Protecting your Estate

Your personal Estate Protection Plan is a "blueprint" outlining your objectives for your Estate. Estate Planning is more then just having a Will, particularly where you may control a Business, Company, Family Trust or Self Managed Super Fund. It is about protecting your wealth and your family.

A well thought out Estate Protection plan will ensure that the right funds are transmitted into the right hands, at the right time if you were to pass away.

Right Funds to provide
  • Lifestyle maintenance for your family
  • Special needs (e.g. education or family members with additional financial needs)
  • Debt Cancellation for personal and business debts 
Right Hands
  • Your family
  • Right estate structures
  • Not creditors
  • Not immature beneficiaries
  • Not beneficiaries ex spouse in the case of future divorce
Right Time
  • Immediate Cash for lifestyle maintenance
  • Income stream to provide for ongoing lifestyle and future education
We will help you to analyse your current Will, to define your objectives for the future and to develop and implement an action plan which will make the best use of available resources to achieve your objectives. We will also help you review your Estate Plan on an ongoing basis and to update it to take account of changed circumstances.

Family Estate Protection

Estate planning is the process of recording your decisions on how you want your assets to be distributed after your death. The burden of taxes, legal and accounting costs that arises upon death can be minimised with forward planning. If your estate is arranged in an efficient manner before you die, your loved ones can be saved much heartache in their time of grief.

Important Estate Terms

Wills

In your Will, you are legally able to determine how those assets owned by you are distributed after death. The key phrase is owned by you. This does NOT refer, therefore, to assets that are jointly owned; nor directly those assets owned by any Trust structure.

Unfortunately many Australians die 'intestate', which means they have not left a valid Will. The distribution of their estate then must be made under various probate laws. The rules are different in each State, so if you intend to move to another State, it is important that you update your Will.

Every family is different and the way you want to look after your family in the event of your death, will be highly personal.  If you have children and/or you have assets then you should have a Will.  While a staggering amount of people don\t have a Will, many that do have a Will, have a simple "I love you” Will  - that is it says that everything goes to the other spouse, and if they have predeceased, then to the children.  Not all Wills are created equal. If you have a complex family or financial situation, then a simple "I love you” Will may not be enough.

It is important to remember that some assets cannot be dealt with in a Will.  They include:
  • Any asset held in joint names as Joint Tenants such as a bank account or residence.  These assets usually revert to the other joint owner.
  • Superannuation funds.  The trustee of the fund usually has discretion as to whom the benefits are to be paid, and they are only guided by your wishes, unless you have lodged a valid Binding Nomination. 
  • Life insurance policies.  Some life insurance policies actually specify to whom the benefits are to be paid. ie to your children.  If a policy is taken out through a superannuation fund then it is treated as a superannuation benefit.
  • Trust Property.  Once you transfer assets to a Family Trust it is no longer possible to bequeath them in a Will, they are no longer your property and the Trustee has control over them. 

Enduring Powers of Attorney

An enduring power of attorney is a formal document by which one person (called the donor) appoints another person (called the attorney) to act on his/her behalf. The enduring power of attorney is a separate document from the will and operates only during the lifetime of the donor. 

A power of attorney should only be given to someone you trust completely. If you own assets and lose mental capacity, someone will have to be appointed to look after your affairs. If you have granted an Enduring Power of Attorney, you will have chosen that person (or persons) yourself. If you have not granted an Enduring Power of Attorney, someone (eg. your spouse, son or daughter) will need to apply to the Court or the Guardianship Tribunal to be appointed. It is likely that an officer from the Protective Commissioner’s office will also need to be involved in the management of your affairs. 

Advanced Health Directive

Every competent adult has the legal right to accept or refuse any recommended health care.  This is relatively easy when people are well and can speak for themselves.  Unfortunately, during severe illness people are often unconscious or otherwise unable to communicate their wishes - at the very time when many critical decisions need to be made.  By completing an Advance Health Directive, you can make your wishes known before this happens.

An Advance Health Directive is a document that states your wishes or directions regarding your future health care for various medical conditions. It comes into effect only if you are unable to make your own decisions.

You may wish your directive to apply at any time when you are unable to decide for yourself, or you may want it to apply only if you are terminally ill.

Testamentary Trust

A testamentary trust is another option for you to consider when leaving assets via your will.  A testamentary trust is a trust set up to manage capital in a deceased estate.  It is put in place by the will maker (testator) within the will and the trust can only be activated on death.  

The trustee has the discretion to distribute the capital and income from the trust to the persons named or identified as beneficiaries of the trust.  

A particularly useful feature of a trust is that the assets being held for the beneficiary are automatically protected from seizure by creditors. This can be very important in the event that, for example, a business venture goes wrong or the beneficiary becomes liable for damages of some kind. Assets held in a trust are not owned personally by the beneficiary and therefore do not form part of the beneficiary’s personal estate. The assets held in the trust fund are protected from bankruptcy proceedings. 

Additionally, a trust can have advantages in divorce situations. For example, a house owned by a person outright might have to be sold, with some of the proceeds passing to an ex spouse as part of a divorce settlement. A house owned by a trustee may be able to be retained and leased to the beneficiary for a minimal rent.

In addition Testamentary Trusts can be used for tax effectiveness for your beneficiaries, particularly where minors are involved. 

Protect your estate by calling or emailing Ulton.

 your success. your life – it matters at Ulton!

 
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