Planning your estate

In 2016 many famous people have died. Those of you who read this blog regularly would be aware that its overarching theme is about the perils of not planning for your future.

Wills, advance care directives, powers of attorney, superannuation, life insurance, income protection insurance in order to provide for you and your loved ones in the event that you die or become incapacitated.

We don’t like thinking about death – but it is a part of life. In order to formalise what happens to your assets after your death you should make a Will.

Remember the future for good or ill happens whether we want it to or not. In not planning for retirement or death, as they seem to be in the distant future, we meander through our days in an oblivious haze.

We insure our physical assets such as a car or house but think little about protecting our future income through superannuation and insurance.

In Australia superannuation is compulsory however most of us are only vaguely aware about how it operates even though it will provide a large portion of our retirement income. In fact currently your superannuation death benefit could be the largest asset that you have.

Currently employers are required to pay a proportion on top of an employee’s salaries and wages into a superannuation fund, however you can further supplement this amount through voluntary contributions to your superannuation. You can also direct your superannuation to a fund that invests in products and services that reflect your values.

Similarly if you were to get sick how would you pay the monthly bills? These are some of the things to ask yourself when planning for your future.

Income Protection usually provides up to 75% of your gross income if you are unable to work due to illness or injury. Income protection premiums are usually tax deductible.

Life insurance pays a designated beneficiary a sum of money upon the death of the insured person.

Protecting your salary through income protection insurance and taking out life insurance to provide for your family in the event of sickness or death are important things to discuss as when planning for your future.

A big change that has occurred recently is the prevalence of social media – which has brought into focus how profiles, presences and photos are to be managed after the user dies.

Currently, succession law has not kept pace with digital assets, media and identities. Unlike a book or record collection the digital assets of a Kindle library, or iTunes music collection are not as easy to gift to your heirs.

Importantly your will should have specific instructions about how digital material – photos, videos, messages, posts and memories – should be managed.

Remember that the earlier you begin your plan the better the chance that you can successfully retire making the most out of superannuation. If you make a plan and stick to it—you can accumulate enough savings in order to have a good retirement.

The need to have an estate plan increases as we age, however you shouldn’t wait until you are married, or have children, before making a plan – it is important to take out life and income protection insurance make a will, power of attorney, and advance care directives as soon as you can.

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