Estate Planning

Where can I safely store my Australian Will + Power of Attorney documents?

Safe Storage Facilities:

🔒 A.C.T Supreme Court
[$125 deposit, $46 withdraw. Prices effective as at 1 August 2020];

🔒 NSW Trustee + Guardian
[$29 one-time fee for a single document; $49 one-time fee for multiple documents. Prices current as at 19 November 2020].

🔒 N.T. Public Trustee
[“You can store your Will for free at the Public Trustee office in a specially maintained vault.”];

🔒 The Victorian Will + Power of Attorney Registry
[Anyone in Victoria can register information about where they keep their Will + Power of Attorney documents at no charge. There is also the option to physically store originals for free];

🔒 W.A. Will Bank
[Free service operated by the WA Public Trustee];

🔒 For Queensland, S.A. + Tasmania
[Contact Us].

Credits:

This FAQ was prepared by Suk Jae Chung | Practical Legal Training (PLT) Placement, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.

How do I execute my Australian Will so that it is validly witnessed?

Valid Will Witnessing Requirements

We recommend that the Will-maker and the witnesses all sign immediately after each other, in each other’s presence and use the same pen.

This is still the best way to make sure a Will is validly executed because then there can be no argument that the formal requirements were not complied with.

Important: A Beneficiary should not be a witness as they may lose their entitlement under the Will. There are exceptions but we still do not recommend using them unless there is no other option.

Points to note

1️⃣ Use 2 independent adult witnesses who do not have any possibility of a beneficial interest in your estate;

2️⃣ Do not sign copies of the Will as they may become “valid” Wills;

3️⃣ Nothing should be attached to the original Will with a pin or paper clip;

4️⃣ No alterations should be made to the Will after it has been signed.

Please contact us (if you are unsure regarding any of the above) to discuss the best way to proceed to execute your Will when you are ready.

Credits:

This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.

Why is making a culturally appropriate Will so important for an Aboriginal Person?

Australian Intestacy Laws have not been drafted with any consideration of what is culturally appropriate for an Aboriginal person

In cases where no Will has been made, the relevant Australian Intestacy Laws have not been drafted with any consideration of what is culturally appropriate for an Aboriginal Person.

Therefore, the law can operate to create disharmony and disputes.

When a Will has is drafted for an Aboriginal Person it needs to be culturally appropriate.

Making a culturally appropriate Will can help to:

➲ Prevent burial disputes;

➲ Ensure the distribution of the estate is is accordance with the wishes of the deceased;

➲ Make sure young children are provided and looked after by a person approved of by the deceased;

➲ Protect customary law matters and help keep them secret; and

➲ Place limits on the use of the deceased's name or photograph or image after their death.

Cover Page: Aboriginal Wills Handbook

Source: Aboriginal Wills Handbook: A practical guide to making culturally appropriate Wills for Aboriginal People” by Prue Vines, 2nd edition [2015].

Note: The author of the Aboriginal Wills Handbook has waived copyright and any part of the handbook may be reproduced provided acknowledgement is made of this source.

Credits:

This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.

What is the difference between per stirpes v. per capita estate distribution?

Per Stirpes = by branch = by the bloodline

Per stirpes means “by branch” in Latin, but is commonly understood to mean “by the bloodline.”

If your estate is distributed per stirpes after your death, each branch of your family will receive an equal share of your estate.

Per Stirpes ➲ Example

Imagine that Amy has three children: Brigid, Charles, and David.

At Amy’s death, all three children will receive one third of Amy’s estate ➲ if her estate was set up to pass per stirpes.

Assume that Brigid predeceased Amy, and that Brigid has two children, Eleanor and Fergus.

Now at Amy’s death, Charles and David will still receive one third of the Amy’s estate.

Eleanor and Fergus will each share in what would have been Brigid’s share, so both Eleanor and Fergus will take one sixth of Amy’s estate.

per stipes graphic
Source of example: Trust Company Oklahoma

Per Stirpes v. Per Capita

These legacy latin legal terms, whilst initially confusing, are very important and can change your childrens' (+ their heirs') inheritance.

The alternative to "per stirpes" is "per capita".

With "per capita" the share of any child beneficiary who dies before you is shared equally among your surviving children ... which means your predeceased child (and consequently, their heirs) would lose their share.

With "per stirpes", in the same scenario, instead of your predeceased child losing their share, it is preserved for their children (if any).

Additional Note:

If the term "per capita by representation" is used (also known as modern per stirpes, American per stirpes), please note that this changes the result of the “per capita" distribution so that it operates the same way as the traditional "per stirpes" distribution described above.

The use of this legal term invokes the concept of a “right of representation”.

This means the heirs of any child beneficiary who predeceases you have the right to representation so they can collect the property originally-intended to go to any predeceasing child beneficiary, so they don't lose their share.

Credits:

This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.

When do I need to formally revoke the appointment of my Power of Attorney?

Whether or not you need to formally (in writing) revoke the Power of Attorney will depend upon your individual circumstances, as well as those of your appointed Attorney/s.

Attorney not acting in your best interest

If your Attorney does not follow your directions or does not act in your best interest, you should revoke the Power of Attorney.

Note: Making a new Power of Attorney does not automatically revoke earlier Powers of Attorney.

Each earlier Power of Attorney must be specifically revoked.

Legal Mental Capacity

The most important consideration is whether or not you think you may lose your legal mental capacity in the near future.

If this is the case, it is important you have executed your Will, and appointed Attorneys under Enduring Power of Attorney/s +/or Enduring GuardiansAdvance Health Directives you are confident will look after your best interests into the future.

If you have not considered and implemented your estate plan or are not confident you have appointed the right Executor/s, Attorney/s then now is time you need to make any required changes.

In order to revoke an Enduring Power of Attorney, the Principal (you) must still have legal mental capacity.  

For free resources aimed at providing assistance to lawyers and the public regarding how to assess legal mental capacity, please refer the following guides

➲ The Queensland Handbook for Legal Practitioners (i.e., Lawyers) on Capacity; or

➲ The NSW Justice Capacity Toolkit.

Important Note: All of the above applies regardless of whether or not you have concerns.

Legal mental capacity can be lost at anytime due to unforeseen circumstances.

We highly recommend that the above matters be considered as part of a regular review of your estate planning requirements.

If you lose legal mental capacity for any reason, and don't regain it, it will be too late to ensure your intent and instructions are followed.

Credits:

This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.

When does an Enduring Power of Attorney or Advance Health Directive automatically end in Queensland?

An Enduring Power of Attorney / Advance Health Directive will automatically end in Queensland if …

The Principal (that is you):

✅ Marry ➲ Unless the Enduring Document states otherwise, it is revoked if the Principal marries. However, if the Principal's spouse is already an Attorney, the EPOA is only revoked to the extent that it gives power to someone other than the spouse;

✅ Get Divorced ➲ If the Principal divorces, the Enduring Document is revoked to the extent that it gives power to the former spouse;

✅ Enter into a Civil Partnership ➲ Unless the Enduring Document states otherwise, it is revoked if the Principal enters into a civil partnership. However, if the civil partner is already an Attorney, the Enduring Power of Attorney is only revoked to the extent that it gives power to someone other than the civil partner;

✅ Terminate a Civil Partnership ➲ If the Principal terminates a civil partnership, the Enduring Document is revoked to the extent that it gives power to the former civil partner; or

✅ Make an Inconsistent Document ➲ The Enduring Document is revoked to the extent of any inconsistency with any later documents completed by the Principal, such as another Advance Health Directive or Enduring Power of Attorney presumably replacing the former EPOA or AHD;

✅ Specified Period or Purpose ➲ The Enduring Document may specify a term or date when it will end; or that it has been created for specific purpose and will end upon the completion of that purpose; or

✅ Pass away ➲ If you pass way, the Enduring Document is automatically revoked in its entirety.

An Enduring Power of Attorney / Advance Health Directive will also automatically end in Queensland if any Attorney

❌ Withdraws ➲ The Attorney may withdraw by giving signed notice or by getting the court’s leave to withdraw;

❌ Becomes a paid carer or health-care provider to the Principal ➲ If the Attorney becomes a paid carer or health-care provider, the Enduring Document is revoked to the extent that it gives that Attorney power for a personal matter;

❌ Becomes incapable ➲ An Attorney’s power is revoked if he or she is no longer capable to make a decision about a matter;

❌ Becomes bankrupt or insolvent ➲ If an Attorney becomes bankrupt or insolvent, the Enduring Power of Attorney is revoked to the extent that it gives that Attorney power for financial matters; or

❌ Passes away.

Relevant Legislation:

ss. 50-59 Powers of Attorney Act (1998) Qld.

Credits:

This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.

What are the Witness Restrictions, Requirements and Guidelines for witnessing Enduring Documents in Queensland?

Witness Restrictions

The witness must not be:

❌ The person signing for the Principal (if applicable);

❌ An Attorney of the Principal;

❌ A current paid carer or health-care provider for the Principal; or

❌ A relation of the Principal or of the Principal’s Attorney/s.

Witness Requirements

The Enduring Document must be witnessed by one of the following:

⚖️ Justice of the Peace;

⚖️ Commissioner for Declarations;

⚖️ Lawyer; or

⚖️ Notary Public.

Guidelines for Witnessing Enduring Documents

Witnesses must satisfy themselves that the Principal understands the nature and effect of:

✅ The document they are signing

✅ The delegation of their decision making powers and directions given about future health care.

When taking instructions, witnesses should:

✅ Ask open-ended questions

✅ Take notes, detailing their interview with the Principal

✅ Refer the Principal to a health care professional if you have doubts about their capacity to understand the document.

Do not witness an enduring document if you have concerns that the Principal:

Lacks Capacity to understand what they are signing; or

❌ Is being Unduly Influenced by another person to sign the document.

For more information please refer to these guidelines published by the Office of the Public Guardian.

Credits:

This FAQ was written by James D. Ford GAICD | Principal Solicitor, Blue Ocean Law Group℠.

Important Notice:

This FAQ is intended for general interest + information only.

It is not legal advice, nor should it be relied upon or used as such.

We recommend you always consult a lawyer for legal advice specifically tailored to your needs & circumstances.