Five things you should know about estate planning.
Posted: Monday, 14 August 2017
1. Do not leave it until it is too late
It does not matter how large or small your estate is, if you are over the age of 18 then you should have an estate plan to protect yourself, your loved ones and your assets. The best time to prepare an estate plan is now while you are healthy and in control.
If you do not have any formal arrangements in place, then government legislation or other agencies may dictate what will happen to your assets and who will look after your personal and financial affairs.
2. Update your estate plan if your life circumstances change
Family and financial situations often change during your lifetime and your estate plan must change with it. The Public Trustee recommends you review your estate plan every 3-5 years to ensure it is still in line with your wishes and update it as soon as your life circumstances change.
These changes can include getting married; divorced; entering a new relationship or having more children, grandchildren, stepchildren or step grandchildren. Alternatively, you may simply change your mind on what assets you may want to leave to a beneficiary.
3. Estate planning is not just about your Will and your assets when you pass away
Many people focus their planning on what will happen to their assets when they pass away but they often forget about what will happen if they are alive and are unable to make their own decisions due to an accident or illness.
Preparing an enduring power of attorney and an enduring guardian are also just as important as a Will. These documents will allow you to choose an attorney to make your financial decisions and a guardian to make your lifestyle and medical decisions if you were to loose capacity to make these decisions for yourself.
4. Select the right person for the job
When you prepare a Will, you need to appoint an Executor. An executor is responsible for the administration of an estate and for carrying out the wishes set in the Will. Being an executor can be a complicated job and requires legal and financial understanding to do it successfully.
When you prepare an enduring power of attorney, you need to appoint an attorney. If the need arises, your attorney will be in control of your financial affairs. It is vital that you have confidence in your attorney to make wise decisions on your behalf and have your best interests at heart.
Many people prefer to appoint a professional executor and/or attorney such as the Public Trustee, rather than leaving the difficult tasks to their loved ones.
When you prepare an enduring guardian, you need to appoint a guardian. This person will make lifestyle and medical decisions for you. You are unable to appoint an independent organisation to take on this role.
5. Understand how you own assets
The way you own assets will determine how you can leave them to your loved ones.
If a property is ‘jointly owned’, it does not form part of your Will as the surviving owner automatically acquires the property. If the property is owned as ‘tenants in common’, the portion you own may be dealt with in your Will.
The Public Trustee estate planners will be able to assist you understand how you own assets and ensure that your wishes can be carried out.
To make an appointment please call 1800 068 784 or go to www.publictrustee.tas.gov.au