Estate planning is a term that is used fairly frequently but it's important to define and explain what's involved in such an undertaking.
It involves a will but is broader than that one document - it includes life insurance, a valid will, superannuation nominations, powers of attorney and power of guardianship.
Superannuation does not automatically come within your estate when you die so it is important to consider when estate planning. Think about who you want to benefit from your superannuation, after many years of maturing, it may be worth a great deal.
It's also important to nominate who the guardians are for your children in the unforeseen event that both you and your partner die. Talk to family and friends to work out who would be willing to take responsibility for your children and who would do the best job.
Similarly, nominating a power of attorney is an important aspect of estate planning. There are different types of power that can be appointed:
A general power of attorney allows a nominated person to make legal and financial decisions on your behalf. This is usually for a specific time frame and would most likely be used if you are overseas and are unable to make those decisions for yourself, for whatever reason.
An enduring power of attorney allows for a nominated person to permanently make financial and legal decisions on your behalf if you lose the ability to do so.
A medical power of attorney only gives the nominated person the power to make medical decisions on your behalf and does not extend to decisions of a financial or legal matter.
If you don’t want to appoint an attorney in your estate planning other documents can be drafted to stipulate how you want matters handled in the event you can't make the decisions for yourself. These include an enduring power of guardianship, an anticipatory direction and an advance healthcare directive.
To assist your loved ones should something happen to you, you should keep your documents in a safe, accessible place that is known to your executor/s or attorney/s.Those documents may include your birth certificate, marriage certificate, deeds to property, as well as your details for your bank accounts and other financial holdings.
To talk to an experienced wills and estates lawyer call us to assist with estate planning on 02 8268 4000.