Estate planning can help ensure that the wealth and assets you have built during your life is transferred smoothly and according to your wishes when you are gone. An estate plan includes your Will and any directives on how you want to be cared for medically and financially if you become unable to make your own decisions.
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document that outlines how you would like your assets (estate) distributed when you die and appoints the person who will ensure your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes.
The people who receive your estate are referred to as your beneficiaries.
Why do I need a Will?
Preparing a Will is essential. Leaving a clear guide to how you want your assets distributed by your chosen executor/s is cost efficient and may avoid lengthy court battles over “who gets what”.
Dying intestate (without a Will) means that there is no guarantee that your assets will be distributed as you would like them to be.
Making or altering your Will is particularly important when life circumstances change. It is recommended that you review your Will every three to five years to ensure that it still reflects your wishes.
A Will also provides you with the opportunity to establish a trust or donate directly to Churches of Christ in Queensland or any other charity that you may wish to support.
Help with making your Will
It is advisable to seek professional advice and assistance when making a Will. Homemade Wills can lead to problems as the meaning and validity is often unclear.
A solicitor or The Public Trustee of Queensland can confidentially discuss your concerns and requirements. The Solicitor or Public Trustee of Queensland will prepare a Will for you and assist with the correct wording to ensure that your wishes regarding your estate are honoured. The Will making service by The Public Trustee of Queensland is 100 per cent fee free. Private solicitors may charge for making a Will.
Power of Attorney
What is Power of Attorney?
We cannot always act on our own behalf, this might be due to illness, accident or emergency or incapacitation. Granting Power of Attorney means you legally appoint a person or organisation to make decisions, sign documents and act on your behalf. This can be particularly helpful for elderly people who may not be able to do some of the day to day activities such as banking as easily as they used to. Granting Power of Attorney to a trusted reliable loved one can help create peace of mind.
There are various forms of Power of Attorney:
- Limited Power of Attorney – limiting the actions that can be performed on your behalf
- General Power of Attorney – giving wide powers to act on your behalf
- Enduring Power of Attorney – wide ranging powers to act on you behalf, even if you suffer a loss of mental capacity.
Power of Attorney documents can be drawn up by a solicitor or the Public Trustee of Queensland.
Advance Health Directive
Any adult has the right to accept or refuse recommended health care. However, there may be times when you are unable to express your wishes, due to accident, emergency, illness or incapacitation. An Advance Health Directive is a legal document that states your wishes or directions in relation to future health care and medical treatment and how you would like your body to be dealt with in the event of an accident.
You can chose for it to come into effect any time you are unable to decide for yourself or only if you are terminally ill. If you have already given someone Enduring Power of Attorney you need to discuss your Advance Health Directive with them.
An Advance Health Directive needs to be completed by you and your doctor and signed by a witness. If you are admitted to hospital, you would let your medical staff about it and where it can be obtained.