The catalyst for writing a book about estate planning was a bulletin from Finder claiming that 12 million Australians did not have a will and 60% have never given a thought to estate planning. That's a serious situation - and a signal that many people are unaware of the complexities that can arise if proper estate planning is not put in place.

Recently I was having a chat to the guy who takes care of my garden, and I asked him if he had a will. He replied "never got around to it. It all seems too much trouble. " I responded, "you've been married before haven't you -and don't you have any children from that relationship?" He said yes to both questions. He got a shock when I told him that according to the laws of intestacy the previous family may get a bigger share of his money than he would like if he died without a valid will.

Estate planning is a massive topic because it covers such a myriad of issues, many of which are uncertain. It's not just the interplay of important topics such as tax, superannuation and Centrelink - the estate planning laws differ from state to state.

To this heady mix we add the many facets of human psychology. Many people just don't get around to making a will, and even if they do, there are the other challenges of choosing an appropriate executor and handling the competing interests of family members. There are further complications due to the number of people living longer and re-partnering later in life, and also the possibility of diminishing mental capacity.

And there's more - many people I know have children living overseas, and over 50% of Australians were born overseas or have a parent living overseas. This brings the complexity of overseas assets and overseas beneficiaries into play.

Nobody is a specialist in all these areas, and I have been privileged when writing this book to have had invaluable help from experts in their field. The estate planning side was overseen by Kirsty Mackie, a solicitor in private practice who practices in both estate planning and family law; the tax section was co-written with Julia Hartman, a tax specialist in capital gains tax and deceased estates; and my guiding light in the superannuation section was Meg Heffron, one of Australia's foremost authorities on superannuation.

Here are just a few of the issues you will learn about as you read this book.

  • What 80% of people fail to do after they've made their will. The consequences may be horrendous.
  • The difference between a superannuation member benefit and a superannuation death benefit. Not understanding this could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in unnecessary tax.
  • A common misunderstanding about enduring powers of attorney.
  • Which assets fall outside the will and cannot be bequeathed in terms of the will.
  • The major mistake made by many pensioner couples when they are making their will. Getting it wrong can cost the survivor their entire pension.
  • How to handle the complexities that occur when you are left a property situated overseas.
  • Strategies to prevent family squabbles.
  • What do you need to know if you wish to contest a will.
  • Why you need to be wary about accepting the role of an executor.
  • The best kind of assets to leave to beneficiaries who are overseas residents. The tax treatment is complex.
  • The main reason most wills are challenged, what to do to try to prevent this.
  • How to use testamentary trusts to prevent your beneficiaries from losing control of the money. This could happen because they are not able to handle money, are in a difficult relationship, or are running their own business.
  • The investment product that sits outside the will and is safe from challenge.
  • The importance of using up capital losses before death.
  • Whether you should have a nomination as part your superannuation fund, and whether it should be binding or non-binding.

Paperback / softback  Trade paperback (US)  300pp  h210mm  x  w135mm  Trade Paperback 

ISBN13: 9780645821642