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Why You Must Have a Will and Power of Attorney

Updated: Aug 4, 2023

must have a will

We realise it can be uncomfortable for anyone to organise their Will or Power of Attorney. However, failing to do so may leave loved ones grieving and burdened by unnecessary administration. So it may seem confronting and morose, but establishing a Will and Power of Attorney is the right thing to do for your loved ones and the assets you’ve built.

Do you only need a Will or Power of Attorney if you are wealthy?

Now, this one is a big misnomer. Wills and POAs are not just for the wealthy. For the pure fact that none of us really knows what lies around the corner, you should have both. Don’t undervalue your assets and don’t assume it will all simply work out on its own (more on this to come).

What is a Will?

Your Will is a legal document detailing how you would like your dependents (children/pets) cared for and/or your assets distributed in the event of your death.

How is a Will different to estate planning?

A Will spells out your wishes and forms just one part of your estate planning, which is all about protecting your assets and providing for loved ones in the event of your death or incapacitation.

Estate planning takes a full 360 view of your assets, including ‘non-estate’ items such as superannuation, assets you own jointly or that are in a trust.

Estate planning is a very important part of ActOn Wealth’s services. We respect that this can be a confronting topic, and we deal with it with sensitivity and expertise.

What are the advantages of having a Will?

1. You call the shots, not the Government

You may be married and/or have children. You may want to leave a donation to a charity. You may want someone to be the executor of your wishes. If you don’t stipulate all of this in a legal Will, the State or Territory Government can make decisions on your behalf.

2. A Will can help avoid a legal challenge

Sadly, many of us know of an inheritance, or lack thereof, that causes a rift through families. It becomes more difficult for someone to mount a challenge against your wishes if you have legalised them in a Will.

3. You decide how to be farewelled

Some people are happy for others to arrange their funerals once they are gone. Others want to oversee every final detail. Some people have religious beliefs that dictate the way they should be buried or cremated. Setting these wishes or needs out in a Will leaves no room for misunderstanding or assumptions.

4. Don’t place more burden on your loved ones

Your surviving relatives and friends are no doubt going to be deep in grief and anxiety with your loss. Burdening them with financial or administrative concerns only adds to the pain of what they are going through. A Will gives them a roadmap of your intentions and wishes and avoids additional costs they may incur from administering your estate on your behalf.

How does a Will differ from a trust?

Although they can involve finances and assets, the two are vastly different. A Will is a legal document detailing how you wish your assets to be distributed in the event of your death. In contrast, a trust controls your assets for beneficiaries either whilst you are alive or once you have died.

Make sure your Will is up-to-date

Sadly, as we mentioned earlier, none of us really knows what is in store for us in this life. Death is very much a part of life, and it can happen to anyone at any point. For this reason, your Will must remain updated. A lot can happen even in a few years. Therefore, with every significant legal or financial evolution in your life, you should revisit your Will and make sure it reflects your current situation and current wishes.

Whilst estate planning is part of our expert services; we can guide you towards the right people to assist with your Will. So please don’t hesitate to contact us.

What is a Power of Attorney?

You may be surprised to know that this term does not refer to a person but a document. It is a legally-binding record that gives either a person, trustee or legal authority to act on your legal and financial behalf. There are two types of POAs:

1. Enduring Power of Attorney

With this document, you give a third party the legal ability to act on your behalf when you lose the ability to do so yourself.

2. General Power of Attorney

With this document, you give a third party the legal ability to act on your behalf only whilst you still have the ability to do so yourself.

If you require either type of POA, then we can assist, so don’t hesitate to contact us.

What are the advantages of having a Power of Attorney?

  • Say you fall seriously ill or are involved in an accident, and you lose the ability to make legal decisions for yourself. In this scenario, a tribunal may appoint someone (you have not approved or may not even know) to act on your behalf.

  • If you live abroad or you don’t believe you have the necessary skills or expertise, a POA can act on your behalf to buy and sell real estate, pay bills, sign legal documents, manage investments, collect rent. Again, this is something we can help get in place for you, so don’t hesitate to reach out.

What should you consider when determining who your Power of Attorney will be?

This person has an extremely important responsibility in your life, so you must choose them very carefully. Consider some of the following when thinking about who is right for this role:

  • Will they respect your wishes/views/principles/religion?

  • Will they keep their own finances and assets separate from yours?

  • Are they capable of managing such a responsibility?

  • Will they maintain total confidentiality?

  • Will they respect any restrictions you place on their role?

Contact us

You probably do not want to dwell on this topic for long. We’re here to help make estate planning and Will and POA preparation efficient and straightforward. So don’t hesitate to contact our friendly team for a no-cost, no-commitment conversation and let’s see how we can help.

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