Category Archives: Blog

windfall management

Top 5 tips for wise windfall management

Great news for a couple of anonymous Biloela locals recently with a $1.5 million lotto win.  We all dream of winning the lotto or an unexpected windfall but what would you actually do if it happened to you?

I’m guessing most of us have a wish list of impulse purchases that we think would make an immediate improvement to our circumstances. However, it is important to pause before big purchases are made to consider the long-term implications of those investments and how they would fit into a financial strategy that sees you living well for the rest of your life and able to provide for your beneficiaries.

Our local winners have already made a wise choice in remaining anonymous, and hopefully giving them the time to process this life-altering event and plan for the future.

With additional income and increased spending also comes unwanted additional expenditure such as increased income tax, capital gains tax, stamp duty and maintenance on purchases, professional fees and more.

Here are our top five tips for wise windfall management

  1. First up, deposit your windfall into a high interest account
  2. Then seek expert professional advice from a trusted Solicitor, Accountant and Investment Advisor who ideally will work together to provide complementary advice to you
  3. Review and update your Will, beneficiaries and trusts with a legal professional
  4. Seek professional accounting advice on your new tax position so you don’t end up paying more tax than you should on your windfall
  5. Make a long term financial plan with a trusted investment advisor to clear any current debt and make an investment plan to ensure you can sustain your new lifestyle into retirement

Wright Clarke Solicitors are always available for legal advice and happy to refer our clients to other trusted professionals for complementary services whether you have landed a windfall or not.

Are you eligible for Farm Business Analysis Assistance?

From time to time in the Wright Clarke legal practice we have a client encountering difficulty managing Farm Debt due to changed circumstances.  When tough times hit primary producers tend to believe hard work will get them through. Sadly, though this isn’t the case and in fact producers need to step back and analyse their business finances and approach the problem from a different perspective.

I’m really pleased that primary producers can apply for assistance from the recently established Farm Debt Restructure Office.  The FDRO has been set up by the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority to assist primary producers experiencing financial distress by providing independent expert financial information and analysis of their farm business.

The Farm Business Analysis Assistance assesses your past, present and projected business position and a report is provided free of charge to the producer.

Some of the best attributes of the program are:

  1. You can have some input into which service provider from the panel is engaged to assess your business situation.
  2. What you choose to do with the information and options in the report is completely up to you. You are not obliged to take a course of action or engage anyone as a result of the report.
  3. The assistance complements producers existing financial services consultants and offers an alternate opinion or services at a time when you can least afford to outlay extra fees.

Please contact us if you’d like to discuss your eligibility with me and prospective next steps or visit the Queensland Rural and Industry Development Authority’s (QRIDA) website www.qrida.qld.gov.au/fdro.

Have you got all your legal matters in order?

Check the list and make sure you’re ready and prepared for the best possible 2018.

We all put a great deal of effort into planning a party or a trip away but loathe to sort out our legal matters. So many times clients come in after they have done the deal and it has gone wrong.  The cost in terms of stress alone is horrendous.

Take a look at our personal and business legal health checklist to see if you have all your legal matters in order, then call us on (07) 4992 2722 to book an appointment with our professional team at Wright Clarke to map out a future plan. Wright Clarke is happy to provide some initial general advice on a complimentary basis to our clients.

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Will and Enduring Power of Attorney

Do you have a Will and Enduring Power of Attorney? Is it current? Do you know if it will actually deliver the result that you intend? Take the time to ensure that all your assets are considered as many are not covered in a standard will.

Estate Plan

Take some time out to plan your affairs now before the year gets into full swing. You don’t want to be rushing through your estate planning or other legal matters because you’re going overseas or there is a major event in your life.

Binding Death Nomination

While your superannuation assets might not form part of your estate in the event of your death, you can certainly control how they are to be dealt with in that event, for example by making a binding death nomination. Again though it is important to review this regularly to ensure that it is in keeping with your current succession plan.

Optimum Business Structure

Take your business to the next level.  If you are running a business now is the perfect time to consider what goals you wish to achieve in the coming year and whether your business structure suits your present commercial needs.

Asset Protection

Will an unexpected claim cause all your hard work to crash? Book an appointment with Anna Radel to ensure that your business and personal assets are protected from potential risks.

Why NOW is an ideal time for succession planning

Are You Ready? card with colorful background

Now is a great time to organise a succession plan for your farm business.  There are two Queensland Government incentives currently available that could potentially make the process more cost effective for you, however both have time limits.

Stamp duty relief on family farm transfers

The first initiative is stamp duty relief that came into effect from 12 October 2016. Recent changes apply for the period from 23 May 2017 to 22 May 2018, on the transfer of property (including water allocations) used for the business of primary production between family members.  This includes both land used primarily to carry on a primary production business e.g. an adjoining property for farm manager/ owner to reside and personal property used to carry on the business on the land.

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Q & A with Anna Radel

Anna Radel has been Principal and owner of Wright Clarke Solicitors in Biloela since 2002. Anna doesn’t do things by halves, she bought the legal firm when her first child was only four weeks old and proceeded to have her second, another son, the following year!  All while Anna and her husband own and manage a cattle property running 1000 breeders on two organic blocks in the Biloela district.

Anna understands all aspects of rural life, remoteness, dry times, floods, losing livestock, running a rural business in town in a community that is suffering hard economic times, managing debt and trying to establish a plan to run a family business and keep the family together.

We sat down with Anna to discuss how she does it all and why ….

 

What’s your passion?

My passion is to help rural families, farms and businesses manage the legal risks associated with rural life and develop legal strategies that result in stronger families and businesses.  My dream is to provide top quality legal advice and services to rural and remote Queenslanders in a way that makes the law more easily understood.

 

How do you feel you best help your clients?

I love using my expertise to help make a difference in other people’s lives.  I think knowing and understanding my clients allows me to give them the best service.  I can identify the most important areas to deal with first and look for affordable solutions.  Just the other day I met with a family (who I know well) with concerns about the transfer of assets and how this would affect the costs of going into aged care.  I knew all the options but having that personal relationship with the Clients I also knew which options were going to work best for them and be the most affordable solution without the risk of the family farm having to be sold to fund aged care.  We were able to simply change the ownership structure of the joint asset so the more senior couple in the ownership became tenants in common rather than joint tenants.  This also saved a lot of hassle with stamp duty and achieved the desired outcome for all parties within the family.

 

What do you think your clients enjoy in working with you?

I think my clients appreciate that I understand their life, the highs and lows of farm life and the benefits and challenges of living rurally. Like all people in rural areas, people in Biloela and surrounds have different priorities and needs to people in other areas.

Being a local, it gives me a very unique perspective that many lawyers just cannot offer – I get it – I have fixed creek fences in 40-degree heat, managed on a generator for two weeks after the cyclone, dealt with the emergency helicopter, pulling bogged ambulances out of the mud when my 2-year-old had a seizure during the floods, I have cried tears of desperation and tears of joy from that first rain after dry years gives that first glimmer of hope. I’m involved in a cross-generation farming family and we are trying to navigate a successful and ever-changing family succession plan.

 

Why do clients return to your business?

The relationship of trust we develop with our clients is the key reason they keep coming back to us.  We genuinely care about our client’s legal well-being and take the time to understand their needs.  Once a person is a registered client of our firm they receive free initial advice over the phone so they never need to walk into a deal blind again and can be prepared for future eventualities.  Also, when necessary we have a network of excellent specialists in all areas so our clients can access initial expert advice quickly and ensure our clients know what they need to know when making business decisions.

 

How do you do it all?  Any tips?

I don’t!  I just keep going, doing my best, prioritising and doing the most I can each day.

 

What are you spending time on, when you eventually get some downtime?

Well, there isn’t much downtime.  I’m doing a lot of DIY, I’m house painting at the moment, which I’m really enjoying.  We’ve been basically living in a small home on our property and at Christmas I bought a second-hand house online (sight unseen). It arrived on the back of a truck, a contractor connected it to the house and we’re now at the painting stage.  When I can I also like to ride and do yoga.  One day, when the house is finished, I’ll have some time to organise my sewing room and enjoy making some clothes. In the meantime, life is well and truly full with our legal practise, the boys at home from boarding school at weekends and the usual running of the property and the house.

 

What motivates you to get out of bed every morning? 

Professionally, it’s knowing I can really help my clients and make a difference to them, they may not ever be aware of how what I’ve done has helped them. I might be doing something for them that won’t impact them for years or they’ll never benefit from directly but their children or grandchildren will and that’s very satisfying.  That’s why I like to check-in with my clients regularly so we can be prepared for life’s eventualities rather than having to be reactive to situations down the track and potentially not get the best possible and most affordable outcome than if we’d planned ahead.

How can I prevent my Will being challenged or disputed after I die?

'Will

There is a difference between “disputing a Will” and challenging a Will by “claiming on an estate”.  To “dispute a Will” is to challenge the validity of the Will.  A person could challenge the validity of your Will if they believe:

  • you did not have the mental capacity to make a Will;
  • the Will was forged;
  • you were unduly influenced (i.e. there was trickery, force, pressure or fear involved) when making the Will; or
  • there is fraud involved

To avoid such claims it is best to make a legally binding Will with a trusted Solicitor while you are mentally and physically healthy and to regularly update your Will.

There is no way to prevent your Will being challenged after you die.  However, you can try to reduce the risk of this happening and reduce the impact it has on your estate if it does happen.

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Primary Producer Grant Offer – Succession Planning

Succession planning concept on blackboard with pen

Great news for primary producers – A new QRAA Farm Management Grant is available covering 50% of professional fees relating to family succession plans. Now is the perfect time to meet with Wright Clarke Solicitors to prepare or review and update your family’s succession planning. We work with you to prepare practical, cost effective, down to earth family succession plans in consultation with financial advisors.

Your individualised succession plan will outline what will happen and who will take over your farm when you leave either by choice or circumstance. Your farm represents a lifetime of hard work we want to ensure:

  • You avoid disputes when transferring ownership to the next generation
  • You make the most of recent tax legislation and stamp duty rules offering greater flexibility and affordability for primary producers looking to sell or gift their farm to family members.

Everyone’s circumstances are different, we take the time to understand and care for you and your situation with a clear succession planning process.

The QRAA Farm Management Grant is an excellent prompt for all primary producers to address their business’ succession plan. Here are all the details about accessing the Farm Management Grant and getting your succession planning underway:

Here is all the information you will need on the details of the Farm Management Grant:

  • Queensland Rural Adjustment Authority’s Farm Management Grant is available from 23 March 2017 until 30 June 2019 to Primary Producers and their families.
  • The Grant can only be used to fund professional fees incurred in relation to succession planning for primary producer’s and their relatives.
  • The Farm Management Grant covers 50% of professional fees relating to family succession plans (capped to a maximum contribution of $2500 per financial year.)
  • Applications for rebates must be received within the financial year the services are provided and may include an ‘approval in principle’ application made a maximum of three months before professional advice is received.
  • More than one application can be lodged in a financial year so long as the maximum assistance of $2,500 has not been reached.

The Essential 5 Steps to Establishing a Digital Estate Plan

What will happen to all of your personal digital assets after you die?  How will your family or beneficiaries be able to access your:

  • online financial, bank records, share portfolios or taxation information?
  • photos stored on your phone or a photo site?
  • documents or files stored on your computer, hard drive or in cloud storage?
  • Emails to deal with incoming invoices or correspondence?
  • social networking, photo storage or sharing accounts to download photos or information stored in them or that you have posted and to close down or memorialise your accounts and notify people you are connected with on those accounts of your passing?
  • iTunes playlist or e-reader library to use or download your favourite music or books as a sentimental reminder of you?
  • Utility accounts, private health cover accounts and Australian Government Department of Human services site for Medicare or Centrelink matters?
  • membership rewards program credits ie. frequent flyers, hotel memberships or FlyBuy points, will the credit/ points/ cash values be able to be redeemed or transferred?
  • purchasing accounts i.e. paypal, ebay, gumtree?

So, what is a digital asset?

  1. A digital asset is any digital device e.g. computer, laptop, mobile or tablet including the data stored on a digital device, for example, documents, emails, photos and music; and
  2. on the web e.g. online storage accounts, online shopping accounts, social media accounts and online financial/banking accounts.

Dangers of leaving digital affairs in limbo

In this digital age, we are increasingly seeing problems created when people die without having considered who to give access to their digital assets and who should know their crucial computer passwords.  This can lead to substantial costs to beneficiaries to decrypt codes in order to access devices or to gain legal consent to administer online accounts.  There is a danger in leaving your digital affairs in a state of limbo, it is important to specifically give someone the power to access and manage your digital assets to tidy up your affairs when you pass away.  This Digital Executor will need an inventory of your digital estate.

Here are the essential five steps to establishing a Digital Estate Plan:

  1. Make an inventory of all your digital assets noting the username and password for each one including; hardware i.e. Computers, mobile phones, tablets, e-readers, ipods and for all of your online accounts as detailed above.
  1. Nominate/ Appoint a Digital Executor and ask them to accept the appointment. This does not have to be the same person for each asset.  Your digital executor could be your solicitor a family member, friend or someone else that you trust.
  1. Consider and leave instructions in your Digital Estate Plan about what you would like done with each digital asset. For example; you may want some assets saved, archived, printed, deleted or closed down or the ownership or access transferred to a beneficiary through your Will.
  2. Make your instructions legal. Have your Digital Executor noted in your Will and the transfer of ownership of any digital assets noted in your Will. Your Digital Estate Plan should be held with your Will but not be a part of your Will as after the Will is probated it becomes a public document and it would not be desirable to have passwords made public.  The other reason not to have your Digital Estate Plan as part of your Will is that you will need to regularly update your Digital Inventory as you add and remove accounts or change passwords over your lifetime.  This Digital Estate Plan should be updated every six months.
  1. You also need to ensure safe and multiple storage of your Digital Estate Plan. Ideally the plan should be stored with your Will by your solicitor and yourself either at home in a safe or locked metal filing cabinet or a bank safety deposit box.  Alternatively, your Digital Estate Plan inventory could contain the access code for an online password management or data storage site so you can continually update your digital inventory and have it securely stored.

If you have a business, it is advisable to create a separate Digital Asset Inventory for your business’ digital assets.  These are all important issues to consider and discuss with Wright Clarke when preparing or updating your Will.

 

windfall management

The Top 5 Reasons for Virtual Meetings

Here are our top five reasons why a virtual face-to-face meeting might be more favourable for you than an actual in-person meeting.

  1. Save yourself time and money travelling to town for a meeting by meeting virtually instead.
  2. No disruption to work flow – a face time or skype call, presuming coverage is good, can take place anywhere.  You could be a long way out herding cattle and take a 20-minute break to face-time for an update on a matter via a portable device.
  3. When a legal matter is time sensitive and you can’t leave your property due to other crucial and time sensitive work, a virtual meeting, perhaps through GoToMeeting,  allows you to stay on your property while allowing you to continue to attend to your legal matters.
  4. What if your property is cut off due to flooding or fire? It is often in those times you need to seek urgent legal advice and for your solicitor to truly understand your circumstances.  How amazing to be able to communicate virtually face to face.
  5. If you are unwell or physically immobile or caring for a family member who is incapacitated, again this is a time you may need to attend to a legal matter. Having the capacity to continue to engage with your solicitor when you need to rather than delaying until you can be physically present could eliminate unnecessary additional stress during an already difficult time.

Next time you are scheduling a meeting or about to send an email consider the option of whether a face-time call or skype chat will suit your circumstances and be a more effective and efficient means for your communication need.

Read “ Why Wright Clarke is embracing the digital landscape …  but not moving there

Why Wright Clarke Solicitors is embracing the digital landscape … but not moving there

Ever changing technology has the potential to ‘digitally disrupt’ OR present new opportunities to enhance our lives and how we conduct business.

There is a growing trend in legal practice to provide all services online through a portal.  Negating the need for a solicitor and client to ever actually meet!  Virtual law firms may result in a huge income gain for solicitors due to faster turnover of matters but the loss to clients of their legal advisor not fully understanding the complexity of their situation could be immense.

Here at Wright Clarke we aim to get the balance right, to use technology in the right way, to further our connection with clients as well as expedite communication.

Email and mail is always a necessary part of communication with a solicitor, however, in many cases the back and forth of an email exchange can be very inefficient time-wise and not very effective in getting to the heart of a matter.

So much can be ‘lost in translation’ through emails, texts and phone calls.  Text alone lacks the context needed for a thorough understanding of what someone is communicating.

Face to face communication is the best method of communication allowing for facial expressions and other nonverbal cues to boost our understanding of the verbal as humans use facial expression, gesture and body language for 60% to 93% of their communication.

So how do we save ourselves time and work more efficiently with emerging technology without sacrificing face to face communication that allows for the clearest and often most efficient communication?  Through virtual face-to -face meetings on GoToMeeting, facetime, skype or video-link.

I can see huge potential and benefit for clients in using this technology to communicate with Wright Clarke and other professional services firms when, for whatever reason, it is difficult meet in person.

Read “The top 5 reasons for virtual meetings”