Many people simply do not organize their personal affairs as well as they should. Most of the time that is not because “they don’t care”, but because they haven’t been advised in this area. The following are the starting questions to help create a successful estate plan – one that works whether you are incapacitated or die.
The following is not an exhaustive checklist, its just a start. Answering these questions will put you in a position to put together a plan. Please don't leave it till the last minute when you may not be thinking clearly.
I knew a lovely lady who went so far as to record a video which was played at her funeral telling her husband he should remarry if he met the right person, and provided a list of suggestions! Her plan was exhaustive, right down to all her friends preferred tipple stored under the steps for the wake!
It is no fun tidying up the affairs of a loved one who has passed away and family relationships can be irreversably damaged in the squables if the deceased wishes aren't clear.
Define your objectives.
Things to think about:
- What do you want to happen to your assets in the event of your death or disability? Who should get what?
- How will your assets be distributed? By will, or is there a need for a trust?
- When will these distributions take place? (eg at certain ages for children?)
- If your beneficiaries or executor predecease you, who are your alternate selections?
- Do you need to consider guardians for children?
- Do you know who should be your Executor, and who an alternate might be if they are not able to fulfill the duties?
- Does your Executor know where to find key information and documents?
This really is simply about thinking about who you want to leave property to, and what conditions or circumstances need to be taken into account.
What if you don’t die?
Things to think about:
- If you can’t make decisions about your health or emergency treatment, is there somebody else who should?
- What if you couldn’t make decisions about finances, or your business. Is there somebody else who should be able to?
- If you are a Trustee of a Family Trust is the Trust able to continue making decisions, or replace you?
- Does your partner or Next Of Kin know where insurance policies are held so they can check on possible claims?
- Do the important people (your Power of Attorney, next of kin, key advisers) know who your financial adviser is so they can find out about possible insurance policies?
The best advice for most people when it comes to creating an estate plan is:
- Talk to your partner about the issues and work out what you want to see happen, or are worried about not happening.
- Get professional advice on how to put it together properly, we can help here.
- Act on that advice, and put the necessary documents and structures in place.
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