Key Practice Areas
When Family Matters & Estate Planning Collide – Just One Example
One of the things we ask clients at the first meeting is whether they have a current Enduring Power of Attorney (“EPA“). We talk about the change that might need to be made to that document, or that one should be put into place, and then we proceed to deal with the family law issue.
At the other end of the matter, we find it is also a good time to review the estate planning documentation that a client has in place because now they may have divorced, undertaken a property settlement and/or secured orders regarding the care of children.
A Case Example
Recently, we had a situation where we had these discussions with a client. The client had reviewed his will but decided that he did not need an EPA.
Sadly the client is now the subject of an application to QCAT for Guardianship and Trustee Orders because he had a massive stroke that took from him his capacity to make decisions for his own welfare. He is a man in his early 50’s.
When we talk with clients about these things, it is not to bring home the fact that we are all mortal. Rather it is to ensure that you have appointed someone you trust, and who knows you, to make decisions about your welfare in the event that you are alive but do not have capacity.
An EPA is a terribly important document that means you have control over who makes decisions. Taking it a step further, the Advance Health Directive goes into much more detail about what decisions are to be made and even whether a life support system is to be turned off.
It saddens us to see family members come back to ask for help when this relatively simply planning tool could be employed. It is cost effective and saves your “estate” not only a lot of money but also a lot of heartache and trauma.
What compounded this situation was that the parties were not divorced. This meant that our client’s former wife remained his next of kin for medical treatment purposes. The family feud that has now started may not ever resolve because situations like this see siblings against siblings, parents against children, new spouses involved and so much more.
The time and energy involved in dealing with these situations, as well as the financial cost, is significant.
If you do nothing else today, please review your existing EPA if you have one and if you don’t, please do something about putting one into place.
How We Can Help
Quinn & Scattini Lawyers are highly experienced in estate planning – no estate is too small or too complex. Our expert lawyers offer compassion and understanding to our clients, as well as offering them expert advice to ensure they take steps to preserve their rights.
Our expert lawyers are available at any of our local offices.