In today’s fast paced life we often forget about being prepared should the unexpected happen. Over the many years of practice in the Cessnock/Hunter Valley region we have counselled clients between 18 and 80 on the need to ensure adequate legal cover to protect your wishes in the event of death or disability. Due to the aging population in Australia currently it’s important that you become familiar with your options. Our lawyers can guide you through your options, potential issues and litigation that can arise.
Book a consultation with us so we can overview your options in relation to Wills, Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardianships.
Wills – a Will is a legal document that clearly sets out how you want your estate (property, finances and belongings) to be distributed when you pass away. It is recommended that anyone over the age of 18 prepares a Will. After completing your Will you should review and update it when there are major changes in your life such as getting married or divorced, having children and buying a house or business. When preparing a Will you appoint an Executor who is the person you choose to administer your estate after you die. Your Executor should be someone you consider as capable, trustworthy and reliable, as well as having the ability to remain independent in the event of a dispute. Should you pass without a Will (i.e. Intestate) your assets will be divided by a pre-determined government formula that ensures certain family members receive a defined percentage of your assets. If you are not survived by any relative then the State Government will receive your assets.
Powers of Attorney – a Power of Attorney is a legal document where you appoint an Attorney to manage your financial affairs such as signing legal and binding documents on your behalf. The Attorney cannot make decisions about your lifestyle, medical treatment or welfare. The Power of Attorney ceases upon your passing. There is a difference between an ordinary Power of Attorney and an Enduring Power of Attorney in that the ordinary Power of Attorney ceases to have an effect if a person loses mental capacity, whereas an Enduring Power of Attorney continues after you lose the capacity to mange your own affairs. It’s important to understand that your Power of Attorney can be cancelled (revoked) at any time if you have capacity to do so.
Enduring Guardianship – an Enduring Guardian is a person you choose to make decisions on your behalf in the areas of lifestyle and health such as accommodation and services. An Enduring Guardian only comes into effect if you can no longer make decisions for yourself due to incapacity. The appointment of an Enduring Guardian can avoid conflict and distress for you and your family and ensures you are in control of who makes decisions on your behalf. An Enduring Guardian cannot make, or alter, your Will and nor can they make decisions about your money or assets. They also cannot consent to medical or dental treatment if you refuse it. Given the important nature of this decision-making role, the person you appoint should understand their responsibilities as a substitute decision maker and be familiar with your views and previous lifestyle choices.