • Enduring Guardianship Appointment
  • Will
  • Trust Deeds for Family Trusts and/or Self Managed Funds
  • Memoranda or Wishes in relation to any associated trusts (eg, testamentary or family trusts)
  • Binding and non-binding death benefit superannuation nominations
  • Life insurance nominations
  • Appointer nominations

WHAT IF I DO NOT MAKE AND ESTATE PLAN?

Whether your goal is wealth creation, tax minimisation, asset protection or you want to make sure your gifting wishes are met, estate planning will maximise the total benefit received by the nest generation. Without it you lack the control and you could risk your assets failing to reach their full monetary potential when transferred to the next generation. Likewise, without an estate plan your assets may not reach your intended beneficiaries.

This article is reprinted from our quarterly published "FINANCIAL MATTERS" Newsletter, Winter 2005 issue.



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