How healthy is your estate planning?

Our world has recently shifted and the lockdown has highlighted the need to make sure you have your affairs in order. For some clients it was their Wills and for others their Enduring Powers of Attorney.

Realising that you may not be up to date or happy with your current state of affairs should prompt you to taking action early to clearly express your wishes.

Reviewing your legal matters to ensure they continue to be relevant and up to date is a conscious action. People often complete their Wills and Enduring Powers of Attorney, tuck them away and don’t think about them again until they are needed. So why is it important to take them out, blow off the dust and have a look? Because life gets busy and time passes too quickly. Before you know it your situation has changed and your directions may be out of date. Your children may have grown up, or your family and friends have grown older, moved on, or passed on. When the time comes that you need to rely on those legal documents they may not help you in your situation.

Too often we are helping family members of those who did not see the benefit of having Enduring Powers of Attorney in place, or who did not keep them up to date. Those family members are left without legal authority to make decisions for their loved ones. At a time when it is difficult enough having a loved one who has lost capacity, it is compounded by needing to apply to the Court for orders to be able to legally make decisions for them. For those whose Will is out of date, this can complicate the process of dealing with your estate after your death – something that may have been avoidable. We often hear many reasons why these important documents were never done or kept up to date. In our experience it is clear that the emotional and financial cost of having to apply to the
Court for orders is far greater than the cost of keeping these important documents current.

As life begins to increase its pace again and we all become consumed with returning to ‘normal’, we would encourage you all to reflect on your personal situation and take some time to discuss your estate planning needs with your lawyer. Once you have invested the time to secure your wishes for the future, you can tuck it away for another five years (or until your situation changes) when we would again encourage you to review and reflect to make sure it is all up to date.

By: , Jo-Anne Thomas, Solicitor, SCHNAUER And CO LIMITED

Issue 112 August 2020