When it comes to putting your affairs in order, there is no time like the present. Sadly, too many people die, or become incapacitated, without having done so – usually because they just didn’t find the time to get around to doing it.
Remember, you could be involved in a tragic accident or adverse health event tomorrow – and you could be leaving your grieving loved ones with enormous and unnecessary problems to deal with.
Things to be addressed in your lifetime
There are three types of documents you need to consider having prepared for you:
- Making a Will. Most people have some idea about what a Will is. In short it is a legal document which covers what happens when you die. It has two main purposes – the first being to appoint the people who will take legal responsibility to deal with your estate (the executors) and the second being to dictate who receives the benefits of your assets and payment of your debts and testamentary expenses;
- An Enduring Power of Attorney. This, and the Advance Care Directive form, make up what some people refer to as “a Living Will” because these documents take effect when you are still alive and cease to have effect when you die but deal with your legal position during time. Just as the appointment of executors gives another person or persons the power to look after your affairs on your death, an Enduring Power of Attorney gives another person or persons (the “Attorney” or “Attorneys”) the power to deal with your legal affairs whilst you are alive. It mainly is used in respect of the financial side of things – and is usually put in place to cover the situation where you lose legal capacity through accident or illness. However, it can also be put in place to allow another person to carry out your wishes where age or infirmity makes it difficult for you to do it yourself;
- An Advance Care Directive appoints another person or persons (usually, but not necessarily, the same people who you appoint as your Attorneys under the Enduring Power of Attorney) to deal with those parts of your affairs that the Enduring Power of Attorney does not. Its major use is in respect of medical treatment and accommodation.
(Prior to July 2014 you could also put in place appointments known as an Enduring Power of Guardianship and/or a Medical Power of Attorney. Whilst you cannot make new versions of these documents, those documents prepared before that date remain valid. They largely overlap with the scope of Advance Care Directives).
Some people think they can just draft a home-made Will or use some “off the shelf” kit to make documents. We strongly urge you not to do so. The truth is that such documents may either be ineffective or, in some cases, be worse than not having any document at all.
In the case of “Home Made Wills” it can lead to enormous extra legal costs and delays in the administration of your estate.
A professionally drawn will is of particular importance where there is a ‘blended family’ i.e. a person with children from one relationship re-partners with another person (who might also have children from a prior relationship. Difficult questions arise as to how to protect both the interests of the other partner and your (and their) children. For further reading on this look at our commentary on Inheritance (Family Provision) Act claims
More information on these topics can be found by clicking on the links below.
How much will these documents cost? That depends on what is required for your individual case. You can feel to ring us to obtain an idea of what the charges are likely to be.
If you live in the southern or coastal suburbs, our Glenelg office will make coming to see us a lot easier for you. And if illness prevents you from coming in to see us, home appointments can be arranged.
Matters to be attended to when someone dies
When the sad day comes, and a loved one dies, we can ease the burden on you by assisting you with the legal and practical issues that arise.
That may be in helping you in your role as executor of an Estate, or it may be in advising in relation to your rights as a beneficiary (or both).
Sadly, too often, badly drawn or poorly thought out Wills leave some people with less than what is fair. We know what your rights are and we can assist you to get a fairer outcome. A ‘No – Win, No Fee’ arrangement might be the best way to pursue such a claim. Also note that we offer a Free First Interview for you to get initial advice about your rights. Again, we suggest you click on the links below for some important information that will help you understand more about this area.
Our range of services includes:
For more information about these matters go to:
Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Estates
Claims against Estates and the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act
And feel free to download our Brochures regarding Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney and Advance Care Directives
Need a bit more information? Feel free to give us a call. It won’t cost you anything to have a chat to find out if we can help you.