While most of us are aware of the importance of making a Will, there are other estate issues that may not be so obvious and can have dramatic consequences on family security. It’s not just for the wealthy – all families need to plan for financial, legal, medical and child care decision making to ensure their wishes are carried out accurately.
Estate planning may sound a little intimidating or irrelevant, but this umbrella term covers a range of essential financial and legal arrangements that any individual can and should make for the proper care of what they own and the people they love. It is integral to your future planning if you want future situations handled with minimal impact on family and in alignment to your wishes.
Your will is a starting point
Even with modest assets and property, there can be severe delays, disputes and upheaval if you were to suddenly pass away without a Will. A Will clearly specifies what you want to happen and who you want to benefit if you are no longer around. The absence of a Will leaves your family in the hands of an appointed administrator who may make decisions that are not consistent with your wishes and may result in unnecessary delays and costs in estate distribution.
Once in place, it is essential that it is reviewed periodically to make sure it adapts to your changing circumstances.
How will medical decisions be made?
The reality of medical and health issues impairing decision making is a critical issue to deal with in an estate plan. A sudden accident can leave your family with massive decisions to make about treatment, accommodation and assets, so it is essential that they have some formal reference point to avoid undue stress.
It is not just the elderly who need to plan for this situation. Serious and chronic medical conditions can occur at any age and can dramatically and permanently affect your ability to manage your own health decisions or financial affairs.
Fortunately, there are ways to cope with this eventuality and relieve stress on your loved ones. An Enduring Power of Attorney gives a legal basis for passing your decision making authority to someone you trust if you are unable to make decisions for yourself on legal and financial matters.
Enduring Guardianship can also delegate your authority to someone you trust for making critical decisions on issues such as medical treatment and nursing home care, if you are not able to yourself. These tools are there for your benefit and to help you ensure your wishes are carried out effectively and responsibly to your satisfaction.
Providing for the care of children
No one would ever knowingly compromise the welfare of their children, but we can unwittingly leave things up in the air if we don’t make formal plans to set out our wishes. An Enduring Guardianship lets you specify who you want to care for your children if you suddenly die or suffer a medical event that prevents you from providing care for them.
It is a simple step to take, but can make a huge difference to their future and the peace of mind that comes from knowing your children will be well looked after is well worth it.
Failing to attend to this valuable provision for their future may leave them exposed to the judgements of external authorities and may leave your family with the prospect of applying to a government tribunal in order to allocate guardianship responsibilities.
Ask for help to secure the future
Your adviser can be a valuable facilitator on these issues. They can refer and consult with other professionals to make sure your situation is well managed and your beneficiaries are left with security.