Family Finance

by Crown Financial Ministries,

Instructions after your death

If anything happened to your health or life, would family & friends be able to handle your affairs on your behalf?


Keep the following original legal documents in a safe place (lawyer, safe deposit box, Will Bank or with a trusted person) to prevent copies being tampered with or lost.

Your will: A formal document instructing the distribution of your assets. A will may also appoint an Executor and appoint guardianship of minor children on death of both spouses. Check the website of the Public Trustee of your state of residence for legal requirements. Consider keeping your original will in a safe deposit box, in your lawyer's fireproof vault or with the Public Trustees of WA (free to WA residents if deposited personally) or Victoria (incurs a small fee). Or keep the original at home and hand copies to trusted friend(s) or financial advisor (combined with your lawyer's complete contact details).

Letters of instructions: stored with a copy of your will, this document expresses funeral wishes and distribution of personal items. It will also detail the location of financial/health records and statements and perhaps specify the location of safe deposit boxes. Write separate letters to your lawyer, spouse, will executor and trusted friend about where specific keys are stored.

Enduring power of attorney: Information on drafting an enduring power of attorney (continuing after death) can be found on your state's Dept of Attorney General website.

Give a signed copy of the power of attorney to the person named to act on your behalf in financial matters if you are unable to do so. Also give a signed copy to your lawyer, a trusted family member or friend, and keep a copy in a safe place in your home - with your copy of the will.

Other documents to keep with a trusted friend or lawyer: trust records, health care proxy and living will (regarding medical treatment if you cannot write or speak), medical information (medication, allergies, medical conditions and hospital records from the last five years). Also inform a trusted person of location of: tax records, lease/rent/mortgage/loan agreements, all insurance policies, bank accounts, prepaid funeral arrangements, and stock and superannuation statements.


Make a detailed list of assets, account numbers and location of relevant documents. Keep original list in a safe place. This may include: accounts of retirement/bank/brokerage, deeds/titles/certificates, outstanding loans/debts, life insurance policies, a family tree, birth/death/marriage/passport records, personal assets including serial numbers.


Designate the professionals you use or choose to use, (eg. your lawyer, accountant, doctor, etc). Keep this list with original and all copies of your will. A trusted friend or family member should keep an additional copy.

Make sure you revise the above legal documents and asset list annually. More info can be found by searching for "Wills and powers of attorney" at or visiting (NSW residents).

Please seek your own legal advice.

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