Essential estate planning documents
Irrespective of your age or circumstances, you should have in place two key estate planning documents to ensure the timely management of your affairs in the event you pass away or are incapacitated. By putting these two documents in place, you can ensure that your interests and the interests of your family and loved ones are protected.
The only way to ensure that your assets are managed in accordance with your wishes when you pass away is to have in place a valid will. If you die without a will, your estate will be dealt with in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy, which is essentially a pre-determined distribution of your assets in accordance with legislation. A will also provides family members with a clear statement of your wishes and can provide some bulwark against litigation in the event a family member feels entitled to more than they receive.
Whilst draft-your-own will kits are common in newsagents, only with a will properly drafted by a lawyer can you obtain some certainty that your wishes will be carried out.
Enduring Power of Attorney
An enduring power of attorney (EPA) is a legal document that appoints someone or a group of people to act on your behalf in the event you become incapacitated and unable to make decisions for yourself. The EPA can limit the scope of the power but usually covers both financial, personal and health matters. Further, you can place certain rules on decision making and when the EPA will come into effect. An EPA ceases to have effect if you pass away, hence the requirement for a properly drafted will.
In the event you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself and do not have an EPA in place, depending on the type of decision to be made, the decision may be made informally or someone (most likely a member of your family) will be required to apply to a tribunal to become your guardian and statutory attorney. In some cases however, the Adult Guardian will be appointed to act on your behalf.
Both a will and EPA provide the certainty and comfort that in the event of the unthinkable happening, your affairs will be handled in a way that is consistent with your wishes and removes a significant burden that can be placed on your loved ones. For advice on wills and EPAs please contact Certus Legal Group.