An estate is all the assets you own at the time of your death, including investments such as shares, money, insurance and property, as well as personal items such as your car, furniture and jewellery. On your death, your estate must be distributed according to the wishes outlined in your will.
An executor is responsible for carrying out your wishes after your death. If you have significant assets in your name, they will need to obtain a grant of probate so the funds are released to them. They will usually be required to provide certified copies of the death certificate and will at this time. Once the assets have been collected, the executor needs to pay any debts owing on our estate, before distributing the remaining assets in accordance with the will. The executor has the right to plan your funeral and is responsible for instructing the funeral director about your wishes. If you die without a will, your assets will be distributed according to the law in place at the time of your death, usually to your next of kin. They have the right to choose how your body is disposed and arrange all the details of your funeral. If you die without a valid will and have no living relatives, your estate is paid to the state government.
No matter what your age, it’s important to have a valid will in place. You should update it every couple of years to make sure it reflects any changes, such as marriages, divorces, births, deaths and changes to the law.
Some questions to consider when preparing your will include:
- who will you appoint as the executor of the will?
- what assets do you own in your name?
- do you have proceeds from superannuation or insurance that will be paid out upon your death?
- how do you want your assets to be distributed?
- do you have wishes in relation to your funeral and the disposal of your body?
- who will you appoint as a guardian for your children?
- are any of the people you are caring for in your will vulnerable or disabled?
As part of your estate plan, you may also wish to appoint a power of attorney and enduring guardian. This will give you peace of mind knowing that if you lose mental or physical capacity in the future, a person you have appointed will make proper decisions about your legal, financial, health and lifestyle affairs.
Estate planning is an important part of managing your finances. It helps you plan for your family’s future and considers how you would like to be remembered once you die. The laws around estate planning and wills are complex and ever-changing, so it’s important to seek professional advice.
Our legal team can help you plan your estate, create a will and guide you through your responsibilities as executor or next of kin.
Call Funeral Alliance Solutions on 1300 550 367 or contact us online today.