I just want you all to know that we are here to help and assist you in any way we can in these uncertain times. Even if it’s a simple phone call to have an informal chat. Please do not hesitate to reach out to us.
In the wake of the global Coronavirus pandemic, I have made a list of a few matters for you to consider that will allow you to have some control over your personal affairs during these challenging times:
Review your Will and ensure your testamentary wish
Your Will dictates your wishes upon your passing, particularly who your legal representative (i.e. your executor) will be and your beneficiaries.
Ensure the person you have named as your executor is still the appropriate person to handle your affairs.
Consider who you have named as your beneficiaries, and whether they are still living and are namely correctly.
A reminder that if you have been married or divorced since your last Will, it may be partially or fully revoked. If this is the case, you must prepare a new Will.
Ensure your Enduring Power of Attorney is up to date
Your Enduring Power of Attorney is possibly the most important document in the present circumstances.
If you are unable to leave your home or location due to the quarantine and isolation rules but still have affairs to be attended to, your attorney may be able to assist you. However, the document must be properly completed and executed.
If you are preparing an Enduring Power of Attorney for yourself, I draw your attention to the following:
- There are two types of Enduring Powers of Attorney: a long form document and a short form document. It is important you are use the correct form.
- A long form Enduring Power of Attorney should only be used where you are appointing different attorneys for your personal/health matters and financial matters. For example, if you wish to appoint Fred as your attorney for personal/health matters and Sam as your attorney for financial matters, a long form Enduring Power of Attorney is the appropriate document.
- A short form Enduring Power of Attorney can be used when you are appointing the same person as your attorney for both financial and personal/health matters. For example, if you wish to appoint Sam as your attorney for both financial and personal/health matters, a short form Enduring Power of Attorney is the appropriate document.
- Ensure that all questions on the Enduring Power of Attorney document are complete. I have seen some documents where multiple attorneys have been appointed, but the question in relation to how those multiple attorneys must act has been left unanswered.
For example, if you are appointing Fred and Sam as your attorneys for financial and personal/health matters you must state at question 7 of the short form Enduring Power of Attorney how Fred and Sam are to act – jointly, successively, severally etc.
- Your Enduring Power of Attorney must be witnessed by a qualified witness. In Queensland, a solicitor, Justice of the Peace or Commissioner for Declarations can witness your signing of your Enduring Power of Attorney. Unfortunately, there are no exceptions to this requirement during the Coronavirus pandemic.
Ensure your Binding Death Benefit Nomination for your superannuation is up to date
Superannuation is not automatically considered an asset of your estate. You can read about how your superannuation is dealt with upon your passing here.
With some industry superannuation funds, your Binding Death Benefit Nomination will lapse after 3 years.
If you are due to update your Binding Death Benefit Nomination, I recommend:
- If you are able to complete the relevant superannuation fund’s Binding Death Benefit Nomination and return it to the nominated address, do so.
- If you are in isolation or quarantine with other individuals who are able to witness your Binding Death Benefit Nomination, do so. Some superannuation funds accept a copy of the signed Binding Death Benefit Nomination by email.
If your superannuation fund requires the original signed Binding Death Benefit Nomination, I recommend that you forward a copy by email, and advise in writing that you are in isolation or quarantine and will forward the original at your first available opportunity.
If appropriate, provide your beneficiary with a copy of your renewed Binding Death Benefit Nomination and your correspondence to your superannuation fund.
- If you are in isolation or quarantine and there is no one available to witness your updated Binding Death Benefit Nomination, I recommend that you email your superannuation fund with your specific instructions, advising that you are in isolation or quarantine and unable to update your Binding Death Benefit Nomination.
If appropriate, provide your beneficiary with a copy of your email to your superannuation fund.
In relation to the latter two circumstances, there should be no delay in completing the required process to validly update your Binding Death Benefit Nomination once you are out of isolation or quarantine.
If you have any questions in relation to your Will, Enduring Power of Attorney or Binding Death Benefit Nomination during these times, please do not hesitate to contact me.