While the mercury is falling here in Newcastle, the Northern Hemisphere spring is in full swing. Many of our clients are travelling overseas to make the most of the Northern Summer. Now that we have transitioned into the ‘living with’ COVID phase, and international borders have reopened, it is wonderful to see that travel is starting to reappear on our clients’ agendas and we once again get to enjoy listening to their adventures.
If you’re thinking of travelling overseas, you no doubt have a big to-do list. Aside from working out your itinerary, sorting out what to pack and organising travel insurance, it’s also worthwhile considering whether your Estate Planning is in order.
Questions to consider before travelling overseas
1. Should I take out a Power of Attorney?
An attorney is someone you appoint to look after your financial or legal affairs. If you have a transaction or legal affairs that need to be handled in your absence, then a Power of Attorney is a very relevant document that you need to set up. This is particularly pertinent if you will be out of phone range or have difficulties getting access to the internet for a sustained period of time.
Classically, and understandably, clients appoint their spouses to be their attorneys in the first instance. Quite frequently spouses also travel together. In this instance, their appointment as one another’s Attorney isn’t that helpful. If you have urgent business that you know needs to be attended to whilst you’re away and your spouse is your appointed Attorney, we strongly recommend that you take out a separate Power of Attorney appointing another appropriate adult. This can be limited to the duration of your travel.
2. Do I have a Will?
Did you know that you are more than likely to be kicked to death by a donkey than die in a plane crash? However, it’s not uncommon, particularly if travelling overseas in a large family group, for the prospect of long haul plane travel to be the catalyst that incentivises a client to take out a Will.
Your Will ensures that your assets go to your chosen loved ones when you pass away. It also appoints an Executor, who has the job of administering the estate. Your Will essentially ensures that your estate is managed in the way you want it to be when you pass away.
If you do not have a Will, intestacy laws govern what is to happen with your estate. Whilst the result of the intestacy rules may be in keeping with your wishes, it is much more time-intensive to administer an intestate estate. Executing a Will could save your loved ones significant stress.
3. Do I need to update my Will?
When checking that your passports are all in date, it’s worthwhile also digging out the copy of your Will, to ensure it still adequately reflects your current circumstances. Here are some reasons why you might want to update your Will:
- Your relationship status has changed. You have divorced or repartnered. You may have remarried. Unless you have already addressed the specific issue, your marriage may have revoked your earlier Will.
- Your children are older and would be appropriate to take on the role of Executor.
- There has been a family estrangement.
- Your asset situation has changed meaning that some clauses in your existing will are now redundant.
4. Is my Binding Death Nomination still valid?
Has your superannuation company recently written to you about your Binding Death Nomination? Did you put this in a drawer in the kitchen and promptly forget about it?
Despite being called a ‘binding’ nomination, superannuation death nominations come up for review every three years or so. If they are not renewed, your pre-existing nomination lapses and your superannuation is not guaranteed to be paid out in accordance with your old nomination.
The decision about where this should be paid is then in the hands of your superannuation trustee. Whilst a super trustee generally pays a death benefit to the next of kin, this is not always guaranteed, and it can take the trustee many months to arrive at this decision.
Making sure your nomination is renewed saves your family the time and stress of waiting on the trustee to make an obvious decision. This is particularly pertinent if this money is needed to pay family expenses.
5. Does my Executor/Attorney know where to find important paperwork?
In the event of something untoward happening, your Executor/Attorney not only needs to know that they’ve been given the job but also where they can locate the original documents (or certified copies) enabling them to do that job.
You might also want to think about providing them with contact details of important family members, a list of your asset and liabilities, and how to gain access to important documents and online accounts.