From complexity to simplification – how empathetic estate planning advice helped Betty take control of her financial wellbeing.

Sep 27, 2022

John and Betty had been enjoying their well-earned retirement for some time. John had a long and fruitful career in the financial services industry and Betty was more the creative type with a fruitful career in music and teaching. Their three children were no longer dependent so retirement would be time for them to enjoy their own hobbies and interests.

John was an expert in his field, and hence he took it upon himself to manage their finances in retirement. In fact, this became his past time with a deep and diverse portfolio to manage including a self-managed super fund, a commercial property investment, a diverse share portfolio and several accounts including a pension account for both him and Betty.

Thanks to John, they would be well looked after throughout their retirement.

Ten years into their retirement, Betty contacted Daniel Williams from Tribel Advisory with some unexpectedly sad news that John had suddenly passed away.

Aside from the emotional struggle, Betty was left as the sole beneficiary to the estate and investment portfolio but was completely in the dark about the complex web of financial investments John had made over the past 10 years. She trusted him implicitly with it, but with his passing, she sought professional advice.

Operation Simplification

Dan approached this with an empathetic but matter of fact approach. His priority was to support Betty through this difficult time.

The first step was to facilitate a conversation with the family’s solicitor to organise the death certificate and to apply for probate. As the sole beneficiary, her intent was to ensure that her children would become the beneficiaries on the event of her passing.

Dan’s empathetic approach was to reassure her and guide her through her new role as executor. He walked her through the will and discussed her immediate and future needs.

It was clear that Betty had no interest in managing a complex web of investments. She simply wanted to ensure she had enough to live comfortably with and that her children would inherit the remainder with as little complexity as possible.

The approach

Dan got to work with Betty to simplify the investment portfolio. While Dan was impressed by the work of John, he knew that a complex portfolio like this, which included a self-managed super fund would end up being too costly due to its complexity.

Dan suggested simplification of the superannuation structure which meant closing the SMSF and focusing on maximising the pension account’s ability to support cashflow requirements and investment holdings. The next step was to transfer the accounts into Betty’s name and make new death benefit nominations.

Dan set up the most suitable pension income account for Betty to receive a regular income and advised on the liquidating the shares in the deceased name.

Just as Dan was practical about what to divest, he also advised on what to retain, including the commercial investment property which was returning a reasonable income. In line with her medium to long term objectives it was appropriate to retain this for the medium term.  

The outcome

It is now twelve months on, Betty feels like she has the finances under control with the help of Dan. Her accounting is up to date and the investment portfolio is manageable (in fact, it manages itself).  She still has the important memories of the life she lived with John, including his beloved vintage car which is thankfully in mint condition.

She has updated her estate to reflect her wishes of leaving a simple, manageable trust for the children to share when she eventually passes. But for now, with her affairs in order, she feels prepared and ready to confront her new life. 

After many meetings over the last year to achieve the outcome Betty wanted, she is now in a place where she is confident and capable of managing her financial affairs but is aware that Dan is only a phone call away.  Dan will continue to reach out and check in with her from time to time, but all going to plan she will only require annual visits now.

For now, she is happy that Dan has alleviated the headache of financial planning from the heartache of losing a loved one.

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