With many ‘average Australians’ having assets which are ‘non-estate’ assets, it is crucial that these individuals develop strategies (ie an estate plan), to ensure that the control of these assets is passed to your loved ones upon your death.
In part 2 of the Estate Planning series I identified some situations where assets may be non-estate. In this article I will explore some general strategies for dealing with these kinds of assets with an aim to control who has access to them upon your death.
What happens to property owned as joint tenants?
The right of survivorship applies to property held among individuals as joint tenants. This means that upon the death of one of the owners, full ownership of the property will automatically revert to the surviving owner. The property will not form part of the deceased owner’s estate.
In your estate plan, if you do not wish for the right of survivorship to apply, steps can be taken to sever a joint tenancy, so that the property is held as tenants in common. This will enable your interest in the property to flow to your estate.
What happens to your superannuation?
Superannuation is separate to your estate, therefore, it is not automatically distributed in accordance with your Will. Without an estate plan, the trustee of your superannuation fund may decide which dependents to pay your superannuation to.
Welden & Coluccio Lawyers, when discussing your estate plan, can help to control which dependents your superannuation is ultimately paid to.
It should be noted that there are strict compliance issues which impact whether a binding death benefit nomination is valid.
What happens to assets held by a discretionary family trust?
Trust property will not form part of your estate as the assets are owned by the trust itself.
Without an estate plan, assets held by these separate legal entities may not pass to your loved ones as you wish.
Welden & Coluccio Lawyers can devise a plan, whereby you can transfer control of these assets to a specific person. If you are concerned about assets held in a separate legal entity, it is imperative that you have your trust and company documentation reviewed by an estate specialist.
What happens to life insurance?
If you have taken out a life insurance policy to ensure that your loved ones continue to enjoy a certain lifestyle in the event of your passing, it is important to consider how this policy has been established. If a beneficiary has been nominated on the policy, the life insurer must pay the beneficiary directly. This means that the proceeds will not form part of the insured’s estate. Therefore, it is important how you have made the respective nominations.
An effective estate plan means considering and appreciating all aspects of an individual’s life. At Welden & Coluccio Lawyers our speciality is estate planning and we are able to effectively tailor the right estate plan to meet your needs and those you love.