Wills and Estate Planning: Have you Implemented an Up to Date and Comprehensive Estate Plan?
It is important to ensure your Will is up to date and legally binding. Wills are crucial for implementing a comprehensive estate plan which decides how assets are distributed after your death, provides instructions for your funeral, prevents future disputes and protects your legacy.
There are some considerations that should be checked to ensure that your Will is current and accounts for your assets you wish to be distributed. It is important that there are instructions contained in your Will as to how property is distributed upon your death.
It is also paramount that the existing guardians named in your Will are still alive and able to perform their relevant roles as executor, trustee, guardian or beneficiary. This may resolve the potential for disputes to arise if these parties or entities have not been updated. If you have children who are minors, it is vital that there is a named guardian in your Will to take care of the children if you predecease them.
Power of Attorney and Appointment of Enduring Guardianship
A Power of Attorney appoints someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf. If a Power of Attorney is ‘enduring’ it will allow the attorney to make decisions for the principal when they do not have capacity to manage their own financial and legal affairs. A Power of Attorney is not a feature of the Will but forms a separate formal document which is tailored to meet the requirements of each individual. It is important that this is implemented as part of your estate plan in the event you are incapacitated and cannot make financial decisions or decisions related to medical or healthcare on your own.
The role of the Power of Attorney is not to be taken likely. Individuals should have someone they trust. A Power of Attorney can exercise broad powers including selling property, accessing funds to pay bills and managing investments. Further to a Power of Attorney, an appointment of enduring guardianship can be made which appoints someone to make decisions about someone’s health lifestyle and medical treatment if they are not capable of making these decisions. It is important appoint an individual to act as an enduring guardian in conjunction with the Power of Attorney to ensure that they can make decisions for your wellbeing in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
Superannuation Death Benefit Nomination
Superannuation is not included in an estate, and cannot be distributed under a will. If an individual does not make a binding death benefit nomination, the trustee exercises their discretion in determining the beneficiaries of the superannuation benefit in accordance with relevant laws. Generally, if you have not signed a nomination form, the super fund can control who receives the super when you pass away. Beneficiaries that can be nominated to receive the funds include a dependent or a legal representative. Dependants can be spouse, child or other persons who a legally dependent on the deceased.