Having a valid will ensures your assets go to the people you want to have them. You might also consider granting someone you trust an enduring power of attorney to manage your affairs should you lose mental capacity.
It’s a good idea to review your will and powers of attorney on a regular basis or whenever your circumstances change. Be aware of events that may invalidate your will, for example, a new marriage will void your will but divorce will not.
Guardianship of children
A will can also contain details of who will take legal guardianship of dependent children if something happens to both of you. This person is usually someone you trust to raise your children in a similar way to the way you are raising them, and someone who has the emotional and financial capacity to take on the responsibility.
Setting up a trust
If you have a lot of assets or a complicated family structure you may consider using a trust to hold your assets. A family trust can be created while you are still living. A testamentary trust is created by instructions in your will, in the event of your death.
You should ask a legal professional to check your estate plan to make sure it is valid.
Keeping your important documents safe
To make sure the person managing your estate can easily locate all of your financial information, set up a file listing all your assets, liabilities, insurance policies and other financial information.
The file should include all relevant details such as:
- the financial institution, account number, name of the account
- policy provider, policy number, date the policy commenced and is due to expire
- any other information that may be required to accurately identify you or your account.
You should also include the latest account statement for these documents in the file. Don’t forget to include financial products where you receive correspondence by email.
Consider keeping a hard copy and an electronic copy of this file. Keep the electronic copy in a secure data file and the hard copy in a locked filing cabinet that only the person managing your estate has access to. Do not include passwords or other access details that only you should know.
Here’s a full list of all the important documents you should put in a safe place.
Don’t leave behind a financial mess when you die. Develop a plan and get your paperwork in order to make sure your loved ones have one less thing to worry about when you’ve gone.