The World Health Organisation has declared Coronavirus (COVID-19) to be a pandemic with more than 334,981 confirmed cases and over 14,652 deaths around the world as at today. Victoria has reposted 355 cases of COVID-19. The world is facing an unusual medical crisis and the following should be reviewed by all individuals in relation to estate planning. It is essential that you put the necessary arrangements in place to protect your interests and to make sure that your wishes and lifestyle choices are respected.
Will and Testament
Review your Will and make sure that your assets are divided between your loved ones during this crisis time.
- If you have young children, you should make it clear who will take care of them, if something happens to both parents.
- If you have assets, you should distribute them according to your wishes.
- To avoid your Will being disputed and incurring legal costs, you should contact your lawyer to ensure that you have taken the necessary steps to avoid litigation.
What happens to your assets if you die without a Will?
If you die without a Will, your assets will be distributed in a particular way as set out in Victorian legislation.
Designation of Beneficiaries
Designation of beneficiaries should be updated with your Superannuation to ensure the beneficiaries receive funds easily after the death of a person.
Enduring Power of Attorney
An Enduring Power of Attorney should be updated to enable another person to take financial and personal decisions on behalf of the person making the Will, if they get infected with COVID-19.
- Allows for the appointment of one or more people to make financial and/or personal decisions on your behalf.
- Allows for the appointment of an alternate attorney (or attorneys).
- Your attorney must be an adult, have decision-making capacity, cannot be bankrupt and cannot be employed as a care worker, health provider or accommodation provider.
- You can limit the scope of your attorney’s power by specifying conditions and/or limitations (e.g. effective for only the next 6 months).
- You can choose when your attorney’s power commences (i.e. immediately or when you have lost capacity to make your own decisions).
- Your attorney must act in your best interests.
Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment)
- Allows you to appoint one agent and one alternate agent to make medical decisions on your behalf.
- Your agent’s power commences only when you have lost capacity to make your own medical decisions.
- Your agent can consent to or withdraw consent for medical treatment, however they cannot refuse palliative care on your behalf.
- You can revoke your Enduring Power of Attorney (Medical Treatment), so long as you have the capacity to do so.
- If you lose capacity to make your own decisions, then an application will need to be made to VCAT, which can be result in a time delay and costly.
DO YOU REALLY KNOW WHAT ASSETS ARE COVERED BY YOUR WILL?
Consider other measures:
- Do you have an Advanced Health Care Directive in place?
This document will assist your doctor and loved ones to know what decisions you would make, in the event that you did have decision making capacity. It assists them to know what kind of care you want.
- Many people receive their bills online
If you are in hospital and your bills are piling up and no one has access to your banking passwords, safety deposit box, internet provider, council notes etc…what happens then? Compile a list that you can provide to your attorney. Consider your loved ones and lessen their burden.
- Your jointly owned asset will pass to the other proprietor on title when you pass away
This particular asset does not require a probate application and is not covered under your Will.
- Do you need a Corporate Power of Attorney to allow another person to act on your company’s behalf?
If you are affected by the COVID-19 and you have a business, who do you trust to make decisions on your behalf.
At Burke & Associates Lawyers, we provide expert legal advice specifically tailored to assist your estate planning. To discuss further, please contact Meghan Warren, Principal, Margaret Girardi, who heads our Wills and Estate Team, Tony Burke, Private Consultant, Amelia Nagel, Associate
firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org respectively, or +61 3 9822 8588.