Aussies lack proper estate planning, says HLB Mann Judd
Despite the wealth that some Australians hold, many are not focused on the need for adequate estate planning, according to HLB Mann Judd.
Michael Hutton, head of wealth management of HLB Mann Judd Sydney, said that currently one in two Australians die without a valid will, regardless of the assets they hold.
"A significant part of people's overall wealth management process is to ensure that upon death, wealth is passed on to who they want it to go to, in an appropriate, tax-effective and well-understood manner," he said.
"People might also aim to protect their wealth from spendthrift beneficiaries, potential creditors of the beneficiaries and so forth. A good estate plan will ensure that this is achieved."
Another issue for Australians is that when estate planning is actually dealt with, it is commonly addressed at a "very low level", he said.
"Often, little thought is put into incorporating factors such as testamentary trusts in a will, even where the estate being left is very large," he said.
"Testamentary trusts are a way of passing wealth to beneficiaries in a tax-efficient, asset-protected manner.
"[They] are only formed upon the death of the testator and can be very flexible, or not, depending on the testator's wishes," Mr Hutton said.
Going through the estate planning process is also an opportunity to think about legacy, he said.
"People often start to think about whether there are any particular things they wish to be remembered for, such as supporting a particular charity or cause, or leaving money for grandchildren's education or to help them to buy their first house.
"Once people recognise these benefits exist, estate planning can actually become a rewarding experience in many ways," he said.
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