Estate planning essential for Warrnambool clients

Posted on 09/12/2015 by John Bouwman in Audit & Advisory
John Bouwman
John Bouwman is the Chairperson and Senior Principal of the Sinclair Wilson Group. Based in our Warrnambool office, John also visits our Camperdown office every second Wednesday afternoon or by appointment. ...

Estate planning is essential for our Warrnambool clients to ensure everything they have worked hard for over their life is not lost. You want your assets, or the profit from them, to end up in the hands of the right people. Few people want to think about this topic. But most would want to leave their affairs in order, have their possessions distributed according to their wishes and minimise tax in the event of their death. It is important to consider these issues at any stage of life through the process of estate planning for family members and seeking professional help to develop an effective plan that can be tailored to meet individual circumstances in each case.

In general terms, estate planning aims to ensure that the right assets are transferred to the right people at the right time, taking into consideration the beneficiaries circumstances. It is far more complex than just having a will. It also encompasses business structures, powers of attorney, trusts and taxation issues, as well as business succession, guardianship provisions, superannuation and insurance arrangements in some cases.

The will is one of the most important estate planning documents. It enables you to direct who is to receive assets from your estate. Without a valid will, your estate will be distributed according to state law. Distribution of an estate under these rules can bring about results that would not have been desired or intended. While you can draft your own will, there are many traps to avoid so it is generally a good idea to obtain legal advice from a solicitor who can also work together with your accountant and financial planner in Warrnambool to cater for your needs.

While a will is important, it can only deal with assets that are owned personally. Sometimes you may control assets but do not actually own them, these do not form part of the assets that can be distributed by a will. These ‘non-estate’ assets may include assets held in a trust or company, joint tenancy assets, superannuation death benefits, and life insurance proceeds paid to someone other than the insured. Other steps may need to be taken to govern the transfer of such assets to ensure you and your loved ones needs are met.

Given these complexities, especially in relation to non-estate assets, it is essential to obtain professional advice during the estate planning process. Together with your solicitor, our accountants and financial planners in Warrnambool are qualified to help you regardless of whether your affairs are straightforward or involve complex business structures.