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Discussing what you would like to happen to your estate when you are no longer here can be one of the most difficult conversations of your life. But making your estate financial planning a priority, and taking the appropriate steps to update when needed, can provide you – and your loved ones – with a deep sense of security and peace of mind.
While estate planning and drafting a Will often go hand-in-hand, they are not one and the same.
Estate planning involves creating a comprehensive strategy that includes directives that are effective during your lifetime, as well as directives that don’t come into effect until your death. This can include a number of important considerations, such as:
A valid and current Will is a legally binding document that forms an important part of your estate plan, and details who you would like to receive your assets, who you would like to serve as guardian of your children and who is in charge of distributing your assets.
A valid Will not only serves to state your wishes for the distribution of your assets, but it also helps to protect your loved ones and/or beneficiaries – and your estate – from any potential disputes.
Without a valid Will, your assets will be distributed according to the inheritance laws of your state. These laws can have tax implications for your beneficiaries and can also undermine your final wishes from being carried out.
While we all hope to live a long and healthy life, the truth is we don’t know what life has in store.
If you are in the early stages of your career, are single, and have limited assets, the first stage of estate planning may just involve writing a Will. It is vital to have a valid Will from the time you are 18 … not just when you have assets.
Even if you have only been working for a couple of years, your superannuation earnings and life insurance proceeds (held in superannuation) can be equal to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But because superannuation law does not permit any beneficiary other than a spouse, children or estate (Will), often this money is locked up for years when an incorrect beneficiary is listed (e.g. mother, father or sibling). A valid Will stipulates an individual’s beneficiaries and ensures they receive any superannuation and life insurance in the event of death.
As your life situation changes and you start a family, accumulate assets and build wealth, it’s a sensible decision to speak with someone who has the knowledge to guide you through the complex process of estate planning.
While any estate plan will require an attorney or public trustee for the legal documents, a financial planner can help you navigate the process, understand your legal rights and responsibilities and discuss tax effective strategies for the transfer of your assets in a sensitive and compassionate way.
For example, the tax components of estate planning can be particularly complex and an experienced financial planner can outline strategies, such as a testamentary trust, to effectively manage tax during the transfer of assets.
Superannuation is another important consideration in estate planning as it is not included in your Will. Distributed as a superannuation death benefit to either a beneficiary or the trustee of your estate, a financial planner can help you negotiate the often complex superannuation nomination process.
If you’re ready to start the conversation and secure your finances for your loved ones, Step Up Financial can help.
While we will be able to answer questions about tax implications, death benefits, trusts and life insurance, there are some questions only you can answer.
Like, who will be your beneficiaries? Who will be the executor to your Will? Who will hold power of attorney and enduring guardianship?
At Step Up Financial, we understand that these conversations can be difficult. We pride ourselves on providing the best financial advice with sensitivity and care.
As fully qualified, experienced financial planners, we’re able to guide you through the estate planning process. We also provide other financial services, including advice on:
And we encourage your pathway based on your own individual circumstances and values.