What You Need in Your Estate Plan


Many of us choose to protect our loved ones by maintaining a Will. While that’s an essential part of managing your future, an estate plan is the most important thing you can do to provide for your family. An estate plan is a comprehensive document that records all your assets, dependents and final wishes, allowing you to make critical decisions about your life, money and family members. To help you prepare for your planning meeting, we’ve put together our list of what you need in your estate plan.

1. Lists of Your Assets and Liabilities

Your “estate” refers to all the money, property, assets and liabilities that fall under your name. The most important part of an estate plan is making lists of all your assets and liabilities. When you pass away, your assets will be distributed to your loved ones and beneficiaries. If you have outstanding liabilities (such as a mortgage), your assets will also be used to pay off those debts.

Your list should include all physical and non-physical assets, such as:

  • Homes and investment properties
  • Cars and boats
  • Household possessions
  • Shares
  • Bank and investment accounts
  • Superannuation
  • Life insurance
  • Cryptocurrency

2. Your Beneficiaries

The next major part of your estate plan is nominating your beneficiaries. Your beneficiaries are the people and organisations that will receive a share of your estate after you pass away. It’s common to nominate spouses, children, dependents and other loved ones as the beneficiaries of your estate, but you can also nominate organisations such as charities.

It’s important to talk to a professional Wills and estates lawyer Brisbane wide when making your plan. While you are free to nominate anyone you choose, you may have a responsibility to name spouses and children as beneficiaries. An unfair Will and estate plan may be disputed after your death, and professional advice is the best way to ensure your estate is divided according to your wishes.

3. Your Executors

An executor is the person or people who will oversee the distribution of your estate when you pass away. Acting as the executor of an estate is a serious commitment, so you’ll need to nominate someone who is up to the task.

It’s a good idea to nominate an executor as well as several back-up options. The people you nominate have the right to refuse the duty. If that happens, one of your back-up options will be used instead. We recommend nominating your solicitor as one of your options so that your family will have professional support if no one else is willing to act as your executor.

4. Your Final Wishes and Gifts

At this point you need to decide how your estate will be divided, including whether you want to gift any of your assets directly to a beneficiary. Deciding how to divide your estate can be a tricky process, especially if you have complex finances, large amounts of property or debts that will need to be dealt with. Discuss the matter with your Lawyer if you need advice on who gets what or how to divide your assets fairly.

5. Guardianship Designations

Developing an estate plan is your chance to provide for your dependents after your death. This includes providing guardianship instructions that ensure children and dependents are looked after by the people of your choosing.

Guardianship arrangements can be one of the most challenging parts of estate planning. If you and your spouse have children, it’s likely that your spouse will be able to take care of them. However, if you have other dependents (such as adult children with disabilities), it’s important to nominate a guardian that is capable and willing to care for them. Make sure you discuss guardianship arrangements with the people in your life before your planning meeting. This ensures everyone knows the plan and that your intended guardians are capable of looking after your dependents after you pass away.

6. Powers of Attorney

A power of attorney allows you to appoint someone else (your attorney) to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself. Powers of attorney are the best way to protect your financial and medical interests if you are temporarily or permanently incapacitated. A power of attorney or Enduring Power of Attorney allows you to execute your wishes and make important decisions about your health and finances in advance, taking the burden off your loved ones.

7. Succession Plan for Your Businesses

Australia is a nation of small business owners. If you’re one of those people, you’ll need to make a succession plan to manage your business if you pass away or become unable to do so yourself.
A succession plan could be as simple as nominating someone to replace you as director, or it could be as complex as winding up the business after your death. The best solution depends on the size of your business, how much it relies on your skills and whether ownership can be transferred to someone else when the time comes.

8. Additional Estate Planning Details

Estate plans are complex, comprehensive documents that give you a high degree of control over your estate, health, finances and final wishes. Depending on your situation, your estate plan may also need details about:

  • Life insurance policies and beneficiaries
  • A Binding Death Benefit Nomination for your superannuation
  • Advance health directives
  • Information about where your Will is stored
  • Instructions for managing your online accounts
  • A funeral plan

Talk to a professional if you’re unsure. Your Lawyer will be able to assess your estate, dependents and assets and help decide what needs to be included in your Will and estate plan.

Make an Effective Plan with a Professional Estate Lawyer Brisbane

Your estate plan is one of the most important documents you will ever need to write. An effective plan contains hundreds of details, and there are more than a few legal requirements you’ll need to satisfy along the way. If you want to ensure your estate plan is legal, binding and executed according to your wishes, you’ll need to work with a professional estate lawyer Brisbane.
FP Lawyers provides a comprehensive Wills and Estate Planning service that’s designed to offer peace of mind at the most trying times in your life. When you work with our experienced Lawyers, we will help you develop an estate plan, record your wishes and ensure your loved ones are always provided for. Contact us today if you’re ready to manage your future with a professional estate planning service.

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