As a firm, we are mindful of how we can help you during these uncertain times. We have implemented protocols so that we are able to continue to work and serve our clients, especially where estate planning is concerned. We caution clients to proactively prepare for the worst, and often that preparation comes too late. However, now is the time for people to act. Considering how quickly the global pandemic has escalated, there is no better time to assess your plan and think about the potential impacts of not having a will, power of attorney, corporate power of attorney or enduring guardianship documents in place.
Why do I need to prepare a will?
Creating a will is thinking about your family and the long term. A will is an opportunity for you to express your intentions clearly and set your wishes for the distribution of assets or care for your children. Without it, you have no control over who distributes your assets or how this will be done.
Making a will can be an issue which needs to be sensitive to complex family histories and arrangements. We are available to fully explain your options to ensure that your wishes are carried out.
Why do I need to prepare a power of attorney?
An important aspect of estate planning which can be overlooked is the need to ensure proper decisions are made for you if you cannot make those decisions for yourself. A power of attorney is a useful instrument that gives authority to another person to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to. It is important as if you do become ill or are incapacitated in any way, you can appoint someone to make financial and health decisions for you. We can help you prepare for these scenarios.
However, an individual power of attorney does not give legal authority to act on your behalf as a director of any company of which you are a director.
What about my company, do I need to prepare a different power of attorney?
Yes. A corporate power of attorney is crucial as it gives authority to a person or persons to act on behalf of a company or sign documents on its behalf when the director is unable to. A corporate POA can be granted to a person or persons and is something that should be carefully considered. It ensures business continuity and is very relevant given the current circumstances of COVID-19. If you are isolated or incapacitated, it is important the right person can carry on the business in your absence and have authority to sign off on cheques or key documents.
A corporate POA can also provide authority to deal with property, such as sign development applications for lodgement with Council to continue development works, enter into lease agreements on behalf of the company, pursue or deal with disputes on behalf of the company or commence actions against debtors for recovery of outstanding accounts.
What about enduring guardianship?
Whilst the above deals with financial and business affairs, enduring guardianship can empower someone you trust to make decisions for you in all other areas of your life, when you can no longer do it yourself. Whether it be deciding on arrangements for aged care or making important health and end-of-life decisions, you want to be sure that you choose who makes those decisions for you.
Enduring guardianship only comes into effect if you lose capacity and it may never become operational as a result. However, it is a good way to plan for the future, particularly for unforeseen situations.
I already have a will. Why would I need to update it?
If you have recently married, or have had children since making a will, it is time for you to create a new one. Conversely, if you are separated or divorced you should make sure your estate plan reflects those changes. Ultimately, any significant life change should be considered, and your plan updated appropriately with provisions for your family.
How can I execute my documents due to COVID-19?
Once your documents are ready for you to sign, our team are holding appointments for appropriate execution in the presence of a witness at our office under our new appointment protocol. If you are concerned about COVID-19, please speak to us about alternative options available to you for execution. The recent introduction of the COVID-19 Legislation Amendment (Emergency Measures) Bill 2020 provides that changes may be made to laws that require physical signing and witnessing of documents, and there will likely be adjustments to this area in the coming days.
We are equipped to help you understand, implement and navigate the estate planning process. Please contact a member of the Cheney Suthers team if you would like to make an appointment to discuss further.