The only way you can make sure what will happen to your assets after your death is to make a Will. If you don’t have a Will your assets will be divided according to a Government formula which is likely to achieve a result that you don’t want. You must safeguard against this happening.
A Will is a document that sets out who will receive your property and possessions in the event of your death. You can also name guardians for your children (under 18) to ensure their maintenance, education and future are sufficiently provided for.
A will is a constantly evolving document and should be updated whenever you experience a change in circumstances such as a marriage or divorce, birth or adoption of a child, or a significant change in your personal assets.
Although some people have made Wills themselves, by using a Will-Kit, this can be fraught with danger as the laws relating to Wills and Succession law can be complex. If a Will is not prepared or executed properly, this can lead to a Will being challenged by other interested parties in the Supreme Court. This often causes stress to all parties involved, which are already having to deal with the loss of a loved one and will consume a lot of their time which should be spent grieving. There are also significant costs involved when defending a claim in the Supreme Court, which will inevitably diminish the estate that the beneficiaries will receive under the Will.
Power of Attorney
A power of attorney is a practical and useful legal solution for times when you are unable to make decisions for yourself.
Making a power of attorney is a relatively straightforward process and not only does it give you peace of mind, by knowing that you are choosing the person to make decisions on your behalf, it also can avoid costly and complex legal problems if you cannot make decisions yourself.
It is easy to think that a power of attorney is not necessary, but with the increasing onset of Alzheimer’s disease in our ageing population and an increase in motor and other accidents, a power of attorney is a simple way of minimizing stress for both ourselves and our relatives.
A Power of Attorney can be used in a variety of circumstances. Some common examples include:
- If you were taking an extended trip interstate or overseas;
- If you need to sell your property but you are unable to sign the legal documents to transfer the property because of your absence;
- If, for a period of time, you are no longer be able to manage your own financial affairs;
Then you could appoint somebody to manage your financial affairs in your absence.
An Enduring Guardian is a person you appoint while you have legal capacity to make personal, health and lifestyle decisions on your behalf in case you should lose the capacity to make those decisions for yourself because of illness or disability.
The legal document involved is called an Appointment of Enduring Guardian. This document takes effect only if you lose the capacity to make your own decisions.
You are able to appoint more than one Enduring Guardian if you wish. You are also able to choose which decision-making areas you want your Enduring Guardian to have – these are called functions. You are able to give your Enduring Guardian as many or as few functions as you like. By way of example, you can authorise your Enduring Guardian to decide such things as where you may need to live or what medical treatment you should receive.
For more information on Wills, Powers of Attorney and Enduring Guardian, or to prepare these documents, contact of our office.