December is a busy time. In the lead up to Christmas, the task list seems endless. Presents to buy. Parties to attend.
Hopefully, your new year period brings some down time. This is a good time to attend to a task that we all put off – succession planning.
It is human nature to put other people’s interests before our own, whether that is clients or customers, family or friends. This is an issue that is worthwhile prioritising.
Review Your Existing Will
Set some time aside and pull out your succession planning documents. This means any document that is relevant in deciding what happens to your assets:
- your Will – for your personally held assets;
- your death benefit nomination – for your superannuation;
- your life insurance statement – for your life insurance nominee; and
- your trust deed – for your discretionary trust assets.
Do those documents reflect your intentions?
Have any assets been bought or sold which may affect your Will?
We can work through these documents with you to ensure all relevant issues are taken into account.
Review Your Long-Term Care Planning
Succession planning is also about what happens if you have lost capacity. Towards the end of life, incapacity or dementia is an increasing problem. It is important you ensure the right people are making decisions for you.
This means reviewing your enduring power of attorney.
Are the right people in place to make decisions for you?
What happens if your first choice is no longer available?
Do you need to set any specific terms?
All too often, people pay little attention to their enduring power of attorney. However, this is the document that may have a direct bearing on your quality of life for many years. It requires at least as much attention as your Will.
If you have strong feelings about your care or medical treatment, you can make your wishes known and binding through an advance health directive.
Is there more to it than that?
If you have significant assets, you should consider if you have maximised the tax advantages which can come with succession planning.
If it is a priority for you to protect your estate from risks for your beneficiaries or to allow them to minimise tax, there are steps which can be taken in your Will which may be available at no other time. For example, a testamentary trust Will provides significant asset protection and tax planning advantages for your loved ones.
Some people have vulnerable beneficiaries, such as children with special needs. There are steps which can be taken to provide for vulnerable beneficiaries while preserving Centrelink entitlements.
If you wish to discuss the more advanced issues, please let us know.