Estate Planning is not just writing a will. We recommend that you seek the services of a professional in this area before you make decisions or take any action.
The main items to consider when estate planning are:
- Life insurance
- Power of Attorney
- Advance Care Directive
This article gives you the basics. If you want a bit more in-depth information, see our next article “Estate Planning: the detail”.
Super doesn’t automatically go to your estate if you die.
If you’re an ElectricSuper member, and you haven’t nominated who will receive your super, what happens to your super when you die will depend on your scheme. The ElectricSuper Trustees will consult the Rules for your scheme and make a decision based on the Rules and/or who they think is the most appropriate person to receive it. It may not be the person you would choose.
If you want more control, you can nominate a beneficiary. If your nomination is valid when you die and you’ve completed the form correctly, including only eligible beneficiaries, the Trustees are legally bound to pay your super to the person or people you nominate.
A Binding Death Benefit Nomination lasts 3 years, but you can change or cancel your nomination any time. We will contact you every 3 years to remind you to complete a new nomination.
2. Your will
A will is a legal document which gives your instructions about your possessions and responsibilities after you die.
Depending on how complicated your situation is, you not need a lawyer to help you write a will. However, if you do need assistance, there are many services that can help you source a lawyer or that can provide free information on general legal matters including simple wills.
3. Life insurance (outside of super)
If you have life insurance outside of super, the life insurance benefit will be paid to your nominated beneficiary (or beneficiaries) once the life insurance company has all the documentation they need.
It’s important that you have communicated with your beneficiaries so they know that the policy exists as insurance companies typically will not know you’ve died and so will not contact your beneficiaries about the policy.
Who’s going to look after you if you no longer can?
4. Power of Attorney
Before you die, there may be situations where you are incapable of acting for yourself and need assistance with your financial matters. It could be an ongoing event that causes your need for assistance, such as a stroke or dementia or it could be something temporary such as needing assistance to manage your affairs back at home while you’re travelling overseas or if you’re in hospital for an extended time.
A power of attorney gives someone the power to financially act on behalf of the person who gives the authority.
If you appoint a power of attorney, that person has the power to deal with your finances. They could buy and sell on your behalf and transact on your bank, for example. Before you appoint a power of attorney, you need to be sure that the person you are appointing is trustworthy as they will have access to all your finances and property.
There are 2 different types of power of attorney: a general power of attorney and an enduring power of attorney. Both these powers of attorney can have the same powers. The difference between them is when and how their powers will end.
A general power of attorney can be put in place for a set period (such as for 6 months while you’re travelling) or it will end when you no longer have legal capacity (such as if you are no longer of sound mind). An enduring power of attorney does not end unless you cancel it while you still have legal capacity. If you do not cancel an enduring power of attorney, it remains in place until you die.
5. Advance Care Directives
You may have heard of the term “medical power of attorney”, but this is something that no longer exists in South Australia.
In its place, you can now complete an Advance Care Directive (while you have legal capacity or are competent). An Advance Care Directive includes your wishes and values about your own health care, accommodation and other personal affairs. You can include other information if you wish such as refusing a particular health care treatment.
You can also use an Advance Care Directive to nominate someone as your substitute decision maker. Your substitute decision maker can make decisions around your health care, accommodation and personal affairs.
There are conditions that may result in your Advance Care Directive not being followed. Read more on the Legal Services Commission South Australia’s website.