Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.

Alan Lakein

Most of us don’t like talking about death, especially our own!

Are you one of the estimated 50% of Australians who doesn’t have a will in place? Do you find reasons for putting it off – to busy, too young, too little in assets to worry about, too complicated, too expensive?

Rest assured, if you don’t have a plan in place for your estate, the state will put one in place for you.

This is known as dying ‘intestate’, and can result in a complicated, time consuming and expensive process. And you won’t have a say over where your belongings end up.

This may no longer trouble you after you’re gone, but it will most certainly create a burden for those left behind.

Thorough death planning ensures that the right people have the right information, to ensure that your wishes are honoured. Death planning gives you control, minimises uncertainty and protects those left behind.

Peace of mind for you, and your loved ones.

Your “Last Will and Testament”

A good start, but there’s more to do

If you do have have a will, you might be thinking you’ve ticked the death planning box.

Well think again, because death planning goes far beyond simply having a will.

For starters, some assets don’t even form part of a deceased estate, and cannot be dealt with under the terms of a will.

In the case of jointly owned assets, ownership passes automatically to the other joint owner.

Life insurance passes to the named beneficiary (usually a husband or wife).

Your superannuation benefit may or may not be paid into your estate after your death – it depends on a number of factors.

It’s not just about your assets

Death planning goes beyond money

Effective death planning is much more than deciding how to distribute your money and your property.

The more complete your planning, the easier it will be for those left with the task or sorting out your affairs, and the greater the peace of mind for you.

As part of your broader death planning, you need to consider the following.

Powers of attorney

Who can make financial decisions on your behalf if you can’t do it for yourself? Navigating money matters for someone who has lost capacity and has not arranged an attorney is a nightmare. Don’t put your loved ones in this position. Every person over the age of 18 should have an enduring power of attorney in place. Everyone.

Dependent children

Have you made clear your wishes for the care of your children if both parents were to die? Have you talked to your nominated guardian and explained your wishes for your children? Like all death planning concerns, your wishes may change over time. Guardianship decisions for very young children may be different to wishes when they are of high school age. Review your plan as your children grow.

Advance care directive

Does your family understand your wishes regarding future medical treatment if you can’t make these decisions for yourself. It’s impossible to plan for every possible scenario, but some guiding principles may be of enormous value to the loved ones who might be making these decisions for you.

Superannuation

It may surprise you to know that your superannuation benefits will not be included automatically estate and dealt under the terms of your will. Have you provided instructions for the payment of your super death benefit to your super fund trustee?

Without a binding death benefit nomination in place, the superannuation fund trustee has the discretion to pay the benefits to any of your superannuation dependents instead of your estate. If you want certainty and control, you need a binding death benefit nomination in place.

Finding assets and documents

Does your family or the executor of your will know what assets you hold. Assets include property, financial investments (including cryptocurrency), superannuation and cash. Can they find necessary statements, member numbers, title deeds and, in the case of crypto, any cold wallet storage devices?

General estate "housekeeping"

This is a huge aspect of estate administration and covers everything from closing bank accounts, paying outstanding taxes, cancelling credit cards, cancelling insurance, closing social media accounts and everything in between.

Once, the person administering your estate could go through your files and mail to figure things out. Nowadays, we need to think beyond hard copy documents.

In terms of your digital affairs, have you considered sharing your online login and password details with a trusted friend or family member? Is there at least one person who can access your e-mail?

Good planning is not “set and forget”

Circumstances change and life changes us, so good estate and death planning needs to be an ongoing process, not a one-off event.

Perhaps you can tie in a regular review with your “5” and “0” birthdays. You’ll be surprised by how much can change in five years.

General disclaimer
This content is intended only to provide a summary and general overview of the subject matter covered. It is not intended to be comprehensive nor does it constitute advice. We attempt to ensure that the content is accurate and current but we do not warrant the content nor its currency. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.

How can we help?
If you’d like to know more, please call us on 1300 623 936 to arrange a time to meet and we can discuss your particular requirements in more detail.

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