Estate planning is the process of setting out what will happen to your wealth and assets when you’re gone.

For obvious reasons, it can be both mentally and emotionally draining.

However, with the right knowledge and support from an experienced financial planner and estate planning lawyer, you can ensure your wishes are upheld and that you leave a lasting legacy.

In this article, we outline the six key tips for anyone who’s about to embark on estate planning.

1: Ensure your finances are in order

Your first task should be taking stock of exactly what you have in terms of both physical assets and non-physical assets, whilst also listing your liabilities.

By being clear of your current financial position, you can then work out how to position those assets and liabilities for the future.

It is recommended that you use the best wealth management tools to set goals and keep track of how your investments are performing.

2: Make a will

Once you have established a list of your assets and liabilities, it’s time to have a formal will prepared.

To ensure no unnecessary stress is placed on your loved ones, it is crucial to have a will and ensure that it is updated regularly.

The distribution of your assets after paying off your liabilities should be clearly mentioned in the will.

If you have any special bequests, you can include these in your will too.

Other important documents you will need to prepare include ‘Powers of Attorney’ and ‘Advance Care Directives’, to ensure that the right decision makers are in place, and the right decisions are made, irrespective of circumstances.

3: Choose an executor

A crucial step in the process of estate planning is choosing who will be the executor of your will.

This person should be someone who you trust to ensure that all your wishes are carried out as per your instructions.

It is usually best to choose a person who isn’t a beneficiary under the terms of your will.

4: Set up a trust

Setting up what’s known as a ‘testamentary trust’ before your passing can ensure you minimise the taxes your beneficiaries will need to pay.

A trust can also ensure your children receive your assets if your surviving partner was to remarry, thereby facilitating successful and effective family succession planning.

5: Gather important personal documents

Once you’re gone, you don’t want the beneficiaries of your will desperately searching for all of your personal documents they need to finalise your estate.

For this reason, you should prepare all the documents in advance, ensure they are signed correctly in the presence of witnesses and then store them with your will executor for safekeeping.

The relevant documents should include:

  • Will
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Enduring Power of Attorney
  • Advance Care Directive
  • Tax records
  • Insurance policies
  • Documentation of asset holdings
  • Details of bank accounts
  • Property deeds and titles
  • Medicare card / Private health insurance details
  • Pre-paid funeral details

6: Seek expert advice

As mentioned earlier, estate planning can be a tricky process that requires the navigation of complex family relationships.

There can be blended families, loved ones to include and exclude, and other very personal circumstances to consider.

Heard Financial can offer you support to tailor a bespoke estate plan that considers all of your unique needs.

For a no obligation discussion about your needs, contact us today.

The information contained in this article is general in nature and does not take into account your personal situation. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek professional advice from a financial adviser.

Taxation, legal and other matters referred to on this website are of a general nature only and are based on our interpretation of laws existing at the time and should not be relied upon in place of appropriate professional advice. Those laws may change from time to time.