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Life admin 2021 — your legal health check

With many workplaces back in full swing and Australian kids back at school, 2021 is well and truly getting underway. Here’s a short legal ‘life admin’ checklist to run through before the daily grind leaves you with little time to spare.

1. Review your superannuation

When your retirement is decades away, your superannuation might not be high up on your list of priorities. Even though most people won’t access their superannuation before retirement, it’s still important to check in on your superannuation and how it’s performing.

Check your superannuation balance

Your superannuation statements may be mailed to you, or you can access them online depending on your preference. Generally, your super fund balance will be split between employer contributions, personal contributions and any roll-over from your previous account.

Employers must pay workers who earn more than $450 a month superannuation, which is currently 9.5% of an employee’s ordinary workings. If you aren’t seeing the superannuation payments from your employer you expect, here’s what you can do.

Is insurance in your superannuation worth it?

Almost all superannuation funds offer insurance policies to members when they open an account. The main three policies offered are typically:

  • Life cover, also known as death cover, this policy compensates your beneficiaries, usually family members, if you die or have a terminal illness.
  • Total and Permeant Disability (TPD) provides financial support if you are seriously disable, preventing you from working in a job for which you are qualified.
  • Income protection insurance provides you an income stream for a specific period if you are unable to work due to temporary disability, injury or illness.

To determine if an insurance policy is right for your age, career and income, it’s helpful to speak to a financial advisor who can advise you on your options.

More than one superannuation account?

A common misconception when starting a new job, is that you may need a new superannuation account. If you’ve got multiple superannuation accounts, you could be paying fees for several overlapping insurance policies, which will reduce your returns. Luckily, consolidating your superannuation funds is easy and straight forward — you can do so through MyGov, or your preferred superannuation fund.

2. Was your work or business impacted by COVID 19?

The coronavirus pandemic has caused enormous shifts in how Australia’s workplaces operate, with few businesses, employers and employees unaffected.

Workplace changes due to COVID-19

Working from home, salary freezes and cuts, JobKeeper eligibility — many employment conditions have been changed since the pandemic began. We recognise the mental, emotional, and financial toll this can take. If you are facing a tough situation at work as a result of COVID-19, it’s important to understand your employee rights, and the options that are available to you.

Our Employment Law experts are offering advice on coronavirus-related employment issues at half price. With an understanding of the forms of protection that exist to safeguard employees from unfair and unlawful treatment in the workplace during a pandemic, you can regain some control.

Business closed by COVID-19

2020 was a catastrophic year for business owners affected by COVID-19. If you, like thousands of other businesses, have had a business interruption claim rejected, it’s important to note that you may still be eligible for compensation. Check your entitlements today using our free business interruption insurance claim checker.

3. Have you updated your will?

If you have recently made an investment like purchasing a house, experienced a marriage or divorce, or welcomed a new member to your family, you should consider reviewing your will.

Reviewing your will means you have full control over how your assets and liabilities (which form your estate) are distributed once you’ve passed away. If your will is outdated, it can leave uncertainty, with the result being expensive litigation for the loved ones you leave behind.

When you review your will, you should reflect on who you want to manage your affairs (your executor), and where you want your estate to go (your beneficiaries) when you pass away.

How to choose beneficiaries

Beneficiaries are the people who will inherit your estate. A beneficiary does not have to be a family member — you can choose organisations like a charity or a close friend. It is important to consider when reviewing your will how your family, or list of beneficiaries can change. Deaths, marriages and divorces can all influence how your estate will be distributed.

You can choose to gift specific assets to particular beneficiaries, give percentages of the same asset to different beneficiaries or simply divide your entire estate among a number of beneficiaries.

How to choose an executor

An executor is the person or persons you choose to manage your affairs once you’ve passed away. They’ll organise your funeral, identify your assets and put your will into effect. Your executor or executors can be a friend, family member or a professional, such as a solicitor or an accountant. You can also select a reserve executor, who will be named executor in the event that your first named executors are unable (due to illness, injury or death) to act.

It’s important to choose the right executor, given how much responsibility you are entrusting them with. Consider the personality of your potential executor. They need to be competent at the role and they need to be trusted with your assets.

What about your Enduring Power of Attorney?

Another important document that you should review is your Enduring Power of Attorney. You can appoint an Enduring Power of Attorney to control personal (including health related) and financial matters where you are unable to, due to travel, injury or illness.

Stuck on your legal affairs? We can help

When you let your legal life admin slip for a few months, or even years, it can be stressful even thinking about your to-do list.

Our lawyers can offer you expert legal advice and assistance, whether you’re stuck on your will, trying to access your superannuation policies, or been affected by COVID-19.

To find out how we can help you, contact us today.

Written by Shine Lawyers. Last modified: February 19, 2021.

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