Research has revealed that not only have Australians not put time or effort into estate planning, but half of them don’t even have a basic will. That means that if they should die before putting one in place, their assets may not go to the people they were hoping for, and dependents may not end up with those who can care for them the best.
If the fear of not having control over who gets your possessions has spurred you to take action, you might be wondering what you need to do next. For the most comprehensive plan for your loved ones to follow once you pass, ensure your estate plan incorporates the following:
A will is a legal document that outlines how your assets should be distributed when you die. Typically, there are instructions for your loved ones to follow and even some lifestyle requests, such as scattering your ashes somewhere lovely.
When putting your will together, you must have at least one executor to ensure your wishes are followed. This document must also be witnessed.
Not everyone realises that estate planning and wills are not the same things. While your intention can be the same, there can be much more involved in estate planning as a whole, rather than simply putting together a will.
If you’re unsure what’s involved in either estate planning or will creation, the following information may prove helpful.
What is an Estate Plan?
An estate plan involves creating a plan for your assets and any investments when you die. It ensures your loved ones are provided for while also making sure your assets make it to the people you wished to benefit from them.
Estate plans incorporate the making of a will, your superannuation death nomination, power of guardianship, power of attorney, testamentary trusts, and medical treatment wishes if you’re no longer able to communicate.
While having an estate plan in Australia is not a legal requirement, it can be a worthwhile plan to make sure your family and friends are well cared for in the event of your passing.
One of the best things you can do for yourself, your family, and their future, is put time into planning wills. Even though you may not think you have enough assets to require a will, the threshold can be a lot lower than you might think.
Wills allow you to have some control over who gets your assets when you die, including your estate, pets, and children. Whether you’re in the process of creating a will from scratch or upgrading the one you already have, make sure you take some time to plan and research. By doing so, you may be able to avoid some of the following mistakes.
Failing to Create a Will At All
Estate planning and will creation can take some time. So much time, in fact, that you may put it off until it becomes too late. Once you have a will in place, it can require minimal upkeep.
Therefore, it can be worth setting time aside to think about your estate and who you would like it to go to. Everything from life insurance policies and superannuation to personal belongings and cars should be factored into a will.
If you don’t make your intentions known in a legal document, you may never be able to ensure that the people you wanted your assets to go to will receive them. Your death may even result in court cases to split assets between family members with legal intervention.
Some people have put off the process of planning wills because they aren’t sure what to put in them. They may know they have assets that they’d like to leave to their loved ones, but working through the legalities of a will can be daunting. It can sometimes seem easier to leave it for another day, but that day could be too late.
Fortunately, creating a will is a lot easier than it might seem. Here are a few things to consider putting in yours when the time comes to begin estate planning.
If you have something specific that you know someone in your family or friends circle would appreciate more than anyone else, a will is the best place to make your intentions known.
You might have a stamp collection that a grandchild has viewed with great delight over the years, or a brother you might know could benefit from a cash injection to buy a new home. Rather than leaving it up to your family to decide where your assets go, leave instructions to make the entire process much easier for them.
One of the best times to start planning your will is when you have welcomed new children into your family. Should the worst ever happen to you, it’s crucial to make plans for your children’s future without you.
A will is a legal document that allows you to express how you want your assets and property to be distributed when you die. Planning wills is a simple process that requires you to outline information such as benefactors and what they should receive.
However, as straightforward as estate planning and will creation is, at least half of Australians still don’t have a valid will. If you die without one, you’re leaving behind a complicated mess for your loved ones.
What Does the Law Say About Dying Without a Will?
The law can be complicated when it comes to what happens when you die without a will. The answer to that question can depend on where you live. If you die without a will in Australia, it’s called intestacy, or ‘dying interstate’.
Typically, the law allows your assets to be divided up among surviving immediate family members, such as a spouse or children. However, if no close family members can be found, your assets may be allocated to parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins.
Depending on the state, organisations and individuals may also be able to pursue moral claims against your assets and estate. A charity with close links to you and those not related to you may end up with some of your assets if successful.