Recently, I spent a day listening to many of the technicalities around estate planning. Kate, the presenter, called the will the “last financial plan”. It’s a great term. Most people spend their life developing plans to create wealth, yet on death few consider the correct way to distribute their wealth. Simply, there is no plan!
Death, it’s not in my top 5 topics of discussion either, but ignoring an issue does not make it go away. Some might even say it’s not my problem, and there’s some truth in that, but in our modern age with many blended families and multiple marriages, without careful planning you could leave your estate in a mess. Many have. Kate discussed some high profile stories. Some I knew, others I did not. Incredibly, Robert Holmes a` Court, at one time the richest Australian, died without a will!
Some important things to note and consider; when you are establishing a will:
- state laws vary,
- not all your assets are handled by the will (e.g. superannuation and jointly owned assets),
- the more flexible your will, the greater the options for your beneficiaries,
- correctly set up, your beneficiaries may get tax and asset protection benefits for many years,
- the more specific your will, potentially the greater the cost,
- consider powers of attorney before you need them (one in 4 people over 85 have dementia),
- speak to a specialist estate planning lawyer (we can help with this)
If you haven’t considered reviewing your will, may I suggest you think about it now. We spend a lifetime designing plans to create wealth. Without careful planning around the distribution of your assets, all that effort can produce a poor outcome for your beneficiaries. It won’t be your problem – but it may be a big problem for those you cared about.
Full disclosure: I need to update mine.