Sophie Cohen 

The holidays are a time to be with your family and friends and whether you celebrate Christmas or not, you are never too old to get excited about the magic of this time of year. Even once your children are all grown up and no longer believe in Santa, there is nothing like watching their faces light up when they see what presents have been left for them under the tree.

Now the below Christmas gift might not fill your young adult child with the same joy as a Tiffany necklace or the latest iPhone, but anyone over the age of 18yo should have an estate plan in place.

25th December 2020

Dear Laura,

Congratulations on your recent 18th birthday! You can now vote, buy alcohol, sign contracts, get a tattoo, buy a can of spray paint and …. make a Will.

Now making a Will might seem like something just for old people, and unfortunately in Australia it is often only once people are confronted with their own mortality that they are prompted to deal with these issues. However, even a young adult living carefree and at home, should have an estate plan in place.

This year my gift to you is an ‘estate plan’. What this involves is preparing a Will directing how your property is to be distributed when you die, appointing replacement decision makers under enduring power of attorney and medical treatment decision maker documents, and making sure your superannuation benefits are directed where you want them to go. There are lots of good reasons to put this in place, and you’re lucky you have a whizz bang estate planning lawyer for a Mum that can do this for you.

Firstly, you have more assets to your name than you think. There is super and your life insurance through your super, which amounts to a death benefit of some $265,000. There is the $12,000 car you received on your 18th birthday. There is the $18,000 in your bank account accumulated through monthly contributions from your parents since you were born. And there is the $77,000 share portfolio you received from your Grandfather when he died.

Secondly, if you don’t have a Will you cannot control who receives your assets when you die. The laws of intestacy will provide they go to your parents by default, but it is possible in the future that your boyfriend could substantiate a claim as your ‘domestic partner’. My understanding is that it is actually your siblings you would like to benefit from your estate, and so this would need to be provided for in a Will.

Thirdly, it makes for a much more seamless administration process if you appoint key people you trust to look after your affairs under your Will if you die, or to make financial, personal or medical treatment decisions for you if you are incapacitated.

And finally, there are some things you own that may not be worth a lot from a monetary perspective, but you would like to go to particular people when you die. For example, you may want to ensure your gorgeous black lab Shadow is looked after by your Aunty Lucy. You may want to give the bracelet you received from your Great Nanna to your sister Claire. And you may want to ensure that decisions about your photos, music and other digital assets are made by your boyfriend.

Please accept this gift with the heartfelt and loving intention with which it is given, to give you and your parents the peace of mind that if something happens to you (touch wood) that they can carry out your wishes.

Merry Christmas!


P.S. A hot chocolate in your Rudolph Christmas mug is in the kitchen waiting for you!