We all think we know our partner better than anyone else in the world, but do we?
Maybe you’ve spent every waking moment with your husband for over 40 years.
You know everything there is to know about him- his favourite meal, his shoe size and his secret phobia of ants. You finish each other’s sentences, and you have 4 beautiful children who have children of their own.
But there is still one conversation you haven’t had, and it’s a big one.
Do you know how your husband really feels about growing older, about illness and death? Have you spoken to him about what he’d want to happen if he couldn’t care for himself anymore? Would he want to be resuscitated? Would he want life risking surgery?
These aren’t conversations we want to have. It feels morbid, unromantic and brings acute awareness to the fact that our time here is finite.
But if we bite the bullet and find out what our partners (and family members) want, we can put a plan in place, and have peace of mind knowing that if something did go wrong, we’d be prepared to handle the right decisions for our loved ones.
If the right legal and medical documents are not in place to nominate a trusted person to make decisions on your partner’s behalf, the government may decide who is fit to take on this role. This can be very traumatic if you, as their partner, aren’t chosen.
And in the event you are chosen to make your partner’s medical decisions: do you know what he’d want you to do?
If we put these plans in place sooner rather than later, we can ensure that important decisions can be considered and articulated. So if and when you need to make them on someone’s behalf, you’re not left guessing at such an emotional time.
When you make a legal Will, you can decide how to share your estate (including assets like your home and your superannuation fund) with your family, friends and charities, and you can also appoint your chosen executor to administer your estate. It’s a good idea to prepare your Will when you are healthy, well before it’s needed. Making a Will under circumstances of illness is stressful for you and your family, but also is what often motivates people to start planning.
If your loved one passes away without a Will in place, it means there will be no executor appointed to start work on the estate and there won't be any formal instructions to help you determine what happens with their estate. Things can get very complicated, very quickly.
We understand that losing someone close to you is very distressing. In addition to the emotional strain of grieving the loss, there are often practical matters that need to be dealt with immediately, such as organising a funeral, contacting utility providers and superannuation funds, and other tasks related to the assets and debts of the estate.
When you think about all the unanswered questions, it’s a stark reminder of the importance of not only having a Will, but the other necessary legal and medical documents needed if someone becomes incapacitated, no matter your age, health or life situation.
Not only does it ensure your wishes are fulfilled, it makes things clear and less stressful for your family if you become incapacitated or pass away.
So, if you’re ready to put a plan in place to protect you and your family if you can’t care for yourself, where do you start?
Maurice Blackburn Principal lawyer, Andrew Simpson, says it’s not only important to have a Will, but also other legal documents that are equally as important, and are needed while you’re alive.
“Here at Maurice Blackburn we see too many people who face issues because a loved one died without a Will or they have been in a position where they have had to make medical decisions on behalf of family members, without a legal document to guide them.
“This is why Maurice Blackburn has developed the essential estate planning package - MyLife Documents®, that includes;
“Without going through the tedious process of having to get each of these documents sorted individually - and costing a fortune- we have packaged them up for a fixed price. We work together with you, over two consultations, to prepare them in one go. Our clients are just so relieved when they realise it is much easier than they thought.”
The cost of not having an estate plan is far greater than the cost of making one.
Our experienced wills and estates lawyers are here to help - everything from getting your own affairs in order, to administering a Will when you're an executor, to challenging a Will.
Our Canberra office is now closed, but our team continues to serve ACT clients and are available for phone and video appointments. If you need legal advice, please call us on 1800 675 346.
We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.