Will Disputes: There Are Only Two Outcomes

Do yourself a favour and take five minutes to Google “Will Disputes”. Read some case studies and enter a whole new fascinating and ugly world. Once a challenge is lodged and the game commences, there are only two outcomes – your family loses two things we like to have, control and money.

Unlike a tough game of rugby, the bruises and pain do heal once the player takes rest or receives treatment. Long term from playing the game there could be some ongoing side effects that will remind you of your battles on the field.

However, will dispute battles have different endings, pain that never goes away, a deep scar where the assets of the family used to be and some happy stranger that you’ll never see again, laughing while enhancing their lifestyle because of someone else’s’ misfortune or stupidity.

You see the rules of this game are quite simple, with a few variations depending on the size of the opposition. For instance:-

Inviting lines like “Call us if you feel left out of a will- we will help you”

Or, “Feel like you should have received more from your family’s estate?”

“Please call us, its free to chat – but only if it involves $100,000 or more”

These teams that invite people to play are “emotion terrorists” and it’s so easy to entice people, in fact easier than stealing a blind mans cane.

So what does one do to steer your family away from the post death temptation to compete in a game, that the only real winner at fulltime is the dealer?

For one thing, make sure you don’t make promises when you are vulnerable. Vulnerable when you might be unwell. You may have had a carer looking after you for quite a while, could be years. The personal relationship is strong as they have cared for you and you have been well looked after. You feel as though they deserve something out of your estate because of their dedication to you. You mention it but you forget to document it. This can cause problems when you pass on. (Find the case study Manly v Manly and see what happened to this lady, and she was the wife and carer)

Or vulnerable if you have placed yourself in a situation (that seemed like fun and a distraction from life at the time) with someone who might expect more if you are not around. A very recent court case that has been well voiced in the media, reminds us that if we do engage in events outside our relationship or marriage, the end result can have a severe impact on the family wealth, not to mention the stress that comes completely free of charge.

Don’t bet on your will like the person who placed $90,000 on St George recently when they led 20 nil at half time against the Rabbits at $1.01 to win $900 forty minutes later. Rabbits when on to win 34-20 and the $90,000 is in the hands of someone else.

The Story of Peter, Anita and Michael

Anita and Peter, her recently deceased husband’s business partner, catch each others eye as her husband Michaels coffin is being lowered. She is thinking, how am I going to make ends meet now that Michael is gone and the business is up in the air?

Anita knows Peter is great at paperwork and admin, but never been good with people or marketing skills, which is why they were such a good team. What’s my share worth now that the main man, and face of the business is being buried in front of my kids.?

I need to get what’s rightfully ours out the business , but how? . They were going to put something in place but always were too busy. But who is going to buy it and at what price? Will Peter pay me out, how do you work it out? Am I going to have to become his business partner? I know nothing about it really except it provided a good living and we were getting ahead. Do I get someone else? That’ll cost money. How long will it take? What about the kids schooling, the mortgage and the car loan? Things were tough enough with Michael working 12 hour days., and never seeing the kids, building our dream.

Now that Mike is gone, who do I trust, what do I do? Do I need a solicitor, how does this it all work? And all on top of having to cope with his death and now being a single mother..

Peter thinks, now that Mike is gone, I can probably pinch this business off Anita for next to nothing. After all, she knows he was the marketing genius. I’ll just explain without him there the business won’t be the same and the income is going to vanish quickly.

Once she is out of the way , I’ll get a couple of young guns who can continue to market the business and she’ll have no real idea

He was a good bloke, but I still have to look after me and the family. Can’t afford to be paying her a heap just because he’s gone. I suppose we really should have formalised something but never seemed to get around to it. We had talked about it and were only in our forties and didn’t expect anything like this to happen.

This scenario has happened and is still happening all too often. If this problem is potentially looming, for you, then stop being like a jellyfish that goes in and out with the tide. Take positive action and protect your interests. It’ll be too late once you receive the funeral invoice.

If you have questions or would like to contact me to update your estate planning or will, you can contact me here.

Think Pro-actively and Get Prepared

“Procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill” – Christopher Parker

Outcomes that arise out of not planning our will and estate affairs properly happen as a result of what we have created. The deep dimensions of our individual worlds demand some “preparation thinking”.

So what do we have a great knowledge about – our world – our life, our problems, our cash flow, our pressures, the complex depth of family and their individual personalities within the family structure.

What we are constantly learning is how to manage and control not only the internal, but all the variables outside the front door. Working to fend off the potential nasties and negatives that are out there. Why? – To protect the family fabric and the ones we toil so hard for- after all, without family – what is there?

So let’s look at a few very basic essentials in preparing our will and estate planning.

Let’s look at “the stuff” you need to focus on, to at least have the “core” of your will and estate planning in some sort of shape – and let the specialist’s document it – that’s what they are qualified to do.

Scenario 1 – You have a wife or husband

Preparation thinking – You die (which you will – you just don’t know when)

Do I want the assets I have built to end up in the hands of the next person my spouse sleeps with, or ends up with once my ashes are blown away in the wind and I am long gone?

If the answer is no – make it happen and do something today to make sure it doesn’t happen

If the answer is yes or, I don’t care – do nothing

Scenario 2 – I am involved in a business

Preparation thinking – You die

Do I want my interest in the business to go to my spouse or family without fuss?

If the answer is yes – then get active!!

If the answer is no or I don’t care – do nothing –just let the family know this is what you have decided

Scenario 3 – Do I have children under 18?

Preparation thinking – I die or we both die

Do I/we have child/children with special needs, and has this been prepared for?

Who will house the kids, and do they have the room or will they have to extend their home or move?

Do they have the funds to do this or raise them?

Can they handle money?

Do I/we have any special wishes for them? (E.g. private schooling, university, pizza and DVD’s on Friday nights like they did with us)

Who will look after them if those appointed become unfit? (Death, marriage break up, ill health)

If you have questions or would like to contact me to update your estate planning or will, you can contact me here.

Careful Superannuation Planning

Self Managed Superannuation has become attractive to many people and families and in particular small business operators, due to the
flexibility and the opportunity to manage your own investments.

Unfortunately, in relation to Estate Planning, to the uneducated, it can be fraught with danger.

The legislation is clear; the “sole purpose” of superannuation is to “provide retirement and or death benefits to members”.
Many promoters of self managed super shout simplicity and management of your own money, which sounds attractive.

Now, when it comes to “slipping off the planet” as no doubt you will, I am sure you want the funds to go where you want – that’s part of the idea. If you run a self managed fund you should know the game rules in relation to the passing of money to whom you have nominated. If you don’t – get active, and find out because the following is a real life example of what can happen despite your best laid plans and not receiving real “specialist advice”.

So, Mummy and Daddy set up a self managed fund for their retirement. They have two grown up kids, everyone gets on and the idea is once Mum and Dad are gone, kids get the money after death, if it hasn’t all been used. Simple enough. Here’s where greed and lack of correct “specialist” checking can kick in.

Mummy dies. Daddy appoints his daughter as the new co-trustee. All goes well; fund grows well as per their original plan. Daddy continues to draw down and lives well in his retirement. Remember, both grown up kids are ultimate recipients of the fund and brother and sister get on well. Then daddy dies. The problem now, is that another “co-trustee” needs to be appointed.

The loving daughter decides to appoint her husband as the co-trustee. As Mum and Dad have both passed the rules require funds to be paid out. However a little known rule to most is that the trustees have “sole discretion” of where funds are allocated and the massive power to override what Mum and Dad wanted to happen to remaining assets of the fund. So you guessed it, the trustees allocated the whole million dollars in this case to the daughter only. Why did she do this? Because she can. So history repeats again, and greed gets in the way. There was no real thought or specialist auditing in relation to the Estate Planning in this case. Needless to say, the brother doesn’t send Christmas or birthday cards to his sister any more.

So people, this is happening out there. Did you know that? Did you also know that superannuation is not part of your will? If you want to avoid this happening to you, please make contact as we have access to a team of specialists so they we can make sure this doesn’t happen to you, and sink another family just like the Titanic.

If you have questions or would like to contact me to update your estate planning or will, you can contact me here.