During the last Christmas holidays my in-laws came over from the UK for a family visit, and as the photo shows they enjoyed their break in Australia. Unexpectedly on the flight back to London my father-in-law had a heart attack. Luckily he survived, however the shock made us all reconsider many things.
During the rush of planning holiday travel, we can often forget to organise what could potentially affect our lives and loved ones the most, estate planning documents.
Estate planning is about future proofing – it is not just about when you pass away, but also about protecting your children and assets if you are unable to do so. If you are stuck overseas or are in trouble, you will need to have a Power of Attorney or an Enduring Guardianship in place so that the people you have nominated can help you in your situation.
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows an individual or organisation to act on your behalf. Appointing a General Power of Attorney gives the attorney wide powers to undertake actions on your behalf, such as dealing with property or paying bills. However, if the Will Maker dies or loses mental capacity a General Power of Attorney ceases. An Enduring Power of Attorney can be appointed to overcome these limitations.
An Enduring Guardian is someone you appoint to make lifestyle, health and medical decisions for you when you are not capable of doing so yourself. Enduring Guardianship will only come into effect if or when you lose capacity and will be effective during the period of incapacity, and may therefore never become operational. This is a good way to plan for the future, particularly for unforeseen situations.
A Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardian are complementary documents that can be made separately or together. This gives you more choice as to who would have the authority to make decisions across all areas of your life if you are unable to make these decisions for yourself.
Before travelling over the holidays, ensure these important documents are in place so you and your loved ones will be taken care of, and matters can be settled the way you choose. Some questions to consider before travelling are:
• Have you named guardians for your children?
• Did you create powers of attorney and/or enduring guardians in case you get into an accident and cannot make decisions about your health or finances?
• Have you outlined specific medical details? E.g. are you an organ donor?
• Have you updated all your beneficiary designations?
• Are your last wishes laid out for your family?
• Can someone locate these documents, either physically or electronically?
I’m happy to say that my in-laws are returning again in a few months and have now updated their wills, produced a Power of Attorney, enduring guardians and are spending the inheritance on more comfortable flight seats! –
by Harlan Marriott – Leenane Templeton
Photo credit of Night Jar Photography
This article is for guidance only, and professional advice should be obtained before acting on any information contained herein. Leenane Templeton does not accept any responsibility for loss occasioned to any person as a result of action taken or refrained from in consequence of the contents of this publication. Publication 18 October 2019.