Donations, Succession, Wills and Kindness

June 1, 2009 by  
Filed under Money Space

The first reaction and perhaps the first question would be, how can you link kindness with the world of taxation and finance?

A little reflection offers up a couple of immediate thoughts.

Donations to a worthy cause are certainly one way of showing kindness to a growing charity body across Australia. Since the end of financial year is fast approaching perhaps you might like to consider worthy charities and feel a little virtuous about helping those less fortunate than us and those doing important work in the community. Don’t forget though; keep the receipts for those tax deductible donations.


Pen and paper by LucasTheExperience on Flickr

Perhaps another means of kindness you can show towards your own family is consideration of succession particularly in family businesses. There are a significant number of families with business interests that in the near future will need to tackle this interesting and somewhat daunting topic. The time for the “baby boomers” to transfer their businesses to the next generation is upon us, so I strongly encourage those people to start the process. If you don’t feel you are at the point of tackling the topic on your own, seek out some help – either through others you may know who have already been down that path or professionals offering knowledge in this specialised area. The transition can be tough on both the parents and the children and a little kindness all round can make the difference for a successful experience.

This often leads to the issues of Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney. In my humble view one of the kindest gestures a person, especially a parent, can make to those left behind is having an appropriate Will (and Letter of Wishes) in place. Families struggle when a loved one passes on and many unanswered questions remain.

The best way to deal with this is to ensure your Wills are up to date and you use your own words (via a Letter of Wishes) to clearly articulate your thoughts when the Will is drafted. Show a little kindness (as the song goes) and make sure that side of your affairs receive the attention it deserves.

For those with significant business interests a succession plan is essential, since Wills are in fact only a component of the plan and not the beginning and end of the matter.

Until next time!


5 Responses to “Donations, Succession, Wills and Kindness”
  1. Spot on, Grant. And can I suggest that it would also be an act of kindness to appoint someone other than a family member as executor? It’s hard enough dealing with grief. To have the stress of executing a will on top of that is just too much.

  2. Chris Owen says:

    And there was I thinking you were trying to pull a long bow by linking kindness and taxation Grant!
    But you did an amazingly good job on it!! :-)

  3. Grant Wallace says:

    Angela – Thankyou for your thought. The role of an Executor is not an easy one, as you correctly point out. For larger and more complex estates it is often appropriate to have a family member supported by a trusted professional to act as joint executors. This ensures the family member has professional support while still ensuring the needs of the family are well recognised. Yes, there are professional fees involved but this should be seen as an acceptable cost of maintaining harmony within the family during a difficult time. Some might say that family harmony is priceless.

    While the public trustee and such organisations can offer the executor service on what appears to be a low cost basis, I would encourage families (particular family businesses) to consider the option I have mentioned to ensure the family’s interests are placed first and foremost.

  4. Grant Wallace says:

    Chris- Thankyou for that comment. When I first considered the topic I thought I was done for! Taxation and kindness would be considered strange bed fellows at the best of times. So I hope the connection made some sense and at least sparked a thought or two about the key points.

  5. Jenny Moss says:

    I agree about leaving a well thought out will. One thing though I was very grateful to my parents for was that as the eldest child and a financial adviser by profession I did not have the task of executor.

    Speaking to my clients about wills and the dramas that they can cause with various family members seeing things through different specs it is often a kinder thing to appoint a trustee company to be a co executor with a family member.

    The law has changed a great deal in recent times regarding who can make claims on estates and having a professional to assist can save the estate a lot of time and money and block unworthy claims saving the family lots of grief and worry.

    The task of being an executor used to be seen as an honour, these days it is a risky business and takes far more time that most people imagine. So be kind to your family and have a professional will drawn up by a trustee company that specialise in this area.

    Unless of course you want to get even with someone then make them executor , have your affairs in a mess and make the will very complex.