Do you know which estate planning questions to ask?
Imagine you are sitting down and are having a conversation with your lawyer about your estate plan. You’re going through the usual estate planning questions, like ‘what do you want to do with your house?’ Everything is going well and you are enjoying planning for your future. But some estate planning questions are harder to answer, like ‘what will happen to your children if you die?’
Suddenly, the conversation turns grim. You don’t want to think about the grim reality that death involves and hope that the scenario will never arise. However, it’s always better to be prepared than to stick your head in the sand. Listed below, are some estate planning questions that you must ask or be asked when preparing your documents.
Estate Planning Questions
1/ Who will be your child’s guardian?
While death is a part of life, many of us hope that it won’t happen until we’re much older. Unfortunately, it can also happen when we are younger and have minor children. You may think it’s best to let your children decide who they’ll live with in the event of your death, but this is not a choice a minor child can make. If you fail to state a guardian, then the courts will do it for you based around what they think is best for your child. This may not be what you would have wanted – or what your children would want, either.
2/ What if everyone dies?
It’s a situation that is beyond awful to think about, but there are situations in which everyone in your immediate family dies at the same time; in a fire or a car crash for example. You may have decided that you want your entire estate to go in a trust for your children when they are older. However, what if your children die as well? It is an incredibly tough question, but it is something that needs to be answered.
3/ Have you missed anyone?
Perhaps it’s a child you’ve become estranged from, or children from a previous relationship. Certain family members have the right to contest your will if you leave them out. In Queensland, a will maker ought to make adequate provision for the following persons:
· Former spouse (in limited circumstances);
· A dependent (in limited circumstances).
You should be aware of this, and include reasons in your estate planning for the exclusion of a family member. Your estate planning lawyer should also outline whether litigation could occur after your death.
4/ What about your pets?
Yes, even your pets are involved in your estate plan. You should state who you wish to take care of your pets and even set aside money for people to be able to take care of your animals if you outlive them. If you have racehorses, you may wish for them to be sold. If you have cattle, you may wish for them to be transferred to another property. Whatever the case, you should let your lawyer know about what animals you are currently taking care of, even if it’s just your family dog.
5/ What previous health conditions do you have in your family?
If you have a history of dementia or Parkinson’s disease in your family, you may wish to set aside a Power of Attorney for when you are unable to make important decisions. This person will make health and financial decisions for you when you are unable too. You should be careful to choose someone who is trustworthy and honest.
6/ What are your passwords?
Most people save important documents on their computers, sign-in details to online bank accounts or have some photos they wish to keep on their phones. Therefore, as we live more of our lives in the digital realm, it’s important to provide your solicitor with the passwords to devices that hold important documents. You may receive bank statements or documents to your email, therefore it is also recommended that you provide your lawyer with whatever passwords are essential.
7/ Is there anything else?
If your lawyer asks if there is anything else that they may need to know, do not be afraid to speak up. Your estate planning is unique to your circumstances, and it should reflect you and your family.
If you are looking for someone to assist you in planning for your estate plan, do not be afraid to contact Groom & Lavers. We are happy to assist with whatever your needs are, and create an estate plan that suits your circumstances.