Most of us work hard all our lives to accumulate wealth for our families and ourselves. Many people, perhaps with a financial adviser’s help, devote time and effort to managing their finances, saving money, making investments, and accumulating assets.
Yet sadly, many people neglect to make the right arrangements so that when they die or become unable to manage their own affairs their accumulated lifetime’s wealth goes to the right people at the right time.
Estate planning is the process of deciding and formalising, while you’re still alive and healthy, how you want to be looked after if you became unable to manage your own financial affairs, and what you would like to happen to your assets when you die.
Documents such as wills, powers-of-attorney, and insurance and superannuation beneficiary nominations are components of the estate planning process – but in isolation, they don’t form an effective, structured estate management plan.
Estate management is a complex area, where the emotional turmoil of the loss of a partner or close family member might be exacerbated by financial and legal problems.
Even if your financial affairs are relatively straightforward, you still need an estate management plan. If you have significant multiple assets and a complex family structure (for example if you’ve been married more than once, or have step-children, or have vulnerable family members who need special care), or if you own a business, then putting a plan in place is more important.
If you die without a will or if your will is contested, then the cost of subsequent legal fees in settling disputes about the distribution of assets can erode those very assets to the point, sometimes, when there is virtually nothing left to argue about. All that remains is acrimony and divisiveness among family members.
Who wants that scenario to be their legacy?
Above all, a professionally prepared estate plan gives you peace of mind. It lets you: