There are few topics related to financial management less glamorous than estate planning. Yet ensuring our loved ones will be well taken care of beyond our life is so important. Would your family be able to manage the day-to-day in the immediate aftermath of your death without adding another burden to their grieving process?
A recent major system upgrade at the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages has caused significant delays in issuing death certificates – and without one, probate cannot commence. This means even if your surviving spouse or family is the sole beneficiary of your will, they will not be able to access assets, money or bank accounts under your name until the estate is distributed. Although a quick probate may take three months, it is not unusual for it to take up to a year. So ensuring your family will have sufficient resources to be able to get through this crisis for a substantial amount of time is absolutely key.
With this in mind, here are four practical tips to take into consideration when planning your estate:
Access to money
The big items such as a house are usually taken care of when planning an estate, but there’s a small and significant element that often gets overlooked: cash. Being able to fund the day-to-day, in addition to the expenses related to the funerals, for at least one year is essential. One way to make sure money is available to all parties is to open a joint bank account with one signature only required for transactions.
Ease of implementation
Emotions and big decisions don’t go hand in hand. Thus another important aspect to take into consideration when planning your estate is for it to be easily operable in the first year after passing away, such that no critical decisions need to be taken.
Ensuring your superannuation includes a binding death benefit nomination to your dependant(s) will also help create certainty at a time when your family is most vulnerable.
Last but not least, different countries have different processes and legal ramifications when it comes to executing an estate. If you have assets in other countries, ensure you understand what would happen to them in the advent of your or your spouse’s death.
Overall, when preparing your estate plan, it’s important to make sure your day-to-day family life will be able to survive the crisis of a death. A simple process that allows immediate access to bank accounts will ensure your loved ones only grieve for what is really important.