Wills & Estate Planning
Estate planning, which includes but is not limited to Wills and Powers of Attorney, is critical for individuals from all walks of life. It includes making sure appropriate arrangements are in place to take care of your loved ones should you unexpectedly pass away.
Estate planning may also involve maximising the value of the estate by introducing strategies to reduce taxes and other expenses. It may be as simple or complex as your needs dictate. Estate planning involves:
A Will is possibly the most important document you will ever prepare and whether your estate is large or small, we encourage you to have a valid Will. A Will clearly sets out how you want your money, property and possessions distributed should you pass away.
Powers of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is just as important as a Will. While a Will operates on your death, a Power of Attorney operates during your life. A Power of Attorney is a legal document authorising another person, such as a trusted friend or relative, to act on your behalf in your affairs. This person is known as your attorney.
There are two types of Power of Attorney:
General Power of Attorney
A General Power of Attorney gives authority to the attorney to deal with your assets, including for example bank accounts, property and shares. An attorney should be someone who you trust and who is over 18 years old. A General Power of Attorney ceases to operate if you pass away or lose the mental capacity to make your own decisions and it does not authorise the attorney to make health decisions for you.
Enduring Power of Attorney
An Enduring Power of Attorney is used to appoint a trusted person or people (over the age of 18) to make financial and/or personal decisions on your behalf. It differs to a General Power of Attorney as it continues to operate after you have lost the mental capacity to make your own decisions. An Enduring Power of Attorney ceases if you pass away.
Advance Health Directives
An Advance Health Directive is a document that deals with your future health care and enables you to give directions about your medical treatment for times when you are unable to. For example, if you are unconscious or unable to communicate your wishes due to severe illness. Before completing or signing an Advance Health Directive you will need to discuss same with your Doctor who will need to sign off on it.
A Testamentary Trust is a type of trust drafted into a Will. The Testamentary Trust only comes into existence upon your death for the benefit of your beneficiaries. A Trustee, who you appoint to administer and control the Trust, manages the Trust assets and ensures your wishes are met. The benefits of a Testamentary Trust are:
- providing flexibility for asset distribution in your Will;
- ongoing asset protection for your loved ones; and
- ongoing tax advantages.
Should you be physically unable to attend our offices we are more than happy to arrange an in home visit to ensure your needs are met with minimal discomfort to you.
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Wills & Estate Planning Team
The Wills & Estate Planning team consists of:
the best advice begins with
THE RIGHT LAWYER
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document setting out:
- who you wish to control the distribution of your estate (the executor);
- who you wish to distribute your estate or assets to; and
- if you have children under the age of 18, who you wish to be the guardian of those children.
Why do I need a Will?
A Will puts you in charge of how your money, property and possessions are distributed after you pass away. It also gives you peace of mind that your family will be taken care of according to your wishes.
What will happen if I die without a Will?
Dying without a valid Will is called intestacy or dying intestate. If you don’t have a will when you die, your money, property and possessions will be shared out according to the laws of intestacy instead of your wishes. This can mean they pass to someone you hadn’t intended, or that someone you want to pass things on to ends up with nothing.
How old do I need to be to make a Will?
You need to be at least 18 years of age and of sound mind to have a Solicitor make a Will for you.
What does an executor do?
The executor is the person or persons that you nominate to be in charge of the administration of the estate following your death. Usually the executor will be a family member or a trusted advisor, such as your accountant or Solicitor. The executor’s role is to distribute your estate in accordance with your wishes.
Power of Attorney FAQs
How do I cancel or revoke a Power of Attorney?
A person who has appointed another person to act as their attorney can cancel or revoke a Power of Attorney so that the person authorised can no longer act on their behalf, provided that they have capacity. It is important to revoke a Power of Attorney in writing by having your Solicitor complete a Revocation of Power of Attorney and providing a copy of it to the attorney. After a Power of Attorney is revoked all copies of the Power of Attorney in the attorney’s possession should be returned to you or your Solicitor.