Putting your affairs in order isn’t necessarily something that happens close to death.
It can happen at any time that someone decides that they want to take steps to protect their family members from extra stress when they die, or if they became totally incapacitated.
Putting one’s affairs in order can mean many things. Most of the time it refers to when someone is terminally ill or close to death (for example, when a doctor says you have 6 months to live) and they want to make all the preparations for everything and everyone who is left behind.
However, it isn’t always associated with death. It can simply mean just getting your personal circumstances organised before embarking on something important or long term, like starting a family or moving to live or travel in another country for a lengthy period.
This can be done by planning your estate. Estate planning is coming up with a solution for your assets to be passed on by a Will, Superannuation or Testamentary Trust, healthcare decisions and Advance Health Directives, via the various legal forms of a Power of Attorney. A solicitor who specialises in Wills, Probate & Estates can help get one’s affairs in order, and you do not have to be dying or near death to start doing this.
In practical terms, you might start by documenting the following:
What You Have
Assets, liabilities, real estate, various insurance policies, superannuation, annuities, mutual funds, shares, retirement plans, military or other benefits, valuable collections, art or antiques etc.
Where It’s Located
Important keys, files, bank account details, policies, deeds, marriage license, birth certificates, family medical history, safety deposit box, storage unit, tax records, various Powers of Attorney, Wills, Trusts, names & contact details of your doctor, solicitor, accountant, financial advisor, share broker etc.
What Your Wishes Are
There may be many areas of your life where you may want to make sure that your wishes are carried out, such as:
Organ donation, living will, guardianship of any children, financial arrangements, superannuation beneficiaries, life insurance beneficiaries, pre-paid funeral plan, obituary, memorial donations, distribution of your assets, how expensive funeral arrangements should be, burial versus cremation, eulogy or no eulogy, wake or no wake, who you want to give cherished items to, etc.
Please be aware, there are a number of different types of ‘Powers of Attorney’, and there are differences between each State and Territory in Australia, as to how and when they are used.
In general, across Australia there are six main types of ‘Powers of Attorney’ in use, although not all are applicable within each State or Territory: General Power of Attorney, Enduring Power of Attorney, Enduring Power of Guardianship, Medical Power of Attorney, Advanced Care Directive and Anticipatory Direction.
For more information on ‘Powers of Attorney’ please see our article here.
For further information on ‘Preparing a Will’ please see our article here.
For further information on ‘Estate Planning’ please see our article here.