Wills & Estates

‘The Green Book’. What is it, and why do you need one?

Estate planning TGB lawyersKey estate planning documents

When it comes to estate planning, there are three key documents that everyone should have!  They are:

  • Will
  • Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)
  • Advance Care Directive (SA) (ACD) – and its equivalent: Advance Personal Plan (NT), Enduring Guardian (WA) and Advance Health Directive (QLD).

Your assets and liabilities

When preparing these estate planning documents, it is important to consider your assets and liabilities.

Firstly, this will assist your lawyer to provide you tailored, specific advice about how to structure your estate planning and any discrete issues that might need to be addressed.

Secondly, this information will greatly assist your executor, Attorney and/or Substitute Decision-Makers (authorised persons) to manage your affairs or administer your estate if you are unable to give them this information yourself.

This information could be collated in whatever way you find most appropriate and in a way that your authorised persons will be able to find and use easily.  You might call this your Important Documents File or your Estate Planning Folder… but I refer to it as a ‘Green Book’. I first heard the term “Green Book” used by an experienced lawyer, and I have adopted the term and used it ever since. I recommend you do too! I’m sure it has become apparent that a ‘Green Book’ is not an actual book – it is really an idea or a concept. In practice, your ‘Green Book’ can be a folder containing copies of documents, a piece of paper with information written on it or an email.

What should be in my ‘Green Book’?

However you choose to collate it, your ‘Green Book’ should include:

  1. Copy of your Will, EPA and/or ACD

You can always provide the originals of these documents to your authorised persons for their safe keeping, but you should always have a copy of your own. If our office has helped prepare your documents, we encourage you to keep the originals with us for safekeeping.

  1. Statements for Bank Accounts, Superannuation and Life Insurance Policies

These do not need to be updated monthly but could be reviewed if there are major changes. It serves as a source of information for your authorised persons to know who to contact and key information such as account numbers, etc.

  1. Share certificates and/or dividend statements

This information can be the hardest to locate if these documents are not kept. Specifically, you should keep documents with your complete Securityholder Reference Number (SRN) or Holder Identification Number (HIN) details. If you have a share broker, include their contact details.

  1. Funeral and burial/cremation arrangements and suggestions

You may elect to include your funeral and burial/cremation suggestions in your Will. However, executors commonly do not obtain the Will until after the funeral and burial/cremation has occurred. It is important to put these details in the ‘Green Book’ resource for your authorised persons so that your family/friends know your preferences, and do not have to guess.

  1. Passwords and security questions

If you have important information on your computer, such as emails or online accounts, etc, it is important that your authorised person can have access to this information at the appropriate time.  Make sure this is kept in a very secure way (such as a password manager account) to avoid the risks of valuable information falling into the wrong hands.

Get in touch!

If you’ve been putting off your estate planning needs, now is the time to give it some thought! Having a Will is one of the kindest things you can do for your family. And taking the steps to prepare your ‘Green Book’ can be a useful step you can take before you seek legal advice.

TGB Lawyers can handle all your estate planning needs and can make the process as smooth as possible for you. Get in touch with our Wills & Estates team today to talk about how we can help you.