It is encouraging to see young people taking the initiative to ensure that they have up-to-date Wills during the uncertainty we’re facing caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic. However, it would be even more encouraging if all age groups took this initiative to review their Wills, and at the same time to appoint an Attorney and a Guardian, and to record your wishes regarding preferred medical treatment.
Hopefully, you and those you love will not suffer from the virus. If you or someone you know does contract Covid-19, it would provide great peace of mind if their Estate Planning documents were up to date at such a stressful time, rather than having to deal with a serious illness at the same time.
While it may be a difficult topic to consider or discuss, it is necessary and the benefit for yourself and your loved ones is immeasurable.
Enduring Power of Attorney
An Enduring Power of Attorney (“EPA”) is a legal document that enables you to appoint someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf, regarding your finances or property. You can appoint more than one person, to act jointly, if you would prefer. Contrary to what you may have heard – EPAs can either come into effect immediately without you falling ill or being incapacitated, or only when you are unable to deal with your finances yourself.
If you do contract corona virus, your bills and expenses can be managed by your appointed Attorney immediately, without them having to face the delay and expense of Court proceedings. An up-to-date EPA provides security for you and streamlines procedures for your trusted Attorney, during a time which would undoubtedly be stressful and upsetting for both of you. The last thing that either of you wants is to be waiting on formalities to be put in place, which could take months.
Your Attorney can make the decision to put a hold on your home loan repayments if you were to fall ill and have no income for a period, or handle arrangements for payment of your bills and other expenses.
Advance Health Directive
EPAs do not allow for your appointed Attorney to make personal and lifestyle decisions for you, or decisions about medical treatment.
An Advance Health Directive (AHD) is a legal document that enables you to decide, in advance, what medical treatment you would want (or not want) to receive if you became sick or were injured, or if you were unable to communicate your wishes.
If you were to fall ill, whether it be with Covid-19 or any other potentially debilitating illness or injury, health care professionals must follow an AHD above anything else, because it is a legal document which reflects your wishes. Even if you had a Guardian appointed under an Enduring Power of Guardianship, your AHD would take precedence. If you or anyone you love has ever been in the stressful position of making decisions about someone’s health and treatment, you can appreciate the forethought and kindness of someone who has made that decision for themself in advance.
While this topic may be hard to think about at a time like this, it is extremely important for the peace of mind of you and your family. At Butlers, we have extensive experience, and skilled lawyers who are able to prepare EPA’s, AHD’s and all other Estate Planning documents, urgently if necessary.
We look forward to assisting you to put these documents in place, or to update your current documents. Please stay well, as we all look after each other.