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Estate Planning

Estate planning explained

Estate planning is something all business owners should consider. It is a process that helps you create a plan for your estate – everything from your assets and liabilities to your final wishes.

While it may seem like something only applicable to those with substantial assets, the truth is that estate planning is important for businesses of all sizes.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the process of creating a plan for your estate.

It includes everything from your assets and liabilities to your final wishes. Estate planning can be helpful for businesses of all sizes, as it can help you determine what will happen to your business after you die or become incapacitated.

When most people think of estate planning, they think of a will. However, a will is just one part of an estate plan. An estate plan can include Trusts, Powers of Attorney, and Advance Directives.


A trust is a legal arrangement in which one person (the trustee) holds property for another person (the beneficiary). Trusts can manage assets during your lifetime and after your death.

Power of Attorney

A Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives someone else the authority to make decisions on your behalf, be it financial, healthcare, or both.

Advance directive

An advance directive is a legal document that outlines your wishes for medical treatment or care if you are unable to communicate those wishes yourself. Advance directives can include a living will or a healthcare power of attorney.

Kerry & Janine Ledge Finance kitchen.

Benefits of estate planning

There are many benefits to estate planning, including:

  • Protecting your family and loved ones
  • Avoiding probate
  • Minimise tax liabilities
  • Ensuring your wishes are carried out

Contact us to find out more about the many benefits of estate planning.

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Estate planning process: Simplified into 5 steps

Creating an estate plan can be a complex process, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. The most important thing is to get started and to review your plan regularly. Here’s a quick overview of what you need to do:

  1. Gather your documents
    Documents include your will, power of attorney, health care directive, and financial records.
  2. Make a list of your estate assets
    Assets include personal assets from your home, car, bank accounts and investments.
  3. Determine who you want to receive your estate assets
    These can be family members, friends, or charities.
  4. Choose an executor
    An executor is the person who will carry out your wishes after you die.
  5. Update your beneficiary designations
    These include life insurance policies and retirement accounts.
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Start your estate planning process today

At Ledge, we take a holistic approach to business finance.

Partnering with experienced and certified financial planners and estate lawyers ensures we can help businesses needing estate planning services or other tax advice.

Get in touch with your Ledge Finance Executive to find out more.

FAQs about estate planning

Below are some frequently asked questions we get asked about estate planning.

An estate plan is a plan you put in place while you are still alive and with full mental capacity to ensure that the wealth you have accumulated is managed in accordance with your wishes in the event of your death or incapacity. Everyone who has something to protect should have an estate plan.

You hope to see through the implementation of your succession plan; however, you will likely not be around to see your estate plan implemented. Succession planning is the strategic process of identifying and equipping key individuals within a business who will take over when the current leaders exit. It is an ongoing exercise that should ensure the smooth transition of leadership and, potentially, the ownership of a business.

Estate planning deals with transferring your wealth when you pass away or become mentally incapacitated. Succession planning is crucial to ensuring the value of a business you own is maintained. The value created by the business is likely to form a large part of the individual owner’s wealth which is dealt with through the estate plan.

The documents an estate plan includes will vary. For example, an estate plan for someone with an investment trust may include:

  • a personal will,
  • provision for one or more testamentary trusts within the will,
  • a letter of wishes to guide the trustee of the discretionary trust,
  • enduring power of attorney to govern how financial affairs are to be managed in the event of mental incapacity and
  • an enduring power of guardianship (EPG) and advanced health directive (AHD).

The EPG authorises a person of your choice to make important personal, lifestyle and treatment decisions on your behalf should you become incapable of making such decisions yourself.

The AHD is a legal document that enables you to make decisions about the treatment you would want – or not want – to receive if you ever became sick or injured and were incapable of communicating your wishes.

Many people do not realise that super does not form part of your estate and is not dealt with under your will. When a member of a superfund dies, the death benefit (the member balance of the deceased person) is held by the trustees of the superfund to be distributed at the discretion of the trustees or in accordance with a valid, binding death benefit nomination, if there is one.

A binding death benefit nomination allows a member to specify the recipient of their death benefit. A member can only nominate a qualifying dependant or their estate to receive their death benefit.

All business owners and anyone accumulating wealth should have an estate plan. It should not be a case of waiting until you have reached a certain target wealth or age. Your estate plan should be a dynamic tool that is reviewed regularly and changed to suit your current position. It can start with just a simple will to cover your personal property.

It can then grow to facilitate a more sophisticated wealth management structure involving multiple types of entities such as companies and trusts. It is not just about planning for what happens to your property after you pass away; it is also about planning for what happens to you and your property if you become mentally incapacitated.

Estate planning is not a DIY project! Preparing your own will and estate planning documents is not advisable. These documents must conform to strict legal requirements; otherwise, the Courts may decide that they are not valid.

Furthermore, you may not create a framework that will provide your beneficiaries with the most protected and tax-effective structure to take over the wealth you are transferring. Depending on the complexity of your affairs, your estate planning may require the assistance of several experts working together, including a tax professional, a certified financial planner and an experienced estate lawyer.


Please note the information provided here is general in nature and does not constitute financial, tax or other professional advice. You should consider whether the information is appropriate for your needs and seek professional advice prior to making any decisions.