Superannuation death benefits are a minefield and arguably in need of simplification and reform

From

Peter Townsend

It’s a fair question to ask: What happens to a family if there is not an estate plan in place and change/tragedy occurs? Who has control?

Quite simply, your family’s estate plan is then in the hands of the Courts as they decide which assets go to which parties. It’s an involved process, and the outcomes may not be what was intended by the owner of the assets.

Unintended consequences of an out-of-date Will can lead to more tax being paid on those assets and the wishes of the person bequeathing those assets may not be realised. Superannuation and insurance payouts may not go to the people who expect them and, possibly, these unintended consequences can be unwound but it would take a lot of time and the outcome is not certain.

Here are some tips on getting your estate plan in place:

Firstly, organise your thoughts as to what you want done with your assets ‘down the track’ and whether there are any special circumstances to be considered.

Secondly, find an estate planning specialist to help in understanding all of the tax and family estate issues that need to be considered. A specialist will save time and expense as the complex issues around estate planning require deep knowledge on tax, superannuation and legal issues around family matters.

Finally, have a strategy in place to review your financial circumstances every two to three years, and change the Will, plus other documents such as enduring guardianship as required.

By Peter Townsend, Principal

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