The importance of planning ahead

by Craig Retallack Craig Retallack is a Chartered Accountant with over 17 years’ practice and industry experience. Craig’s speciality is as a trusted advisor to various families and high net worth individuals, providing strategic advice with a holistic approach to their personal financial affairs. Contact Craig

One of the most important things I value in my career is the ‘absolute trust’ placed with me to guide families through the financial aspects of life’s journey.

Increasingly, we are witness to families who have lost a spouse or parent who have ‘controlled the purse strings’ and run the family’s financial affairs without involving anyone else. More often than not, what’s been left behind for the surviving family can be a mystery and a minefield.

This situation can prove overwhelming for surviving family members. With all of the above in mind, if you are now asking yourself ‘If I die, what will be left for my family to deal with and can they manage it?’ …then I encourage you to read on.

As with many things in life, it all comes down to preparation and communication.

Preparing for family succession involves many factors and starts from the gathering of all information in a common place – what we term ‘a critical file’. Information is vast and varied and depending on circumstances, can be hard to locate. But the more information you gather about your financial affairs, centralising it in one place, the easier it will be for everyone when it is needed. This task can be daunting, especially if you are trying to locate, for example, various corporate documents, titles to properties and cost base information for long standing investments. You may find you do not know where to start or what documents you are trying to locate. If you find yourself in this situation it might now be the time to reach out and ask for help.

The next step is to understand exactly what will be left behind, how it is structured and why and what the risks are. Engaging someone to help understand the potential outcomes, navigating potential risk and putting in place early protection measures will take a weight off your shoulders. Time will be freed up to let you focus on life’s more important matters at this stage in your life, such as taking that overseas trip you always wanted to do or simply improving that golf swing!

More often than not, this phase in the journey also brings to the surface gaps in your current financial situation, opportunities in the current estate planning or mistakes made in prior years that can be rectified and avoided for current and future generations before it is too late.

Once the detail has been sorted through, the situation explained and the opportunities for simplification, protection and growth considered, communication to the wider family becomes a pivotal point in the journey. It is not easy discussing death and its consequences to a family member. It is not easy explaining to an adult child the finer points of what their roles and responsibilities may become now or after your death. And it is certainly not easy doing this if it isn’t something about which you have an absolute understanding. An objective person, who holds your hand through this process, is invaluable. Importantly, it builds relationships with the next generation; giving you peace of mind that your children are in good hands and, more often than not, gives comfort to the children that all aspects of their parents’ financial and personal affairs are tended to.

Mutual Trust Pty Ltd ACN 004 285 330 (AFSL 234590). Liability limited by a scheme approved under Professional Standards Legislation. For participating members (other than for the acts or omissions of Australian Financial Services Licensees). This information is general in nature and subject to change. It does not constitute tax, legal or financialadvice. We recommend you seek advice specific to your circumstances before taking any action. Copyright © 2014 Mutual Trust Pty Ltd.
Back to top
Related Insight
Why 70% of wealth transfers fail by Brad Simmons, Partner


Research shows that an alarming 70% of wealth transfers fail. The primary reason? A breakdown of trust and communication within families. Other common causes include a failure to prepare wealth inheritors and a failure to define purpose of wealth. So …

Keep reading
Contact Brad