Thinking | 13 April 2021

The world has changed – does your estate plan need to change with it?

By Emma Woolley

It is always important to keep your estate plan under review to ensure that the plan continues to match your wishes and any changes in the family or financial circumstances are taken into account.

When a plan is prepared it is never possible to legislate for every eventuality so we recommend that regular reviews are carried out to check. It is unlikely that anyone will have contemplated the possibility of the health crisis that has changed the world and is continuing to impact families and communities across the world.

The pandemic has resulted in significant global change, but it may also mean that it is time to have a look at the impact closer to home in relation to personal estate planning.

Here are a just few issues to consider:

Asset changes

Market fluctuations and business pressures over the past 12 months may have impacted the value of the estate or of particular assets. Businesses may have been sold or downsized or perhaps even acquired. Does the plan still work based on the current values? Does everyone still get what you want them to get?

Superannuation

Changes to assets and values might also have impacted superannuation. If the balance of a fund has reduced, there may now be inequalities in the estate plan that need to be addressed.

All superannuation death benefit nominations should be reviewed (in conjunction with other arrangements) to ensure the plan still matches expectations and changes are taken into account.

Family lending

The ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ is the fifth-largest source of lending in Australia behind the Big Four banks. It is always important to carefully document arrangements when family helps family and the current climate of uncertainty is no exception.

If new arrangements have been put in place do these need to be recognised as part of the estate plan?

Relationship changes

Changes to relationships (entering new relationships or relationship breakdown) is an unfortunate reality for many families. Many people incorrectly assume that separation automatically removes the possibility of a former partner benefitting from a Will and other succession planning arrangements. It is important to update the plan to ensure that assets end up in the right hands.

Now is a good time to review your personal plan. If you or your clients think an update is required or need assistance to review the plan, please contact our team.

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