What is a will?
A will is one of the most important legal documents to have in place. A will ensures your voice is heard after you pass. It is a direction on how, and to whom, you wish your assets to be distributed.
Why do I need a will?
Your will informs your family and loved ones how you wish your estate to be distributed in a clear and final manner and allows you to have the final say in who your estate goes to.
What happens if I don’t have a will?
If you die without a will it is called dying intestate. Without a will, legislation determines where your assets go. Even though no two families are the same, the legislation treats them the same way in this case. The Public Trustee takes an oversight role in the process. Having a will prepared will allows you to tailor how your assets are distributed in the best way for your family.
Who do I Appoint as my executors?
Your executors can be family, close friends or professional advisors who you trust to handle your estate once you pass. Alternatively you can discuss appointing one or both our experienced partners as your executors to ensure your estate is dealt with in a professional manner. Our partners do not charge commission for this service.
Why not just make an at home will kit?
While will kits are cheaply available, they are often problematic and cause more expense to your estate. Having your will prepared by a succession lawyer is almost always cheaper than having a lawyer fix the problems arising from a homemade will.
When should I review my will?
Even if you have a will in place it is important to review it regularly. We suggest reviewing your will every five years or when circumstances change. Examples of circumstance changes that may require your will to be revised include:
- Marriage/ Divorce – getting married automatically revokes your will and a new will needs to be prepared and signed. Divorce does not revoke a will but revokes provisions that relate to the divorced spouse.
- Death of an executor or beneficiary – depending on the way your will has been structured, the death of an executor or beneficiary may require changes to your will and you should have it reviewed.
- Property Disposal – If an asset is specifically mentioned in your will and you dispose of that property, your will needs to be revised to deal with that change.
Who can see my will?
At Bartel & Hall confidentiality is of the utmost importance. Anything discussed with your solicitor is not discussed with anyone else without your explicit instruction to do so. Copies, or the original, of your will can not be viewed or removed by anyone other than yourself before your date of death, unless specific instructions are received from you to the contrary. There is no need to worry about information discussed causing disharmony between your loved ones.
What should I bring to my Appointment?
It is suggested that you bring any prior wills made by you together with full names and contact details for all persons you wish to appoint as executors. Full names are also required for anyone you wish to name as a beneficiary. However it is not necessary to have made these decisions before your appointment. Our solicitors will discuss your options with you and offer advice on these matters at your appointment. Further information can then be received from you by email or telephone before your documents are prepared.
Why should I make my will with Bartel & Hall?
- We offer free storage of your documents in our fire safe room.
- We offer a free appointment after your death for your executors to sit down with one of our experienced practitioners to discuss what is involved in administering your estate. Your executors can then make the decision whether they require our assistance with administration, or can take the will with them, with an understanding of what needs to be done. Should your executors not require our help, we will provide them with up to three certified copies of your will and death certificate at no charge.
- Our partners do not charge commission to act as your executors.
- We offer discounted prices for updating your will with minor changes, if it was previously done with us.
Power of attorney
What is a power of attorney document?
A power of attorney is a document in which you appoint a person whom you trust to handle your financial and business affairs in the event you are unable to handle things yourself. For example if you travel overseas, if you are hospitalised, if you suffer mental incapacity or are otherwise not able to attend to your affairs. Your power of attorney can be structured to suit your needs and our lawyers are happy to explain your options.
Who do I Appoint as my attorney?
You can appoint a family member or close friend that you completely trust and our solicitors are happy to discuss this with you to determine who may be the most appropriate person(s) for you to appoint.
What happens if I don’t have a power of attorney in place?
If you are unable to manage your affairs and have no power of attorney in place, anyone with a legitimate interest in your welfare (which may include third parties outside of your family, depending on the circumstances) may ask the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (SACAT) for the power to make these decisions in your place. Having a power of attorney gives you the power over who is able to deal with your affairs.
Advance Care Directive
What is an Advance Care Directive?
An Advance Care Directive is a new document replacing the previous enduring guardianship, medical power of attorney and anticipatory direction. An Advance Care Directive is a direction as to what, if any, medical decision you want made if you are in a situation in which you cannot make them yourself, for example a coma. You can also use an Advance Care Directive to pre-emptively consent, or withhold consent, to certain types of treatment (you cannot ask for anything that would be illegal, such as euthanasia). Advance Care Directives make it easier for your family to know what your wishes are for medical treatment and personal matters and whom you want to make these important decisions.
Who happens if I don’t have an Advance Care Directive in place?
Your relatives or the Public Trustee may also apply to the South Australian Civil and Administrative Tribunal for an Order. This is a relatively complex process which may result in an outcome that you would not want.
Important information about Advance Care Directives replacing older documents
Please note that the Advance Care Directive laws have complicated some older documents. If you have a Medical Power of Attorney, Instrument Appointing and Enduring Guardian or Anticipatory Direction (or Advance Directive) you should consult your lawyer to ensure that this is still valid and is consistent with your wishes.
Any enduring guardianship documents executed before the new legislation came into force are still valid documents. However, if all guardians appointed on the existing document have not signed and had their signature witnessed correctly by 31 December 2015, the document is now considered invalid. If you find yourself in this situation please call our friendly staff and arrange an appointment to have the document replaced by an Advance Care Directive document.
Contact us today for an appointment.