Planning to die, or lose your marbles this year?

It’s been Rod Cunich’s professional and personal experience that we don’t find our own mortality something we can easily discuss with family, but it is something that should be discussed and planned for. Not when we’re old, but now. Why? Firstly, you simply don’t control the timing of these things, it could be tomorrow, and secondly, it sometimes takes years to implement a plan. 

Whether through accident, disease or death, the day will come when you can no longer personally provide for the financial, health and emotional wellbeing of yourself or those you love. The consequences of these events are too important to leave to chance. Fortunately, you can plan for that time and put structures into place to help secure your future and that of your family..

A well structured succession plan, otherwise known as an estate plan, can give you great peace of mind that your loved ones will be provided for as you intended.

If you knew when you are due to pass, what are the issues you would need to address before the day arrives? Here is a list of issues you might consider.

Protecting family wealth from

  • a beneficiary’s marriage failing
  • a beneficiary becoming bankrupt
  • a beneficiary being sued
  • a beneficiary’s mental incapacity
  • a beneficiary being a spendthrift
  • a beneficiary being drug or gambling dependant
  • the risk associated with spouse remarrying
  • a beneficiary being vulnerable for some other reason
  • intestacy of beneficiaries

Minimising family disputes

  • treat beneficiaries equally, and if not, address how to minimise the risk of a successful challenge
  • document rationale for decisions
  • communicate intentions to beneficiaries
  • clarify treatment of gifts made during your lifetime
  • provide more to younger beneficiaries
  • fair distribution of family heirlooms
  • make special provision for family business
  • make special provision for large assets
  • address loans given to beneficiaries
  • allow for capital gains tax
  • avoid conflicts of interest for executors and attorney

Cater for the needs of a blended family

  • provide for children from prior marriage/s
  • balance needs of partner with children
  • utilise a financial agreement
  • integrate with any existing  financial agreement
  • keep family assets within your bloodline
  • communicate plans to extended family to avoid disputes
  • use of mutual will agreements to preserve assets for children when spouse passes

Ensure minor dependants are cared for

  • nominate appropriate guardians
  • communicate wishes to guardians
  • boost estate funding to meet needs of beneficiaries

Reduce chance of successful claims against estate

  • anticipate and address likely claims
  • execute will properly
  • store will safely
  • document justification
  • communicate to beneficiaries
  • get advice on likely claims

Protect vulnerable beneficiaries

  • financial protection for disabled
  • appoint appropriate guardians
  • create disability trust during your lifetime or in your will
  • ongoing care for disabled adult beneficiaries
  • boost size of estate to provide for beneficiaries

Optimise financial outcomes for beneficiaries

  • co-ordinate specialist tax, legal, investment and planning advice for executor
  • administer estate in tax effective manner
  • integrate estate administration with appropriate strategies for beneficiaries

Assist grandchildren with education and housing

  • whilst you are alive
  • in the event of your death
  • in the event of your children predeceasing you

Support philanthropy

  • support philanthropy tax effectively during your life
  • support philanthropy via your estate
  • create a lasting Legacy through Charitable Giving (e.g. foundation or scholarship)

Protect family business interests

  • plan for business succession
  • ensure business succession integrates with your estate planning
  • protect against key-person risk

Implement appropriate powers of attorney

  • for financial matters
  • for lifestyle matters
  • for health matters

Develop aged care plan

  • plan ahead for aged care accommodation
  • execute an advanced health care directive

So what is involved?

Preparing a will is an integral part of any succession plan as it determines how your assets are to be divided in the event of our death. But there are many other factors to consider. Slater & Gordon has extensive experience and understand the complexities involved. It has a long history of servicing the needs of Australians and their families.   

Slater & Gordon lawyers can help assess your personal circumstances and assist you to formulate an appropriate succession plan. They’ll work cooperatively with your other professional advisors, such as your accountant, financial planner and insurance adviser to ensure your plan is integrated and covers all bases. Being a full service law firm, its commitment doesn’t stop there. It can help ensure that your dependants are looked after through whatever should arise over their lifetime.

The common high-level objectives of family succession planning are:

1. Financial support of

  • spouse
  • children, other relatives, charities

Wealth accumulation for

  • lifestyle needs
  • retirement

Capacity Management

  • legal and financial attorney
  • health and welfare attorney
  • advanced health care directives

Asset protection structures against

  • business risks
  • family risks

Asset distribution strategies coordinating

  • business assets: company, partnership
  • trust assets, superannuation, life insurance
  • personal assets

The planning process

The following is an overview of succession planning issues and options available to you. Succession planning is a three-part process involving:

1. identification of personal assets and those in your broader estate such as assets owned jointly, or owned by trusts or companies

2. identification of potential risks including, for example, your early death or the possible divorce or bankruptcy of a beneficiary

3. the design and implementation of a plan that incorporates all your assets and takes into account flexibility to accommodate future changes, risk minimisation, tax minimisation and succession issues.

Each step is a multi-disciplinary exercise that usually will require the co-ordinated involvement of your financial planning, accounting and legal advisers.

Contact Slater & Gordon on 1800 555 777, or visit