What to think about for your Will.
Getting your estate plan in order is one of those jobs that often falls off the priority list. However, finalising your Will can be a simple and straightforward process. Below are a few things to think about to map out your estate plan:
- Who do you want your executor to be?
The executor will be the person responsible for calling in the assets and liabilities of your estate, and distributing the estate in accordance with the terms of your Will. Your executor should be a trusted person, and may be a friend, family member, or any other person you choose. Your executor must be over 18 years of age to act, and you cannot appoint more than four executors to act at one time.
If you have a spouse, then they are usually your first named executor. We recommend that you appoint at least one alternate executor in the event that your first name executor predeceases you or cannot act for any reason.
You may choose to appoint a professional person or entity, such as your solicitor or The Public Trustee, to act as your executor. However, please be aware that a professional executor may charge a fee for their time taken to administer and finalise your estate.
- Are there any specific bequests you wish to make?
This might be, for example, items of jewellery, artwork, sporting memorabilia or family memorabilia. Think about what is the specific item you wish to give, and who do you want that gift to be given to?
- Who do you want to give the balance of your estate to?
These are the beneficiaries that are to receive the residue of your estate. The residue of your estate is the balance of the estate that is left over after your estate has paid out all outstanding liabilities, and made any specific gifts as discussed in point 2 above.
Think about who you want to include, and what proportions of your estate you want them to inherit. For example, in equal shares, 70% to person A and 30% to person B etc.
- If you have children, do you want to appoint a guardian under your Will?
A Will appointed guardian has all the powers, rights and responsibilities that are ordinarily vested in a guardian. If you and the children’s other parent both die, who do you wish to make decisions about the long-term care, welfare and development of your children?
Please be aware that if your children’s other parent is still alive, then the rights of your Will appointed guardian may firstly be subject to any rights of your children’s other parent.
We recommend that as part of your estate plan you also put an Enduring Power of Attorney in place. Your Enduring Power of Attorney is the document that gives power to someone else to make financial and/or health decisions on your behalf, usually once you have lost capacity. Read through our blog “Key parts of your Enduring Power of Attorney” for a simple breakdown of what you need to consider for your Enduring Power of Attorney.
We appreciate that the above may require some time for you to consider. We find it is often easiest for our clients to flesh out the details of their estate plan through a face to face meeting at our office. During that meeting, we discuss your family circumstances and what you wish to achieve from your estate plan. Please contact us to arrange a meeting or to talk through any questions you have on how to finalise your estate plan.