Preserving your legacy with estate planning

Like life insurance, planning for the end can be a difficult and confronting process. The best way to save your family from emotional and financial hardship, should you pass suddenly or be unable to manage your affairs, is to plan your estate.

Estate planning involves making important decisions as to who will be managing your affairs, who will be inheriting your assets, and ensuring that your assets are distributed according to your wishes.

If you haven’t yet considered implementing an estate plan, here are some of the important elements.

What makes up an estate plan?

  • Will – a will outlines how your assets will be distributed after your death and can include things such as who will look after your children if they’re still minors, naming an executor of your estate, charities you wish to contribute to and funeral plans.
  • Power of attorney – this is a person you appoint to make important decisions about your finances and healthcare should you become incapacitated, with many electing a trusted family member.
  • Advance health care directives – a legal document that allows you to specify your healthcare preferences such as medical treatments and end-of-life care.
  • Superannuation death benefits – when someone dies, their super provider typically pays out the person/persons nominated as their beneficiaries, known as the ‘super death benefit’. This nomination could be binding or non-binding. A binding nomination means your super fund is required to pay your nominated people in the proportions you have specified. A non-binding nomination means the fund has some discretion over where your money goes.
  • Guardianship – appointing a guardian for minor children will mean they will be looked after by a person you trust in the event of the parents’ death or incapacity.
  • Trusts – a legal arrangement where the trustee holds and manages assets on behalf of the beneficiary. Trusts allow individuals to transfer assets to their beneficiaries in a more tax-efficient manner.
  • Life insurance – incorporating life insurance as part of your estate plan means your loved ones can be financially looked after when you pass, and use the funds to pay off any debts you leave behind.

What does this mean?

As you can see, there are quite a few elements that make up an estate plan, but overall, the main purpose is to protect your assets and ensure they’re properly distributed. Without one in place, you run the risk of them being allocated according to state law which may not reflect your preferences, your estate could be subject to higher taxes and your control is limited. It also takes the difficult decision-making away from your family and beneficiaries, creating a less stressful time for them and minimising disputes.

If you haven’t created an estate plan or are interested to learn more, get in touch with your financial adviser to get started.

The material on this website has been prepared for general information purposes only and not as specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained on this website is General Advice and does not take into account any person's particular investment objectives, financial situation and particular needs. Before making an investment decision based on this advice you should consider, with or without the assistance of a securities adviser, whether it is appropriate to your particular investment needs, objectives and financial circumstances. In addition, the examples provided on this website are provided for illustrative purposes only. Although every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of the information contained on this website, Infocus, its officers, representatives, employees and agents disclaim all liability (except for any liability which by law cannot be excluded), for any error, inaccuracy in, or omission from the information contained in this website or any loss or damage suffered by any person directly or indirectly through relying on this information.

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