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We will be taking a break from 27 June 2020 to 12 July 2020. We will be back Monday 13 July 2020 and look forward to resuming our quality, fixed price legal services then.

COVID-19

The 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:

Will

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 legal costs).

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 below.

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 your finances.

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 your voice.

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 circumstances).

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.

Avoiding COVID-19

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.

Any Questions?

If you have any questions about the above, we offer free initial telephone or online appointments or, if needed, comprehensive estate planning consultations.

Specific information on COVID-19 can be sourced from the Australian and WA Governments.


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