15 Sep Have a say on your financial affairs even if you are not around
Have a say on your financial affairs even if you are not around
During your life you work hard to acquire assets such as a car, a home, household contents, savings and other possessions. So it stands to reason that you want to have a say in what happens to these assets if youâ€™re not around. Having a Will and an Enduring Power of Attorney are two ways of making sure that your wishes are heard.
A Will is a legal document that sets out who you want to receive your assets, money and other possessions when you die. And they are not just for the rich. Regardless of how much money you have, a Will is the only way of making sure that your assets will go to your chosen beneficiaries.
If you have children, a Will is a must. This is the only way you get to have a say in who gets guardianship of your children.
If you die without having a Will, which is commonly referred to as dying intestate, no one knows how you wanted to distribute your assets. In this situation, the Government pays your bills and taxes from your assets and then distributes the remainder according to a pre-defined formula. This can result in your partner, family and close friends suffering unnecessary financial hardship and emotional stress. It could even result in lengthy court battles over â€˜who gets whatâ€™.
Enduring Power of Attorney
An enduring power of attorney is a legal document that appoints someone of your choice to manage your money and financial affairs on your behalf while youâ€™re still alive. The main reason for appointing an attorney is so that your affairs can be managed when you cannot do it yourself, such as when:
- you are ill
- you are travelling overseas
- you become mentally incapacitated.
Powers of attorney can be used for almost any lawful purpose, such as operating a bank account or selling a house. However, an attorney cannot make personal, medical or lifestyle decisions on your behalf.
Can you prepare your own?
You may have seen Will or Enduring Power of Attorney kits in newsagents or Australia Post shops, or come across free forms on the internet.
Using off-the-shelf legal forms such as this may be okay if your assets are straight forward, but even then, itâ€™s advisable to run them past a solicitor as a double check after youâ€™ve filled them out. Any mistakes could result in the Courts deciding that either your Will or Enduring Power of Attorney is not valid.
Ideally, when your budget can accommodate it, these documents should be professionally drafted by a solicitor to ensure that your wishes are properly recorded and carried out.