Nothing in life is certain, they say, except death and taxes. And, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, one in every six working adults died before retirement in 2017. This is a sobering enough thought, but with only three per cent of Australians currently prepared for the inevitable, with the rest of us passing without having first made a will, what are the consequences for our loved-ones left behind? And for families with children – whether on the autism spectrum or not – if a sudden and unexpected death occurs, having no will can cause significant problems, especially if your assets are owned solely by you and not you and your partner together.
What happens if you have no will?
If you haven’t prepared a will, your estate is termed ‘intestate’ and decisions are made about your property, insurance policies, superannuation, investments and even the guardianship of your children, by the Government under legislation. A recent case discussed by the Royal Commission saw a bank ignore the pleas of a surviving spouse whose name was not on the property title or loan agreement, and force the sale of the family home (at a loss) to finalise the loan. Cases like this show that there is no time like the present to get your affairs in order to ensure your children are not exposed to the indifferent actions of financial institutions at an already traumatic time.
Could you unintentionally be leaving everything to chance?
Clearly, a will is the most important document you can make in your lifetime. But would you leave everything that you have worked for and the safe-guarding of your children’s future to chance with an ‘off the shelf’ kit? These one-size-fits-all wills are available online for less than a few hundred dollars, all at the click of a few buttons and the provision of credit card details. Unfortunately, the rise in popularity of these do-it-yourself documents has led to poorly termed clauses which are easily contested in court. This is why preparing a Will and Estate Plan with a properly trained and experienced financial adviser makes sense and is an investment in your family’s future. A proper will goes well beyond the words on a page.
The benefits of a Will and Estate Plan
A properly constructed will ensures that the executor of your choice is there to carry out your wishes for your family and your assets. It provides a framework for the care and financial support of your partner and children in the event of your death. In the terrible event that you and your partner die at the same time, a properly drafted Will and Estate Plan will name a guardian for children who are minors or who are older but unable to live independently. This minimises the risk of a legal challenge by other family members.
When you consider that blended family arrangements are now common, with grandparents and relatives more likely than ever to have full-time care of children who are not biologically related to them, it is even more crucial that your wishes are known.
Another benefit is that a Will and Estate Plan provides flexible taxation benefits through income splitting and capital gains tax strategies so that the government will not be the biggest winner of all. It also maintains the value of your estate for future generations.
Key points to consider
- Providing an income for your children’s expenses and education
- Protecting any children under 18 or family members who require long-term care
- The guardianship of minors or older children unable to care for themselves
- Providing for the succession, sale or closure of your business, if a business owner
- Where you will hold your will, and how will your family access it in the event of your passing
Talk to an expert
Will drafting is an expert discipline; it takes years of knowledge and training to put together a watertight will. When seeking advice, be sure to ask the adviser about their experience, training and qualifications.
One Wealth Advisory has many years of expertise in Will and Estate Planning and is a long-time supporter of Autism Awareness Australia. We understand the additional complexities that families with loved ones on the spectrum need to plan for; and would be happy to answer any questions you might have. Please email me at [email protected] for a complimentary consultation.
Director – Financial Adviser
One Wealth Advisory