Protecting Yourself and Your Loved Ones
Wills & Powers of Attorney
As we move through life, it becomes increasingly important to protect ourselves and our loved ones by planning for the future. This means making important decisions and preparing legal documents now, so that our wishes are recognised and honoured throughout our lifetime and after our passing. Depending on your unique circumstances, these documents may include:
- General Powers of Attorney
- Enduring Powers of Attorney
- Enduring Guardianships
A Will is a legal document that outlines your wishes for transferring your assets and belongings upon your death. Wills are particularly important if you have a family or if you've been married more than once, since they empower you to protect the rights of loved ones not in your immediate family at the time of your death. This can include children from previous marriages, distant relatives, and close friends. If you do not have a will, your assets and belongings are distributed according to a pre-determined legal formula, which may differ greatly from your intentions.
A General Power of Attorney is a legal document that appoints a person, or "attorney," to act on your behalf under limited conditions or for a set period of time. Your attorney should be someone you trust, as this person will have the authority to manage your financial affairs, including your money, bank accounts, shares, real estate, and other assets. General powers of attorney are useful when you are traveling overseas or for any time you're unable or unwilling to manage your financial affairs yourself.
An Enduring Power of Attorney is similar to a general power of attorney, but it has one key difference. Both documents allow an attorney to act on your behalf, but a general power of attorney ceases to operate if you should lose your mental capacity. An enduring power of attorney continues to operate, without regard to your mental state. It's vital that you select a person you trust, who has a thorough understanding of their responsibilities, to be your attorney, since they may not be able to consult you when making decisions.
An Enduring Guardianship is a document appointing a person, or "guardian," you choose to make personal and lifestyle decisions on your behalf when you are unable to do so for yourself. Your guardian should be someone you trust who knows you well, and you should feel confident that they would respect your wishes. They will have the authority to make decisions regarding your emergency medical treatment and your ongoing healthcare. They may also decide where you live and with whom you live.
For more information on wills, powers of attorney, and enduring guardianships, or for help drafting one or more of these documents for yourself, please contact the lawyers at H A Miedzinski today.