FESTIVE season celebrations lead in to a busy season for deaths, making now an opportune time to get your financial affairs in order.
Estate planning specialist Natalie Abela from law firm Cowell Clarke said the coming months were the busiest time of the year to deal with wills and estates.
“Shortly after Christmas and new year we find a lot of elderly people do pass, they are almost waiting to see family members over that period,” she said.
“So there’s an influx with estates and we see that every year.”
Ms Abela recommended getting professional help to write a will. The costs for one covering basic affairs start at about $500.
“It’s important to see a solicitor in relation to drafting those documents. I wouldn’t recommend a home will kit because there’s a lot of room for error with those documents,” she said.
“If you die without a will you die intestate, so someone will need to put up their hand to take letters of administration in your estate.
“This could be people you don’t trust and you have no say because you’ve passed.”
Ms Abela said if you died without a will, your assets would be distributed according to legislation which ran the risk that your “extended family members don’t get anything”.
Financial comparison website comparethemarket.com.au compiled a few simple steps to get your financial affairs sorted in case you become seriously ill or die. These include:
• Appoint an enduring power of attorney who can make decisions on your behalf.
* Organise your will and make sure it is up to date.
* Gather all your documents including birth and marriage certificates (if applicable) and insurance documents.
* Get all your passwords/PIN numbers together. Leave them with a family member or store them safely.
* List all your memberships so these can be easily cancelled.
* Discuss with your family members your will.
* Take out life insurance if you haven’t already.
* Discuss funeral arrangements.
Comparethemarket.com.au spokeswoman Abigail Koch said despite “people not wanting to talk about it,” it was vital to have all your affairs sorted in case the worst did happen.
“It’s important you have control over how your assets are divided up,” she said.
“Use your Christmas break if you have a couple of hours to spare to think about how you would like your estate divided up should you die.”
Originally published as The dangers of not having a will