Estate Planning: How To Pass On Your Success Without Distress
No one likes to think about life coming to an end, but if you’ve worked hard and reaped the rewards of your efforts, you’ll want to pass the fruits of your success to loved ones – without distress. Estate planning and making a legally binding will are just some of the ways to ensure your family is looked after and your assets are not left in limbo.
Failing to plan for your death can have serious consequences for your estate
Have you worked hard, whether to a plan or otherwise, and found your efforts rewarding for both you and your loved ones?
How do you plan to share that success, after you have gone?
Have you failed to plan and, therefore, planned to fail in death? No doubt this is contrary to how successfully you live your life now!
Is your inaction in preparing a will and estate plan going to cause:
• disharmony within your family
• confusion as to what you wanted
• distress over what you were perceived to have really intended, or
• unnecessary delays and expense, diminishing your successful legacy?
Too many people (a reported 45%) have not given their families the luxury of a will or plan to make their death a little less agonizing, time-consuming, emotionally draining and costly.
We all know someone who has allowed their distress in the grieving process to morph into unnecessary and expensive disputes. Why not minimize that by making a plan now?
You have two options. Simple!
Your options are simple: fail to plan (therefore planning to fail) or plan to succeed.
Fail to plan
The easiest option is to take the casual approach. Do nothing, keep letting your busy life control your lack of direction after death and let your loved ones deal with the consequences. Simply…
• Rely on the Intestacy Provisions: if you have a spouse or children, this can mean only a portion of your assets will be received by your spouse. You’ll be allowing the Public Trustee to take care of your deceased estate.
• Rely on an out-dated will not designed to suit your current business and personal needs.
• Promote confusion between spouses and business partners as to how your business will be controlled or what entitlements each party has to business profits and decision-making.
• Cause familial disputes and estrangement due to differences of opinion, as opposed to clear guidelines on your intentions.
• Ignore international assets and create conflict on the jurisdiction.
• Allow Trust interests to be mismanaged and depleted when no effective control is addressed.
Plan to succeed
Option two is to make a straight-forward decision to pass on your success, without the distress! This puts you in control of important decisions like:
• who will be the Executor – that is, a spouse or trusted friend most suited to collecting all assets and liabilities and distributing them as you have wished
• which people you most wish to benefit
• which people you should make adequate provision for (and if not/why not)
• which debts owed to you will be forgiven or pursued.
The key to securing your assets for the benefit of those you’re leaving behind is to plan for death as comprehensively as you’ve planned your life.
Your will may not be the end of the story
Depending on how comprehensively you have tended to making a will, some assets may not be covered. Estate and will planning means examining all facets of your financial life, including:
• life policies
• family trusts
• joint tenancies
• assets held outside of Queensland or Australia
• companies and managed funds whose Registered Office is in another state or territory.
Importantly, taking stock of these assets and planning for their future management allows you to fully understand your worth and the consequences of your estate planning decisions.
Don’t leave your hard earned assets in limbo
It is essential for your own peace of mind and the future of your assets that your plan ensures the most appropriate person receives the benefit of any gift.
Does your plan include:
• A family member who is unable to manage their affairs due to intellectual impairment or addiction?
• Family members who are under the age of 18?
• A family member who is at risk of divorce, bankruptcy or litigation?
• Children from different relationships?
• Tax savings for your beneficiaries?
• Precious family relics that ought to go to someone who values them as much as you do?
Making a will requires consideration of life’s most difficult ‘what ifs’. Without these inclusions, however, your estate could be tied up in red tape and disputes, bringing unnecessary additional grief to those who matter most.
Going beyond assets and wealth
Your will and estate plan can also go a long way to helping your family grieve appropriately, rather than feeling the burden of coping with basic issues such as:
• funeral arrangements
• guardianship guidelines (such as what schools, lifestyle, internet access or extracurricular activities you envisage for your children)
• organ donation
• digital asset retrieval, closure or memorialisation (consider your iTunes, Facebook, Paypal or LinkedIn accounts).