What are the key documents in an estate plan?

2016-04-03
Getting your own estate plan in place may seem complicated to you, but it's a tangible sign of love and responsibility to those who may need to use it later Getting your own estate plan in place may seem complicated to you, but it's a tangible sign of love and responsibility to those who may need to use it later

Modern Estate Planning is about a workable plan—not a just a Will

It involves a powerful combination of 5 key documents and an ongoing management system that works quietly in the background for you like a personal backup system.

So what’s your plan?

Generally the main concerns are ‘what if I become disabled, short term or long term, who makes decisions for me then, what happens to my stuff if I die and who brings up the children if I’m gone before my time?.Typical concerns of a client seeking estate planning advice form Sapience

The key documents you should have up to date, in place and stored securely away from your home

  1. Power of Attorney – who can make legal decisions for you if you’re unable to for a period of time eg: overseas on holiday and contactable, you’re in the hospital and unable to make keys decisions due to sickness or injury. Overseas travel and local car accidents are common reasons when people often call upon this document.
  2. Enduring Power of Guardianship – means you can appoint a person of your choice to make key decisions if because of your incapacity, you’re not able to make those key decisions for yourself.
    Without these two documents in place, your family usually would have no option but to make an application to a tribunal (different in each Australian state) for a Grant of Guardianship and legal administration orders over you and your property This process is a distressing and expensive process that can be easily avoided by simply having the plan in place ahead of time.
  3. Will – this is the most important document that will ever sign in your life and it has the power to dramatically change the lives of those you love and protect and provide for. Why would you ever risk this to a one size fits all DIY kit.
  4. Letter of Wishes – This is a document that can be regularly updated that helps to make sure your intentions and decisions are clear. It's designed to help the people responsible for implementing your Will to understand exactly what your intentions were.
  5. Testamentary Trust – allow you to make a just in case plan that can look after your spouse, your minor child or even your ageing parents if something happens to you and you’re no longer there to care.
    These powerful structures can protect an inheritance from a person battling addictions, facing family court issues or people who are simply not experienced in dealing with large sums of money. Understanding how these trusts work means you leave a blessing and not a problem.

How do you know if you have a good estate plan in place and not just a Will?

These are the key questions you should be able to answer confidently if you have a backup plan in place:

  • Do you have a Power of Attorney document in place?
  • Do you have a Power of Enduring Guardianship in place?
  • Do you have a Will in place that was reviewed in the last 3 years?
  • Does your nominated Executor and your Financial Advisor know where these are safely stored?

You should be able to name the key people nominated in your Will

  • Your Executor
  • Your Guardian for minor children
  • Your Trustee
  • Do you keep track of their contact details each year?
  • Do they know where your key documents are stored?
  • Do they know that they have professional legal and financial advice support already in place should they be called upon?
  • Do you have insurance funding in place to make it all work?
  • Where is the plan stored and how do you know it’s up to date?

If you could answer 'yes' with confidence to most of these – you’re probably sleeping really well – Congratulations you have yourself finally sorted.

Contact us today if you're not sure whether your estate plan is up-to-date.
Have you watched our fun Explainer Video about estate planning yet? Click here to watch it.
Drew Browne

Drew specialises in helping people protect and provide for what matters most in their lives. He's an award-winning writer, speaker, financial adviser and business strategy mentor. His company Sapience Financial and Investment Services is committed to using business solutions for good in the community, is a member of the international B1G1 Business for Good Giving Community and in 2015 certified as a B Corp. In 2017 Drew was recognised in the inaugural Australian Westpac Businesses of Tomorrow national awards. Drew writes for successful Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs at Smallville, his blogs can be read on Amazon.com and you can connect with him on LinkedIn.

drew browne pic

Drew Browne

Sapience Founder & Director.
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