If you’ve ever had to deal with the estate of an elderly relative, you might appreciate how much work is involved. If you have children of your own who might have to deal with your affairs in the event of a sudden accident or an incapacitating illness, you’d do well to have everything prepared to avoid unnecessary stress.

Clear out the man cave/shed

One of our neighbours years ago decided to restore a 1930s car. In 30 years, he accumulated parts, tools and other hardware that filled a double garage. When he succumbed to heart disease, his sons were faced with a mountain of bits and pieces. Most of it was metal so they could take it to a scrap metal dealer. However, they knew that aficionados would appreciate some key car parts. That meant sorting through the mountain. No child should have to deal with that. So if you’re a bit of a hardware hoarder, at least label the good stuff from the items that ‘might come in handy one day’.

Clear the craft room

As above. You might have accumulated many sets of knitting needles, yarn, fabric, notions or art materials. So every year, go through what you have and give away anything you know you’re unlikely to use again. That way, the items will go to people who appreciate them.

Bring out the unused wedding presents

If you got married in the 1950s or the 1960s (or even the ‘70s), it’s likely you received wedding gifts that you have stored carefully in the top cupboard, waiting for an opportunity to use them. While you’re still young, dig them out and use the good stuff or give them away. It’s much easier for you to make the decision rather than your children having to weigh up sentimental attachment versus ruthless disposal.

Write a will and appoint an executor

This might seem premature but accidents happen. So write your will and give your children the opportunity to choose favourite items like furniture or jewellery. And while we’re on the subject, we suggest appointing an independent executor. It will save any family arguments later.

List all pertinent information and keep it updated

You can find forms online to help you put your affairs in order but a simple list or spreadsheet is a good start.

You’ll need to list the basics:

  • Place and date of birth
  • Mother’s full maiden name
  • Father’s full name
  • Date and place of marriage
  • Bank account details
  • Solicitor’s name, address and phone number
  • Accountant’s name, address and phone number
  • Close friends and family to be notified.

Then make another list that includes location, contact or log-in details for:

  • House or unit title
  • Car ownership and registration
  • Bank safety deposit box
  • Direct debits
  • Energy and gas supplier (account number and contact details)
  • Health insurance details
  • House and contents insurance
  • Car insurance
  • Gardener
  • Pool maintenance
  • Home help
  • nbn service provider
  • Strata manager (if you live in a unit)
  • Stockbroker
  • Shares or units in a managed fund (or bank account from which you trade)
  • Any online bank accounts
  • Any social media accounts
  • Superannuation

You might also choose to grant a Power of Attorney to one of your children so he or she can take care of business should you be incapacitated temporarily.

I believe it’s best to get this out of the way while we’re still young and relatively healthy. The process might take a couple of hours but it’s one less thing for your children to worry about. After all, you love them and don’t want to cause them more pain than you need, do you?

Can we help with advice on downsizing?

Having navigated the home sale and downsizing process not only for our real estate clients but also for members of our own family, it’s an area in which we’ve amassed a wealth of knowledge. So don’t hesitate to seek out our help – no obligations.

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Michael & Rhiff Larkings

As a specialist team, focused on Caringbah South and the surrounding suburbs, we've been providing real estate services for over 20 years. With numerous real estate awards to our name, we're in the top echelon of licensed real estate agents in the Sutherland Shire. We regularly set new street, suburb and area sales records. Most importantly, we understand that real estate is a ‘people’ business where the development of relationships and trust, with both our clients and purchasers, is vital to achieving your all-important sales result.

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