It’s understandable to not have the answers if you’re asked about what will happen if you pass away. But if you make important decisions now, you could save your loved ones a lot of heartache when you’re gone.

The right professional advice can take the guesswork out of deciding how to distribute your assets, and help you make crucial decisions about who will have your medical and financial power of attorney.

You may consider finding a legal professional who specialises in wills and estates. You also have the option of consulting someone who can give you financial advice as well, such as a financial planner. If you’d like advice on accounting or tax-related matters, an accountant can help.

Make a will

According to ASIC, around half of all Australians die without a will. If this happens to you, your family may have to apply to the Courts for the authority to administer your estate, sometimes called Letters of Administration.

You've worked hard to build assets, so you'll want them distributed to those who matter most. Sorting out your estate and making a will now helps to ensure that your wishes are followed when you’re gone. It also reduces the risk of family conflict.

While you can write your will yourself, we recommend you get legal advice, as it can get complicated.

Choose your executor

Think carefully about who you choose to be the executor of your will. When making your decision, it helps if:

  • you’re close to the person and can trust them
  • you've chosen two people to cover yourself if one person isn’t available.

You can find more information on the role of an executor from the Public Trustee relevant to your state.

Make sure family and friends are cared for

If you have people who depend on you financially and will continue needing your support, you may want to get both legal and financial advice about whether a trust would be helpful. Whether a trust is a practical option may depend in part on the size of your estate.

There are different types of trusts. If you support someone who is living with a disability, you may want to consider (and get advice about) special disability trusts. You can get some initial information about special disability trusts from the Department of Human Services.

Trusts are complex, so it’s important to seek advice on the pros and cons.

Take out life insurance

Consider taking out life insurance to help your loved ones financially. This could include things such as using the insurance funds to reduce or pay out a home loan.

Glossary

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.

Letters of administration

It's a document from the Supreme Court to make sure someone looks after the estate of your family member or friend if they don't leave a valid will.

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 is appropriate for your circumstances. NAB recommends that you seek independent legal, financial, and taxation advice before acting on any information in this article.

Want to keep exploring?

Other life moments

When a loved one dies: A guide on where to start

Losing a family member or friend is difficult. So if you're a representative of their estate, here’s a simple, four-step guide to help.

Managing a deceased loved one's estate: Next steps

When a loved one passes, the paperwork can be tough, but we’re here to help guide you through making final arrangements for the estate.

Estate planning: Why it's important to have a will

Prepare your finances and plan your estate now to avoid complications for your friends and family when you're gone.

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