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graphic representation of personal chattels to be distributed after the owner passes: colours of yellow, orange and pink predominate showing shopping bags in trolley, computer screen, calculator, and other items - estate planning completeness when these are mentioned in a letter of wishes

Estate Planning completeness

 – A Letter of Wishes

Estate Planning completeness goes well beyond having a valid Will.  Although that document is central to estate planning, it is only one key document. A Letter of Wishes is another, though a less formal document.  It is a document that can avoid the often-expressed confusion about how testators want their personal chattels disbursed.

Before dealing with the form, and the likely content of such a letter, let’s position it in the estate plan.

Key documents to consider in your Estate Plan

As mentioned above, a valid Will is the key document – but there are several others that should be considered.  Including such of the following as are relevant to you makes the task of your Executor considerably clearer. We recommend –

  • An indexed folder to contain the relevant documents
  • A regularly updated list of assets, liabilities and status or regulatory compliance
  • Copies of recent:
    • bank statements,
    • superannuation memberships,
    • investments outside of superannuation,
    • property title deed (if one is held),
    • life insurance policies,
    • funeral bonds/ funeral benefit agreements,
    • rates notice,
    • electricity and gas bills,
    • vehicle registration and insurance – and
    • any other significant financial asset or liability
  • A schedule of financial contacts:
    • accountant,
    • financial adviser,
    • bank,
    • insurance broker,
    • lawyer (including the conveyancing lawyer through whom your home was purchased),
    • each including the name of the organisation, the personal adviser/ manager, and appropriate addresses and contact details
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Valid Last Will and Testament (and details of where, and by whom, the original signed document is stored) – and
  • A Letter of Wishes.

Whilst this list appears onerous, an annual check/ update should suffice to make the estate administration more efficient.  Many of the documents are well known and understood and should be readily available to you.  Where we have published information about them, they have been linked above.

The Letter of Wishes (LoW)

This document is an informal, non-binding document that should assist in making the work of estate administration more efficient.  It should clarify to your family survivors and beneficiaries what your preferences are in relation to matters such as:

  • Funeral arrangements (what service you would prefer be held; and where)
  • Preference as to disposal of your body
  • Assignment of personal chattels to nominated family members, friends, or charities
  • Destiny/ Care of pets

Because the LoW is not a legally binding document it can be in any format, as formal or informal as you prefer.  It is in order for corrections, deletions and other alterations to be made (legible please) at your convenience.  A LoW can be altered as frequently as suits you – but always re-file it into your Estate Plan binder/ folder.

What about a Video of Wishes (VoW)

There has been a trend in some families to attend to Estate Planning using video technology.  For this to be effective Estate Planning, care needs to be taken as to formalities to ensure the validity.  It may however be a suitable way for recording the wishes otherwise in a LoW.

One practical deterrent however is the inability to alter or edit without needing to record an entire new video.  Once past that concern, there remains the need to conveniently store and provide access to the recording.

Our team is available to assist in Estate Planning – and in Estate Administration

The experienced team of qualified advisers at Continuum Financial Planners Pty Ltd (ContinuumFP) is readily available to meet with you to discuss these matters.

To arrange a meeting with one of the team, call the office (on 07-34213456), or simply Make A Booking.

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