Protect your rights by writing a Will
THE legal profession and, for that matter family members also, strongly urge all persons over the age of 18 to make a Will, and to seriously consider the benefits of having a legally binding Power of Attorney in place.
This is especially so for those reaching retiring age and beyond, as the consequences of not doing so can cause immeasurable hardship to other family members and, in some cases, legal action to protect the rights of those who may feel aggrieved because they have been ignored, or omitted from a Will.
This should be done whilst of sound mind and understanding as, once a person is diagnosed as lacking in capacity, the law provides that that person cannot make a valid Will, nor a Power of Attorney appointing another person to act for them.
Gold Coast retiree Norm Barrington has learnt of the problems that can occur first-hand in his efforts to assist a lady who made out a legal Will and Power of Attorney without full understanding the consequences of her decision.
The person concerned later misplaced her copies and, although the solicitors who prepared the documents eventually released a copy of the Power to her, they would not release a copy of the Will because they believed she was now in the early stages of dementia.
The only party now aware of the contents of her Will are the solicitors who drew up the Will.
For his part, the appointed Power later disclosed he did not wish to act, but it was too late to revoke the Power because of the deteriorating mental condition of the person appointing him.
"The sad thing about this particular case was the fact that the lady concerned had no family to help her, other than a daughter who had not kept in touch with her for several years," Mr Barrington said.
"This daughter had in fact, several years earlier, coerced her mother into divesting large sums of money into her own account."
In cases like this, Mr Barrington suggests that an assessment be obtained through My Aged Care for the ongoing care and supervision of the person's welfare, and that an application be submitted to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal for The Public Trustee to be appointed to look after the person's financial affairs, and either The Adult Guardian or the Blue Nurse appointed to supervise her care.
The court was in this case able to revoke the Power.
This particular case has convinced Mr Barrington of the urgency of seeing that one's house is in order prior to any unfortunate situation arising whereby a person is declared incompetent, and therefore unable to revoke or change what had already been put in motion.