It’s probably not something you want to think about much less discuss with your kids but like it or not, one day we all pass away, and giving our loved ones a heads up on some of our financial affairs may make the process a whole lot easier. That’s why when it comes to estate planning; it can be a good idea to call an ‘financial affairs family meeting’ with your beneficiaries, your financial adviser and your legal adviser.
Not only can a financial adviser keep things running smoothly and professionally but it’s also an opportunity for them to get an overview of your family’s circumstances as a whole. This way they are in a better position to determine the best strategy for you as a family.
Here are a few of the essentials they may cover off in a family meeting.
The contents of your Will
It’s a good idea to give your loved ones a heads up about the contents of your Will – in particular who your beneficiaries are and how much they are likely to receive in the form of an inheritance, super or life insurance benefit.
While this can be a difficult conversation to have and can often cause some friction among family members, it’s also an opportunity for you to explain your decisions. This may help in keeping everyone happy and avoiding family disputes after you’ve gone.
A testamentary trust
A testamentary trust can be a flexible way to ensure your wishes are carried out after you die. Basically, rather than being paid directly to your beneficiaries, your money is put into a trust and administered by a trustee appointed in the Will (until it expires). This can protect your assets against undesired tax consequences, divorce proceedings, bankruptcy and even being squandered by an irresponsible beneficiary. So if you’re setting up a trust, now could be the best time to air it.
Unlike other assets, your superannuation is not covered by your Will so it’s important to nominate beneficiaries. A family meeting is the perfect opportunity to set-up binding death nominations to ensure your intentions about your super are carried out.
Your powers of attorney
Powers of attorney are an important part of your estate planning – giving someone the legal authority to look after your affairs on your behalf if you lose the capacity to do so. This includes your enduring power of attorney, who makes financial and legal decisions and your medical power of attorney who makes your medical decisions, when you can no longer do so. A family meeting is a great place to discuss the appointment of powers of attorney as well as discussing important issues such as your views on treatment, your healthcare directive and if possible, how you would like to grow old.
Your investments, superannuation and insurance
If you’ve got any investments, super or insurance policies tucked away, now is the time to let your kids and your adviser know about it. Not only will your kids get a better idea of how you manage your finances (and may follow your lead) but you won’t have to worry about anything going missing after you’ve gone.
Get off on the right foot
As you can imagine, a family meeting can be quite an emotional experience and there is a lot to cover. So chances are you’ll be grateful to have an experienced professional around to maintain a level head and keep things running smoothly.
An additional benefit of holding a family meeting is introducing your financial adviser to younger family members. This will give you peace of mind knowing that in the event of your death, your children will already have a trusted adviser who can give them the financial support they need to manage your estate and invest any inheritance they may receive.
Better yet, now that you’ve got them in the door, your adviser may even be able to give younger family members some tips to get them started saving and investing today.
So to ensure your final wishes are met, avoid unnecessary family conflict and get your children off to a good start, plan a family meeting today.