Many people think estate planning is only for the rich, but every family can benefit from having an estate plan. The truth is that most of us have some assets we would like to pass onto our children and other beneficiaries. An estate plan can help to make the most of these assets.
An estate plan is more than just a Will. It’s a complete family succession plan covering a range of issues such as asset protection, aged care, Powers Of Attorney and how you will pass assets onto beneficiaries in the most effective manner.
Modern families are increasingly complex. Involving your beneficiaries in your financial plan, through a beneficiary meeting, is the first step to developing a comprehensive estate plan.
What is a beneficiary meeting?
A beneficiary meeting is a joint meeting between you, your beneficiaries (such as adult children) and your financial adviser. This can help the next generation understand your wishes, identify any potential risks or issues, and make plans to avoid disputes after you’ve gone.
Your financial adviser can act as both an expert and a facilitator; explaining the key elements of your estate plan to your beneficiaries, answer any questions, and broaching sensitive topics in a professional and constructive manner.
What are the first steps?
The first step is to establish your family’s risk profile – identifying any potential risks that may impact on your family’s financial wellbeing in the future. This includes reviewing your beneficiaries’ relationships, business interests and levels of insurance.
If there are any potential concerns such as high debt levels, drug or gambling issues or former relationships, your adviser can help you put in place appropriate strategies that can protect your family and your wishes after you’ve gone. Your adviser can also review your beneficiaries’ insurance needs to provide an amount of cover for their families should they have an accident, be diagnosed with a serious illness or die.
Another important objective of a beneficiary meeting is to communicate your estate planning choices to your beneficiaries to help avoid family squabbles in the future.
Your financial adviser can provide a broad overview of your financial position, outline any financial arrangements you have in place and communicate your wishes to your beneficiaries in a professional manner. They can also help you discuss potentially sensitive subject areas and explain your wishes.
This will help all your beneficiaries understand your choices and give them a chance to ask questions or raise any concerns. For example, one sibling may be responsible for looking after a parent in their later years, and there may be compensation in the Will to reflect this. Discussing this up front can help avoid disputes after you’ve gone. Finally, a beneficiary meeting is a chance for you and your beneficiaries to plan for the future, covering important issues such as aged care, Powers Of Attorney, health care directives and business succession planning.
Remember, the earlier you plan for these issues, the more flexibility and choice you will have to structure your finances appropriately. Overall, a beneficiary meeting is an opportunity for both you and your beneficiaries to get more clarity around your family’s financial future.
Then what happens?
Once you have completed the meeting, your financial adviser can then work closely with you and your other professional advisers, such as your solicitor and accountant, to develop a comprehensive plan to plan for your assets pass on to your intended beneficiaries in a tax-effective manner.
Need more information?
To ensure your current Estate Planning arrangements are adequate for you and your family, Please contact our office today to make an appointment and if you enjoyed this article, feel free to share it with your friends and family. You could also go to our Facebook page and tag those you feel would benefit from this editorial.
You should not act on the information provided without first obtaining professional financial advice specific to your circumstances. This article contains information from sources believed to be accurate at the time of writing. This information may be or may become inaccurate. You should seek your own timely financial advice on the contents of this editorial and not rely on this as advice from the provider. This editorial does not consider your personal circumstances and is general advice only. This information is current as at July 2015. It has been prepared without taking into account any of your individual objectives, financial solutions or needs. Before acting on this information you should consider its appropriateness, having regard to your own objectives, financial situation and needs. You should read the relevant Product Disclosure Statements and seek personal advice from a qualified financial adviser. RI Advice Group Pty Limited ABN 23 001 774 125, AFSL 238429.