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Smart Succession: Why estate planning matters to your clients

ChangeGPS // Practice Management, Tax Planning, Delivery, Engagement & Pricing, Life Accounting, Marketing

Accountants love protecting our clients’ assets from tax.

Clients love definite winssay during group and company setup, or saving annually on taxation. We get it—we even built ChangeGPS to better show clients those wins.

But there’s an elephant in the room—and most accountants are only doing half the job. They’re missing the iceberg ahead—for their clients, and for their practice.

It’s all about smart succession.

It’s estate planning—and it matters.

In fact it matters so much that ChangeGPS founder Tim Munro is running an entire session on it (as part of the Trenches Summit, 13-14 September).

You’ll walk away fully able to handle your own estate planning—and then grow the confidence and skills to protect your clients when things go wrong.

Estate planning protects your clients when they need it most. It builds on your hard-earned reputation. And it creates new billables for your practice—while minimising your clients’ legal bills.

Too busy for the iceberg.

We make asset protection our priority—but estate planning could and should happen hand-in-hand with structure and setup.

We’re always busy with the day to day.

Some accountants try to help with estate planning. Too many are untrained in understanding Trust Deeds—and too busy to see the iceberg coming.

But when unexpected death or incapacitation strikes, a poorly planned estate is like a bomb going off through your client’s assets and structures—and their family’s wealth.

A sole-director company with no provision for succession can completely derail a business. Cashflow, staffing, inventory and supply chain can tank a perfectly healthy business—with surviving family waiting for sometimes months of specialist (and expensive) legal work to secure basic powers to run the company. Check out ASIC Information Sheet 73 for more about this.

Ambiguous company ownership becomes a bone of contention choking surviving family members with conflict and ill-will—right when they most need unity.

Shared companies are even more vulnerable, with family assets in the hands of directors who might suddenly pay themselves entire company savings as bonus—100% legally, without proper succession and estate planning in place.

So while accountants focus on tax minimisation, we ignore what can be a complete loss of wealth from the family bloodline.

But it’s all preventable.

And you’ll know how to prevent it after just one hour of CPD.

You’ll learn the tools to get estate planning right. You’ll learn how to generate your own estate planning documents, or work work smoothly with specialist lawyers when necessary. And you’ll learn how ChangeGPS Engage and Progress educate clients about the need for estate planning—while setting your practice up to bill for that valuable work.

Past the ‘one big pot’.

Most lawyers push a ‘one big pot’ approach to estate planning. They’re incentivised by the fees charged for administering that one big pot after a death—but also lack the financial understanding of alternatives.

But pouring all assets from home, business, superannuation and savings into a single “willable” pot is a big mistake.

As accountants, we can know (and advise) better.

One big pot means that any separation in the family, any disagreement, and the entirety of a client’s wealth can trigger a ‘family provision claim’ on that pot in its entirety. High-profile versions hit the news—but the courts are jammed with them.

But accountants can guide clients towards specific ‘family protection trusts’—more specific trusts which lock in successions and lines of control.

Tim’s session will show you how.

You’ll learn how family protection trusts work, how to use SMSF’s most strategically, and how to gift equity across entities and businesses with little or no CGT or stamp duty consequences.

You’ll emerge with a new advisory capacity—be ready to bill better, and bill for value—without heavy costs of acquiring new clients.

You’ll learn how to use the ChangeGPS 25-page client recommendation letter. It educates clients on estate planning services, from engagement through to annual meetings, using charts and diagrams—and includes benchmarked pricing so you’re always on solid ground.

Smart succession.

What’s a successor director?

It’s the key control that helps companies avert the iceberg when sole directors suddenly pass away or are incapacitated—and Tim’s session will pull back the curtain on how it works.

Without a successor director, there’s chaos.

Bank accounts are unusable, employees can’t be paid. Decisions can’t be made to protect the value of the business. Creditors are left out in the cold, stock and inventory hit a brick wall. Companies trading in stocks could ride a disastrous market downturn to the very bottom—helpless without legal access to trading, and losing potentially millions.

It can take 6 months to sort out simply accessing the company’s controls—and that’s 6 months of expensive legal wrangling, all putting pressure on a vulnerable family.

It’s a disaster that can be easily averted—by accountants.

Tim’s session will take you through exactly how to set up successor directors—ready to take over whenever the unexpected arrives.

You’ll learn how to use ChangeGPS to get started and roll out a successor director plan with clients—on a rolling basis, as part of the ASIC annual review. ChangeGP integrates all the materials you need to sell the service—saving your clients untold thousands, and cementing your trusted advisor status.

You’ll have a new service based on a piece of work that takes 15 minutes to execute, can be billed at $350 per client, and can literally be worth millions to clients when they’re facing one of the great challenges of their lives.

Family wealth in the bloodline.

Every client wants their family to thrive after they’ve passed away or been incapacitated. So keeping family wealth in the bloodline is one of your most important duties as a trusted advisor.

Your clients will get certainty about keeping wealth in the family bloodline, and peace of mind about reducing future claims. Any future free-for-alls or conflicts are stopped in their tracks, with property and businesses protected from creditor or employee claims.

Beyond the lawyers, beyond hoping for the best—estate planning is all about doing what matters for your clients—and growing your practice while you do it.

Register now to join Tim Munro at the Trenches Summit.

Book a demo to learn how ChangeGPS can make estate planning part of your service—or book a time with your client success manager for a refresh.


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Like all great change-makers, Ben Duthie is driven by purpose. A Partner at Blue Edge—a boutique accounting firm in Perth—he helps small businesses and high-value individuals succeed through advisory that matters.