Estate planning

Estate planning is a critical process that allows you to make important decisions such as how you would like your affairs to be managed if you become unwell, and once you pass away. It provides you with peace of mind, knowing that your assets are preserved and distributed to the right people.

But, there’s more to estate planning than writing a will. Estate planning is all about dealing with your assets and wishes to ensure that everything runs smoothly when you pass away.

Create your will

A will is an essential part of your estate planning. It is a legal document that outlines how your assets will be distributed when you pass away. Your will is the only way for you to have control over how your assets are taken care of after you pass. If you have a will in place, make sure you are updating it when you have any changes to your wishes and circumstances. This is particularly important when you reach significant life milestones such as new family members, purchasing property or getting married.

Plan and save for a funeral

Pre-planning and saving for your funeral is the best way to support your loved ones during this time of sadness. Setting up a funeral benefit now will mean that your loved ones have easy access to your funds when the time comes,  meaning they won’t have to worry about the financial side of your funeral.

Create a power of attorney

At some point in your life, you may find that you are unable to make personal or financial decisions, due to illness or an accident. Powers of attorney are legal documents that allow you to choose who will make these decisions on your behalf if you are unable to make them yourself. Having powers of attorney in place will mean that your affairs will be taken care of by someone you trust.

Appoint a medical decision maker and advance care directive

Medical decisions are not controlled by your powers of attorney. A medical decision maker is a person nominated to make all necessary decisions about your medical treatment if and when you are unable to make these decisions. It is the responsibility of the medical decision maker to make the same decision that you would, based on their understanding of your personal preferences and values.

Similarly, If you are ever facing a medical emergency, your loved ones may find it difficult to decide what treatment is best for you. An advance care directive will help everyone understand what you would want if you are unable to communicate your wishes.

Nominate beneficiaries 

If you have life insurance, superannuation or funeral benefits, make sure your beneficiaries are up to date, as these people will receive your funds when you pass away, irrespective of your will. You will also need to inform your beneficiaries of the process so that they know what they need to do when the time comes for them to access your insurance and benefits.

Secure your digital assets

It is important that your loved ones have access to your online accounts and digital assets in case they need to access them when you are no longer here. This includes your online banking, investments, and even social media accounts that will need handling. You should consider what you want to happen with websites, blogs, and any other online activities when you pass away and include all of this information in your estate plan. 

Organise bequests and donations

Leaving a gift in your will is a generous way to ensure a cause that you care about is supported even when you are no longer here. If you wish to make a bequest or a donation, make sure you have completed all of the relevant paperwork. 

Discuss your wishes with loved ones

Although it is a conversation that you probably don’t want to have, it is important that your family are aware of your wishes and your end-of-life plan. If you would like to be an organ and tissue donor, you will need to inform your family as they will be the final decision maker. If there are any other unique wishes that you need to voice, make sure they are made clear before it is too late.

Estate planning 

Ready to get your affairs in order? The team at APS Wills and Estates can support you in getting your estate plan in place so that you are confident in exactly what will happen when you pass away. Your estate plan is one of life’s most important processes and one that you shouldn’t avoid any longer. 

Get in touch with the team at APS Wills & Estates to learn more.

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Written by APS Wills & Estates Principal Lawyer Philip Lambourne.

Phil is a lawyer with over 35 years of experience in private practice and over 25 years of experience in the trusts and estate planning area. As Principal Lawyer with APS Wills & Estates, Phil provides advice and prepares documentation in the areas of Wills, Powers of Attorney, Probate and Estate Administration for clients across Australia. He also provides clients with conveyancing and property law, commercial law and state tax advice services. 

When Phil isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with family, reading new books, and watching new shows with some good scotch whisky, red wine and cheese. Phil also enjoys playing trombone in the Melbourne Lawyers Big Band!

Get in touch with Phil to discuss your will and estate plan.