Estate Planning 101: how to write a Will and protect your family
Let’s face it: passing away isn’t something we like to think about. But being unprepared for the unexpected means we risk leaving our family in a difficult situation should the worst happen.
Getting your head around estate planning can be overwhelming but understanding your options can be invaluable. Considering how you would like your assets and possessions to be distributed in the event of your death can also help to protect your wealth. As well as acting as an ongoing gift to your family! Read on for a few things to consider when understanding estate planning and how to write a Will.
Why might I need to write a Will?
A Will is a legal document that protects your wishes when it comes to the distribution of your wealth, assets, or the care of your children under age 18 when you die. There can be risks associated with dying without a Will – this is also known as dying ‘intestate’.
For example in Queensland, if you die ‘intestate’ with a partner and children, your partner will receive the first $150,000 of your estate, plus an equal share in the remainder of your estate. Your children will then receive an equal share in the remainder of your estate. You may not want this to happen. Relying on the intestate laws means your preferences may not be enacted when it comes to distributing your assets.
Like other estate planning laws, ‘intestate’ laws vary between the different Australian states and territories. It can be useful to seek the advice of a lawyer who knows how the law will apply to you. It is also important to update your Will regularly, particularly if your personal situation changes. For example, if you get married or divorced, buy or sell property, or have children.
What about an Enduring Power of Attorney?
A Will is a legal document that will only operate once you are deceased. In contrast, an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA) is a living document – meaning it operates while you are alive.
An EPOA enables you to appoint a person to make decisions on your behalf if you were to lose your capacity to make decisions while you’re alive. There are different reasons a person may lose the capacity to make decisions, such as a sudden injury or a terminal disease.
Depending on which state or territory you live in, you can appoint your EPOA to make decisions about your money and/or your personal matters, including your healthcare.
What about an Advanced Health Directive?
An Advanced Health Directive (AHD) – also known as an Advanced Care Directive – is a document where instructions can be given about your future healthcare while you are alive.
Similar to an EPOA, an AHD comes into effect if you lose the capacity to make your own decisions. An AHD can be as general or specific as needed. For example, it can provide general instructions in the case of a terminal illness or more specific instructions on how you’d like to be cared for. In a crisis, your loved ones may find it difficult to decide which treatment option is best for you. An AHD can help them, as well as medical professionals, to know what next steps to take.
Seeking legal assistance with estate planning
You may want to work with a succession lawyer to better understand estate planning. They can help you to make sure you have the correct legal documents in place. A succession layer can also assist in looking after your loved ones in the event that you pass away. You may also like to seek financial advice.
Wondering what happens to your super when you die? Read more on that here.
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