John Gunson and Paul Gibney have both been practising as solicitors for over 30 years, and have extensive experience in preparation of wills, financial powers of attorney, and medical powers of attorney, as well as estate administration and estate litigation.
Wills take effect on a person’s death. They have no legal effect during the willmaker’s lifetime.
When properly prepared and signed, wills are legally enforceable documents by which the willmaker appoints executors and trustees who take charge of the willmaker’s estate on that person’s death. The willmaker also appoints beneficiaries. Beneficiaries are the people who receive the willmaker’s estate following that person’s death.
If a person dies without leaving a will, the estate is allocated in accordance with a government scheme. That scheme is rarely consistent with the wishes of the deceased person. If there is a properly prepared and signed will in place at a person’s death, the estate will be passed on to the chosen beneficiaries according to that person’s wishes.
Financial Powers of Attorney
A financial power of attorney operates during a person’s lifetime. It is a legal document made by one person that allows other persons – the attorneys – to do things with money, bank accounts, shares, real estate, and other assets.
A financial power of attorney authorises the person’s attorneys to act in relation only to financial matters. It does not allow attorneys to make medical decisions.
A financial power of attorney is an extremely useful document. If you become unwell (and cannot carry on your financial affairs), your appointed attorneys can assist. The same applies if you are overseas or are otherwise unable to go to banks, government offices, post offices, and the like.
By appointing trusted attorneys, you ensure that there are people who can carry on your financial affairs if the need arises.
Appointments of Enduring Guardian / Medical Powers of Attorney
A financial power of attorney authorises attorneys to act in connection only with financial matters such as bank accounts, shares, or property. A financial power of attorney cannot be used to make medical decisions.
If you want someone to make medical treatment and other personal or lifestyle decisions for you, you should appoint enduring guardians. Ideally, you should appoint two.
As the enduring guardians are required to sign the form of appointment in the presence of the same solicitor who witnesses the signature of the person appointing the enduring guardians, ideally, the enduring guardians should be persons “local” to the place where your solicitor carries on business. This is not always possible, and in these circumstances, other arrangements can be made.
As people are having more of an online presence, it is important to plan for what will happen to your digital assets (such as social media accounts, email accounts, information stored on cloud storage, etc) on your death. Most digital assets only have sentimental value – photos, messages, etc – but some have financial value.
Click here for more information regarding planning for your digital assets.
Pensioners holding a current social security card receive a significant discount for wills, financial powers of attorney, and medical powers of attorney.
If you wish to have the above documents prepared, contact:
John Gunson, solicitor, or his assistant, Sue Tanner
Paul Gibney, solicitor, or his assistant, Kerry Brinckman
Information Document: Estate Planning – New South Wales (Text) (Pictorial) [PDF]
Information Document: Estate Planning – Victoria (Text) (Pictorial) [PDF]
Information Document: Your Will & Superannuation [PDF]
Information Document: Your Will & Life Insurance Policies [PDF]
Information Document: Planning For Your Digital Assets [PDF]