Tag Archives: life insurance

Checklist for new Parents

Congratulations on the arrival of your new little bundle!

If it’s your first, there’s a veritable litany of emotions going on… and yes, nothing will ever be the same again.  If it’s another new addition to your family, guess what?  Same applies!

But amongst the joy, happiness, sleepless nights, never ending nappies and the finding of a semblance of normality again, it’s easy to overlook some important things that need to be taken care of.  Here’s a few that you may want to work through…

1.  Add bub to your Medicare card.

You’ll need to complete a Newborn Child Declaration form (usually provided by the hospital) or complete a Medicare Enrollment form with supporting docs including proof of birth – and no, the stretch marks don’t count!

2. Add bub to your Health Insurance

If you have private health insurance, you’ll need to call your provider to let them know about your new addition.  They’ll let you know what’s needed to add baby to your cover.  It’s also a good time to review your levels of cover and see if you have what you need.  The couples cover that was just right for the two of you, likely wont cut it for boisterous toddlers.

3.  Review the Life Insurance!

It’s probably the last thing you want to think about, but reviewing your levels of cover is pretty important.  You may have previously taken care of debt with a bit left over for your partner, but now you have twenty years worth of health and education expenses to also account for should something happen to a parent.  Chat with an adviser if you’re unsure of how to work it all out.  Cover can be funded personally or via your superannuation plan – the options are worth considering, especially if there’s only one working for a period of time.

4.  Adjust the budget

If you haven’t already made adjustments for the loss or reduction of income, now is a really good time to review that.  With only one income or reduced cash flow it may be time to cut back on some expenses, but others will be going up.  Your fried brain may not want a reality check, but it could stop some reckless or unnecessary spending.  Babies don’t actually care if they have the latest cot or pram, but your budget should!  You may also be surprised at the level of love and hand-me-downs that head your way too.  And for those who ask what you need, be practical!  Nappies, wipes, consumables or a prepared meal all go a long way to helping out.  Family may even want to help and pitch in for the bigger ticket items.

5. Childcare expenses

At some stage, the new little love of your life will likely need care and it’s good to be prepared and know what’s on offer.  Are you happy with the services in your neighborhood?  Is family day care available?  Ask some parents with older kids in care and see if they’re happy with the centres they use… and try and get your head around the Centrelink offers if you’re eligible.

6. Education costs

And guess what, the expenses don’t stop when you’re out of childcare and heading to school.  Even if you choose state based education, you still need to fund books, uniforms, excursions, donations and tuck-shop treats.  It’s good to start stashing away for this early.

If you’re wanting a private education, you may need to put the future Prime Minister onto a waiting list from birth.  Starting to save for the costs early is vital.  Knowing what the fees are, and add ons can help you plan from now.

And do you want to mix it up?  Public school for the early years and private school later?  Who knew there was so much to prepare for?

7.  Estate Planning

And don’t forget the Will.  Chances are you might want to include the little people if something were to happen to you and your partner.  Speaking with a professional can be vital if your situation is a little complicated too.  If you’re no longer with the parent of your children but want to provide for them, make sure your Will takes care of your wishes.  That way, your voice from the grave will have a much greater chance of being heard… and acted on.  But then, there’s also assets that don’t go through the Will such as superannuation or your jointly owned family home, and you need to understand where these assets will end up too.  You also likely need to appoint a guardian for your wee bairns should something happen and that’s a decision that needs careful thought.

But don’t let it all overwhelm you.  One thing at a time and it’ll all get done… eventually.

In the meantime, enjoy every smile, treasure every cuddle and know that it’s completely ok to regularly fall apart.  Nobody else has it completely together either… despite what their Insta feed says.

Financial Things to do Before You Die

While it might not be as exciting a list as Bucket List inclusions like:

1. Head to Base Camp;

2. Dive the Great Barrier Reef;

3. Have a Champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower;

4. Stay in a yurt in Mongolia;

5. or sleep in an Igloo under the Northern Lights… it’s definitely a very loving legacy to leave behind for those you care about.

Unfortunately, I’ve had to assist in unraveling affairs of those who instead leave behind a financial mess for their family to navigate.  On top of grief, it’s a bitter pill to swallow when your financial affairs have not been left ‘in order.’  I know I’ve covered this issue before, but it’s so important to have finalised.

And I understand, it’s not a popular question to ponder and is likely hard to imagine, but what if something were to happen to you? Would your loved ones be taken care of or would they face a tough financial future?  Do they know what your wishes are?  Do you even have your important documents sorted?

The greatest gift you can leave your family and loved ones, is having your affairs sorted out before you go.  Please don’t think of this as something morbid… it might seem like I’m backing up the hearse and asking you to smell the roses here… but this isn’t about you, I promise.

If you have made plans, do your loved ones know where to find them? Would they know what assets you have, what insurance policies are in place or how to access your superannuation or life insurance?  Have they met your trusted advisers and know who to get in touch with if something were to happen?  Have you kept them in touch with what your wishes are?

Here are some simple steps you can take to protect the important people in your life:

  • Consolidate your assets and sort your bank accounts out
  • Ensure your life insurance is adequate based on your current circumstances
  • Make sure beneficiaries have been nominated (where possible) on your superannuation and insurance policies
  • Chat with your partner about what you’d like to have happen in the event of the unexpected
  • Ensure your Will is current – circumstances can change quickly!
  • Have your arranged for an Enduring Power of Attorney or completed an Advanced Health Directive?
  • Make sure those who need to know are aware of where your important documents are stored

Not everything will pass through your estate, so it’s wise to ensure you understand what forms estate assets and what stays outside.

Work through the list steadily and once it’s done, make sure it’s reviewed regularly.  Your loved ones will be glad you did.

Traps with Default Life Cover in Super!

Many Aussies rely on their default cover in their superannuation to be ‘enough’ when things go wrong… if they give it much thought at all!

What a lot don’t realise though, is that cover can expire when an employer stops paying in to some funds, and that at age 65, cover may also cease altogether (especially if you plan to withdraw the funds at that stage!)

Another issue that many face, is that their cover is ‘unitised.’  This means that they may maintain a certain number of units of cover at a set cost per week, but these units decrease in value over time as you age, although premiums remain constant.

Premiums being deducted from super may be just what you need to have ‘some cover’ that doesn’t interfere with your cash flow too, but over time, the premiums also erode your retirement savings nest egg.

Relying solely on default insurance may leave you with nowhere near enough for your family’s needs, just when they need it most.

When thinking about how much is enough for your needs, many start with clearing debt as their main priority and this is hugely important.

Another vital area to consider is the level of income that the family will miss over the coming years.  e.g.  Put very simply, if you earn $50k per annum and have 20 years of working life left, there’s $1 million in income the family will never see (without any adjustments for inflation.)  Do you need to include this level of cover in your plans for future expenditure on school fees, retirement savings and more?  Maybe, or maybe not.

Working out ‘how much is enough?’ is vital, and chances are, you may well find there’s a gap with your default super settings.

Take the time to understand what you have, what you need and chat to a professional.  Advice is invaluable in arranging the most appropriate levels of cover for you.

Do you insure your biggest asset?

It’s a sad fact that most Australians are dangerously under-insured.  And It may just be high time you reviewed your levels of insurance protection!

Take the example of Matt.  He is a clean-living 53-year-old who exercises regularly, doesn’t smoke, enjoys a healthy diet and only indulges his love of good wine at the weekend.

Yet things changed suddenly for Matt last year when he awoke one night to find he couldn’t breathe. His wife called for an ambulance and he was rushed to hospital, where he was taken into life-saving surgery following a heart attack.

After waking from his operation, Matt was in shock. He knew there was a family history of heart disease, but had gone to great lengths to prevent the onset of the illness and had definitely not properly thought through how his family would cope without him.

During recovery, Matt reviewed the insurance component of his super and discovered that in the event of his death his family would receive just $300,000, which would barely pay off the mortgage. He hadn’t taken into account daily living expenses, car loans, and his daughters’ school fees, his wife’s low income or their inadequate savings.

Fortunately for Matt, his story is a positive one. Now in better health and back at work, he has spoken to a financial adviser and taken out additional life insurance, albeit at a significant premium following the heart attack. He and his adviser are looking into critical illness cover, which would pay out a lump sum should he suffer another sudden illness, although he’s likely to now have a coronary exclusion.

Unfortunately, in Australia, Matt’s story is not uncommon.  Surveys have shown Australia has much lower levels of insurance than other developed nations including the United States and United Kingdom [1]. The required level of life insurance is now about $680,000, while the typical default cover is around $258,000 – a significant gap [2].

Maybe it’s time to ask… could your family make ends meet if you were unable to work, suffered a serious illness or died? Here are some things you should consider:

  • Ongoing Mortgage or rent payments
  • Daily living expenses – food, bills, transport, utilities, insurances
  • Childcare, school and university fees, text books and accommodation
  • Other expenses – house repair costs, medical expenses, personal health & grooming, replacement of white and brown goods

Make an appointment with your financial adviser to discuss your insurance needs and ensure you are adequately covered, or call the team at Wealth Planning Partners to discuss your needs on 07 5593 0855.  They help clients Australia wide with their protection strategies.

 

[1] Lloyd’s Global Underinsurance Report 2016

[2] Rice Warner Underinsurance Research Report 2014