COVID-19, and the need to check your Estate Plan

As the COVID-19 health crisis is unfolding, we as a community are facing a great deal of uncertainty, including financial pressures, social isolation, and for some of us, a real health crisis. Now more than ever is the time to triple-check your estate plan. If something were to happen to you or your loved ones, how will your plan actually work? Are there any gaps that need plugging in the context of these unprecedented challenges?

Some areas to consider include:

  • Enduring Powers of Attorney: Does your attorney have to wait until you’ve lost decision making capacity before they can act on your behalf? How practical is that if you’re in isolation but still have full capacity? What happens if your attorney can’t act? Have you provided them with adequate powers to act on your behalf, particularly around potential conflicts of interest like your superannuation or assets held in your individual names?

  • Medical Treatment Decision Makers: Hospitalisation is very stressful for both the individual and their family. Have you got in place a suitable hierarchy of decision makers who will be able to make key medical treatment decisions for you in times of great stress? Have you let your decision makers know what your wishes and instructions are via an Advance Care Directive, or even verbally?

  • Wills: We don’t want to think about death, but a robust estate plan must include a Will that appoints trusted executors to act on your behalf and effectively distributes your estate to your loved ones. Your Will is the last gift you can give your family, so is it valid and does it reflect your current wishes and circumstances? Does it include everyone you have a moral duty to provide for? Does it provide your family with future protections of their inheritances?

  • Memo of directions: It is worth putting extra thought into providing guidance for your attorneys and executors in these uncertain times via a non-binding memo of directions setting out your wishes in relation to the administration of your estate, the distribution of personal items, and funeral arrangements (particularly given the current 10 person maximum).

  • Binding Death Benefit Nominations (BDBNs): Do you have current and valid BDBNs in place in relation to your super? Does the fluctuating value of your superannuation portfolio change the way you would like your superannuation death benefits dealt with upon your death?

Our legal team are ready to help you through this unprecendented time. We have a team of highly experienced lawyers who can review your documents and plug those gaps! Contact us on 1800 333 143 to arrange a teleconference or videoconference with one of our estate planning lawyers.

We look forward to working with you to ensure you and your family have a solid family wealth management plan.