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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.

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Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Financial Planning … one of the important elements of Estate Planning

Financial Planning … one of the important elements of Estate Planning

How much money will you need to meet your retirement goals? Have you allowed for share-market contractions, inflation, and unexpected emergencies?  In the event of death or disability, will your family be able to maintain a comfortable lifestyle, or will everything you have worked-for be at risk? These are just a few of the many issues that need to be considered in a formal Financial Plan, which is one component of an integrated Estate Plan.

You should sketch out a “mud-map” of your goals, and the steps needed to achieve them.  You also should put in place monitoring safeguards to check that your investments are performing up to expectations.

So how do you determine your financial goals and develop a plan to reach them?

Most people need help to do this, and this is why there is a whole industry of people and companies fighting for your business, to help you develop and implement your financial plan. Just look in the Yellow Pages under Financial Planners, and you’ll see dozens of listings.

All banks & insurers, and most accountants, have Financial Planners on staff.  Many of them will have a separate financial planning division.  There are also lots of specialist financial planners in their own businesses.  So who should you choose to help you with your financial plan?

Since March 2004 Australians have enjoyed the protection of the Financial Services Reform Act, which imposed high standards designed to protect you whenever you deal with banks, building societies, credit unions, insurance companies, superannuation and managed funds or with stockbrokers, financial planners and insurance brokers.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide- Comfort = Complacency?

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Comfort = Complacency?

As Baby Boomers start to keel-over, we are about to witness the greatest “transfer of wealth” ever in Australia’s history. This segment of society is a BIG chunk of our national population, and it represents a massive percentage of our private net-worth as a nation.

While this is happening, the Gen-X and Gen-Y youngsters are growing-up fast, and realising for the first time that bull-markets don’t last forever.  They now have new burdens of responsibilities to their own kids coming through behind them.  They are suddenly recognising that life doesn’t owe them, and they’ll have to work for what they want.  It will be interesting to see how they cope.  They’ve been raised in very good times, when the equity in our homes unlocked a never-ending orgy of consumerism.  Who needed to save, when debt was so much easier, and capital gains would take care of that.  Why delay gratification, when the latest big-screen home-theatre can be installed today, with payments over the next 10 years?

But now we are formally acknowledged to be in a debt-fuelled recession.  Our economy has been very kind to us for a long time, and people have become used to a certain level of comfort and security – but that is no longer guaranteed.

So how will you look after yourself and your family in these challenging times?  Have you created a fully-integrated estate plan, and reviewed it regularly?  Have you taken the steps necessary to preserve your wealth for your old-age, and to pass your assets onto the people you care about, or are you simply hoping to live forever?

Death & taxes, illness & share-market corrections may be unavoidable … but they don’t have to ruin your family or your business.  Make the effort to protect the people you really care about.  Call Genders & Partners for integrated estate planning in Adelaide and all over South Australia. And do it NOW … before it is too late.

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Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: One More Hour … Baby Boomers, Pop Songs and Estate Planning

I remember when I was young, the world had just begun, and I was happy.

When I was younger, so much younger than today.

One more hour and my life will be through.

Can you name the classic pop songs in which these timeless lyrics were sung?  If so, then you’re probably at least as old as me, and you are a “Baby Boomer” (born between 1945 and 1965).  So what does this have to do with Estate Planning?  Well quite a few things, really.

If we’re old enough to remember when these songs first made an impact on popular culture, then we’re at an age when we need to confront some harsh realities about our continued existence.  We’re at an age when we have started to recognise that life flashes past at a furious rate – Life is what happens to you when your busy making other plans and before you know it, you’re retired and contemplating your family’s future without you.  (Cue emotional song to tug at heartstrings…ie Cats in the Cradle.

We’re getting older.  Maybe our best health is behind us.  If we get sick, or suffer some financial misfortune, our ability to “bounce-back” may not be what it once was.  We need to get serious about planning for our own future, and for the future of our family.  We need to protect our assets, plan for retirement, create a succession plan for our businesses…

It starts to feel like there isn’t enough time to get everything done.  Whatever happened to “slowing down & taking things easy”?  It seems more like the pace of living is quickening.  The ever-increasing cost of healthcare, and the effect of global economic conditions on our superannuation fund returns, are increasing concerns for many of us.

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Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: 9 Meals from Anarchy

… estate planning and the need to be prepared…

9 Meals from Anarchy

Authors, politicians, revolutionaries, psychologists and philosophers have long proclaimed that civilisation is only 3 days – or 9 meals – away from anarchy, barbarism and revolution.

Think about it – no food on supermarket shelves  –  how long before law and order started to break down, and suburban streets descend into chaos and mob-rule?

It’s been a long time since any of us in Australia were genuinely hungry.  I mean starving from lack of available food, not the latest Hollywood diet.

But imagine a sudden loss of electrical power, like Auckland experienced in 1998.  That’s only 15 years ago, in a modern first world country. There it took five weeks to restore that power supply, and about 60,000 people had to relocate to other New Zealand cities, or even to Australia.

So imagine your whole state without power for weeks.  No electric light or refrigeration. No internet, television, radio or phones.  No banking or EFTPOS. The electric pumps at the service stations shutdown oil and petrol supplies, so no trucks delivering food.

No electrical pumps means eventually no running water.

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Asset Protection – Be Smart, Be Safe

Genders and Partners | Asset Protection – Be Smart, Be Safe | Wills and Estate Planning

Protecting your assets is one of the most important financial decisions you will ever make. Asset protection is a valuable and important part of a modern integrated estate plan. No matter how many assets you have, you should make an effort to protect them, but try to avoid these common mistakes:

1. Lack of Knowledge

Lots of people misunderstand how asset protection works. Some people believe asset protection makes them “judgment proof.” Even if your assets are protected, you may still cop an adverse court judgment. In some cases, efforts you have made to protect your assets can be overturned. This is why it is important to work with a professional when creating your protection plan.

Don’t make the mistake of assuming asset protection and estate planning are the same thing. Asset protection is part of any strong estate plan but they are not the same thing. Some trusts do nothing to protect you from creditors, and Family Court issues can interfere with the best-laid plans.

Don’t make the mistake of confusing bankruptcy law and asset protection law. In a state like South Australia, newer bankruptcy laws do not prevent the “clawing back” of assets you may have tried to unsuccessfully protect. You have less protection in bankruptcy court, so filing for bankruptcy should be used as a last resort.

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Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Expectation Management

As Baby Boomers, we are leaving the workforce in record numbers.

Expectation Management

This leads to some uncomfortable predictions about the lifestyle we can expect in retirement, and what the Government will do to help us.

In Australia, we have not felt the impact of the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) as quickly or as hard as many other countries (like Greece or Ireland).

But recently, the International Monetary Fund said “The global economy is in a dangerous new phase”, so it is natural to be concerned about our own futures – especially if our most productive years are behind us. It is not easy to recover from a financial reversal when our ability to earn is diminishing with age.

With market volatility in recent months reaching levels not seen since the GFC, it is worth looking at the key factors affecting our economy in this new financial climate.

Populations in most developed countries like Australia are ageing. As people retire, incomes fall and spending patterns must be adjusted downwards. In some countries, economic growth has been extremely low and price deflation has occurred. An ageing population lowers the number of citizens available to work and requires more government assistance in terms of pensions, health care services and other benefits.

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Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: The Dangers of DIY Wills and Estate Planning

The Dangers of DIY Wills and Estate Planning

Some people resist or resent spending money on estate planning, because they think (wrongly) they won’t gain the benefits themselves.

In difficult financial times like these, some folks may be tempted to postpone or minimise what might seem like a non-essential expenditure.

Every week, thousands of television advertisements from insurance companies encourage people to bypass lawyers and create their own Wills, using cheap or free “Will kits”.

The big ugly truth about these kits is that people make a lot of mistakes when they try to create their own Wills and estate planning documents. They have been lulled into a false sense of security. But answering just one question incorrectly or overlooking something such as appointing a guardian for children can lead to major problems down the road.

There are lots of traps for the unwary, and this whole area of law regarding deceased estates contains a hidden minefield which you absolutely want to avoid. And with a bit of education & planning, they can. Otherwise they won’t know the questions to ask, or what to do with the answers.

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Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Planning an Enduring Legacy

Planning an Enduring Legacy

What do you want to be remembered for, after you’re gone?

Traditional Wills describe the worldly possessions you want your loved ones to have. This sort of document is the oldest and best known component in estate planning.

In addition to the Will there are additional types of documents that are now widely recommended as part of modern integrated estate planning. These include Advance Medical Directives which may be used to express your wishes with regard to medical preferences in case you subsequently find yourself in a situation where you can’t make your own decisions. This sort of “Living Will” can address issues relating to end-of-life decisions such as life support and to define the extent of use of artificial means to keep you alive if there is no hope of recovery.  There are also all sorts of other documents which allow you to delegate control and decision-making, such as various categories of Powers-of-Attorney.

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide Baby Boomers - Are You Bequeathing Disaster to Your Family

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Baby Boomers – Are You Bequeathing Disaster to Your Family

Baby Boomers were born between 1945 and 1965.  As a segment of Australian society we represent a BIG chunk of our national population, and account for a massive percentage of the nation’s private net-worth.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics people aged 65 years and over made up 13% of Australia’s population at 30 June 2007. This proportion is projected to increase to 25% in 2056 and to 28% in 2101.

As we prepare to transition into retirement & beyond, we are about to witness the greatest transfer of wealth ever in Australia’s history.

However 2010 Australian research commissioned by the Salvation Army from Roy Morgan Research reveals that nearly two thirds of the adult Australian population does not have a Will. The research also shows 40% of Australians aged 25+ have experienced or know someone who has experienced family conflict as a result of a family member not leaving a Will.

Dying without any Will is called intestacy.  When that happens, the government of the State where you die will determine what will happen to your assets.  This can lead to unintended people (or even the government) gaining ownership of your hard-earned assets.

Many Australians have no idea what happens to their assets after they die, and sadly many rely on the misguided notion that a Do it Yourself Will is sufficient to protect their family and assets.