Estate Planning – Planning for your family’s future
Building your estate to ensure a secure financial future for your family is not just about creating wealth. Estate planning should include careful planning to transfer the right assets to the right hands at the right time. All your wishes should be correctly documented.
We liaise with you and an experienced estate planning solicitor to ensure your successful estate plan covers:
- Right Assets – Review your existing assets and protect your existing and future asset base with insurance if necessary.
- Right Hands – Consider your beneficiaries and how they shall be placed financially on your death.
- Right Time – Review different methods of transferring assets and consider structure, taxation and costs versus benefits.
The Right Assets
The first step in building your estate plan is to consider the assets you wish to transfer.
The steps are:
- Review your assets – Consider how assets are to be distributed or managed upon your death or incapacity (either via your Will or by other means).
- Protect your assets – If you have insufficient assets to provide for your beneficiaries, you may consider implementing some insurance policies.
The Right Hands
A person who makes a Will has a responsibility to provide for beneficiaries or anyone who reasonably thinks that provision should be made for him/her.
Consider your beneficiaries in these ways:
- Choice of Guardians – Guardians make decisions for children until they are no longer minors. If you have young children (or plan to have children) appoint a guardian. Think carefully about the person you select, especially if you have particular views on issues such as education and religion.
- Tenants in Common – If you own assets as ‘tenants in common’, you can choose where your portion of the asset is directed upon your death (rather than it reverting to the surviving tenant). This type of ownership may create a possible loss of the capital gains tax (CGT) exemption for your principal place of residence, however there are strategies that allow you to access CGT relief. Discuss these with an estate planning lawyer.
- Gifts to a divorced spouse – If you get divorced, any gift to a divorced spouse is void under the Will. However, if you wish to benefit a divorced spouse, your Will must be updated. Provided the divorced spouse is ‘financially dependent’ upon you, he/she will be classified as a dependant and therefore able to access concessional taxed benefits. Another strategy is to have a life insurance policy specifying the divorced spouse as a beneficiary. (This will not form part of your estate.)
- Loans to beneficiaries – If you are owed outstanding loans by beneficiaries to your Will, you can choose to ‘forgive’ them upon your death. This means that the loan is not required to be paid back.
The Right Time
Your family’s inheritance can be lost or diminished through unforeseen events.
Fortunately, strategies can help protect your assets for your family.
- Life interests – A person may be granted use of an asset (or income from the asset) during their lifetime. This is called a ‘life interest’. Upon the death of the ‘life tenant’, the asset or income reverts to someone else. The grant of a life interest is not a CGT event for the life tenant. However, the life tenant would be liable for Land Tax, (they may be eligible to claim a land tax exemption). Once the life tenant is deceased, the interest will revert to the person entitled originally.
- Gifts to minors – Generally, a beneficiary cannot take a gift under an estate until they are 18 years old (and the executor has a duty to hold their gifts on trust). However, the person making the Will can also delay the gift for a longer period of time. If all beneficiaries of a trust are no longer minors, they can request the executor to wind up the trust and transfer the assets to them.
- Testamentary Trusts – This is a trust held within a Will. The trustee has the discretion to distribute income and capital to the discretionary beneficiaries, which is an advantage as allocations can be made according to the circumstances at the time. The Will sets out who is to have ultimate control of each discretionary trust created. The trustee manages the assets of the trust. Real control of the trust rests with the ‘appointer’ who has the power to appoint, remove and replace the trustee.
This is just a snapshot of what you need to consider when it comes to Estate Planning.
This information is not personal advice and you should not act on it unless you have received personal advice from a licensed adviser. Please read our Important Information.