Having a comprehensive and up to date Estate Plan is not a luxury but a necessity.
An out of date Will may result in your assets being distributed to the wrong people.
If you die without a Will, your spouse or partner will only get one third of your estate the children two thirds divided equally between them. The one third is unlikely to be sufficient for your spouse or partner to live on, which may not be what you wanted or intended. Consequently, it is so important for you to make a Will that states clearly that all of your assets are to go to your spouse or partner if that is what you want.
Your Will needs to be structured and worded very carefully in order to take into account your specific circumstances. We strongly advise you not to do your Will yourself by purchasing a Do-it-Yourself Will Kit. You are not a solicitor and your Will needs to be prepared by an Estate Planning solicitor to ensure that it is tailored to your specific circumstances and is properly signed and witnessed.
When there is no Will, family members often argue, which can lead to the family home being left vacant for months and bills unpaid. According to HHG Director and Litigator Murray Thornhill, these experiences can lead to family members taking each other to Court. “The worst result is when assets are spent on legal fees” he said. “By making a Will, you can allocate exactly what goes to whom and when. It is a much easier and cheaper process for all involved if you have a Will in place before you die.”
Having an Enduring Power of Attorney, Enduring Power of Guardianship and an Advance Health Directive (a Living Will) is also a very important part of your Estate Plan.
You appoint persons of your choice now (i) to look after your legal and financial affairs in your Enduring Power of Attorney called your donees and (ii) to make medical, personal and lifestyle decisions for you in your Enduring Power of Guardianship called your guardians.
In your Advance Health Directive you can choose now what forms of medical treatment you want or do not want down the track when you are unable to make these decisions yourself. All decisions made by you in your Advance Health Directive are given priority and cannot be changed by your guardians without a Court Order. You are advised to discuss your Advance Health Directive with your general practitioner.
Your Will, Enduring Power of Attorney, Enduring Power of Guardianship and Advance Health Directive must be signed by you when you have legal capacity and understand what they mean. Should you lose your legal capacity before having these documents prepared by your Estate Planning solicitor and signing them, then you have left it too late!
This is general information only, and does not constitute specific legal advice. If you would like further information in relation to this matter or other legal matters please contact our office on Freecall 1800 609 945 or email us now.