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Wills & powers of attorney

Have a plan for your families future

Nobody wants to usually talk of death or dying prematurely but it can happen. Many people do not have a will or even think of Powers of Attorney because they do not want to think past their death or the death of a loved one. If the unthinkable happens though it can be traumatic if there is no organisation within the family for what happens after a sudden death. The last thing people think about at the time is access to bank accounts, mortgage payments or paying off the credit card.

Did you know that if a partner dies their bank accounts are frozen?

Many people don’t realise the mess your personal affairs can become by the death of a partner. If prior arrangements are not made before someone dies their bank accounts can be inaccessible even to their closest relatives. This happened to a member of my family and it caused much heartache on top of the trauma of us losing a loved one. The remaining partner had not worked for many years and the credit cards and some of the bank accounts were solely in her partners name. Try applying for a credit card when you don’t have any income! Even though she was well cared for financially and had no worries for her future the bank would still not issue her with a credit card. She had to apply for one in her own name and wait months to prove there was an income flowing through her bank account.

Enduring Powers of attorney

All this heartache could have been avoided if time had been spent by the couple in planning. A Power of Attorney is a document that gives you legal authority to act on someone else’s affairs. If she had a  Power of attorney document the bank would recognise the remaining partner and allow them to continue using bank accounts etc. It is even better if  the couple has separate bank accounts and credit cards or at least joint accounts.

Medical power of attorney

This is also a document you can have drafted to allow the next if kin to talk to medical staff and make medical decisions such as with holding treatment. My mother many years ago was diagnosed with Alzheimers disease and spent the next 9 years in a nursing home. For the last two years or so before she died she could not speak or feed herself. To care for someone in this situation it is imperative to have a Medical and Enduring power of attorney, so you can make decisions, pay bills and make the person as comfortable as possible.

Wills

This document takes effect when you die. I can cover areas such as providing for remaining children especially if they are still young and how your assets are to be distributed between remaining family members. You can also include which charities you would like to donate to and how you would like your funeral to be structured.

Be organised

One of the best things you can do to make things much easier for other members of your family is to be organised. Have important documents such as your Will & Powers of Attorney together in a place where they are easy to access. If you appoint an Executor (person in charge of carrying out the wishes of your Will) they should know where all the relevant documents are that they will need to fulfil your Will. Other important documents should also be there so it is easy for the person involved to quickly get an overview of your affairs.

Here’s a list of important documents to keep together –

  • Banks accounts – including pins etc
  • Mortgage payment details
  • Will
  • Birth certificate
  • Marriage certificate
  • Power of attorney (Enduring and Medical)
  • Personal insurance policies (Trauma,Death)
  • Household insurance policies
  • Superannuation documents
  • Private health insurance papers
  • Medicare card
  • Investment documents (share certificates etc)

 

What ever you do after reading this article, please don’t do nothing! Many people do not know that if you die intestate (without a Will) your estate can go to the Government if there are no surviving relatives. Now I don’t know about you but that is not my idea of a fair deal. You pay taxes all your life and then have your estate taken!

A simple document can solve this problem so please consider making a Will as soon as possible.

 

For more reading please see Moneysmart government website.

 

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