Money musts before you die
Don't leave behind a financial mess
It might be hard to imagine now but what if something were to
happen to you? Would your loved ones be taken care of or would they
face a tough financial future?
The greatest gift you can leave your family is having your
affairs sorted out before you go.
If you have made plans, do your loved ones know where to find
them? Would they know what assets you have, what insurance policies
are in place or how to access your superannuation or life
Here are some simple steps you can take to protect the important
people in your life.
Sort out your assets and bank
Review your assets and work out what can be passed directly to
beneficiaries and what will have to go through your
For example, if you own a property with a partner as joint
tenants, the property will automatically transfer to your partner
in the event of your death. The same property owned solely by you
will become an estate asset and will need to be dealt with in your
Check with your bank if your bank accounts can be accessed by
your partner when you die and how they could get access.
Check your life
If you have people in your life who rely on you for financial
support, such as a partner or dependent child, having life
insurance is one way to make sure their financial needs are taken
Life insurance, also known as death cover, will pay a lump sum
to your beneficiaries in the event of your death. This money can be
used to pay off your mortgage or other personal debts or provide an
income for your dependents. See our life insurance webpage for more
You may also want to consider disability cover, which will pay a
lump sum if you become totally and permanently disabled. If this
were to happen, not only would you lose your income, but you may
have high care costs. See our total and permanent
disability webpage for more details.
You may have life insurance through super
You may already have some cover within your superannuation fund.
There are many advantages to getting your life insurance
beneficiaries on your super and life insurance
You should regularly review the nominated beneficiaries on your
super and life insurance especially if there is a change in your
For example, if you separate from your partner you may change
your mind about who gets your super.
Make sure you understand the tax implications of your
beneficiary nominations. For example, a super benefit may pass to a
spouse tax-free but may be taxable in the hands of adult children.
See our super death benefits webpage for more details.
Involve your partner
If your partner is not involved with your finances, try to get
Introduce them to your accountant, financial adviser, lawyer, or
any other professional you use to help manage your affairs. If you
don't already, consider taking your partner to any face-to-face
meetings so that they will become familiar with the person and
where they are located.
If something unexpected were to happen to you your partner
should at least have a basic idea of what assets and liabilities
you have and who helps you manage them.
If you are managing your own affairs, consider leaving detailed
instructions on how to access joint assets such as bank and
investment accounts in a secure place. Do not store passwords with
log in details.
Write or update your will
Having a valid will so that your assets are given to the people
you nominate is very important.
Review your will on a regular basis or whenever your
circumstances change. Be aware of events that may invalidate your
will, for example, a new marriage will void your will.
You will find more information on our wills & powers of
Guardianship of children
A will can also contain details of who will take legal
guardianship of dependent children should something happen to both
parents. This is usually someone you trust to raise your children
in a similar way to how you are raising them, and someone who has
the emotional and financial capacity to take on the
Setting up a trust
If you have a lot of assets or a complicated family structure
you may consider using a trust to hold your assets. A family trust
can be created while you are still living. A testamentary trust is
created by instructions in your will, in the event of your death.
testamentary trusts for more information.
You should ask a legal professional to check your estate plan to
make sure it is valid.
Keep your important
To make sure the person managing your estate can easily locate
all of your financial information, set up a file listing all your
assets, liabilities, insurance policies and other financial
The file should include all relevant identification details
including financial institution, account number, name of the
account, policy provider, policy number, date account opened or
policy commenced, and any other information that may be required to
accurately identify you or your account.
It may be helpful to include the latest account statement in the
file. Don't forget to include financial products where the
correspondence is received electronically.
Consider keeping a hard copy and an electronic copy of this
file. Keep the electronic copy in a secure data file and the hard
copy in a locked filing cabinet that only the person managing your
estate has access to. Do not include passwords or other access
details that only you should know.
Here's a full
list of all the important documents you should put in a safe
If you develop a plan and put it in place,
you'll make sure your loved ones will be taken care of after you
Last updated: 19 Jun 2015