The role of a practitioner is to identify and address issues in the affairs of a client, but the conversation about estate planning is one that many put off until too late.
How does the conversation start?
Understanding your client and how they are operating is a key starting point. In looking at their business they may be starting to talk exiting or how the relationship with the business partner is tracking. Equally it may be as simple as a discussion over the need for life insurance or protecting assets.
The opener is generally do you have a will?
The scary part of this conversation is that many people do not have wills, despite the accumulation of significant assets or complex affairs (such as re-marriage or divorce). Failing to have a will can have substantial consequences for a simple estate distribution.
Understanding the need for a will is one that can be simply articulated without necessarily being scary or intimidating, as it can be a process undertaken without significant cost or complication, it may be as simple as mapping out a solution as much as a tax structure or a business plan.
Equally some people need to hear the bad news to understand the benefits that an estate plan brings.
Some of our accountants have focused on the tax issues that arise as a result of poor (or non-existent) estate planning and use this as the driver to take steps. You can look at:
- Superannuation tax consequences (and in effect death duties)
- Stamp duty
- Capital gains tax
- Land tax
- Distributions being made to younger generations.
Opening the conversation?
Whilst it is a tough topic, there is no reason that the conversation cannot be held and as a professional advisor it may take a few attempts to bring the matter to the fore as an important part of the overall tax package.