Plan ahead this EOFY and get your Will and Enduring Power of Attorney in order urges the Public Trustee
The end of June signifies the time of year to get your finances in order, especially your tax returns, but it’s also a great time to get your life documents, such as your Will and Enduring Power of Attorney, up to date.
Acting Public Trustee of Queensland and CEO, Samay Zhouand said more than 50 per cent of Queenslanders do not have a valid Will. Without a Will a person’s legacy may not be distributed the way they want; and the people they wish to benefit from their life’s work, may not receive such benefits.
Mr Zhouand said "It’s unfortunate but true, the most common reason Queenslanders do not have a valid Will is because they never get around to doing it."
Historically about 20% of people who pass away each year do not have a valid Will. A Will is a legal document that details arrangements to take care of children or other dependents, distribute assets (such as cash, property, shares) from the estate, as well as, outline plans to look after pets and even what should happen to your social media accounts.
Mr Zhouand said "let’s face it, mortality and incapacity are not high on the list of things we like to talk about, especially the younger adults within our community. But everyone over the age of 18 should have a valid Will to help loved ones know what to do in the unfortunate circumstance that you are no longer here or unable to share your wishes."
Mr Zhouand said the Public Trustee assists about 28,000 Queenslanders each year to create or update their Will.
He added that many people use their Will to establish a Trust fund for their children; name guardians to take care of them if under 18 years of age; leave money for their pets to be looked after; and make sure valued items such as property or family heirlooms are passed on to loved ones. Often bequests are also made to a favourite charity to help those within the community that need it the most.
Mr Zhouand said another common pitfall with life planning was that people don’t update their Will. "Life changes such as marriage, a birth of a child or grandchild, separation, divorce, significant changes in personal finances, and changes to beneficiaries are key milestones in your life when you should update your Will," he said.
"Having a valid Will that reflects your current wishes is just as important as having a Will in the first place. When life circumstances change, the law may also change who is an eligible beneficiary. And in some cases, you may end up leaving assets to someone you no longer wish to support," he said.
"Since the COVID-19 pandemic we have seen a 30% increase in the demand for Wills as people focus on family and the importance of planning ahead to ensure loved ones are taken care of," he said.
While a Will is a plan for end of life, an Enduring Power of Attorney, which is equally as important, is a plan about how you want to be looked after when you can no longer look after yourself, should your decision making become impaired.
Mr Zhouand said an Enduring Power of Attorney or EPA states who you would like to manage your financial and personal matters should there become a time where you are unable to make those decisions yourself.
"Making your intentions legally binding can help provide your family peace of mind in uncertain and emotional times".
To make or update your Will or EPA it is always best to get legal advice through a local solicitor, a legal firm specialising in succession law or elder law or the Public Trustee. For more information on the Public Trustee, our Wills and EPAs, please visit www.pt.qld.gov.au or call 1300 360 044.