Have you thought about succession planning?

Date: Dec 18, 2013

In Australia, many business owners concentrate on growing their wealth rather than protecting it through estate planning and other methods.

According to Troy Palmer, National Manager of Estate Planning at NAB Private Wealth, this can have dire consequences when the time comes for you to exit your business - such as estate disputes that may last for years.

The solution? A "solid succession plan", states Mr Palmer.

What you need to consider

The process of estate planning can be quite complex, as there are many factors to consider. For example, your assets - do you know to whom they belong? This is something you'll need to have a grasp on before you start divvying them up to family, friends and partners.

You should also be aware that certain assets, such as superannuation, require special arrangements if you want to pass them on.

Mr Palmer explains that superannuation is a trust, which means it's not automatically included in your will. Who inherits your superannuation will depend on whether it's in a self-managed super fund or an "industry-type retail fund", as well as the binding or non-binding nominations you have in place.

In addition to this, any assets that are jointly owned are subject to different rules than assets you own outright.

"For example, if you own a piece of real estate jointly with your wife and you pass away, it automatically goes to your wife, regardless of what you have in your will," says Mr Palmer.

It can take a long time to develop a "solid succession plan", so it pays to get onto this task as soon as possible.

If you need advice, get in touch with the team at Craddock Murray Neumann today. We can help you prepare a will and understand what's involved in estate planning.

Mr Palmer is adamant Australians enlist the services of a lawyer who's well versed in estate planning.

"It's such a specialised area," he explains."Get a professional who has expertise in that area."

He adds that while having a will is generally better than not having a will, a "poorly scripted one can be worse than nothing at all" and lead to succession problems.

Should you come across such problems, Craddock Murray Neumann can also offer you assistance if and when you need to dispute a will.