Estate planning would have to be up there as one of the most procrastinated tasks for families (along with oiling the deck and getting that check-up).
It isn’t too difficult to see why. Planning for the inevitable is never a nice job. But it is an important one. More often than not, I ask my SMSF trustee clients if they have everything organised and the answer is “Yes, my Will was only updated recently”. Almost invariably this is the conversation that follows….
Me: “How long ago was it updated?”
SMSF Trustee: “Oh it wouldn’t be much longer than 5 years ago” (We check later and discover it was done back in 2002)
Me: “How and where have your directed your superannuation upon death?”
SMSF Trustee: “I am not sure but it will be covered in my Will”
Me: “Actually this is not the case. The Will cannot direct the SMSF payments. Do you have other documents in place?”
SMSF Trustee: “What do you mean it isn’t covered in the Will??? What does the Will cover?”
And so begins our Estate Planning review. We may discover a range of issues and gaps but here are some examples:
- The Will is outdated and/or major events such as marriage, divorce, birth of a child etc have occurred since the last review
- The SMSF Trustees didn’t realise that the Will does not cover superannuation assets
- The SMSF does not have binding death benefit nominations in place or reversionary pensions where applicable (read more about these in our blogs Binding death benefit nominations & Reversionary Pensions and How They Operate. )
- The Executor previously appointed is no longer relevant (may have been your parents who have since passed away)
- The client has since started a business or purchased new assets which were not covered by the original Will
These are just some of the issues that can arise during an Estate Planning review. An important distinction to make is this…..
A SMSF can direct assets to your Estate but your Estate (Will) cannot direct your SMSF assets.
If you wish for your superannuation to be part of your Estate you must have the right documents in place to do so.
If you would like an Estate Planning review get in touch with us here. We can work with your estate planning lawyer to ensure everything is updated and any gaps identified.