Estate planning is not just about making a will. It’s about deciding how you want to be looked after (both medically and financially), if you can’t make your own decisions later in life. It’s also about documenting how you want your assets to be distributed after you die.
Planning your estate will help you have peace of mind and avoid family tensions when you can no longer make your own decisions.
Here are some key things to think about:
1. Making a will
A solicitor or estate lawyer can help you draw up a legally binding document that advises who should receive your estate assets when you die1. If you don’t have a valid will your estate will be distributed according to the law in your relevant state. Find out more about making a will in our online learning module.
2. Appointing an executor
The executor is the person who is responsible for making sure your assets are distributed according to your wishes, as well as paying bills, closing banks accounts and so on. Find out more about the duties of an executor.
3. Setting up an enduring power of attorney
An enduring power of attorney allows someone to make financial decisions on your behalf, even if you lose legal capacity. In some states, a power of attorney holder can also make lifestyle decisions. In others, you need a separate document (e.g. enduring guardianship). Ask your solicitor about the relevant powers of attorney documents in your state.
If you haven’t legally appointed a person to manage your affairs through a power of attorney and it becomes necessary to do so, then a family member or friend can be given guardianship to make decisions on your behalf about your lifestyle (health, where you live etc.). An administrator can also be appointed by a guardianship board to manage your financial affairs.
5. Nominating beneficiaries for your super
Think about how you want your super to be distributed after you’re gone. Make sure you keep your nomination up to date. If you don’t, the super money may end up in the wrong hands.
6. Insuring yourself to protect your loved ones
Insurance helps you and your family in the event of unforeseen events, such as serious illness or injury. Find out more about the different types of insurance, some of which are available through your super.
Do you need help?
Estate planning can be a complex area and there could be legal and tax implications if you don’t set things up correctly. But while it can seem a bit daunting, it also gives you peace of mind.
So, if you want to start talking through your estate planning options, it’s worth seeking professional advice.