Navigating wills and estates
National Head of Practice Development helping advisers to enhance client value and develop their businesses. Over 26 years’ experience working with financial planning practices, with qualifications including a Diploma of Financial Planning and a Grad Dip in Applied Tax and Financial Planning.
3 minutes reading time
Estate planning can be complicated for both financial advisers and clients due to legal complexities, financial considerations, and family dynamics just to name a few.
Betashares Head of Practice Development, Damon Riscalla, sat down with Ines Kallweit, an accredited Wills & Estates Specialist and Principal Solicitor at KHQ Lawyers, to discuss how to make estate planning simple.
Here are some of the key points from their conversation.
The importance of up-to-date wills
One of the most important parts of estate planning, Kallweit says, is ensuring a client can make informed decisions regarding the distribution of their estate.
While it may seem simple, regularly reviewing a will ensures that the estate plan remains relevant and aligns with the individual’s current circumstances.
For those wondering how often a will needs to be updated, Kallweit offers simple advice: “Clients should turn their minds to their estate plan each time they do a tax return.”
“They don’t need to update their documents necessarily, but they should turn their mind to it regularly and see if there has there been anything significant in the last 12 months that warrants an update,” she says.
Significant life events worthy of updating the will include marriage, divorce, illness, or the death of a close relative.
In addition, she stresses the importance of updating the will document to ensure the language is current and relevant.
“Sometimes we have wills or trust documents that are 20 to 30 years old and there have been lots of variations or not for that matter,” she says.
“The language has changed, and people look at those documents and don’t know what they mean anymore. Or there is a dispute about the meaning, or relationships have changed.”
Proactive measures for advisers
To help clients avoid estate planning issues, Kallweit has two key suggestions.
Firstly, financial advisers should educate their clients about the estate planning process in advance by encouraging them to involve family members or their beneficiaries in their financial affairs early.
For example, Kallweit says this could be educating them on how to run a trust or attend board meetings.
She says this kind of education familiarises children or other beneficiaries with the client’s wealth or assets so they can assist in growing them in line with the estate plan and prevent uncertainties in the will when the client passes away.
Secondly, Kallweit suggests financial advisers build a relationship with a lawyer that specialises in wills and estates.
Advisers can find accredited specialist lawyers in their state or territory via:
- The Law Institute of Victoria
- The Law Society of NSW
- Queensland Law Society
- The Law Society of Western Australia
- The Law Society of South Australia
- The ACT Law Society
- Law Society NT
- The Law Society Tasmania.
Most solicitors would be happy to help answer questions, Kallweit says, as the relationship can be beneficial for both a solicitor and a financial adviser.
“Obviously, a good referral always reflects well for the financial adviser, but at the same time it’s very helpful for solicitors to have good financial advisers who can help them with an overview of assets or maybe an overview of the company or trust structures,” she says.
“I see financial advisers and solicitors really working hand in hand and just creating a better outcome for the clients.”
Collaboration leads to better outcomes
Ensuring informed decision-making and regular review are crucial aspects of estate planning. It is recommended to review a will periodically to keep it relevant and aligned with current circumstances.
Furthermore, to prevent estate planning issues, Kallweit suggests advisers encourage clients to involve family members or beneficiaries in their financial affairs early on.
Collaboration between financial advisers and specialised lawyers in wills and estates benefits both parties and leads to better outcomes for clients.
National Head of Practice Development helping advisers to enhance client value and develop their businesses. Over 26 years’ experience working with financial planning practices, with qualifications including a Diploma of Financial Planning and a Grad Dip in Applied Tax and Financial Planning.Read more from Damon.