Why an estate plan is more than just a will

We’re sure you have heard of an estate plan before. Often, people think it is just another term for a will.

This is a common misconception and it is important to understand what an estate plan entails so you can protect your accumulated wealth and ensure your loved ones are looked after and their wellbeing and comfort is taken into account.

A will takes effect upon death and essentially spells out how you want your assets to be shared, who will look after family members, both young and old who are unable to care for themselves, any donations to charities you support or instructions about your funeral and burial arrangements.

An estate plan includes your will but takes effect at the time it is signed. It includes powers of attorney who will manage your affairs in the event you become incapacitated, reviewing and confirming your binding nominations in your superannuation and life insurance policies, records of trusts and company documentation.

But why go to all the trouble?

Take Bill and Alice for example. They were married 40 years and their only child, Alan, was married to Anne and they had two children. Bill and Alice organised their wills, which left their estate to each other and then Alan. In the event Alan passed before them, the estate was to be passed on to their granddaughters.

When both Bill and Alice passed, the estate was left to Alan. However, five years later, Alan tragically passed in a car accident. His estate, as well as the inheritance he was given by his parents, was to be left for his wife Anne.

So, at this stage, Anne was the sole heir to Bill and Alice’s estate. A few years on, she remarried a man with children from a previous relationship. She made a simple will leaving everything, including Bill and Alice’s estate, to her new husband.

Despite the best of intentions by Bill, Alice and Alan, their estate was now under Anne’s control. Unless Anne changes her will to include her and Alan’s daughters, the estate will completely bypass the original owners’ intentions to leave it to their grandchildren. It may end up with her new husband, or even his children.

Sadly, this outcome is quite common. We see it far too often and that’s why we want to stress that a will isn’t always enough. To ensure maximum protection for your family and assets, you need to put the right structures in place.

There are two things you should do:

  • Keep your will valid and up to date as your legal rights change, specifically if you marry, divorce or separate; have children or grandchildren; if your spouse or beneficiaries die; or if you have a significant change in financial circumstances.
  • Create an estate plan that clearly nominates how you want your assets distributed, including any trusts and superannuation, identifies people you trust as powers of attorney, and is based on clear legal advice.

If you’re still unclear on the differences between the two documents, or if you’d like to seek advice regarding your own estate plan, get in contact with our friendly staff today.

Bridges Financial Services Pty Limited (Bridges). ABN 60 003 474 977. ASX Participant. AFSL No 240837. This is general advice only and does not take into account your objectives, financial situation and needs. Before acting on this advice, you should consult a financial planner.

A very Merry Christmas from Bridges!

With the holidays quickly approaching, we’re looking back at the year that was 2018. As a thank you to all our wonderful friends, family and clients, the Bridges team thought we’d put together a short Christmas video for you!

It was great to have the team reflect on what Christmas means to them, and for all of us, at the core it was spending time with family and friends.

Which is why the team wanted to help out others, for who this time of year may be a bit more difficult. Because of this, Bridges Lake Macquarie will be hosting a giving tree for donations of gifts, this year’s charity is Carrie’s Place.

Carrie’s Place has been providing services in the Maitland and Lower Hunter area since 1979, with a range of services to vulnerable people to support recovery and build resilience.

Their programs include:

  • Specialist Homelessness Program (Accommodation and Outreach Support
  • Specialist Domestic Violence Program
  • Staying Home Leaving Violence
  • Women’s Domestic Violence Court
  • DV & Homelessness Resource Centre

If you would like to donate a gift, please drop it in to our offices at 34 Main Road, Boolaroo, during business hours.

Don’t forget that our team will be taking a well-deserved break from midday Friday, 21 December and reopening 9am on Monday, 7 January 2019. We will still have a skeleton staff available, so please reach out if there is something urgent you would like us to attend to.

The Lake Macquarie Bridges team would like to wish you happy holidays. It’s been an amazing year, thank you to our clients and associates for their continued support. What a year – we hope you all have a happy and safe festive season. Here’s to an amazing 2019!

How time flies – celebrating two years of Bridges Lake Macquarie

When we started this practice, our focus was to build a high-quality business that would help people live a better life by giving them greater confidence to make good financial decisions that would achieve their personal lifestyle goals.

Here we are two years later and we’re celebrating another anniversary amongst many other achievements. It’s a great opportunity to reflect on the last two year – the successes, the achievements and challenges.

I wanted to share a few words on the journey so far and, more importantly, say thank you on behalf of the entire team.

It has been a very busy period of expansion and we have continued to grow our financial advice, support and client service teams. We have been blessed to recruit such fantastic team members along the way to help service and support our truly wonderful clients.

Our continued efforts to raise expectations and follow our client-first approach to advice caught the eye of the judges at the annual Bridges Group awards where our practice was named ‘Branch of the Year’ in early 2018. Craig Orbell was also awarded Young Advisor of the Year. Craig is a very deserving winner and a highly regarded member of the Bridges Lake Macquarie team.

We are very humbled that our practice has grown entirely on referrals over the last two years, credited totally to our satisfied clients that continue to recommend our unique value proposition to others.

These client referrals have extended our footprint throughout the region and we are now servicing clients across Lake Macquarie, Maitland, Newcastle, Port Stephens, Central Coast, Sydney and New England as well as interstate and overseas.

We are all very thankful for your support, as you continue to believe in us, our ability to help you no matter the situation and our expertise on financial, lifestyle and business goals.

I am pleased to say the focus of the practice remains unchanged; it’s still about people and following our values. We continue to enjoy solid relationships with our clients and associates and we still get as excited as they do in reaching their milestones, achieving their goals and setting new ones.

In reviewing 2018, it was certainly a year of ups and downs for many of our clients both personally and financially.

We celebrated with those that reached and settled into a comfortable retirement or achieved a major financial goal like paying off a mortgage, while congratulating those with the courage, drive and enthusiasm for buying or starting a business.

We supported others who said farewell to loved ones this year and provided guidance and assistance with insurance claims for death, disability, loss of income and cancer events to help others get back on the path to a stable life.

Financial markets delivered positive results for investors who swam in between the flags for most of the year, only to cause frustration in the last quarter by the uncertainty of Brexit and a breakdown in global trade negotiations between the United States and China.

Looking towards 2019, we continue to be optimistic about the future. We know that with regular coaching, progress meetings and fine-tuning our client’s financial strategy, it will deliver the best probability of achieving aspirations and reaching target destinations.

We will continue to challenge ourselves to reach bigger, more audacious goals by investing in more personal and professional development so we – as a team – can better support you on your journey and navigate the best path forward.

To help achieve this, we’ll be seeking your feedback early in the new year on our service delivery and the quality of our advice and support, to ensure we continue to meet and exceed your expectations.

You may have already noticed that we have started embracing more technology in the practice over previous months and this will continue to be a focus during 2019. We hope these advancements will make doing business with us even easier and be an efficient use of your precious time in the new year.

Skype & Zoom Meetings will be offered for our clients that are hindered by either distance or time. This will make communicating with us easier and will also offer the option to book your next meeting online if you’re unable to phone the practice during business hours.

Have a wonderful Christmas break with family and friends and we look forward to working with you again in the new year!

Regards

Daniel Irving and the Bridges Lake Macquarie team