10 things to consider in your estate planning

Do you know what's going to happen with your estate? Here are 10 things to consider in your planning.

1. Planning for the inevitable

What’s going to happen with your estate?

Is there a plan to make sure the right people will receive the right assets at the right time? Make a Will and ensure you have included everyone you want to benefit and in the way you want.

2. Structure it right

Leaving different assets to different family members can result in future tax liabilities which could greater impact the intentions of an equitable division of wealth between your beneficiaries.

Make sure you have thought of all implications in the assets you are leaving and don’t hesitate to seek professional advice where necessary.

3. Review your circumstances

As you move through life your assets will change, your family might grow and change too — and what you intend with your assets should reflect this.

Have a look at your Will annually to ensure you know what you have in it and that it is still relevant.

4. Family, divorce and changing circumstances

Leaving assets to children and their partners could be potentially heartbreaking if you do not update your Will post-divorce(s). If your child divorces, make sure your Will reflects your updated wishes and intentions.

You would likely not want the divorced partner to share equally in your estate, and if you do, you will need to make that clear.

Similarly, in a case of your own divorce, make sure you have updated your Will as soon as possible.

5. Don't forget super

Your super — both the super benefits and the life insurance component (if applicable) are an important part of your estate.

Have you nominated a beneficiary for your super?

Only certain people are eligible to be nominated (talk to your super fund for details). And ensure you have nominated this beneficiary to your superannuation.

6. Make a living will

There may come a time when you are unable to look after your own finances, or even yourself.

Have you nominated someone to have your Power of Attorney, to make financial decisions on your behalf if you should no longer be able?

Have you nominated someone to make medical decisions for you if you become incapable of this — if even, for a short period?

You should talk to your legal professional to put these powers in place.

7. Review others' circumstances

As you age, so too will those around you. Are those you have nominated as your beneficiaries, executor and recipient of your Powers of Attorney still in a position to assume these roles?

As you age, finding younger people to take these roles might be a good longer-term proposition.

8. Caring responsibilities

Are you responsible for caring for children, a partner or parents?

Is there a plan in place for someone else to assume this responsibility if you are no longer able? If necessary, is there a framework that will help assume some of this responsibility?

If you are no longer able to care for people, you might like to look at a way of making sure there is some financial coverage to maintain this responsibility in the future. This is where a professional financial adviser can help.

9. Insuring it all

Insurance is typically an important part of your estate planning. It basically assumes the financial responsibility your demise will trigger. Your family should be covered for financial loss and disadvantage from the passing away of any member.

If you run your own small business you will need to appropriately insure all partners in the business. This can be quite complicated and you will likely need to seek the services of a financial adviser.

10. Births, deaths and marriages

When a Will is contested it can cost family members a lot of stress and your money might not end up where you would have intended.

Check your estate plan is still valid at each birth, death, marriage and divorce of family members.

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