As we slowly return to our day to day routines following the COVID-19 lockdown, it’s a good time to reflect on the lessons learnt from the paired back existence we experienced during these unprecedented times. One of the overwhelming messages to come out of the lockdown, was an even greater appreciation of our families and our desire to protect them.
It is at times like these, that we should take stock of our personal affairs to ensure that in the event that something happens to us, the very people we want to protect are not left behind to sort out our unfinished business. A timely reminder to review your personal affairs and ensure everything is in order. Below are some areas worthy of consideration:
Anyone over the age of 18 years should have a Will. A Will is a legal document which sets out how you want your estate to be administered upon your death. It is legally binding. Without it, your assets will be administered according to a formula set out by the law and this may not align with you or your family’s wishes.
If you have already put a Will in place, you should continue to review it and ensure it reflects your current intentions and wishes. Perhaps you have married since you last made a Will, and if so, you should check to ensure it was made in contemplation of marriage otherwise you may find that it’s invalid. Likewise, if you have recently separated or divorced, it is likely that the intentions for your estate will have changed.
Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA)
Putting in place an EPA enables you to decide ahead of time who will make decisions for and about you if you become unable to make those decisions yourself. An EPA gives a specific person the legal power to act on your behalf if you become “mentally incapable”.
If you don’t make an EPA, and you become unable to make your own decisions, or unable to communicate your decisions to others, people close to you will need to apply to the Family Court to have the Court make various kinds of decisions about your life, or the Court may appoint someone to make those decisions for you.
You can put in place an EPA for personal care and welfare and one for your property and finances. You can have either type of EPA or both, it depends on your personal circumstances.
Memorandum of Wishes
If you have a family trust, putting in place a Memorandum of Wishes is one way that you, as the settlor, or creator of the trust,
If you have already put a Will in place, you should continue to review it and ensure it reflects your current intentions and wishes. Perhaps you have married since you last made a Will, and if so, you should check to ensure it was made in contemplation of marriage otherwise you may find that it’s
can signal to the trustees your intentions. A Memorandum of Wishes is read alongside the trust deed and trustees should have regard to the Memorandum of Wishes in the exercise of their discretionary powers in dealing with the trust assets and making distributions.
The compulsory shutdown of many businesses over the lockdown saw a number of leases being considered in greater detail. It is important that you review your lease documents
to ensure that you have current arrangements in place. If
the renewal or review dates have passed and the lease arrangement remains in place, it is likely it will be on a month by month basis with either party having the ability to terminate the lease with one month’s notice. This situation does not provide a great deal of financial certainty moving forward.