Estate Planning Q&A

estateplanningWhat happens if I die without a will?

Dying without a Will can be costly and can create added stress for your family at a time that is already difficult. In addition, you risk your estate being distributed according to strict government requirements rather than according to your wishes. This means you may also lose the choice of who benefits from your estate. It makes your estate more difficult to administer and it will take longer to be finalised, resulting in increased costs.

Why is it important to have an up-to-date Will?

Your Will is one of the most important documents you will ever sign because it is the one document that gives away almost everything you own. It is therefore important to ensure that your Will reflects your current wishes and distributes your estate in the most beneficial way.

What is a Power of Attorney?

It appoints a person (or persons) to carry out financial transactions on your behalf during your lifetime. A Power of Attorney can be ‘Enduring’ if you wish it to operate in the event that you lose your capacity to make financial transactions yourself.

Do I still need a Power of Attorney if all of my assets are held jointly with my partner?

Yes, you do. If you become unable to deal with your affairs, your partner does not automatically have the right to do so. An Enduring Power of Attorney will solve this problem as it allows your partner to deal with your financial and legal matters in a timely manner. For example, if you are in the process of selling your home and buying another and something happens to one of you, the other can still complete the transaction.

My daughter is 25, owns her own flat and is going overseas for two years backpacking. Should she organise for me to be her Power of Attorney?

While your daughter is out of the country, it is much harder to deal with her Australian affairs than when she is at home. For example, if she is leasing out her flat and there are new tenants, you can sign the lease agreements rather than have them sent to an obscure post office in your daughter’s next destination. You could also terminate her term deposit to send some extra money over to her and you can even file her tax return. Your daughter controls what powers and duties she gives you in her written authority instructions.

I want both my sons to be my Attorney (I don’t like to play favourites), but one travels a lot. Can just one of the boys deal with things if needed?

You can appoint your Attorneys jointly and severally which means they should do things together, but if one can’t, the other is still able to deal with your affairs. This gives you the most flexible arrangement.

What is an Enduring Power of Guardianship?

Where available, it appoints a person (or persons) to make lifestyle decisions for you if you cannot make them for yourself. This could include decisions about medical treatment and where you live.

Where can I go to get help?

For more information, please ask Berry Financial Services who can arrange a meeting for you with an Estate Planning Specialist.