Wills, Powers of Attorney and Advanced Care Directives
A Will is a legal document that sets out your wishes of how you want your estate to be managed after you die. Making a Will correctly removes the doubts and difficulties that can arise when there is no evidence of your wishes. As well as appointing the person or people you wish to administer your estate, a Will also allows you to direct how you would like your estate to be distributed, to specify your wishes as to guardianship of children, and to provide your funeral instructions. Changes of circumstances, such as marriage or divorce, can result in the invalidation of your Will, completely or partially, and things such as new children, changes to assets or asset structures, or the death or incapacity of a nominated executor or beneficiary can all affect whether your Will is sufficient. It is important to always have a current Will that reflects your wishes and current circumstances. In some circumstances, not having a Will can result in a lengthy and costly finalisation of your estate.
Powers of Attorney
A Power of Attorney is a document that gives the person or people whom you appoint, authority to act on your behalf with respect to your financial affairs. There are two types of Powers of Attorney. A general Power of Attorney can be drafted to give someone the authority to make financial decisions on your behalf in specific circumstances, for example if you are travelling overseas and need someone to manage your bills, however it is only in effect whilst you have legal capacity. Alternatively, an Enduring Power of Attorney can operate even when you are legally incapacitated, for example you are unable to communicate after a stroke or become senile.
Advanced Care Directives
The Advanced Care Directive document was enacted in 2014 and replaced the Medical Power of Attorney and Power of Guardianship documents. An Advanced Care Directive sets out your values and wishes to guide those you appoint with respect to your future healthcare, medical and lifestyle decisions. Further, it sets out whether they are able to refuse certain medical treatment in certain circumstances. It is important to know that an Advanced Care Directive is only used in situations whereby you are not able to provide instructions yourself, for example you are in a persistent vegetative state or are legally incapacitated.
To arrange a time to speak with one of our solicitors with respect to Wills, Powers of Attorney or Advanced Care Directive enquiries, please telephone our offices on (08) 8323 9066.