Having an estate plan is more than just having a will...
There seems to be a common misconception that having an estate plan is for wealthy people. Wrong. Having an estate plan is for everyone. It is about being prepared, minimising risk and making sure your loved ones receive the benefit of your estate.
Today, there are many factors which influence an estate plan. Simply having a will may not be enough for your estate to pass to your loved ones. Some of the most significant issues when designing your estate plan are:
- Superannuation – superannuation is separate to your estate, therefore, it is not automatically distributed in accordance with your will. Without an estate plan, the trustee of your superannuation fund will decide which dependents to pay your superannuation to. However, with a plan, you can control which dependents your superannuation is paid to, via a binding death benefit nomination. There are strict compliance issues which impact whether a binding death benefit nomination is valid.
- Assets held in other legal entities – if you hold assets in other legal entities, like a family trust or a company, these assets will not form part of your estate. Without an estate plan, assets held by these separate legal entities may not pass to your loved ones. With a plan, you can transfer the control of these assets to a specific person. If you are concerned about assets held in a separate legal entity, it is imperative that you have your trust and company documentation reviewed and seek advice on how the transfer can be incorporated into your estate plan.
- Risk of a claim – in Queensland, a child, spouse or financial dependent is able to apply to the court for further provision from an estate. Therefore, as part of a comprehensive estate plan, it is critical to consider who may make a claim, and who is likely to make a claim. It is important to take steps to minimise the risk of a claim and/or provide your executor with the proper information and evidence to defend any potential claim.
- Life insurance – if you have taken out a life insurance policy to ensure that your loved ones continue to enjoy their lifestyle in the event of your passing, it is important to consider how this policy has been established. If a beneficiary has been nominated for the life insurance policy, the life insurer must pay the beneficiary directly, which means that the proceeds will not form part of the insured’s estate.
An effective estate plan means considering and appreciating all circumstances of a person’s life. Please do not hesitate to contact us to help you design your estate plan, and receive a complimentary 10% discount.