Business News

Estate planning must be watertight

Avoiding future SMSF litigation required death benefit planning to leave no room for argument, a leading lawyer servicing the sector has said.

“One of the big issues that we’re finding is that people are fighting over death benefits, so we’re starting to see cases where blended families, and even non-blended families, have gone to court,” Cooper Grace Ward partner Scott Hay-Bartlem told the SMSF Association National Conference in Melbourne recently.

“We’re dealing with people who think they’ve got great estate plans, but no one’s talking about trustee discretion or reversions or binding nominations, so they haven’t done the planning.

“Or, they have done the planning but we just haven’t brought it all together, so there are holes.”

Hay-Bartlem said good estate planning left no room for parties to argue.

“[Consider] estate planning from an adversarial approach by looking at the other end – is it your client who’s going to be the one sobbing because we haven’t done it properly,” he said.

“And that’s especially not good when you’re at the back end of the estate planning arrangements and you’re dealing with the dead person and their widow or children or stepchildren, et cetera.

“You don’t want to be the person sitting there having a fight in court amongst what’s going on.”

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