Register For Our Mailing List

Register to receive our free weekly newsletter including editorials.

Home / 28

Estate planning for families with carer responsibilities

In our legal practice, we see families with carer responsibilities and of reasonable wealth wanting to establish special arrangements on their death to ensure that support continues to those that they care for.

Gifting your estate absolutely is not ideal for dependants who are unable to look after their own financial affairs. Our clients are typically concerned with ensuring that their wealth is preserved to provide long term assistance and in a way that does not affect social security entitlements such that those they provide care for are in a worse position.

Some strategies that we find have assisted include:

Building in flexibility – While you can predict to some degree what your financial situation might be when you die, it is more difficult to predict the circumstances of your beneficiaries and also the tax and social security regimes in place. Therefore giving your executors a range of options provides flexibility in how financial support can be structured from your estate.

Advisory team – It is not necessary for your executors to have all the legal and financial skills to assess the options, but it is desirable that they have access to a team who know your affairs and can support the executors and trustees in their decision-making with good advice. This team of advisers for financial decisions can be included in your will. It is also desirable to include a role for technical assistance on the legal aspects for your executors and trustees in case any conflicts or problems arise.

Different types of trusts and income streams – The establishment of a Special Disability Trust is a good option for many clients, as is the establishment of a testamentary trust that gives the trustee access to income and capital for the benefit of the beneficiary. Trust structures can be used to provide funds for the maintenance, advancement and benefit of the beneficiary without giving income directly to them. This retains some control over how the income is used by the beneficiary and how it will be assessed for social security purposes.

A pension from a superannuation fund is also an option where the person you care for is a financial dependant. Additionally, your estate could also be used to purchase an annuity to provide an income stream. With so many options, it is important for your executors and trustees to obtain good advice before making any decisions on the appropriate structure.

Choice of trustee – Many clients feel more comfortable appointing a trustee who has a genuine, affectionate regard for the beneficiary such as a family member or friend. A good advisory team means that this person does not need any particular skills or qualifications but is someone that you could trust to make good decisions in the best interests of the beneficiary after considering advice from your advisers. It is also a good idea to appoint joint trustees who will be able to support each other if difficult decisions need to be made.

While public and private trustee companies are always an option and will be a good solution for some, we find that the fee structure and loss of control over investment decisions make them less attractive for many of our clients.

The law in this area is complex and families should seek specialist advice to develop a plan that will reflect their intentions and be of optimal benefit to those cared for, without creating unintended consequences.

Top 5 tips

  1. Give the executor the flexibility to determine the optimum structure for the dependant beneficiary.
  2. Build into your estate planning a team structure of financial and legal advisers to support the executors and trustees.
  3. Consider a trust structure established in your will that protects the capital of the trust but allows income to be used to support the beneficiary.
  4. Plan for a trustee or trustees who have a relationship with the beneficiary.
  5. Plan now. The structures do not have to be established in your lifetime but a plan should be formulated so that your wishes will have effect.


Claire Williamson is a Solicitor, Estate Planning at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Sydney.


Leave a Comment:



Six common estate planning errors

Disability advice: the niche that’s gone mainstream


Most viewed in recent weeks

How to enjoy your retirement

Amid thousands of comments, tips include developing interests to keep occupied, planning in advance to have enough money, staying connected with friends and communities ... should you defer retirement or just do it?

Results from our retirement experiences survey

Retirement is a good experience if you plan for it and manage your time, but freedom from money worries is key. Many retirees enjoy managing their money but SMSFs are not for everyone. Each retirement is different.

A tonic for turbulent times: my nine tips for investing

Investing is often portrayed as unapproachably complex. Can it be distilled into nine tips? An economist with 35 years of experience through numerous market cycles and events has given it a shot.

Rival standard for savings and incomes in retirement

A new standard argues the majority of Australians will never achieve the ASFA 'comfortable' level of retirement savings and it amounts to 'fearmongering' by vested interests. If comfortable is aspirational, so be it.

Dalio v Marks is common sense v uncommon sense

Billionaire fund manager standoff: Ray Dalio thinks investing is common sense and markets are simple, while Howard Marks says complex and convoluted 'second-level' thinking is needed for superior returns.

Fear is good if you are not part of the herd

If you feel fear when the market loses its head, you become part of the herd. Develop habits to embrace the fear. Identify the cause, decide if you need to take action and own the result without looking back. 

Latest Updates


The paradox of investment cycles

Now we're captivated by inflation and higher rates but only a year ago, investors were certain of the supremacy of US companies, the benign nature of inflation and the remoteness of tighter monetary policy.


Reporting Season will show cost control and pricing power

Companies have been slow to update guidance and we have yet to see the impact of inflation expectations in earnings and outlooks. Companies need to insulate costs from inflation while enjoying an uptick in revenue.


The early signals for August company earnings

Weaker share prices may have already discounted some bad news, but cost inflation is creating wide divergences inside and across sectors. Early results show some companies are strong enough to resist sector falls.


The compelling 20-year flight of SYD into private hands

In 2002, the share price of the company that became Sydney Airport (SYD) hit 80 cents from the $2 IPO price. After 20 years of astute investment driving revenue increases, it sold to private hands for $8.75 in 2022.

Investment strategies

Ethical investing responding to some short-term challenges

There are significant differences in the sector weightings of an ethical fund versus an index, and while this has caused some short-term headwinds recently, the tailwinds are expected to blow over the long term.

Investment strategies

If you are new to investing, avoid these 10 common mistakes

Many new investors make common mistakes while learning about markets. Losses are inevitable. Newbies should read more and develop a long-term focus while avoiding big mistakes and not aiming to be brilliant.

Investment strategies

RMBS today: rising rate-linked income with capital preservation

Lenders use Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities to finance mortgages and RMBS are available to retail investors through fund structures. They come with many layers of protection beyond movements in house prices. 



© 2022 Morningstar, Inc. All rights reserved.

The data, research and opinions provided here are for information purposes; are not an offer to buy or sell a security; and are not warranted to be correct, complete or accurate. Morningstar, its affiliates, and third-party content providers are not responsible for any investment decisions, damages or losses resulting from, or related to, the data and analyses or their use. Any general advice or ‘regulated financial advice’ under New Zealand law has been prepared by Morningstar Australasia Pty Ltd (ABN: 95 090 665 544, AFSL: 240892) and/or Morningstar Research Ltd, subsidiaries of Morningstar, Inc, without reference to your objectives, financial situation or needs. For more information refer to our Financial Services Guide (AU) and Financial Advice Provider Disclosure Statement (NZ). You should consider the advice in light of these matters and if applicable, the relevant Product Disclosure Statement before making any decision to invest. Past performance does not necessarily indicate a financial product’s future performance. To obtain advice tailored to your situation, contact a professional financial adviser. Articles are current as at date of publication.
This website contains information and opinions provided by third parties. Inclusion of this information does not necessarily represent Morningstar’s positions, strategies or opinions and should not be considered an endorsement by Morningstar.