The power of your Will
Updated: Oct 28, 2021
Studies show that at least 45% of Australian's don't have a Will. This means that almost half the nation runs the risk of losing control over their estate because they do not have a legal document that sets out who they want to receive their assets when they die.
If you die without a Will then you have no control over how your assets will be distributed - and in some instances, your estate will actually pass over to the government. There are many examples of people unintentionally passing their assets on to ex-partners or their Will being contested by feuding family members. This is a sad and messy situation and one that's totally avoidable. My client's don't need to end up like this.
Set up your safety net
Part of setting yourself up to have the confidence to achieve your lifestyle and financial goals is to make sure that your 'safety net' is in place. This means that you will have appropriate insurance protection in place and that your estate planning has been prepared by a legal professional.
I've found over the years that many of my clients move forward in life with a new level of confidence and peace of mind when they have their own house in order and have put their family 'safety net' in place. They feel good knowing that they have something they can rely on to catch them if they were to 'fall'.
Things to consider
When I'm speaking with my clients about their financial goals and their personal situation we will generally consider the following areas during our discussions:
Each person's situation is unique and a one-size-fits-all homemade Will, Will Kit or generic online Will template cannot address everything that's needed to ensure that their estate plan is solid. Get a professionally prepared Will put into place that can do the job with confidence when the time comes.
People often think they don't have enough assets to warrant preparing their estate planning - especially if they don't yet own their own home. So after we finish talking about who will get their super, who will get their Life insurance payout, how will they want to financially support their dependent children after they pass, who will be the guardians for their dependent children etc they start to understand that they actually have valuable financial and non-financial 'assets' that they need to consider. The complexities that a valid and well prepared Will will take care of when they die is an enormous relief to them.
We discuss scenarios where they have died and what will happen to their family and assets - and it can be confronting at first. However, at the end of our discussion, I'm yet to have a client tell me that it wasn't informative, helpful and refreshing to get everything 'out there'. It's a chance to discuss the arrangements they want to make for those they love most and gives them some fresh direction. Many tell me that they've wanted to do this for a while but have never got around to it.
Most people don't like paying unnecessary tax when they're alive let alone by their loved ones when they've died. Not having control over who will benefit and how they will benefit from your estate could lead to excessive tax being paid - and I haven't had a single client that was happy with this default arrangement. Preparing a Will with the right protections in place makes this a lot more straightforward and will plan for your estate benefits go further than they otherwise would have.
Another important point is that we discuss the other 'tools' that give them control over their lives if they are still here with us but are otherwise incapacitated and can't take care of themselves. These 'tools' include an 'Enduring Power of Attorney' and 'Medical Power of Attorney' and give their appointed loved ones the ability to make financial, medical and lifestyle decisions on their behalf. When these are prepared along with your Will they become a powerful structure to put control over your lifestyle and assets well and truly in your own hands. We'll discuss these benefits further in another article.
A well prepared Will gives clarity of direction for your estate when you die and doesn't have to be a mysterious or complex process to put in place. Take control over the assets in your estate and the provision for your loved ones with a professionally prepared Will and estate plan. A Financial Adviser will assist you and your family and work with a qualified estate planning lawyer who will prepare and provide you with your estate planning documents.
Shaun O'Keefe thinks that families are important. He's found that he can help more people, more effectively when he helps families. As a fee-based financial planner, he works with families just like yours to bring personal values and financial resources in line so that you can keep focussed on the priorities in your life.
The information contained in this article is general in nature only. It is not intended to be a recommendation, offer, advice or invitation to purchase, sell or otherwise deal in securities or other investments. Before making any decision concerning a financial product, you should seek advice from an appropriately qualified professional. We believe that the information contained in this document is accurate. However, we are not specifically licensed to provide tax or legal advice and any information that may relate to you should be confirmed with your tax or legal adviser.