In order to protect your family and assets, it’s worth documenting what you’d like to happen if you can’t make your own decisions later in life or if you pass away.
Do you want your will to be legally binding?
A solicitor or estate planning lawyer can prepare a will that is legally binding and ensures your wishes are met when you pass away.
It’s important this document is kept up to date and that any changes to your situation (marriage, divorce, separation or otherwise) are accounted for.
Keep in mind, if your will is deemed invalid, your estate will be distributed according to the law in your state, which may not align with your wishes, and claims could be made by unintended recipients.
Who are your nominated super and insurance beneficiaries?
Your will does not necessarily determine the beneficiaries of your superannuation and insurance. You should be aware of what beneficiary nominations exist and how long different nominations are valid for.
If you don’t make a nomination, the super fund trustee could use their discretion to determine who your super money goes to. Meanwhile, if you have insurance outside of super, you’ll also want to make sure you’ve listed your beneficiaries on your insurance policy and that those beneficiaries are also kept up to date.
Will you appoint an enduring power of attorney to make decisions if you can’t?
There may come a time when you’re unable to make legal or financial decisions on your own because of advanced age or medical issues. Granting power of attorney means you assign someone that you trust to make these decisions on your behalf should a situation like this arise, such as bank accounts, ongoing bills and even selling your house If you need to move in to care.
Have you chosen an executor to help carry out your wishes when you’re gone?
Generally, an executor is the person legally in charge of managing and distributing your estate, according to the terms set out in your will, with the assistance of a solicitor. It’s important to let your family know who your executor is to avoid disputes after you pass away.
The executor should understand their duties and know where your will and other important documents are kept (your family should also know where this information is stored.) The executor will typically be responsible for things like making funeral arrangements, ensuring your debts are paid and bank accounts closed, and collecting any life insurance. They’ll also need to apply to the court for a grant of probate (certifying your will as valid), which is a legal step that’s required before your estate can be distributed.