This video is about two important areas of law to consider to avoid problems in the future - Powers of Attorney and Wills.
Transcript of Video
Eve (Lawyer): Sometimes in life, there are subjects we try to avoid. Maybe because they’re too distressing, or sometimes we just put them in the ‘I don’t need that until I’m retired’ - too hard basket. But today, the Legal Aid Commission of Tasmania is going to talk about two documents that you should consider in order to avoid problems later on - a power of attorney and a will.
Young Adult Female: What is a power of attorney?
Eve: A power of attorney is a legal document that appoints a person, known as the 'attorney', to act on behalf of another person, or the 'donor'. The donor grants the attorney power during the donor’s lifetime. It may be unlimited or limited to specific acts and for a specified time. This document allows the attorney to sign documents or do anything the donor can do legally in relation to financial or property matters.
Young Adult Female: Why do I need to make a power of attorney?
Eve: There are a few good reasons to have a power of attorney in place. The attorney has authority to act on your behalf, and can do things like operate your bank account, sign documents for you and conduct some legal transactions.
Young Adult Female: When would someone act on my behalf?
Eve: Well, if you decide to go overseas for an extended holiday, you may need someone to look after your daily affairs. You can sign a power of attorney for a limited time and for specific powers. Also, if you get sick or become mentally incapacitated, a power of attorney allows someone else to manage things for you. Remember, if you lose legal capacity, it is too late to appoint an attorney.
Mature Male: Can a power of attorney make decisions if I’m terminally ill?
Eve: Yes in relation to financial and property matters, but your attorney cannot make personal, medical or lifestyle decisions on your behalf. If you want to nominate someone to make these choices for you, you will need to appoint what is called an 'enduring guardian'. There is more information about this on the Guardian and Administration Board website.
Mature Male: How do I get a power of attorney drafted?
Eve: Well, you may choose to use a solicitor or a trustee company but you can also obtain the documents and complete them yourself. There is a registration fee and your power of attorney is not effective until it has been registered.
Mature Male: Who can make a power of attorney?
Eve: A person must be at least 18 years old and have a full understanding of the document they’re creating in order to make a power of attorney.
Mature Male: Can I cancel a power of attorney?
Eve: Yes, provided you have legal capacity you can cancel a power of attorney at any time.
Mature Female: Ok, so a power of attorney is different to a will, then?
Eve: That’s right. A will is a legal document where you say how you want your property dealt with when you die. By writing a will, you choose your executors who will make sure your instructions are carried out upon your death.
Mature Female: What do I need to do so that my will is valid and legal?
Eve: There are several legal requirements to ensure your will is binding. Firstly, your will must be in writing. Secondly, the person who is making their will has to sign at the bottom of the document. When you sign, you need to have two witnesses watch you sign the will. Once this is done, the witnesses need to each sign the will in front of the person whose will it is. As there are a lot of legal requirements involved, it is HIGHLY recommended that you seek professional advice when doing your will.
Mature Female: Is a will just for looking after my house when I die?
Eve: Technically, wills are just for property, but there are a few other things you can include in your will. These are more 'wishes' than legal instructions. First of all, if you have previous wills drawn up, your last will should state that this is your last will. That way any previous wills are considered revoked or cancelled. In your will, you can add requests, such as how you would like your funeral arrangements to be handled. The will may also include who you would like to look after your children in the event of your death. But remember that these are just your wishes and not necessarily legally binding.
Young Adult Male: So, can I change my will?
Eve: Yes you can, but you can’t just cross out 'Aunt Betty' and add your next door neighbour. There are two ways you can change a will. One is to create a document called a “codicil” which is attached to the will - but it’s probably best to make a new will. Either way, it is important to get legal advice.
Young Adult Male: Can anyone make a will?
Eve: Anyone over the age of 18 can make a will, as long as they are of sound mind. There are exceptions for people under the age of 18, due to circumstances like marriage. Check out our website for more information on this.
Young Adult Male: What happens to my will if I get married?
Eve: Your will is automatically revoked, or deemed invalid, when you get married or on the day you get divorced. There are exceptions to this rule, such as a will that includes an impending marriage or divorce.