It is true that ‘desperate times call for desperate measures’ and in dealing with COVID-19 we are now in ‘desperate times.’
Without putting too much focus on it, ask yourself, “Can my affairs be managed efficiently if I can’t make decisions for myself?” If you answered “No”, now is the time to start thinking of a suitable Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA).
An EPA is a powerful document that needs to be considered carefully. You are empowering someone to make decisions for you, so it is important to choose carefully. An EPA does not only deal with who makes decisions about your health and wellbeing, but also who makes decisions about your financial affairs, superannuation and potentially a business (if you have one).
There are many choices you can make when nominating people to make decisions on your behalf. You can select different people for different decisions e.g. health, personal finance and business financial decisions can be made by different people. You can also select two or more people together to make decisions. You have the opportunity to use this flexibility to your advantage.
If you have not appointed someone to act for you under an EPA and you subsequently lose personal capacity (i.e. you cannot manage your own affairs) there is no automatic appointment process. Each state has their own laws in this regard. For example, in Queensland, your spouse/partner/family member will have to make an application to the Court or the Queensland Civil & Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) to be appointed as your Legal Personal Representative. If there is no available or suitable family member to be appointed, your affairs may be looked after by the Public Guardian (for personal decisions) and the Public Trustee (for financial decisions). The implications that arise with not having an EPA puts your affairs at risk, therefore it is not something you should be without.
Because each state has different rules and forms that need to be completed in order to finalise an EPA, you should check with the Nexia Australia adviser in your state to make sure that any existing EPA is valid and effective. If you do not have an EPA, they will be able to assist you with getting one in place.
If you do not have an EPA, the chances are high that your Will is in need of a review as well. In fact, a good Estate Plan will utilise a number of different documents to accomplish a variety of different tasks. Such documents may include:
- Letter of Wishes
- Binding (or Non-Binding) Death Benefit Nominations
- Trust Deeds
- Buy/Sell Agreements
- Insurances etc.
All these documents/items are there to make sure that control of your assets are passed on to the people of your choice.
The consequences of not having the right document in place, or having an obsolete document in place, can be financially and emotionally devastating. So, it is important to not let this happen to your family.
For more information, please contact Nexia Australia for a discussion (remember phone calls are social distancing-friendly).