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The approaching summer holidays are a time for family and festivities: gathering with friends and relatives, eating too much and taking (hopefully) a well-deserved break from the year that was 2021!

During this time of year, with the space to reflect on the year that was and the coming year ahead, we often find clients taking the time to think about and evaluate their estate planning. Some questions we find can come to mind on a lazy summer afternoon include:

  • What happens to my family if I pass away or have an accident?
  • Will my spouse or partner have access to sufficient funds to pay bills and the mortgage if I die?
  • Who will look after my children if I should pass suddenly?
  • Will my super go to my spouse or partner automatically?
  • How do stepchildren fit into the mix?
  • What if I have an estranged child?
  • Who will take over my business when I pass away?

A good estate plan should answer all of these questions and it might be news to you that estate planning doesn’t just mean having a will. A well-rounded estate plan could include:

  • Enduring powers of attorney;
  • Enduring powers of guardianship;
  • Advance health directives;
  • Company powers of attorney;
  • Successor director provisions for a company;
  • Loan or debtor agreements;
  • Life insurance arrangements;
  • Superannuation death benefit nominations;
  • Review of self-managed super funds; and
  • Review of family trust deeds.

Hopefully, you are prepared and have a will and an enduring power of attorney in place as a bare minimum – and if you do that’s a great start- but as set out above there is a lot more to consider. Not everybody’s circumstances will require everything in the list above, but chances are you might be in need of some of them.

If you do not have any planning or documentation in place, the summer holidays are a good time to reflect on your family and financial circumstances and consider carefully how you would want your family and assets to be looked after when you pass away. It is a good idea to talk to your family and intended executors, beneficiaries, attorneys and guardians and make sure they are fully aware of your wishes. A good estate plan should not surprise anyone.

Estate planning can also include obtaining financial and accounting advice – especially if you are involved in an SMSF, family trust or business – to ensure that all of your structures are properly aligned with your wishes. In our experience estate planning should include sound financial and taxation advice. We are lucky to work with a number of reputable and highly skilled advisors and as part of our service are happy to make an introduction to an advisor who can best meet your needs.

If anything in this article has raised a thought or query for you, please contact our dedicated estate planning team on 9375 3411 for a free discussion on how we can help meet your needs.

About the author: After completing a double degree Bachelor of Arts (Politics and International Relations) and a Bachelor of Law, Matthew was admitted into the Supreme Court of Western Australia in 2016.

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