Essential Estate Planning Tools

by | Jul 28, 2021 | News, Wills & Estates Probate

Estate planning is an important consideration for everyone – regardless of their age, stage of life, or personal circumstances.  Most importantly, having your legal affairs in order provides valuable peace of mind for you, and your family.

At Rafton Family Lawyers we can work with you to ensure that you have the necessary tools in place to look after your, your family and your loved ones.  We can help you with:

  1. General Power of Attorney
    A General Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you (the principal) to nominate one or more persons (referred to as an “Attorney”) to act on your behalf if you are unable to make decisions or sign documents. In matters of estate planning, particularly when you have a recent diagnosis of an illness or you feel that you may at some time in the near future become incapable of managing your legal and financial affairs which could include buying or selling real estate, shares and other assets, operating your bank account, spending money on your behalf and paying bills such as rent, it is useful to consider drafting a general power of attorney.
  2. Enduring Power of Attorney
    An attorney under a General Power of Attorney cannot make decisions about your lifestyle or health.  When you appoint an Enduring Power of Attorney however it authorises that person to make decisions when you have lost capacity to do so such as in situations of a serious illness or injury. There are strict criteria in place when appointing an Enduring Power of Attorney and these can be discussed during a consultation with your solicitor.It is important that you store your Enduring Power of Attorney document in a safe place and that your attorney knows where it is held because they will need the document when making decisions.
  3. Enduring Guardianship
    Enduring Guardianship is also known as an advanced care directive that helps inform what lifestyle and health decisions are to be followed if you lose capacity to make these decisions for yourself.  This is particularly important when you have a major illness or if you become injured.  The things that an enduring guardianship document can help influence or decide is:
  • Where you live;
  • What health and personal services you receive; and
  • What medical treatment you are given.It is possible to appoint more than one person to make these decisions jointly, but the most important thing is to choose someone you trust who understands the importance of their responsibilities.
  1. A Will
    Your Will is an important legal document that sets out arrangements for your estate and who will receive things after you die.  A Will can be drafted without the assistance of a lawyer; however, it is highly recommended that you do use a lawyer so that it is drafted in a way that cannot be contested and it can be easily followed.If you don’t have a Will all of your assets, which could include property, shares, cars, jewellery, furniture, and money in your accounts, will be distributed in accordance with a rigid formula and not necessarily in the way that you would have wanted.A Will can also include specific gifts or bequests to an individual or charitable organisation.  A bequest can be a lump sum of money or the transfer of an asset.  If a bequest is not clearly spelt out in the Will the person or organisation to receive the bequest cannot be guaranteed of the funds so it is always best to discuss this with your lawyer.

    In addition to Wills, Powers of Attorney and Enduring Guardianship documents, Raftons can also provide assistance and advice with issues such as:

  • Early Access to Superannuation
    If you are diagnosed with a serious illness, experience a life-changing injury or find that you are permanently unable to work for health reasons, there is an option to access your superannuation early.  This is a mechanism by which you can gain access to your superannuation funds to assist you with ongoing living and healthcare expenses.  This is a legal process that involves an application to the Trustee of your superannuation fund, as well as the completion of important documentation.
  • Binding Death Nominations
    Binding death nominations are recommended in any Superannuation fund.  In most funds, two independent witnesses can sign your nomination as to who you would like to receive your superannuation benefits after you die.  Your nomination can also be noted in your Will and any estate planning documents.

The team at Rafton Family Lawyers has the expertise and experience you need to make things easier for you and your family moving forward.  Our lawyers are friendly and compassionate and can guide you through the estate planning process to ensure that you have the best solution for your individual needs.