What Is Estate Planning?

Written By Linda Cornacchia

Estate planning means something different to many people, and can often be put to the bottom of the to-do list. Generally, anything that is related to death is something we do not want to talk about nor do we want to broach the sometimes difficult subject of how we are going to split up our Estate. Unfortunately, not talking about it or, even worse, doing nothing about it just makes it harder when the time comes. We all know someone personally or a friend of a friend who has suffered in the event a family member has suddenly passed. This is always a difficult time and, without a Will or Estate Plan, it can hinder the grieving process and cause unnecessary stress to those close to the deceased.

Estate planning involves developing a strategy to deal with your assets after you die – the legal instruments and structures, such as a will, you put in place to transfer your assets in the event of death.

The Will

The Will can protect your estate and the interest of your beneficiaries in the event of your death. There is a misconception that the will covers ALL, but superannuation, for instance, is not necessarily dealt with by the terms on the Will. Did you know that your will is revoked or cancelled if you get married unless it is made in contemplation of marriage? Divorce does not revoke a Will, but it cancels any provision in favour of the former spouse.

Enduring Power of Attorney

Another important part of your Estate Plan to consider is an Enduring Power of Attorney, this allows you to give your attorney the power to make financial decisions – and personal or health decision – if you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself. An enduring power of attorney allows you to plan for the unexpected, such as an accident or physical or other illness. A financial attorney is responsible only for financial matters, including receiving income, paying bills, taxation and contractual issues, investment and financial planning, legal actions or property management. The final type of attorney is a personal/healthcare attorney and they may make decisions such as where you live, who you live with, and daily issues like diet and dress and giving approval for you to receive certain types of care.

State Legal Process in Absence of a Will or Estate Plan

If you don’t have a will or Estate Plan, all states have a legal process in place for determining who will inherit the property of a person who fails to make a valid will through each state’s intestacy laws (An heir-at-law is anyone who is entitled to inherit from someone who dies without leaving a last will and testament.) If you don’t have a will probate is typically required when someone dies without a will.

There are more features of an Estate Plan that we have not covered, this can sound costly and be the reason people often resist following through. As of this month, we have an Estate Planning specialist who can help in a cost-effective way to ensure you have everything in place as per your wishes. So, contact our office to arrange an appointment today.