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Your Estate Planning To-Do List (Step 3 – Decisions & Documents)

by | Dec 5, 2022 | Wills & Estates

Over our last few weeks and over those coming, we are taking you through the 5 steps of our estate planning ‘to-list’.  We have so far discussed Step 1 – Gathering Information and Step 2 – Seeking Advice and now look to Step 3 which is probably the most important step in the process.

Step 3 – Making Decisions & Drafting Documents

Through the estate planning process, there are number of decisions that you will need to make.

These could include:

  • setting up a binding death benefit nomination on your super fund; and
  • nominating a beneficiary for any life insurance you have.

There are several documents that make up an estate plan.  These include:

Your Will

A Will is an essential tool in ensuring that your property and assets will be divided in accordance with your wishes and provides clear instructions which is likely to make the process a lot easier for your loved ones upon your death.  If you do not have a valid Will at the time of your death, your assets will be divided according to the laws of intestacy and could mean that your property and assets may not go to the people you want.

There are many decisions that you will need to make when finalising your Will.  The two main decisions are:

  • Who is to act as your executor/s?
  • Who are your beneficiaries?

Other things you will need to consider include:

  • Do you have any particular gifts you wish to make?
  • Do you need to appoint a guardian for infant children?
  • Who do you want to appoint as a substitute executor?
  • Who is to care for any pets you may have?
  • Do you want to make any gifts to a charity?

Part of your Will make include setting up a Testamentary Trust and your advisers may even recommend that you prepare a Statement of Wishes to provide your executor/s with further information on how you wish to estate to be dealt with.

Enduring Power of Attorney (Financial & Personal)

An Enduring Power of Attorney (Financial and Personal) is a legal document that authorises a person (the attorney) to act and make financial and/or personal decisions on your behalf.   A financial power includes anything related to your finances or property whereas the personal power is in regard to your personal matters such as your lifestyle.

You will need to give careful consideration as to:

  • Who will be your attorney/s?
  • If you appoint more than one attorney, how are they to act? They can act jointly, severally, jointly and severally or, if necessary, by majority.
  • Are there any limitations or conditions you want to add? These could be that your attorneys are to consult with your accountant, your lawyer, your family, etc before making certain decisions.
Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker

A Medical Decision Maker is someone you have appointed who will be able to make decisions regarding your medical treatment when you are not capable of being able to do so yourself.  The decision made need to be based on what they reasonably believe you would have decided if you could, regardless of whether they agree or disagree.

When making your AMTDM, you will need to give careful consideration to who you want to be making these decisions on your behalf.  Again, you will need to think about whether there are any limitations or conditions to be placed on them such as discussing any decision with a loved one prior.

Advanced Care Directive

An Advance Care Directive is supplementary to your Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker and can provide your Medical Decision Maker with a record of your wishes regarding your treatment or it can provide a health practitioner with legally binding directives they must follow.  It is important to seek advice from both a lawyer and a health care professional before making an Advanced Care Directive.

How can Nevett Ford help?

In the coming weeks we will build on your to-do list so that you can ensure that your affairs are dealt with in the best possible way.

Our Wills and Estates Team has extensive experience and expertise and can guide our clients through the preparation of Wills, Powers of Attorney and other Estate Planning documents.  We will work hand in hand with you and your other advisers to ensure that documents are prepared in accordance with your wishes.

If you would like further information, please contact our team at melbourne@nevettford.com.au or on +613 9614 7111.