Estate Planning Accountants & Advisors

The two certainties in life are death and taxes. We all know we have to pay our taxes every year, however death is unpredictable. The goal of effective estate planning is to ensure the welfare of dependants, the security of assets, and effective business succession, whilst minimising any taxes.

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What is estate planning and who does it?

Estate planning is the process of making decisions and arrangements for the disposal of your estate, while you’re still alive and capable of making those decisions and arrangements. Involving an accountant in the estate planning process is sensible because many of the decisions to be made are financial ones. Anyone about to update their estate planning affairs would want to avoid tax pitfalls or take advantage of tax concessions.

What are some of the key decisions to be made in estate planning?

  • Determining the executors of the will
  • Asset identification, preparation, and security
  • Security of income for dependants, including special security benefits
  • Provide access to tax concessions and beneficiaries
  • Specific gifts and bequests
  • Consideration of the control of assets held inside family trusts and companies
  • Testamentary trust
  • Powers of attorney
  • Superannuation and pensions
  • Life insurance policies
  • Business succession
  • Guardianship of dependants

Why see Billings and Ellis about estate planning?

Billings and Ellis have been advising clients on estate planning matters for over 40 years. Asset protection, tax minimisation and superannuation matters are our specialities. We will provide you a comprehensive plan to cover your specific circumstances and to keep legal expenses minimised, we can use our trusted solicitors to draft the legal documents. We are also more than happy to act as an executor on your will and we can store all important documents securely in our safe for your convenience and peace-of-mind. Feel free to give us a call – there is no charge for any initial consultation about your estate planning needs.

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77,644

registered births in Victoria for 2014

29,739

marriages in Victoria for 2014

38,948

deaths recorded in Victoria for 2014

45%

died without leaving a valid will

Some general information about passing away in the state of Victoria…

Immediate access to cash in bank accounts

Bank accounts in joint names are generally not restricted by the death of one joint owner. If you’re not a joint account holder, it’s a good idea to provide the executor of your estate with your bank account details and keep them updated. Some banks will give an executor immediate access to bank account balances of less than $5000 even before probate is granted to the executor. If you’re about to undertake anything a bit risky, like undergoing a major surgical procedure, or embarking on an adventure holiday, it might be a good idea to create a special account just in case anything unexpected happens to you, with a $5,000 deposit for ready access by your executor to cover any immediate expenses. If you were to pass away while you were working or travelling overseas, for example, there would be some funds instantly available to help bring you home.

Transfer of real estate

If your real estate is jointly owned, it automatically becomes the property of the surviving joint owner. Otherwise, the executor of your estate arranges for the transfer of your real estate interests to beneficiaries under the terms of your will.

Access to cash for paying funeral expenses

In the event of your death, most banks will allow for the payment of funeral bills from one of your accounts even if you’re the sole signatory. All that’s usually needed is for your next of kin or executor to present the funeral director’s bill and your death certificate to the bank. Your death certificate can be obtained from the funeral director or by making application at a Post Office. It’s important for your next-of-kin or executor to know what they will need to do should they ever have to organise and pay for your funeral, and also very helpful to them in the circumstances of coping with loss.

Transfer of car without stamp duty

To transfer car ownership to your spouse or someone who is entitled to receive ownership of your car under the terms of a will, the new owner will need to provide photocopies of your death certificate and your will, and complete a transfer form. There is no stamp duty in such instances. To make this process easier for the beneficiary, it would help to have the current specifics of the vehicle (make, model, year, license plate number) detailed in your will.

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Three well-known Victorians who famously passed away suddenly and unexpectedly…

John Ilhan

John Ilhan

1965-2007

John Ilhan, founder of the Crazy John‘s mobile phone empire, died aged 42 after collapsing during his routine early-morning walk. John left behind a wife, Patricia, and four children, as well as an enterprise which ultimately closed without his continuing leadership and entrepreneurship. On the very same day he died, John was to be advised that he should make an appointment within the next three days to see a specialist about indications of a heart problem.

Graeme Strachan

Graeme Strachan

1952-2001

Malvern-born Graeme ("Shirley" or "Shirl") Strachan was an Australian singer (the band ‘Skyhooks’) and TV presenter (the shows ‘Shirl‘s Neighbourhood’, ‘Our House’). An avid surfer and aviation enthusiast, Shirl died at age 49 after he inexplicably veered off the planned course during a solo instructional helicopter flight. An unexpected encounter with mountain turbulence caused his helicopter to crash. Shirley’s ashes were scattered from a helicopter by his wife, Sue.

Harold Holt PM

Harold Holt PM

1908-1967

Harold Holt entered federal politics as the representative for Fawkner and became Australian prime minister in 1966. At age 59, Holt vanished beneath waves at Cheviot Beach, near Portsea, after friends pleaded with him not to go swimming because of the heavy surf. A massive search failed to find any trace of Holt, and two days later he was presumed dead leaving his wife, Zara, their three sons, and an entire nation reeling over his somewhat mysterious disappearance.