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Estate planning: Making it easy for the executor of your will

Money Tips

When it comes to life admin, it’s fair to say the majority of us have our affairs sorted… but only in our heads. One day, the reality is that someone else will have to piece your life admin together; that person being the executor of your will.

“When you give someone the responsibility of executing your will, you’re giving them a huge task if you haven’t prepared properly,” says John McIlroy, executive director of Crystal Wealth Partners.

“As an executor, you’ve got to organise everything from getting the gas bill paid and the service cut off, to selling cars and property,” says McIlroy. “Often, people are left searching through drawers and cupboards trying to find the right information. In fact, more than 50% of clients we speak with haven’t got this information together.”

In years gone by, that task – while onerous – may not have been too overwhelming. In today’s digital world, without having all of the information to hand, it’s virtually impossible.

“With many things going online, documents may be in the Cloud, on email or have never been downloaded from the provider’s website,” says John. “And, with the number of direct debits, subscriptions and memberships that people have today – most of which are managed digitally – you’ll never know if you’ve caught everything. That’s why it’s so important to record all of the necessary information and keep it in a secure place that your executor either knows about or will be given access to in the event of your passing.”

So, be kind to your executor and those others you leave behind, by recording the following information – otherwise, you’ll leave them playing detective for months on end.

▢    Your identity documents
From your birth certificate to your passport, marriage and/or divorce papers, and Centrelink and Medicare numbers, keep your ID documents together.

▢    Bank accounts
Record the BSB and account numbers for every account you have, as well as any credit cards, lines of credit, loans and mortgages. If you have bank accounts you rarely use, close them.

▢    Investments and real estate
Include the details of investments, shareholdings and real estate you have an interest in, as well as the details of any third parties – banks or solicitors, for example – who hold any further information.

▢    Direct debits
The details of any direct debits or regular payments need to be accessible so that they can be cancelled.

▢    Insurances
Collect all of your insurance policies, including home and contents insurance, car insurance and life insurance. Include details of policy numbers, insurer details and, if possible, certificates of insurance.

▢    Superannuation
Your most recent superannuation statements should also be included. If it is self-managed super, the deed and financial statements should be included. If you have completed a beneficiary nomination with your super fund, include a copy of it.

▢    Valuables and important documents
Name the location of important documents (such as certificates of title), valuables or personal items being held in safe custody. For any valuables in the home, include certificates of authenticity, receipts and records.

▢    Motor vehicles
Include the details of all vehicles you own, the registration plate, details of ownership and the VIN. Also include your certificate of registration, and ensure the service records are easily discoverable, too.

▢    Advisers
If you have an accountant, financial adviser, lawyer or other professional adviser include their contact details.

▢    Business details
If you have a business, include details of where the company records are kept, and any other information pertinent to the business.

▢    Email log-ins
Record your email addresses and log-ins so your accounts are accessible. If you have email accounts you don’t use, delete them.

▢    Social media profiles
Similarly with social media – your log-in details are needed to delete or archive your social media accounts, and, if necessary, to let your connections know of your passing.

▢    Computer log-ins
Note down the log-in details for your computers, too – your executor may need to access documents stored on your hard drive.

▢    Passwords
Note down the passwords and log-in details for every online account you have, including Cloud storage. Some of these accounts may have regular payments set up or data or documents stored in them, so it’s wise to get everything in order. There are a number of reputable, secure password management apps available today that keep your passwords in one place, and this could be something to look at.

▢    Letter of wishes
It is also good practice to write a letter of wishes if there are parts of your estate planning where you think it would be advantageous for beneficiaries and executors to explain why you have made certain decisions. The letter can be used to pass on details that might not otherwise be included in your will.

By carrying out all of this work now, and remembering to review and update every couple of years, you’ll ensure that your executor has a straightforward task – and doesn’t spend the rest of their life bristling at the very mention of your name.

If you would like to discuss any aspect of estate planning, speak with John or one of the team at Crystal Wealth today.

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