A good estate plan will help make sure your wishes are carried out when you die. It can also help if you become unable to make your own decisions.
An estate plan records what you want done with your assets after your death. It can include documents such as:
It also covers how you want to be cared for medically and financially if you can no longer make your own decisions. This part of your estate plan may be in documents such as:
The documents you choose will depend on your situation and what you're comfortable to trust others with. Get legal advice if you're not sure.
You must be over 18 and mentally competent when you draw up your estate plan.
A will is a legal document stating what you want to happen to your assets when you die. It is part (but not all) of your estate plan.
Your will can cover things like:
It's important to have an up to date will. If you die without one, the law decides who will get your assets and this may not be who you wanted.
Making your will
You can get your will written by a solicitor (for a fee) or by a Public Trustee. A Public Trustee may not charge if you:
If you use an online will kit, get it checked by a solicitor or Public Trustee. They can make sure it's been done properly. If your will isn't done properly, it will be invalid.
Make sure you put your will in a safe place and tell someone close to you where it is.
Updating your will
It's important to update your will as your situation changes for example, if you:
Super and your will
A binding nomination directs who your super fund trustee gives your super benefit to when you die. If you don't nominate someone, the super fund trustee will decide who your money goes to.
Family trusts and your will
If you have a family trust, it continues after your death. The trust determines who gets your assets, even if your will says something different.
A testamentary trust is a trust that is written in your will. It takes effect when you die, and it's administered by a trustee, who you usually name in your will.
The trustee looks after your assets until your beneficiaries can get them. This is set out in your will, and is either when:
You may want to consider setting up a trust if your beneficiaries:
Another reason to consider a trust is to avoid family assets being:
Powers of attorney
A power of attorney is a document where you give someone else the legal right to look after your affairs for you.
It's important to nominate someone that is trustworthy, financially responsible, and likely to be around when you need them.
There are different types of powers of attorney:
General power of attorney
This allows someone to make financial and legal decisions for you. It's usually for a specified time for example, if you're overseas and can't manage your affairs at home.
If you become unable to make decisions yourself, a general power of attorney becomes invalid.
Enduring power of attorney
An enduring power of attorney (or EPA) allows someone to make financial and legal decisions for you. If you become unable to make decisions yourself, an enduring power of attorney will still be valid.
Medical power of attorney
This allows someone to make medical decisions for you if you ever become unable to do so yourself. It doesn't allow them to make other kinds of decisions.
Legal and financial housekeeping
It will help your family and your executor if you list all the documents you have and where they're kept.As well as the documents talked about above, other key documents to keep handy are: