The Importance of Family Estate Planning: What You Need to Know

  • Ashwin RamdasAshwin Ramdas Sonny RahimSonny Rahim
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Estate planning, often perceived as a mere administrative task, holds a pivotal role in ensuring the orderly distribution of assets after one’s departure or during times of incapacity. It goes beyond just drafting a will, offering a thorough evaluation of one’s present situation and anticipated future.

In ensuring that our hard-earned assets serve the interests of our loved ones, estate planning mitigates potential disputes and can even proffer certain tax advantages. Astoundingly, roughly 40% of Australians have not formalised a will, leaving their wishes and desires undocumented. This oversight could inadvertently jeopardise the financial and emotional stability of future generations.

Understanding Estate Planning

Estate planning, at its core, is the meticulous process of arranging the management and allocation of one’s assets should they pass away or become incapacitated. Rather than a singular action, it’s an in-depth evaluation of where one stands today and what the future might hold.

Beyond the Will

Estate planning’s primary aim is smooth asset transfer and dispute prevention. While it offers potential tax benefits, it’s much more than just drafting a will. Estate planning encompasses individual needs, potential assets, and specific wishes.

The will, although foundational, is just one facet of a comprehensive strategy to safeguard a loved one’s financial future. 40% of Australians lack a will. This neglect could mean unvoiced final wishes, increasing the risk of beneficiary disputes. P

Proper planning ensures that these wishes are not only documented but also respected, offering peace and certainty to those left behind.

The Role of an Estate Planning Lawyer

Crafting a solid estate plan calls for an array of skilled professionals. Estate lawyers, financial advisers, and accountants are pivotal in this journey. These specialists ensure that asset distribution is both tax-efficient and adheres to current legal protocols.

Estate lawyers expertly draft and scrutinise essential documents, such as wills, to make certain they resonate with personal wishes and are legally sound. Financial advisers provide clarity on potential tax repercussions and social security matters linked with varied estate strategies. Their insights can dramatically elevate the financial efficiency of an estate plan. Concurrently, accountants unravel financial details, ensuring everything from tax obligations to asset distribution is meticulously addressed.

The contribution of these professionals is paramount. Their collective expertise customises estate plans to distinct needs, fortifying them against evolving situations and legal shifts. This collaboration not only bolsters the plan’s legality but also reinforces its defence against possible disputes, solidifying one’s legacy and goals.

Key Components of Your Estate Plan

A comprehensive estate plan comprises several integral components, each serving a distinct purpose:


The foundation of any estate plan. It outlines how one’s assets should be divided upon their passing and identifies an executor to oversee this distribution.

Power of Attorney:

This legal instrument permits a chosen individual to manage one’s financial and legal affairs. An enduring form remains effective even if the person becomes incapacitated, ensuring continuity in decision-making.

Enduring Guardianship:

It designates someone to make essential health and lifestyle decisions if one is unable to do so. This ensures that personal values and preferences are upheld during times of incapacitation.

Advance Care Directives:

Often referred to as a Living Will, this document communicates health and treatment preferences, providing guidance to medical professionals and loved ones about care decisions.

Testamentary Trusts:

These trusts are activated upon death and are instrumental in asset protection. They facilitate tax efficiency and enable set terms for asset distribution, ensuring that beneficiaries receive assets in a structured manner.

Discretionary and Protective Trusts:

While discretionary trusts offer flexible asset distribution and can be established during one’s lifetime, protective trusts cater to beneficiaries who may be financially vulnerable or lack the capability to manage funds effectively.


A critical consideration, as superannuation funds don’t automatically amalgamate with other estate assets. Death benefits hinge on specific nominations or the decision of a fund trustee, which can have significant tax implications for beneficiaries.

While these components provide a framework for estate planning, it’s pivotal to remember that each person’s circumstances are unique. Therefore, tailoring these elements to suit individual needs and situations ensures a robust and effective estate plan. Find more information here.

Navigating Estate Planning with Blended Families and Other Considerations

Estate planning’s complexity amplifies when taking into account diverse family structures. For instance, a blended family, formed through previous relationships, where both current and past bonds intersect, requires a meticulous approach. The weaving of separate familial histories, perhaps involving a family home from a previous relationship, necessitates acute sensitivity and precision in planning.

Blended families estate planning is crucial, especially when assets like the aforementioned family home or jointly owned property are involved. Such settings might bring forth the intricacies of family law proceedings. These families can comprise a diverse mix: there could be adult children from past liaisons, step children, and even de facto relationships to consider. If not carefully managed, this can lead to potential disputes.

The Importance of Communication and Periodic Review

To sidestep challenges, such as a family provision claim, clarity in communication and detailed documentation are essential. A legal personal representative can play a pivotal role in overseeing this process. The dynamics of a blended family can be influenced dramatically by major life events like marriages, divorces, or the birth of children. These events can necessitate adjustments to the entire estate. Regularly reviewing and updating estate plans is vital.

Legal Considerations

It’s paramount that all documents adhere to rigorous legal standards. For example, a valid will requires the testator, perhaps someone navigating a blend of step children and adult children from previous relationships, to be of sound mental faculties during its drafting. Moreover, a deep understanding of tax implications is indispensable. Asset transfers can incur various taxes, from capital gains tax and stamp duty to income tax. Hence, maintaining a comprehensive list of assets and liabilities, which evolves as the estate undergoes changes, is key for a smooth distribution process.

Finally, neutrality in appointing Executors and Trustees is of the essence. In estates intertwined with complexities or brewing conflicts, perhaps stemming from blended or de facto relationships, impartial individuals are vital. Their unbiased approach ensures that the deceased’s wishes are met without favouritism. Additionally, for those who have worn the hat of a business owner, crafting succession plans considering the future direction of their venture post their departure proves paramount to holistic estate planning.

If you’d like to delve into specifics about safeguarding your investments and assets, understanding how to save tax can be particularly useful.

Costs, Timing, and Why Your Estate Plan Shouldn’t Wait for Tomorrow

Estate planning, while invaluable, comes at a cost. However, this investment in foresight often pays dividends in the protection it offers to assets and beneficiaries. Typical estate planning costs can commence from around $300, but these can escalate depending on the intricacy of the plan and specific individual requirements

The Consequences of Postponing Estate Planning

The adage “time is of the essence” aptly captures the ethos of estate planning. While the inclination might be to postpone, primarily due to perceived complexities or the discomfort of addressing mortality, early planning is pivotal. Delay can result in undue stress, potential misunderstandings, and even legal challenges at a later stage.

Beginning the estate planning process promptly ensures that one’s wishes are documented accurately. It also affords the individual the luxury of time to consult professionals, seek advice, and make calculated decisions without being rushed. It’s a proactive measure that provides clarity and order, eliminating uncertainties for loved ones during emotionally taxing times.

The satisfaction derived from knowing that one’s legacy is secured and will be implemented as desired is immeasurable. An estate plan crafted early and reviewed periodically stands as a testament to meticulous planning, foresight, and a deep-seated desire to ensure the well-being of those left behind.

The peace of mind this brings is invaluable, reinforcing the notion that proactive estate planning is both a practical and emotional investment.

Benefits for Your Surviving Spouse and Loved Ones

Estate planning is more than a legal formality in Australia; it’s a tangible act of care for family members and future generations. A thorough estate plan minimises disputes and tax implications, ensuring that assets align with the deceased’s wishes. Such clarity reduces potential conflicts, making the transition smoother for families.

For the surviving spouse and other family members, a robust estate plan provides financial security and reduces uncertainties during difficult moments.

If you’re interested in the role of insurance in estate planning, here’s a list of myths about life insurance.



General Advice Warning

Ashwin Ramdas

Eventum Consulting

Ashwin is an accountant and educator based in Perth, Western Australia. He is passionate about helping family owned businesses and startups. He is one of the founders of SMSF Mate and you’ll regularly see him on our podcast!

Ashwin is a managing owner and director of Eventum Consulting, a multidisciplinary firm helping clients with finance, succession planning and their tax needs. He also served as a lecturer in taxation and small business at the Central Institute of Technology, and has worked as an accountant at a number of well-known tax specialists.

Ashwin studied a Diploma of Business Education and a Bachelor of Commerce in Financial Accounting, Managerial Accounting and Corporate Finance, both at Curtin University, WA.

Ashwin is passionate about technology, and sees it as an enabler for his clients to grow truly sustainable and profitable businesses.

You can find out more about Ashwin or connect with him on Linkedin here:

Or visit his website here:

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Sonny Rahim

Premia Private

Sonny Rahim is a finance professional based out of the Greater Perth Area. He is the director and founder of Premia Private, a multi-faceted finance business with advisory divisions and expertise in the areas of Strategic Planning, Wealth Management, Investment Management, Debt and Personal Insurances. Sonny is one of the founders of SMSF Mate.

Sonny studied in the Private Markets Investment Programme at Saïd Business School, University of Oxford and also participated in the Oxford Entrepreneurship Venture Finance. He also completed a Bachelor’s Degree, Commerce (Accounting and Finance) at Curtin University in Western Australia.

As well as being a founder and managing director of the Premia Financial Group, Sonny has worked as an investment fund manager and a chartered accountant. He sits on the board of Ronald McDonald House Charities Western Australia.

You can find out more about Sonny or connect with him on Linkedin here:

Or visit his website here:

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