Estate Planning Tips: Why You Need More Than Just a Will

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Have a Will already in place and think that’s all you need for an estate plan? A comprehensive estate plan involves much more than just a Will.

What happens if you become incapacitated? And cannot make important decisions regarding your care anymore?

These considerations and choices are why your estate plan also needs to include an Enduring Power of Attorney, Guardianship and an Advance Healthcare Directive, also known as Living Will. All these things come into force whilst you are alive – because an estate plan covers more than just what happens after you die.

Here’s what Power of Attorney, Guardianship and Advance Healthcare Directive means, so you can see why they are so vital to your personal estate plan:

What is Power of Attorney?

A Power of Attorney gives someone else the authority to look after your financial and legal affairs. It only deals with the financial aspects of your life, like paying your bills, signing contracts, paying tax and operating bank accounts. 

It is important that the Power of Attorney in your estate plan is specified as ‘enduring’.  Enduring means that the Power of Attorney continues to operate if you lose capacity, as it’s during these critical times that your loved ones will need to make financial decisions on your behalf. 

What is Guardianship?

Whilst a Power of Attorney provides for someone else to make financial and legal decisions on your behalf, appointing an Enduring Guardian ensures that someone is looking after your lifestyle and medical affairs too.

This includes decisions such as where you live, what health care you receive, and which doctor will treat you. It can also outline the sort of medical treatment you wish to have in the case of life illnesses, or what treatment you do not wish to have.

An enduring guardianship comes into play when you are unable to look after yourself and again ensures that your loved ones will be able to make very important decisions on your behalf.

What is an Advance Healthcare Directive?

An Advance Healthcare Directive or Living Will is a legal document which gives directions to your medical practitioner about what happens should you become incapacitated.  Essentially it is directed towards the end of life stage, where you are able to express your wishes for end of life care.

The best thing about having a Living Will/Advanced Healthcare Directive is that you are making the decision for yourself about end of life matters now.  This will give you and your loved ones comfort and reassurance, when making important decisions about end of life.

Living Will choices are personal to each individual and should be given very careful consideration. Because of the sensitive nature of a Living Will, we strongly recommend that you discuss this with your family and your medical practitioners as part of estate planning.

Estate planning basics: The importance of the right legal advice

All these aspects of estate planning are not ‘one-size-fits-all’ legalities, so it is really important to get the right legal advice from the outset, that suits your own personal circumstances. 

At Betar Lawyers, we specialise in helping people to make transparent and informed choices about their estate plan and personal and financial care.

To book a legal consultation about your estate plan, arrange an appointment with Betar Lawyers online or call us on +61 (0)2 9279 1100.