If you are considering estate planning to take care of your assets and divide them properly between your loved ones, a good family lawyer will tell you to write down the information they need before you make an appointment with them. In this way they will have all the information to hand and can get on with the job, saving you both time and money.
So to that end, here is a list of steps you need to take to ensure you have everything covered.
- Physical assets – these are house, car or any other vehicle you may own and any other asset worth over $100. This can include electronic devices, home theatre, camera, artwork, jewellery, ornaments and expensive even clothing such as a fur coat or wedding dress.
- Non-physical assets – these will include bank accounts and investments of all kinds. Include the names of the banks and account details as well as the companies you have shares with. It will also include such things as life insurance, other forms of insurance, annuities, pensions and superannuation. Make sure these are all updated with the nominated beneficiaries information still being current.
- Liabilities – all the debt you owe should also be listed. This includes home loans, business debts, car loans and the balances on your credit cards, if any. You need to think about how you want such debts to be paid off in the event of your death. Add up your total debts so you can work out whether the sale of a specific asset would be enough to pay it all.
- Consider your Will. Once you know what your assets and liabilities are, you will have a better idea of who will get what once the debts are paid off. You can then set up a formal Will so your beneficiaries can be named and you can specify more precisely what they will get.
- Power of Attorney – nominating someone you trust to be your attorney in case you need someone to manage your legal and financial affairs. A Durable Power of Attorney will enable a person you nominate to make medical decisions on your behalf and a Living Will takes the responsibility for last minute medical decisions or treatment off your family and ensures your wishes regarding these things will be carried out.
Once you have given these steps due consideration, an appointment with your family lawyers will be more likely to bear fruit. In addition, having a Will made reduces the costs of sorting everything out through the courts, a process that is essential for those who die intestate, or without a Will. With no will probate can tie up your assets for a long time and cost quite a bit, although this doesn’t always happen.