While difficult to plan for, we all move on eventually. With a bit of thought now you can ease this process for your loved ones, by removing the stress of dealing with your estate and allowing them clarity on the handling of your finances.
When a person dies without making a will, he or she is said to have died "intestate". If this happens to you it can create huge legal and financial problems for your loved ones. A will lets you distribute funds as you see fit, bequeathing money and assets between family members, friends or charities. If there is no will there are strict laws which dictate which family members receive funds from your estate.
These laws do not take into account your unique circumstances. Children will always need individual consideration and you may not want to trust your next of kin with your entire estate. A will gives you the freedom to decide what people receive after you pass away. No one understands your personal and financial situation better than yourself, so it is important that you make a plan for your funds now so you can be sure your family is taken care of when you die.
We can help you find the right lawyer for your situation. We have seen first-hand what can happen if someone hasn’t planned for their death. Fights can break out over almost anything and can take months or even years to settle, tying up the court’s time and causing great distress for those involved. A solid plan will protect your loved ones from dealing with complicated legal and financial problems while they grieve your death.
If you have a substantial amount of assets a trust could be an essential part of planning your estate. A trust works as a separate entity in which your assets - such as property, jewellery or investments - are sold or gifted to the trust. You no longer own these assets, the trust does.
There are three types of people involved in a trust. The settlor, the trustees and the beneficiaries. A settlor is the person who gifts or sells their assets to the trust. A trustee is responsible for managing a trust and a beneficiary is someone who benefits from the trust.
It is common for the settlor to become a trustee so they can continue to oversee how the assets are managed and any income is sensibly invested. In addition, it is recommended that an independent entity is also named as a trustee such as a lawyer or an accountant. The responsibilities involved in being a trustee can be onerous and the trust will benefit from an experienced, independent person working as a trustee.
Every family is different and some members are better equipped to deal with a sudden windfall than others. By setting up a trust it can help you manage the distribution of your assets after you pass away. You may want to provide funds for your child’s education but are unwilling to finance shopping sprees or first class travel. A trust deed can state that funds are only to be used for the advancement of the beneficiaries, limiting the use of funds to things like education or healthcare.
Trusts are complicated beasts. You need an expert to help you set up and oversee your trust. Talk to us about finding a lawyer who will be able to understand and appreciate your unique situation. They can help you create a trust that will fully protect your assets and adequately provide for your loved ones after you pass away.
I decided when my boys were young that I would teach them both about money and investing. I opened KiwiSaver accounts for them when they were only months old. They also have non-KiwiSaver investment accounts to help fund the cost of university. My wife and I add to the accounts when we can and so do the boy's Grandparents.