Estate planning must-not-forgets

Date: May 13, 2014

When you start to plan your estate and make preparations for a will, it is easy to see how large and complex the situation is. Adding everything up and making decisions isn't easy, which is why people tend to forget to include items, assets and people.

This can become an issue in estate planning if, when you are gone, someone challenges or disputes your will. Not only will this result in additional stress for your family, it can become quite costly. When discussing estate planning with a lawyer, there are some must-not-forget assets that are crucial to include.

Superannuation

After years of maturing, your superannuation fund could be worth a great deal. It is important though to remember that your retirement fund does not come automatically as part of your estate when you die.

As you most likely have not touched this money or only a small part of it, it is easy to forget it is a important part of your estate planning. You will need to decide who you want to benefit from the superannuation and discuss it further with an estate lawyer.

Debts

If people owe your money when you die, it is common to forgive the debt and relieve them from payment. If the debt has been long-lasting or a small amount, then it is easy to forget. 

It is an asset though and if you wish, notes can be made in the will to have the debt payment passed onto another family member.

Additional property

While it is easy to pinpoint key items of property that you wish to bequest to family and friends, it is nearly impossible to name everything that you own or sits in your house.

If you have decided to make specific plans for property, it is also important to name people or organisations (e.g a charity) to take responsibility for the remaining items. This is often called a "residuary estate."

Substitutions and inclusions  

This highlights the need to consistently update your estate plans. If for whatever reason you outlive someone who is planned to take some of your assets or become an executor, you need to name a back up. This could be a completely different person or indicate that the person's spouse or children take possession of the asset.

Lastly, it is imperative that all of your children have been named in estate planning. If your original will was written when you only had one child and now you have two or three you have to make the adjustments otherwise people will challenge your will.