There has been some recent media attention and scrutiny particularly from the Four Corners program of the ABC, regarding difficulties of some persons, particularly older persons, when they do not have a proper estate plan and estate planning documents in place.
In the Four Corners report, it was alleged that a gentleman who suffered a breakdown after the cessation of his marriage was scheduled in hospital and during that period of time, he was subject to an Order for financial management by the Public Trustee and Guardian in the state in which he resides. The Public Trustee and Guardian are state-based services and operate across Australia however, their functions and duties are quite similar regardless of what state the person resides in. In this one particular case, it was alleged that there were excessive fees and charges, gross overcharging for things such as rental management and property management and the person concerned who is an older gentleman alleged that after he was finally able to seek legal assistance to have the Order removed, he had lost thousands of dollars in capital and was virtually left with very little cash assets.
This particular case as well as several others that were featured during the program highlights the importance of estate planning. Estate planning involves not only looking at and updating your Will or creating a Will if you don’t have one, but also putting in place documents such as a Power of Attorney for financial management in the event you are incapacitated or unable to manage your own affairs as well as a Legal Guardianship document in regards to the person you would prefer to assist to make medical and long term decisions such as residential care arrangements. It is always recommended that these documents are prepared in the presence of a Lawyer with expertise in the areas of Elder Law and/or Estate Planning and they become vital documents not only at the later stage of life but prior to retirement so that affairs can be in order in case the unthinkable occurs such as a loss of judgement, a significant episode affecting mental capacity or a serious or tragic accident as has occurred in several recent cases gaining media attention.
Rafton Family Lawyers have a team of Solicitors that can assist with preparing and updating documents and Estate Planning documents and we do offer concession rates for pensioners or concession cardholders. Book online at www.rafton.com.au or call us on 1300 4FAMILY.