onset of COVID-19 has had a huge impact on Australian society.
Whilst restricions are easing, we now have to adapt to a world where
social distancing and good hygiene are the new normal for some time to
come. These measures are important in continuing to combat the spread
of COVID-19. Everyday life will increasingly return to normal and we
will continue to support our clients by offering our services in a way
that keeps everyone safe.
To protect the health of our staff, their families as well
as that of our valued clients, we will adapt to the reduced (but
ongoing) risk posed by COVID-19 by changing how we do business. As
restrictions have eased on the basis that the threat posed by
COVID-19 has reduced (but not been eliminated), we are
re-introducing face to face consultations (office and in home)
providing good social distancing and hygeine practices are
maintained. We will ask clients to confirm they have not returned
from overseas or interstate travel, had contact with a person who
has recently travelled, do not have cold or flu like symptoms and
have not had contact with anyone with cold or flu like symptoms in
the two weeks prior to the appointment. We will also continue to
offer appointments via phone, email, Skye or Zoom. It remains our
preference that documents be sent or received electronically.
What Should You Do Now?
COVID-19 was unforseen. It brings with it the potential of serious
illness or even death. Now, more than ever, it is important to prepare
for unforeseen events. Future events could be illness, incapacity,
death or prolonged separation. How do you prepare for such events? A
good start is to review your personal circumstances to ensure you are
legally prepared should you become ill, incapacitated, pass away or be
separated from loved ones. It is also important that your family and
loved ones are not only protected, but also aware of your wishes
should something adverse happen. Prior preparation can protect family
and loved ones from the expense and trauma of litigation to settle
your estate and/or ensure your wishes are fulfilled.
Some matters you should consider are:
A Will is a document that sets out how you wish your estate (what you
own at the time of death) to be distributed. A Will is an important
part of your overall estate plan and should be reviewed periodically
to ensure it properly reflects your wishes.
If you die without a Will, your estate will be divided in accordance
with certain legislative provisions that may not reflect your wishes.
In some cases proceedings in the Supreme Court of Western Australia
are required to resolve uncertainties or disputes about your estate.
Not having a Will can put pressure on your loved ones emotionally, and
potentially financially, as a result of any delay and/or legal
proceedings that may arise.
Having an up to date Will means your estate can be dealt with
promptly and in accordence with your wishes (as well as saving on
Further information on what
typically forms part of your estate can be found in our blog.
Another important consideration is appointing a guardian for any
children under 18. If there is a surviving parent, guardianship
typically transfers to them. But you should consider who will care
for children should something happen to both parents.
You can appoint a testamentary
guardian for your children via a Will with the appointment only
taking effect upon the death of their last surviving parent until
such time as they turn 18.
You should note that a Will only
has effect from the time of death. It does not allow another
person to manage your financial or lifestyle circumstances should
you lose the capacity to do so.
To help maintain social
distancing, we are offering an online simple will service! See
Enduring Power of Attorney
An Enduring Power of Attorney (EPoA) allows you to appoint a
trusted person to make financial decisions on your behalf should you
lose the capacity to manage your own affairs.
This includes managing your money and other assets (including
real estate) as well as typical tasks such as paying your bills and
signing documents on your behalf. An EPoA will not allow a person to
make lifestyle or medical treatment choices for you.
Without an EPoA, the Public Trustee may be appointed to manage
your finances (for which fees are charged) or a family member or
loved one may need to take legal action to be appointed to manage
Enduring Power of Guardianship
An Enduring Power of Guardianship (EPoG) allows you to appoint a
trusted person to make lifestyle and medical treatment decisions on
your behalf should you lose the capacity to do so.
The types of decisions that can be made include where you live
and what medical treatment you receive. An EPoG will not authorise a
person to make decisions about your finances or property.
Without an EPoG, the Public Advocate may be appointed to manage
your personal affairs or a family member or loved one may need to
take legal action to be appointed to manage your personal affairs.
Advance Health Directive
An Advance Health Directive (AHD) is a legal document that enables you
to make decisions now about the treatment you would want (or not want)
to receive if you become sick or injured and are unable to communicate
your wishes. In such circumstances, your AHD would effectively become
An AHD would come into effect only if it applied to the treatment you
required and only if you were unable to make reasoned judgements about
a treatment decision at the time that the treatment was required.
An AHD is the primary document concerning your healthcare wishes. This
means that even if you have an EPoG, health professionals are obliged
to follow your wishes as outlined in your AHD (except in very limited
Storing Important Documents
Storing the above documents in a manner that makes them available when
needed is important. You should let your executor, attorney and/or
guardian know where to find them. This can save stress, delay and
possible legal costs that can arise if the documents cannot be found.
It is recommended that you prepare (and let someone trusted know where
to find) a further document that includes:
A list of your assets and liabilities;
Details of your accountant/financial adviser;
Bank details; and
Superannuation/insurance policy details.
To help comply with social distancing requirements, we
are offering our clients the option of obtaining a simple will
online (see the link below). Our online structure also
allows us to provide estate planning consultations and various
other estate planning documents on a contactless basis.
If you have any questions about the above, we offer free initial
telephone or online appointments or, if needed, comprehensive
estate planning consultations.