Get Your Affairs In Order

Estate planning, appointing an Executor, and putting legal documents in place is all part of Planning Well

Estate planning, appointing an Executor, and putting legal documents in place is all part of Planning Well

Dying well also relates to the legacy that you leave: how well you have been able to get your affairs in order before you die so that your loved ones know exactly what to do and aren’t left with a mess to sort through.

Getting your affairs in order will include all or at least some of the following:

  • writing your Last Will & Testament;
  • appointing an Enduring Power of Attorney to take care of your finances when you can’t;
  • appointing an Enduring Guardian to take care of your health and wellbeing when you can’t;
  • writing an Advanced Care Directive and appointing a Person Responsible/Substitute Decision Maker to advocate on your behalf with medical decisions;
  • completing a Binding Death Benefit Nomination for your superannuation funds;
  • opting in to a Prepaid Funeral Plan or Funeral Bond or alternative to cover your funeral costs;
  • cleaning up your accumulated mess (your cupboards, shed or garage);
  • writing your Burial/cremation/memorial preferences,
  • and talking with your family about your decisions.

It’s important to put your instructions and communications about all aspects of your life (not just what you are bequeathing others) in a place that those left behind can easily access.

10 Ways to get your affairs in order

  1. Make sure several people you trust know where to find the instructions you have written down (for example in your Rest Easy Journal) and where to find your important documents (Birth Certificate etc.). Prepare a special box, filing cabinet, safe or some central place to keep important documents. This is also handy if there is a fire because you can ‘grab it and go’.
  2. It’s a good idea to consult a solicitor to ensure your Last Will and Testament is legally binding. This is particularly important for blended families. If you’re cash-strapped, approach the Public Trustee in your state/territory for advice.
  3. Keep your Will up to date and review it annually or after a major life event such as a separation, divorce, marriage, birth of a child etc.
  4. Learn what an Executor of your Will does and discuss your intention to make a person an Executor, Power of Attorney or Enduring Guardian with them so they understand the full implications of accepting this role. (It’s a BIG one.)
  5. Create an Advance Care Plan with your doctor and get them to help you fill in an Advanced Care Directive; discuss its contents with all your medical team and your family.  Appoint an Enduring Guardian or ‘Person Responsible’ and ensure that person understands and will advocate for your wishes and have them sign the directive stating this.
  6. Register for body, tissue and/or organ donation well in advance if this is a part of your final wishes. Carry a copy of your organ donor card with you and add that information to your driver’s license.
  7. Make sure your funeral prepaid plan/insurance and life insurance are all up to date and that you have adequate coverage.
  8. Think about how you would like your funeral or memorial service to reflect your life and discuss this with your family, church minister or funeral celebrant.
  9. Get rid of your mess now! Annual clean-outs (be ruthless) are vital to make sure your important keepsakes don’t end up at the tip. Donate items of value to charities, clubs and your loved ones. Put important things (photos, medals, family history) in clearly marked boxes and regularly clean out that shed!
  10. Make peace with everyone. Say what you want to say long before your life ends, and gather loving and positive memories for your loved ones to remember you by.

Getting your affairs in order creates peace of mind for everyone concerned and less work for those left behind.

The Living Better; Dying Well newsletter provides information and links to more detailed information on how to get your affairs in order. Sign up here to receive the newsletter free. The Rest Easy Kit includes this information as a bonus.