Prepare your estate before it is too late

Most people feel very uncomfortable thinking about their own death. For the sake of your loved ones, it's important that you put the appropriate structures in place in advance – which means taking some time to think about what you would want to happen in the event of your death.

Failing to consider your estate planning needs can lead to financial grief and legal hurdles for your beneficiaries.

To avoid this and ensure your loved ones are looked after following your death, it is important you regularly review these five estate planning steps and update your estate plans as things change.

Get your essentials in order

To get your estate is in order, there are a few essential estate planning documents you may need to complete, depending on your circumstances. Some of these documents are relevant regardless of your situation (a Will and superannuation death benefits nomination), whilst others may be more or less relevant depending on your family structure (powers of attorney, enduring guardianship - if you have dependent children - and testamentary trusts).

Your Will describes how you would like your assets to be distributed after you die. It is important to note that certain assets cannot be distributed through a Will, such as: jointly owned properties, money held in joint bank accounts, your superannuation and any money held for you in a trust/s.

Make sure you get professional advice

You may hear family and friends talk about a Will kit they got from their local newsagency. Avoid these kits, as they can be easily challenged. A professional can help you decide what structures are most appropriate for your situation.

For example, the incorporation of testamentary trusts into a Will is not relevant to every situation, but they can offer valuable advantages over standard Wills in certain circumstances. Testamentary trusts are trusts created by a Will to provide a greater level of control over the distribution of assets to beneficiaries. A testamentary trust can provide tax and/or control advantages, depending on your situation.

Nominate your beneficiaries

If you haven’t nominated a beneficiary (or beneficiaries), the Trustees of your super fund will decide what happens to your super after you’re gone. If you haven’t nominated a beneficiary yet, speak to me today. I can help you fill out the relevant paperwork, and explain the difference between binding and non-binding nominations.

Consider what powers of attorney are appropriate for you

An enduring power of attorney is a legal document that enables you to nominate another person(s) or entity to manage your financial and/or legal affairs (in certain circumstances) while you are alive.

The appointment of an enduring guardian, as well as preparing an advanced care / health directive, allows you to express your wishes on how you would like to be cared for if you were to lose physical or mental capacity, or how you would like to receive medical procedures.

The legislation governing powers of attorney is state based, and each state has specific types of powers of attorney available and specific requirements that have to be met for them to be effective. Given this, it is crucial your enduring power of attorney is prepared correctly, and is done while you are healthy and mentally capable.

Ensure all insurances are in order

As your financial adviser, part of my role is to work with you over time to make sure all of your insurances are up-to-date and remain this way, so that your loved ones are protected. Life changes, and it is important that we continually review your insurances to ensure you have the right level of cover. This might include decreasing cover as your family grows, or making sure the right beneficiaries are taken care of in blended family situations or following separation or divorce.

If you would like help with your estate planning needs, give us a call today. We can work with the necessary legal professionals to help you document your wishes regarding your estate so that your loved ones are looked after.

Talk to your local financial adviser today

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