Effective estate plans include Wills to protect your estate and the interests of your beneficiaries after your death, ensuring that the wealth and assets you have built during your life are transferred smoothly and according to your wishes. 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 an important legal document that anyone over 18 years of age, who has the capacity, should have. It is generally a formal written and signed statement which provides for the distribution of a person's property and assets, to take effect on that person's death.
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?
A Power of Attorney is should be given the same consideration as a legal Will. It is a formal document which gives your another person the legal authority to look after your personal and/or financial affairs on your behalf, if and when you are not able to do so yourself.
Various forms of Power of Attorney
- General Power of Attorney – would be used to appoint someone to make financial decisions on your behalf for a certain period of time
- Enduring Power of Attorney – gives wide ranging powers to act on you behalf immediately or at a specified date or time, such as if you suffer a loss of mental capacity
- Limited Power of Attorney – limiting the actions that can be performed on your behalf
As with your Will, Power of Attorney documents can be drawn up by a solicitor or the Public Trustee of Queensland.
Advance Health Directive
Every adult has the right to accept or refuse recommended health care. However, there may be events or circumstances that prevent you from expressing your wishes, such as accident, emergency, illness or incapacitation. Sometimes referred to as a living Will, and 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 if you can no longer make decisions for yourself.
It comes into effect only if your cognitive health deteriorates to the point you are unable to make your own decisions. If you have already given someone Enduring Power of Attorney you need to discuss your Advance Health Directive with them.
When to make an Advance Health Directive
It is best to make an Advance Health Directive before any urgent, unexpected health condition arises. However, if you haven't already made one, and existing medical conditions are likely to affect your ability to make decisions, you should make it now.
You can dowload a free Advance Health Directive , which 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.