The Bucket List is a movie about a list of things that two men plan to achieve before they die.
But there’s another kind of bucket list – the things you need to take care of before you die. We avoid talking about them yet they are the things you can do to make life better for a whole bunch of people, including your spouse, kids, employees and yourself:
1. Will: usually drafted by your solicitor, a will is a document that sets out the distribution of your assets and the guardianship of your kids when you die. Anyone who owns property, has children or owns a business should have a will, because if you don’t, your assets will be distributed by a court-appointed administrator. A will doesn’t just give you control, it removes expensive uncertainty for those you leave behind.
2. Insurance: that protects you in the event of death, illness or disability. There are different types: life insurance, which pays an amount to named beneficiaries upon your death; total and permanent disability insurance (TPD), which pays an income if an accident disables you; trauma cover, which pays a lump sum for diagnoses of nominated illnesses; and income protection insurance which provides a percentage of your income for a certain time should you be rendered unable to work. They should be regularly reviewed to ensure they are sufficient for their intended purposes.
3. Power of Attorney: if you’re left mentally incapacitated by an accident, but there’s still a business to run or a family to provide for, you need a power of attorney. It’s a document that appoints a person to act on your behalf even though you’re still alive. It allows your attorney to perform many tasks, including debt collection, voting at meetings, operating bank accounts and carrying out delegated functions (but not personal, medical or lifestyle decisions). An enduring power of attorney, unlike an ordinary power of attorney, will continue to operate even if the donor loses full legal capacity.
4. Superannuation death benefit: every superannuation fund member must nominate who gets their superannuation when they die. You can nominate that your retirement savings go to your estate or you can specify which percentage of your super goes to whom. Superannuation can be a large sum of money and it’s important that you stay up to date with the listed beneficiaries of this asset.
5. Vault: consider having a ‘vault’ that contains all your passwords and user names for online applications and security devices such as alarms and locks. It should be kept in a safe place with access granted to the power of attorney or executor so they can close down accounts and access secure areas. Your vault should be secured in a safe or a deposit box.
This is hardly the bucket list you write a movie about, but it is the kind of thing that responsible adults have to attend to. Even if it seems like a drag to you, someone else might thank you for it.
* Mark Bouris is the Executive Chairman of Yellow Brick Road, a financial services company offering home loans, financial planning, accounting & tax and insurance. Email Mark with any queries you may have or check for your nearest branch.