Five things you should know about estate planning

1. What is estate planning?

Estate planning is the process of making arrangements while you are alive and preparing documented plans outlining how you would like to have your assets distributed when you pass away or if your decision-making ability is impaired. This includes instructions and nominating someone to manage your financial and personal affairs if your ability to make independent and informed decisions is impaired in the future.

By preparing an estate plan with the Public Trustee you will benefit from our experienced team of legal professionals that understand estate matters. We ask you the right questions to ensure you have an estate plan that works for your individual family and financial circumstances.

Good estate planning should involve preparing a Will, enduring power of attorney, enduring guardian and an advanced care directive.

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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 their decision-making ability is impaired due to an accident or illness.

Preparing an enduring power of attorney and an enduring guardianship documents 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 personal and medical decisions if your decision-making ability is impaired.

5. 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 guardianship, you need to appoint a guardian. This person will make personal and medical decisions for you. You are unable to appoint an independent organisation to take on this role.

To make an appointment please call 1800 068 784 or go to

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