What is estate planning?

Estate Planning lawyer, Michelle Dixon explains all about estate planning.

1. What does an estate planning lawyer do?

I’m an estate planning lawyer and my role is to provide advice to our members, so they can make informed and confident decisions about their estate planning. I’ve worked in this area for nearly 20 years and use the experience of helping so many people, to now help our members and the people close to them.

2. So what exactly is estate planning?

It’s more than a will! A will is just one of many legal documents that capture your wishes.

Legal documents aside, it’s really all about you, your wishes and the choices you can make now for the future.

It’s about choosing who will make financial, medical, personal and lifestyle decisions, if through illness or injury, you can no longer make them yourself, and who will look after your estate and receive your assets when you die.

3. Why is estate planning important?

The simple answer is peace of mind!

Just making these legal documents will give comfort to you and the people close to you, and it avoids any surprises, confusion, stress, unnecessary expense and delay during a very difficult time.

If you unexpectedly lose capacity or die, then important decisions need to be made, often quickly. At this time the people close to you will be emotionally coming to terms with what has just happened.

By having these legal documents in place, it means that they will be legally able to step in and make these decisions and carry out your wishes.

4. What’s different about First State Super’s estate planning service?

We are the first super fund in Australia to own a legal practice that offers this service. And we specialise in estate planning services - wills, powers of attorney and medical health/care directors - so members know they’re dealing with a dedicated estate planning specialist.

Our members can choose the legal services they want, and our fees are fixed, so members know what they’re going to pay for.

We seem to be getting it right because most members I speak to are surprised that our process is not as time-consuming, expensive or difficult as they imagined.

We are people just like you and understand that no one wants to think about losing capacity or dying, let alone talking about it.

We believe it’s too important for you to put it in the too hard basket.

That's why we can help by guiding you through the process, step by step.

“Michelle’s empathy and understanding of our family situation was very reassuring. We have now completed this important process before retirement and feel assured that we are now future ready”. 

5. What’s the best thing about being an estate planning lawyer?

The best thing is helping people!

I love to meet, listen and learn about people and the people close to them, listen to stories, talk about feelings, fears, concerns and wishes - and then use my skills and experience to help by making legal documents which respect and capture these wishes.

It’s a privilege and an honour to help people to prepare for the future and to see, hear and feel the sense of relief and comfort from people when they sign their legal documents and know everything’s in place. 

Learn more about First State Super's estate planning services.