Everybody over 18 years of age should have a valid Will, Power of Attorney (POA) and Advance Care Directive (ACD) as these are the cornerstone of any estate plan.
Powers of Attorney allow the person appointed by you to enter into transactions on your behalf.
Advance Care Directives appoint people known as Substitute Decision Makers to look after your medical and lifestyle matters once you cannot.
A person who does not have a valid POA and ACD will lose control of who looks after them and their affairs while they are alive. Neither of these documents operate after you die.
A Will is a document that, among other things lets your executors know how (once your liabilities are paid) you wish your assets to be distributed when you die. It also appoints the people who will look after your young children until they are old enough to look after themselves. There are some assets that may not form part of your estate – such as jointly owned assets, superannuation and interests in trusts. These last two need to be considered with separately.
Special attention to your estate plan is required if you own a business.
A person who dies without a valid Will is intestate and cannot control how their estate will be distributed when they die. If a person dies intestate, the government will decide who gets what from their estate in accordance with the then current legislation. A partnered person MUST NOT assume that their partner will get everything. They may not.
To be valid, the Will, POA and ACD must comply with formalities on preparation and signing. Failure to do comply with these formalities will probably mean that the document is not valid, or that a lot of money will have to be spent trying to proving that it is (mostly without success).
If you risk the DIY option – or fail to put your estate plan in place, then the government through SACAT can take control.
The best option is therefore to have documents professionally prepared, and then rest easy that you have done everything possible to look after yourself and your loved ones.
Contact us for an appointment.