Don’t have a Will? You’re in good company. Less than half of Australian adults do. Even then, many Wills are out of date or invalid. The upshot is that hard earned wealth may be fought over by family or distributed by government formula, and not end up with the preferred beneficiaries.

It’s also important to remember that Wills are just one component of estate planning, so here’s a quick checklist to help you get your estate planning on the right track.

  • If you don’t have a Will, make one. Consult a specialist estate planning lawyer.
  • If you do have a Will, ensure it is up to date and reflects your current wishes. Is your executor willing to take on the role and likely to outlive you?
  • Have enduring and medical powers of attorney drawn up so someone you trust can act on your behalf and make decisions if you are no longer able to do so.
  • Review your superannuation death benefit nomination. Super death benefits can be directed to your estate and distributed under your Will, or they can be paid directly to nominated beneficiaries.
  • Look into pre-paid funerals or funeral bonds. Aside from relieving your family of one burden at a time of great stress, you may see an increase in your age pension payments.

Depending on business and financial structures, family dynamics, pension rules and legal requirements, estate planning can be complex. Your financial adviser can help you identify the estate planning issues you need to address, and the professionals you may need to consult, to ensure your assets are distributed according to your wishes and to provide the best outcome for your beneficiaries.

This is the fourth instalment in the mini-series: Traps to avoid in retirement.