In many years assisting clients to manage their affairs regarding their estates, Michael Lewis has gathered some helpful tips that can act as a checklist to ensure your family can deal with these matters as smoothly as possible.
Estate Inheritance Affairs Checklist
￼￼￼1. Ensure you have an up-to-date will
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼2. Review the will every 3 to 4 years
￼￼￼￼￼3. Store the will in a safe place
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼4. Inform your executor(s) where the will is stored
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼5. Store other important documents in a safe place ideally with your will; documents such as:
(a) title deeds to a property you may own; (b) share certificates;
(c) trust deeds;
(d) birth and marriage certificates;
(e) enduring powers of attorney (see below);
(f) enduring powers of guardianship (see below);
(g) other important documents; loan agreements, leases, superannuation deeds, insurance documents
￼￼￼￼￼6. Consider granting:
(a) an enduring power of attorney (to manage your financial and property matters);
(b) an enduring power of guardianship (to manage lifestyle and health care issues) (EPG).
These are effective during your lifetime. Give copies to those appointed.
Give copy of EPG to your doctor.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼7. Consider a Health Care Directive; a legal document in which you may indicate whether you would accept or refuse medical treatment in certain circumstances Give a copy to your doctor.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼￼8. Do you wish to be buried or cremated? What type of service would you like?
Have you made prepaid funeral arrangements? Where is your CV? This may assist with eulogies.
￼￼￼9. Expression of wishes
This can be formal or informal. Depending on its importance, it may be referred to in your will.
Ideally it should be placed with your will.
In it you may wish to deal with:
(a) funeral planning;
(b) details of your professional advisors: lawyer, accountant and superannuation and financial advisor;
(c)distribution of paintings, jewellery, other items of sentimental value; not otherwise provided for in your will.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼10. Explaining your will
Whilst you do not have to tell your family or your executor what your will provides, it may be wise to do this in certain circumstances; e.g. why your will has been written in a certain way; why you may have allocated a greater share of your estate to one and not the other. Doing so may reduce animosity and ill-feeling on your passing.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼11. Important letters and photos
Put aside for distribution by nominated person.
As it is generally a significant portion of your assets and as it falls outside your estate and your will, you should seek advice about signing a binding death nomination.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼13. Protecting Digital Assets
(a) Make a list
A digital asset is considered anything you access online, on your computer or in a cloud that has emotional or financial value. A few examples might include:
email and social media accounts;
digital photo albums or movie collections;
video game avatars;
online investment accounts;
even frequent flyer miles.
(b) Make your choices clear
Identify the person, or people, who should be in charge of the digital assets, e.g. your executor or another trusted person. Ideally someone who is digitally savvy.
(c) Keep the list of usernames and passwords separate from the will
Keeping the list and access information independent from your will allows you to keep passwords updated and to add new items easily – which is important given how often our digital footprints expand. This document should be kept in a safe place and its location made known to your executor or other trusted person.
￼￼￼￼￼￼￼© Leaker Partners 2016
Michael Lewis has been a senior partner at the firm of Robinson Cox and then of its successor Clayton Utz. After working as a consultant at Sceales & Co, Michael joined Leaker Partners as a senior lawyer, where he now maintains a practice in wills, estates and succession matters. Michael’s mission is to be a sound and understanding lawyer to people in need of estate planning advice and the management of deceased estates, and he champions the use of plain language in the law.