Genders and Partners

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: 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.

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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.

Probate and Estate Administration Adelaide- How To Create An Expensive Disaster For Your Family To Fix After Your Death

How To Create An Expensive Disaster For Your Family To Fix After Your Death

  1. Write your own Will. Use one of those cheap kits from the post office. The cheaper the better – why waste money on expensive stationery?
  2. Even better, download something from the interweb, preferably from another country. Try to get something that doesn’t have any creation date on it –it won’t be hard – that way you can be pretty sure that your Will won’t comply with local laws here and now.
  3. Don’t pay for professional legal advice. Just do it yourself. Type up (or better yet handwrite in a shaky hand) your own Will. Just in case, write up several Wills all on the same day – each slightly different.
  4. Make your gift to your daughter conditional upon her divorcing her loser husband. Put your son’s legacy in trust for 50 years, unless he completes 6 years in the army. Tell your wife that she can only keep the house as long as she never even thinks about another man AND never again speaks to her interfering busy-body mother.
  5. When writing your Will, talk about the assets in incredible detail – down to the serial number on your television. Then forget to keep track of those assets throughout your lifetime. Sell some, give some away, and junk some. It will be good for a laugh as you look up from Purgatory at your family trying to work out which assets are actually part of your estate, and who is to get what.
  6. Also, don’t bother trying to distinguish between your own assets outright, compared with assets that you might own jointly with someone else, or assets that are owned in a trust or company. Just treat them all the same.
  7. Try not to talk about your testamentary wishes with your family. After all they won’t get anything until after you’re dead, so they can jolly well wait until then.
  8. Be as secretive as possible with your own family, especially about your financial affairs. Don’t talk about what you are planning to do. Passively encourage your spouse and kids to assume they know what you want. Leave it vague enough so no one really knows.

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.

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Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Complications in Estate Planning Following Remarriage

Complications in Estate Planning Following Remarriage

Estate planning following remarriage after being widowed or divorced is complicated by a number of factors, including differences in asset-ownership between the parties, one or both of them having children by an earlier relationship requiring provision/protection, disparity in ages, and concerns about the financial effects of a relationship breakdown (once bitten, twice shy).

Joint ownership of assets, and Family Law considerations of “Community Property” can give a surviving spouse certain property rights which can cause problems for the children from prior marriages.

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Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: The Right to Choose – Live or Die

The Right to Choose – Live or Die

Do you have strong feelings about what should happen at the end of your life?

You are not alone.

Around Australia in the last 15 years there have been several legislative attempts to create a framework for assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia, and there have recently been Bills before the parliaments in both South Australia and Western Australia upon this issue.

In 1995, the Northern Territory of Australia became the first place in the world to pass right to die legislation. The Rights of the Terminally Ill Act lasted 9 months before being overturned by the Australian Federal Parliament. At present, voluntary euthanasia and assisted suicide are illegal in all states and territories of Australia; however the pressure is growing for change.

There are already places in Europe and in the USA where the laws permit degrees of voluntary euthanasia.

Of course this is a sensitive and controversial topic, provoking extreme reactions among people.  It touches upon some of the same issues as Capital Punishment and Abortion.

For some, the sanctity of human life is paramount, and for them religious beliefs prevent any suggestion of termination of life.  This group might be called the “Right to Life” group.