Review of Wills and Powers of Attorney
A Will document takes effect upon the death of an individual, and appoints an executor to manage your estate and attend to the division of assets among beneficiaries. It can also address guardianship of children that are minors or under the age of 18 years. A Will document may establish trusts for beneficiaries, gifts to charities, and gives instructions regarding your funeral.
It is always prudent to have a solicitor review your Will, to ensure that your current wishes are effectively kept in order. If a Will is not executed properly, it could be considered invalid or require additional affidavits to support it. This will only cost your estate more money. A Will is made according to the circumstances that exist at that time, and it will understandably be affected by life events that occur over time. Among events these include marriage, divorce, separation, births, deaths, and any changes to your financial circumstances.
Reviewing Your Will Document
A Will may be regarded as a ‘living’ document. As such, there is a need for Wills to be reviewed, and updated to reflect your current situation including your wishes and the needs of your beneficiaries., At Home Legal recommends that clients review their Wills and Powers of Attorney every 5 years, or earlier in light of any of the following circumstances:
- New relationships, marriage, separation, divorce, and births
- Newly acquired investment assets and inheritances
- Change to the Appointment of an executor or attorney
- In the event that a third party wishes to contest your Will
Reviewing Your Powers of Attorney
Appointing someone as your power of attorney will grant them legal authority to look after your affairs on your behalf. Powers of attorney may vary according to the types of decisions given to the attorney and in the state or territory you reside in. In Victoria, there are 2 Enduring Powers of Attorney that cover medical and financial, legal and guardianship decisions. It is recommended for individuals to be aware of all powers of attorney documents, and to seek clarification as required.
Overall, there are 3 different types of powers of attorney:
- A general power of attorney appoints someone to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf for a specified period of time (i.e. while you are abroad).
- An enduring power of attorney appoints someone else to make financial and legal decisions, in the event you lose the capacity to make your own decisions or upon your instructions.
- An enduring medical power of attorney appoints someone to only make medical decisions on your behalf, if you become unable to do so. (Now called Appointment of Medical Decision Maker)
The review and amendment of such documents will depend on your individual wishes, and your current situation. Consult with At Home Legal if you are unsure about the types of responsibilities you wish to entrust upon other members of your family or estate.