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Four things to consider to give you peace of mind

By Grindal Legal Principal Lawyer, Christine Crupi

Between teaching my elderly father how to FaceTime, keeping the kids occupied, and working from home, I think it’s safe to say that, like many of you, we are all learning how to juggle our priorities on a whole new level. While we are adapting to our new way of life, this turn of events has given me time to reflect on what measures my family has in place to support us through illness, disability, or death.

While no one likes to think about these things, it’s often not until it’s too late that you realise you might not have the right protections and measures in place for you, your family or your business. So now might be the right time to reflect on your estate and financial planning to ensure that you have everything in order.

Here’s four things you should consider taking action on now to give yourself peace of mind

1. Wills

A well-drafted will is the most effective way to ensure your legacy is secure and your final wishes are met. In its simplest form, a will dictates how your estate (e.g. bank account balances, real property, shares) is distributed upon death. You may choose to distribute your estate to one person or several – each of you will have a very different set of circumstances that need to be addressed. As well as drafting the will, general estate planning can include a review family trusts or business structures, the implementation of testamentary discretionary trusts, asset protection planning, and superannuation succession planning. You may wish to review your will and estate planning requirements to ensure they reflect your current circumstances – for instance, you may have a new partner or recently had a child or you may now have an SMSF at which time you may need to consider completing an update.

2. Enduring Power of Attorney

An Enduring Power of Attorney allows you to appoint another person (the attorney) the power to make decisions in relation to your personal, financial and legal affairs. It is enduring in the sense that the attorney’s authority to act on your behalf continues even when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. In the absence of any limitation contained in the document itself, the power is exercisable once it is made and accepted by your nominated attorney. It is important to appoint an attorney to ensure that you decide who will look after your affairs if your circumstances are such that you require your attorney to manage your financial affairs on your behalf.

3. Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker

An Appointment of Medical Treatment Decision Maker allows you to appoint another person (the decision maker) to make medical decisions on your behalf in case you lose capacity to do so. It grants your decision maker with the authority to liaise with your medical practitioner in relation to your medical requirements and general care. Again, it is important to appoint a decision maker to ensure that you decide who will make these important health care decisions when you no longer can.

4. Financial Planning

Financial planning can help you determine your short and long-term financial goals; it can help you focus the way you manage your money and time on reaching your financial goals so that you can do the things that really matter to you in life. A good financial plan can assist with managing your income (e.g. money you need to set aside for tax payments, expenses, savings), budgeting, cash flow, financial security, and also investment for you personally or your SMSF, if applicable. If you don’t have a plan in place and you would like to re-evaluate your financial needs, this might be something a qualified financial planner can assist with.

Perhaps it is the case that you already have your estate and financial planning documents in place. If so, now might be the time to review those arrangements to ensure they are in accordance with your wishes, as your circumstances may have changed since they were finalised. Your lawyer or financial adviser will be able to provide you with scanned copies of your documents for your review.

If you require certified copies of such documents to action any requests (e.g. medical or financial), your lawyer will be able to assist you with providing the certified copies via post or courier. Given the current circumstances, some law firms and financial advisers may be limited in what they can provide so touch base with them to see what is available to you.

If you don’t have these documents in place, and you think they may help give you some peace of mind and protection, make sure you speak to your wills and estates lawyer or financial adviser.

Disclaimer: This update does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. It is intended only to provide a summary and general overview on matters of interest and it is not intended to be comprehensive. You should seek legal or other professional advice before acting or relying on any of the content.



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