While it’s not something anyone likes to think about, planning your estate may make things a little easier for your family and friends later.

What is your 'estate'?

Your ‘estate’ includes everything you own – your ‘earthly possessions’, if you will. It can include for example cash, property, cars, boats, furniture, jewellery, family heirlooms, art, shares and more.

What is estate planning?

This is where you decide what will happen to your belongings after you pass away. By leaving a clear set of ‘instructions’, you help make sure that the people you care most about aren’t faced with any unnecessary conflict or uncertainty.

Why is estate planning important?

Even if you don’t have much money or property, planning your estate is the best way to make sure that special belongings go to the people who will treasure them. Often, it’s these items that matter most.

Why an estate plan is a good plan

  • Your assets get passed on to beneficiaries that you choose. If you pass away without a valid will (and in turn, without a valid estate plan) you're considered to have ‘died intestate’ and your assets get distributed according to your state's inheritance laws—not your wishes.
  • If you leave kids behind, you decide who cares for them and how—not the courts
  • You minimise the tax your beneficiaries may pay when they inherit your assets
  • You reduce the risk of conflict between family and friends when you pass away.

What's in your will?

Your will is a legal document that's part of your estate plan. It outlines how you want your estate to be managed and how you want your assets to be distributed when you pass away.

If you have a fairly straightforward estate and know how you’d like to distribute it, you can easily write your will yourself. It's as simple as buying a will pack from Australia Post and select news agencies, or downloading it online.

For more complicated estates, it might be a good idea to get advice from a solicitor or the Public Trustee. You can then appoint them to be your executor.

Your will checklist

Your will should:

  • clearly identify your beneficiaries
  • clearly identify your executor
  • have the right date on it
  • be signed correctly
  • be witnessed correctly
  • list exactly how you want your estate to be distributed to your beneficiaries (including any plans if they pass away before you)
  • be up to date.

Should you review your estate plan?

Life is never predictable, so it’s a good idea to update your estate plan when things change.

Why you might change your estate plan

  • You get married
  • You get divorced
  • You have kids
  • Your partner, dependant or loved one passes away
  • You experience financial hardship.

Other things to consider

Organising life insurance and a funeral plan can make things easier for your family later. Learn the ins and outs of life insurance, or find out about estate planning in more detail with ASIC's Moneysmart guide.


Glossary

Beneficiary

Person(s), usually named in the will, who receive money or assets after the death of your family member or friend.

Executor

Person(s) chosen in the will to make sure all things noted in the will are distributed as per your family member or friend's request.

Powers of attorney

Appointing someone as your power of attorney gives them the legal authority to look after your affairs on your behalf. The different types of powers of attorney are explained below:

  • general power of attorney: makes financial and legal decisions for you for a specific time period, like if you’re on holidays overseas. This power becomes invalid once that time period ends
  • enduring power of attorney: makes financial and legal decisions for you if you lose the capacity to make decisions yourself
  • medical power of attorney: makes decisions about your medical treatment if you become mentally or physically unable to make decisions for yourself.

Important information

The information contained in this article is intended to be of a general nature only. It has been prepared without taking into account any person’s objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on this information, NAB recommends that you consider whether it’s appropriate for your circumstances. NAB recommends you seek independent legal, financial, and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article.

After more information?Other related articles

Where to begin managing the finances of someone who's passed

It can be really difficult when a family member or friend passes away. If you're a representative of their estate, we've put together this simple, four-step guide.

Helping you finalise a deceased estate

When a loved one passes away, getting through all the paperwork can be tough, but we’ll be here to help guide you through the process of making final arrangements for the estate.

Managing the finances of someone who's passed away

Practical steps on sorting out the finances following the loss of a loved one.

After more information?Related products and services

Life insurance

Thinking about life insurance? At NAB we can protect you with cover for funeral costs, critical injuries and more.

Personal loan insurance

Loans are often a long-term commitment so you should protect your loan repayments. You want to be covered if something unfortunate happens like death, disability or involuntary unemployment.

Helping you with financial hardship

We understand that life can take unexpected turns and leave you in a vulnerable financial position. If you're finding your loan or credit card repayments difficult to make, we may be able to offer assistance when you need it most.

Let's TalkWe're ready to help you

Talk to an expert
NAB Bereavement Support

Mon-Fri 8am - 5pm (AEST/AEDT)
If you're overseas call +61 03 9208 5577