Safeguarding your estate: essential tips
No one wants to consider the possibility of your family contesting your will, but this can easily happen if the right safeguards aren’t in place to ensure that your money and other assets go exactly where you intend.
And while having a will is a good first step, sometimes that isn’t enough.
So what’s the best way to ensure that everything will be divided according to your wishes?
Creating a valid will - and keeping it up-to-date
A will is an important document that sets out your wishes for your assets after you pass away. It may also include details on how you’d like your children to be cared for, or any particular bequests you’d like to make.
Keep in mind that wills are complex legal documents that can be easily deemed invalid if careful measures are not taken. The best way of ensuring your will fulfills its purposes as you intend is to enlist the services of a lawyer when creating yours.
Keeping your will up-to-date is absolutely critical to ensuring that your loved ones will be looked after once you’re gone. Make sure that if your situation ever changes (such as separating or divorcing from your partner, or remarrying), that you update your will accordingly. Remind yourself to review it every couple of years as well.
Appointing an enduring power of attorney
There may come a time in your life when you’re unable to make personal, legal or financial decisions on your own - perhaps due to illness or your age.
Many people choose to appoint an enduring power of attorney to make these important decisions for them should they ever be in such a position.
Your appointed attorney may be responsible for matters like determining where you live, the selling of your assets like your home, or paying your bills. For these reasons, it’s so important to choose someone who you can trust to act in your best interests.
Importantly, you should talk to your family about your decision to appoint an enduring power of attorney, as well as your views on the decisions the attorney might make for you.
Adding a testamentary trust to your will
A testamentary trust is a trust set out in your will that comes into effect once you pass away. Its role is to protect your assets for the benefit of your family.
When creating one, you nominate someone to manage the trust on behalf of your beneficiaries. Because of the way testamentary trusts are structured, the assets are protected from any potential legal disputes or claims.
Everyone’s situation is different, but many people find testamentary trusts a useful tool for protecting assets in complex family situations, or if they need to provide for children under the age of 18. There are also several tax benefits associated with testamentary trusts, which make it an appealing option for many families.
Centralising and updating all of your documents
One of the challenges many people face when organising their affairs is making sure they have all the right papers in one place.
Safeguards like LifeBank let you securely upload and store offline all of your personal documents, making it much easier for you and your loved ones to access and manage your most important files.
What’s more, when going through this process, you might even find that much of your existing documentation and information is outdated.
LifeBank can help in this regard too, by providing guidance on the types of information you should be updating for a solid estate plan, such as investments and financial information, real and personal estate details, information about your health and medical treatments, and details on the executor of your estate.
Having the last word on your wills and estate
Of course, making sure that you receive proper legal advice is the first step to having the last word on how your will and estate will be eventually divided.
To further solidify your estate plans, keep all your documents safe, secure and up-to-date in a centralised system like LifeBank.