Genders and Partners | Top 10 Estate Planning Predictions For Australia - Lawyer Adelaide

Earning the Age Pension in Australia

Genders and Partners | Top 10 Estate Planning Predictions For Australia - Lawyer Adelaide

The Age Pension was initially introduced in Australia in 1909 when the average life expectancy was below the eligibility age. It was thought that most people would not live long enough to receive it, and those that did would not get it for long.

The pension was designed to provide income support to older Australians who meet age and income requirements.

It is funded by Australian taxpayers and it accounts for a huge and growing chunk of our national expenditure.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Estate Planning to Show Your Family You Love Them

Estate Planning to Show Your Family You Love Them

How can you show your love for your family even after you are gone? None of us knows what the future holds. My godfather died in his 20’s and he left his young wife with a 3 month old baby to take care of. It doesn’t matter what stage of life you are in, you need to be prepared.

Here are a few practical steps to help you be prepared from a financial and administrative perspective.

1. Create a legal Will and keep it up to date.

Even if you don’t think you have a lot of assets, you need to have a Will because you don’t want the government to dictate what happens to your property after you are gone. It will save your family a lot of time and grief, because getting an estate in order after someone has died without a Will can take a lot of time and money.  You may be surprised by how many possessions you own … Super, life insurance, a car … it all adds up.

It is important to discuss who will care for your children if something should happen to both parents. It is certainly a hard decision and there are many factors to consider.

Don’t risk a DIY Will-kit. They are little more than expensive pieces of stationery, and offer no backup or support. They even say on those kits that they are not intended as a substitute for legal advice!  They are the cause of a growth-area in estate-litigation, because so many people make mistakes with them. The problems will only show up after you’re dead and gone.  Then it’s your family & loved ones who have to wear the cost and all the delay and heartache to try to fix it all afterwards.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: More common pitfalls of estate planning and how to avoid them

More common pitfalls of estate planning and how to avoid them

In my law practice I see lots of mistakes that people have made when it comes to estate planning, as well as some estate-planning strategies that could be used a lot more.

One of the most common mistakes is a misunderstanding of beneficiary nominations. Nowadays, many assets are transferred at death through superannuation funds, life insurance policies and annuities.

The owner of those investments or insurances (the person who set them up) will often have nominated a particular person(s) to receive the benefits of them, once the owner has died.  This is a separate & binding contract which can bypass the owner’s legal Will.

Many people don’t appreciate how important it is to get the designations of those nominated beneficiaries right.  I typically see beneficiary nominations where at the start of the marriage each spouse nominates the other as the sole nominated beneficiary for the super & the life insurance.  Unfortunately most people forget to keep their binding nominations up to date.  They forget to add the children, or only add some of them, leading to unintended consequences & heartache.

Similarly, if a child dies, most people would want that share to go to that child’s children, ie to the descendants, down the bloodline to the deceased child’s children.  Sadly many people get this wrong, and end up accidentally disinheriting their grandchildren.

And you can’t necessarily rely on “common sense” to sort it out after your death. Unfortunately, there’s little consistency within the financial-services industry. If the insurance plan administrator or superannuation trustee doesn’t know how to handle it, your family will be the ones paying to sort it out.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: DIY Superannuation

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: DIY Superannuation

Have you been watching the news recently?  It has been a challenge trying to make sense of all the current news reports on this financial crisis.

A lot of Australians choose to remain blinkered about the impact that the current crisis will continue to have in our local markets as well as globally.  If you are sitting in your home in suburban Australia thinking that all these financial crisis events don’t relate to you, you might be in for a nasty surprise.

For most people, their primary concern is the cost of petrol, rising food prices, health care and housing affordability.  Those concerns don’t magically disappear when you retire…in fact they tend to get magnified through the lense of “fixed income”.

Chances are that you have some form of superannuation and in most cases it is probably a managed super fund.

At the moment, almost all of the big managed super funds in Australia are announcing huge (20% to 30%) reductions (losses) of capital of value.  Some funds have lost more than 30%. They might try to “spin” this as no big deal, and encourage you to take a “long-term” view of the market performance.  They’ll show a graph of managed-funds values over 20 years or so, and say that you have to expect some “swings and roundabouts”.  Of course the fund managers get paid whether the fund values go up or down …

Maybe this isn’t too alarming for some people. However, if you’re in your 60’s and looking to retire the next couple of years, how do you recover from a pretty big dent in your retirement fund?

You might be forgiven for wondering just what you’ve been paying-for with those managers’ fees all these years, and whether there might be a better solution?

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Risk & Retirement Estate Planning in Uncertain Times

Risk & Retirement Estate Planning in Uncertain Times

There is growing concern over health-care costs and world-wide economic issues at the moment, and retirees’ confidence in being able to afford a comfortable and financially secure retirement has declined to a very low level.

Some superannuation funds have recently reported their largest-ever drop in returns.

The Australian Government is publically encouraging workers to remain in the workforce after age 65.  They have relaxed the superannuation and taxation rules to make it more attractive to older workers to keep working.  Initially this was just to reduce the bill for the old-age pension which threatens to blow-out to enormous levels as the Baby-Boomer generation all retire together.

Then average life expectancies kept getting longer, so that people aged between 100 & 110 years old are the fastest growing category in Australian demographics.  This means that it is possible for some people to be on the aged-pension for longer than they were in the workforce!

At the same time, declining birth-rates over the last 20 years has led to a severe skills-shortage in the workforce, and the government wants to minimise the effect upon business (and therefore on the economy) by encouraging older workers to stick around in their jobs awhile longer.

Now, with the American recession biting into world-asset values, many boomers may no longer have the luxury of choosing to retire at 65 – they won’t be able to afford not to keep working.

How to Live Well in Retirement

How to Live Well in Retirement

Are you nervous about the recent volatility in the markets, as you approach retirement age?

Everyone hopes for a comfortable retirement, but how many really plan for a long and fulfilling retirement? You know you should put money away for your retirement, but as that day approaches (particularly with world share markets and superannuation funds in crisis), which financial and investment strategies should you follow to help yourself enjoy the lifestyle you’ve envisioned?

You could literally spend decades in retirement. With advances in medicine and healthcare, it is actually becoming increasingly likely that Australians will live longer in retirement than they were in the workforce. Keep this type of longevity in mind when you create investment strategies for your retirement.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: How Much to Live? Planning to Retire

How Much to Live? Planning to Retire

I had a dream the other night – it was the scene from Life of Brian where the convicts are lined up before an officious jailer, who is ticking-off their fate on a clipboard: “Crucifixion? Line on the left – one cross each!”

But in my dream-version, I was confronted with a bean-counting accountant in front of a supermarket check-out till, behind which the line branched away into two corridors marked “Live” or “Die”.

I saw myself reaching for my wallet, asking “How much to live?”

In a weird kind of way, this is a very relevant, and thoroughly modern, estate planning question.

Back in the day, men retired at age 65 and women retired at 60.  They received the old-age pension, and generally died in their 70’s.

Now, nobody can afford to retire at any age, because the pension barely covers the cost of the petrol needed to drive to the Department to collect the cheque in the first place, and yet we’re all living to 100! The Queen must be going broke with all the telegrams she has to send nowadays to people reaching their hundredth birthday.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Elder Care & Retirement Planning

Elder Care & Retirement Planning

Australians are living longer than ever before. About 5000 people are turning 65 every day, yet health care & retirement planning are things many people neglect. As a result many people find themselves struggling just to get-by in their golden years.

A proper financial plan, as part of an integrated estate plan, will consider the Medicare & Centrelink entitlements of each individual within the context of their family and personal situation.  The plan will include long-term care & medical treatment, accommodation & various insurances.

As we accumulate wealth we hope that one day, we can pass it on to our children and loved ones. But without proper estate planning, a protracted illness or accident can rapidly use-up that wealth leaving us with little or nothing to pass-on. Loved ones may inherit far less than they or you expected.  Without adequate asset protection mechanisms and insurances, existence can be much colder & meaner than it needs to be.

Learning how to use estate planning is an essential life-skill for retirees.  It helps to insure that the wealth you worked so hard to build goes where you want it to. You can protect your children’s inheritance, your hard-earned retirement benefits and assets, and much more.

Estate planning can help you with your golden years. Through it you can start learning the ins and outs of elder care, long term insurance, Medicare and more today. Don’t let your lack of planning be your downfall.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Did You Know You’re A YOYO?

Did You Know You're A Yoyo?

YOYO stands for “You’re On Your Own”, and it has never been truer for Australian retirees.

In the 1980’s when Paul Keating changed government policy to encourage us all to save enough money for our eventual retirement, we did so with an expectation of mastering our own destiny to enjoy a wonderful and carefree retirement. The idea was to reduce the dependence upon government funds for the old-age pension.

There has been a tremendous change in the social culture of Australia in the 25 years or so since superannuation commenced.  Consumerism and household debt have risen to enormous levels.  Almost every householder draws upon the equity in their homes to afford luxury “lifestyle” items such as the latest big-screen home theatre systems.  Credit cards and high levels of debt are common.  The levels of average household savings (apart from superannuation) are non-existent, and most super funds are invested in Australian equities (shares) and therefore vulnerable to share-market contractions, such as at present.

These and related factors have left us Baby Boomers with a substantial shortfall (on average) in our projected savings for retirement.

This is why You’re On Your Own. The government absolutely won’t have enough funds to provide full pensions and ever-more-expensive health-care for the enormous numbers of Baby Boomers about to leave the workforce and head into the twilight years.  There simply are not enough replacement workers coming into the workforce behind us to pay for everything through current taxes.  It is no coincidence that in the same era as superannuation began in Australia the GST (Goods & Services Tax) was introduced (also by Paul Keating) to reduce reliance upon workers’ incomes as the main source of government revenue.