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Crucial Estate Planning Documents You Shouldn’t Forget

Estate planning is among the most easily postponed financial planning tasks. Of course, it is never pleasant to think about your death, but that is the essence of estate planning. Lawyers are often involved in the process, so it seems more complicated than it is in reality. 

Another reason why many people put it off is that estate planning is more for your loved ones than for you. Unlike most financial planning tasks, this does not offer any gain or returns during your lifetime.

However, if you want to have control over where your assets go after your passing, estate planning is critical. Your estate planning papers include, first and foremost, a will, powers of attorney for healthcare and financial issues, and guardianships for young children. In some instances, trusts may be appropriate. However, there are further add-ons to consider in the context of your estate plan, mainly if you aim to make life as simple as possible for your loved ones and to guarantee that your desires are followed after your death. 

Here are some essential documents that you should never omit in your estate planning: 

Master Directory

Consider a master directory to be a complete version of your financial summary. In a way, your financial summary could be compared to a Microsoft Word document; the master directory is an Excel sheet that helps you plan. 

A financial summary may indicate that you are a member of a self-managed superannuation fund, on the other hand, a master directory will contain the actual account numbers for those accounts. It will include the businesses, agents and contact details that manage these accounts. Because the master directory contains essential information, it must be encrypted or, if a physical document, kept under lock and key.

Personal Property Plan

Oftentimes, a will dictates that any tangible personal property, such as furniture, be sold and the profits deposited into your estate. For your own sake, don’t go crazy with earmarking everything for particular people; instead, concentrate on things that you value and have significance for the receivers. 

As long as it is stated in your will, a personal property plan is legally enforceable in most states – it is worth completing for important personal possessions such as heirlooms and trusting that your loved ones will follow through.

Digital Estate Plan

Even those who believe they have checked off all of the typical boxes on their estate-planning to-do lists may have neglected an increasingly crucial aspect of the process: Digital Estate Plan. This assures the appropriate management and orderly transfer of digital assets after death or disability. 

Traditional estate planning is concerned with the management and transfer of financial accounts and hard assets. In contrast, digital estate planning is concerned with your digital possessions, including tangible digital devices like computers and smartphones, stored data either on your devices or in the cloud, and online accounts like Facebook and LinkedIn. 

The rules governing digital assets are rapidly evolving, and various providers have varied policies and degrees of access. Nevertheless, creating an inventory of your digital accounts and keeping the information in a safe but accessible place is a necessary first step.

Ethical Will

Consider writing or recording an ethical will outlining your views and ideals. In contrast to a traditional will, which specifies how you want your money and physical assets transferred, an ethical will means you to ‘pass along’ your belief system to your loved ones. 

The custom of ethical wills originated in the Jewish community, but it has grown in popularity across cultures in the last decade. This can be an overwhelming task, so don’t put too much pressure on yourself. Instead, try beginning your ethical will by writing down your views as they come to mind. Avoid cramming all ideas at once and focus on your personal values as well. 

Final Thoughts

Estate planning is not a one-step process. It requires your active participation. Make sure your assets are appropriately titled and that your beneficiary designations are following the plans. Gather all of your financial accounts and insurance policies and keep them in a secure location, such as a house fire safe or a bank safe deposit box. 

You’ll also need to have a complete record of documents, including your mortgage deeds, vehicle titles, estate papers, and anything else your agents may need during your estate planning. Having this information on hand helps your representatives in carrying out your desires exactly as you planned.

To know more about tips in managing your finances during your retirement years, check out these posts:

Want to start your journey on estate planning? Are you looking for an adviser for estate planning in Newcastle? At Newcastle Financial Planning Group, we offer reliable and personalised estate planning services just for you. Let us help you lessen the legal burden of your family when you depart in managing your estates. Give us a call today to learn more. 

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this publication are solely those of the author; they are not reflective or indicative of RI Advice Group’s position and are not to be attributed to RI Advice Group. They cannot be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of the author. This information (including taxation) is general in nature and does not consider your individual circumstances or needs. Do not act until you seek professional advice. Newcastle Financial Planning Group, Central Coast Financial Planning Group and Sydney Wealth Advisers are subsidiaries of Coastal Advice Group which is a Corporate Authorised Representative of RI Advice Group Pty Ltd, ABN 23 001 774 125 AFSL 238429.
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