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Succession Planning

Succession planning provides security for your family and gives you peace of mind.

Whether through accident, disease or death, the day will come when you can no longer personally provide for the financial, health and emotional wellbeing of those you love.

We help you look after the interests of those most vulnerable.

Creating a succession plan

A well structured succession plan can give you peace of mind that your loved ones will be provided for as you intended. You can plan and put arrangements in place to help secure their future. This is especially necessary if you care for dependants with special needs. 

Preparing a Will is an integral part of any succession plan as it determines how your assets are to be divided in the event of your death. But there are many other factors to consider. 

We understand the complexities involved and our succession planning lawyers understand the unique requirements of people with special needs.

By working with us:

  • We'll assess your personal circumstances and assist you to formulate an appropriate & effective succession plan
  • We'll work cooperatively with your other professional advisors such as your accountant, financial planner and insurance adviser to ensure your succession plan is integrated and covers all bases
  • We'll help ensure that your dependants are looked after through whatever should arise over their lifetime

As part of the estate planning process we will discuss your assets, including superannuation. This will include determining whether:

  • a death benefit is payable
  • if you can direct the payment of your super benefits to your chosen beneficiaries
  • the possible tax consequences of a super death benefit payout
  • whether your superannuation can be structured to provide an on-going pension income for the benefit of your dependant.
  • We help you look after the interests of those most vulnerable

    As a carer or family member of someone with a physical or mental disability, there are unique considerations that you need to address when planning for their future. At Slater and Gordon we offer tailored services when creating a succession plan, designed to address a full range of circumstances including:

    • intellectual illnesses or conditions such as Down’s Syndrome
    • disabilities that occur as a consequence of a severe stroke, Alzheimer’s disease or schizophrenia
    • physical disabilities such as those caused by muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy
    • spendthrifts who are incapable of managing their finances
    • drug, alcohol or gaming additions that impede rational financial decisions
    • severe head injuries as a result of an accident

    Tailored succession planning advice can help ensure that after you have gone your child will continue to be looked after the way you wish. There are a number of strategies that can help parents protect the interests of a child with cognitive problems. These include the potential use of:

    • Special Disability Trusts
    • Capital Protected Trusts
    • A combination of both
    • Superannuation Death Benefits for the benefit of your disabled or special needs child

    We can also assist you in the choice and appointment of a suitable guardian or trustee to care for your disabled or special needs child when you are no longer able to fulfil the role.

  • Issues we need to review

    As part of the succession plan process, we will discuss your assets, including superannuation.

    This will include identifying the superannuation fund/funds you hold,

    • whether a death benefit is payable by the fund on your death
    • whether the rules of the fund allow you to direct the payment of your super benefits to your chosen beneficiaries (via a binding or non-binding death benefit nomination)
    • the possible tax consequences of your super death benefit payout after your death if you have a disabled beneficiary
    • and whether your superannuation can be structured to provide an on-going pension income for the benefit of your disabled or special needs child.

    The following is an overview of succession planning issues and options available to you to review your circumstances.

    We would be happy to answer any queries concerning your succession planning needs. 

  • The planning process

    Succession planning is a three-part process involving:

    1. Identification of personal assets and those in your broader estate such as assets owned jointly, or owned by trusts or companies
    2. Identification of potential risks including, for example, your early death or the possible divorce or bankruptcy of a beneficiary
    3. The design and implementation of a plan that incorporates all your assets and takes into account flexibility to accommodate future changes, risk minimisation, tax minimisation and succession issues.

    Each step is a multi-disciplinary exercise that usually will require the co-ordinated involvement of your financial planning, accounting and legal advisers.

  • We’ll look at the big picture to integrate your plan

    The legal components of succession planning are only part of your broader strategy. A well thought-out plan should include legal documents that are coordinated with your retirement, investment and wealth accumulation strategies. 

    Creating a succession plan encompasses different professional disciplines and involves

    • consideration of asset protection
    • risk management (insurance and asset protection)
    • taxation
    • investment planning
    • retirement planning and the use of legal structures all designed and co-ordinated to meet your needs.

    At Slater and Gordon our lawyers will develop an integrated succession plan for you by working cooperatively with your accountant, financial planner and insurance adviser. If you do not have professional advisers to assist with these issues, we can introduce you to the right people with the expertise to guide you through it.

  • Components of a well-balanced succession plan

    Consider each of the following to determine if they are relevant to you – either now or in the future.

    A well-balanced plan may include:

    1. A Will
    2. An enduring Power of Attorney (to manage financial and legal matters)
    3. Appointment of a Power of Guardianship (to manage health welfare matters)
    4. Advanced Heath Care Directive (to direct what medical treatment you do or don’t want)
    5. The integration of company, trust and superannuation structures
    6. The future realisation of your investment in a business
    7. Flexibility to accommodate changed laws or changed circumstances that my exist at the time you die
    8. A tax-efficient structure addressing the income tax, Capital Gains Tax, GST and stamp duty implications of transferring assets and/or managing assets upon death, retirement or any other event
    9. The consideration of a range of critical events, apart from death.  These include:
      1. mental incapacity – yours or a beneficiary’s
      2. physical incapacity – yours or a beneficiary’s
      3. bankruptcy or business failure – yours or a beneficiary’s
      4. divorce – yours or a beneficiary’s
      5. retirement, or
      6. the potential for disputes between beneficiaries over the Will
    10. Financial Agreements – when entering a new relationship to regulate ownership of assets
    11. Testamentary trusts: these trusts are created by your Will and come into existence after you pass away. They enable maximum flexibility so that a beneficiary may enjoy the full benefit of a gift from your estate whilst enjoying the asset protection and taxation benefits provided by a testamentary trust
    12. The use and integration of insurance as an asset in your plan, whether as part of a business succession scheme to cover debt or income, or simply to bolster the wealth of a future estate
    13.  Incorporation of a retirement plan as well as investment and wealth accumulation strategies.
  • General succession planning issues

    1. Executor and Trustee

    Most couples appoint each other as the executor and trustee of each other’s estate, with their children acting jointly as backup executors and trustees. If children are too young to act or are not (for any reason) appropriate then third parties must be chosen as the executors or back up executors. Solicitors, accountants and family friends (preferably with business experience) are often chosen.

    On your death, the executor applies to the Supreme Court to have your Will formally verified. Upon verification the Court will issue a grant of probate. Your executor is then required to pay all your liabilities from your assets and distribute the remaining net assets in accordance with your Will. 

    The trustee’s role is to administer the estate set out under your Will, once your net assets have been transferred to the estate by the executor. The trustee controls the day to day operation of the estate assets including its investments. The executor will then administer the estate in accordance with the terms of your Will.

    2. Record Keeping

    It is important to keep records relating to your assets, particularly for capital gains tax purposes. After your death these records will be required to calculate any capital gain or capital loss to a beneficiary that may arise from the disposal of those assets through the testamentary trust.

    Asset records must be retained for five years after the disposal of those assets.

    3. Reviewing your Will once made

    Do not add to or delete from a Will after execution without seeking advice. Even simple changes must be made correctly or your wishes may be invalidated.

    Review your Will regularly. A review does not necessarily mean that a change is required, but does ensure that changes in circumstances are not overlooked. We recommend that Wills be reviewed:

    • If you separate, divorce or re-marry/re-partner
    • If you have more children
    • If you establish or dispose of a trust, company or business
    • At least every three years
    • Whenever you dispose of, or acquire significant assets
    • If you acquire significant debts or there is a likelihood you may become insolvent
    • Any major beneficiary dies or has a significant change in circumstances including a family law dispute, or
    • An executor dies or becomes ill

    4. Financial Agreements

    If you enter into a new relationship you should consider entering into an agreement under the Family Law Act (Financial Agreement) to regulate the ownership of your respective assets in order to protect and preserve your assets for the benefit of your children.

  • Succession Plan Services - Four broad categories

    Our online services

    • Slater and Gordon's unique and complementary Estate Planning Self Assessment Program.  This is an online service designed to educate clients about their planning needs. The system produces an assessment report that can be read on screen or downloaded. Start now
    • Slater and Gordon's online Will.  Our online system generates a sophisticated standard Will with standard distribution provisions for $150 (inclusive of GST). Uniquely the system requires an individual to undertake an assessment of their personal and financial circumstances and will only allow the person to complete a standard Will if it will address their circumstances adequately. If they require something more, the system explains why and what is required and invites them to contact Slater and Gordon to discuss.
    • Insurance funded Buy-Sell Agreements are also available online for equity participants in companies, unit trusts and partnerships.


    budget priced services

    • Bespoke Will service for standard Wills, and standard Wills with non-standard distribution provisions
    • Powers of Attorney (legal and financial affairs)
    • Powers of Enduring Guardianship (death and welfare decisions)
    • Advanced Health Care Directives (person medical treatment)
    • Provide Executor services for clients who do not have a suitable executor for their estate and wish to avoid the commission based charges of trustee companies.

    Complex Level: 

    mid-priced services designed to deliver individual documents and bundles of documents

    • Bespoke Will service for
      • Standard Testamentary Trust Wills with standard distribution provisions, and
      • Standard Testamentary Trust Wills that include non-standard distribution provisions
    • Powers of Attorney (legal and financial affairs)
    • Powers of Enduring Guardianship (health and welfare decisions)
    • Advanced Health Care Directives (person medical treatment)
    • Mutual Will Agreements (for blended family situations)
    • Provide Executor services for clients who do not have a suitable executor for their estate and wish to avoid the commission based charges of trustee companies

    Note:  For the purpose of this service level 'standard Testamentary Trust Will' means a Testamentary Trust Will that creates discretionary trusts for each of the beneficiaries.

    Sophisticated level:

    Higher price range succession planning involving legal and other professional input but with online data collection and document assembly to minimise professional time involved. Please note that the prices set out in the attached document are still within the reach of consumers and are based on volume sales.

    • Bespoke Will service for
      • Nonstandard Testamentary Trust Wills with standard distribution provisions, and
      • Nonstandard Testamentary Trust Wills that include nonstandard distribution provisions
    • Powers of Attorney (legal and financial Affairs)
    • Powers of Enduring Guardianship (health and welfare decisions)
    • Advanced Health Care Directives (person medical treatment)
    • Provide Executor services for clients who do not have a suitable executor for their estate and wish to avoid the commission based charges of trustee companies
    • Review of appointor provisions in Family Trust Deed
    • Review of Death Benefit provisions in superannuation funds
    • Business succession agreements
    • Related business advisory services

    Note: For the purpose of this service level 'nonstandard Testamentary Trust Will' means a Testamentary Trust Will that creates a range of different trust structures including capital protected trusts and special disability trusts designed to accommodate special circumstances. 

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