In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), powers of attorney and wills are important legal instruments that individuals can utilise to plan and protect their interests during their lifetime and after their death. It is advisable to seek professional legal advice from an experienced will lawyer in Canberra to ensure that these documents meet all legal requirements and reflect individual intentions accurately.
A will is a legal document that allows a person, referred to as the ‘testator’, to designate beneficiaries who will inherit their estate. The testator can outline specific gifts, such as personal belongings or financial assets, and appoint an executor to manage the distribution of the estate.
In the ACT, the Wills Act 1968 governs the requirements and formalities surrounding wills. To create a valid will under this legislation, certain conditions must be met. The testator must be at least 18 years old and of sound mind. The will must be in writing, signed by the testator or another person in their presence and under their direction, and witnessed by at least two individuals who are not beneficiaries or spouses of beneficiaries.
By having a valid will, you can ensure that your assets are distributed as intended, which can help minimise disputes and provide clarity for your loved ones during difficult times. However, while making a will is the first step, it is equally important to regularly review and update your will to reflect any changes in your circumstances. Events such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of children often impact on a person’s testamentary intentions.
Updating your Will after separation
Separation can be a complicated and emotional time. At times, you may feel like the paperwork never ends and tough decisions need to be made. Updating your will can be easily forgotten or placed in the ‘too hard’ basket. However, the breakdown of a relationship changes your family structure and may also affect asset ownership. Additionally, a divorce can invalidate sections of an existing will in relation to your former spouse so you may need to review things. We can help you to create or modify your will to give you peace of mind.
Determining the details of your will can be difficult, but we can provide guidance to ensure your will is binding and captures your wishes accurately. Some of the matters you’ll need to consider are:
- the addition or removal of beneficiaries
- changes to asset ownership and finances
- the executor/s of your will
Powers of Attorney
A power of attorney is a legal document that grants authority to another person, known as the attorney, to make decisions on behalf of the individual who grants the power. Individuals can choose someone they trust (for example, a family member or friend) to act on their behalf and make decisions that align with their best interests.
There are two main types of powers of attorney in the ACT: general and enduring.
A general power of attorney allows the attorney to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of the individual, but it becomes invalid if the individual loses mental capacity. On the other hand, an enduring power of attorney continues to be effective even if the individual becomes mentally incapacitated. This type of power of attorney is particularly important for those who want to ensure that their affairs are managed appropriately if they are no longer able to make decisions for themselves.
Powers of attorney in the ACT are governed by the Powers of Attorney Act 2006. To create a valid power of attorney, you must be at least 18 years old and have the mental capacity to understand the nature and effect of the power of attorney. The document must be in writing, signed by you and witnessed by at least one person who is not the attorney or spouse of the attorney.
Speak to a Will Lawyer in Canberra
If your spouse or partner has a power of attorney regarding your business, financial, legal and/or healthcare decisions, it may be appropriate for you to transfer this authority to another person after a relationship breakdown. Our will lawyers in Canberra can discuss your circumstances and offer tailored advice and assistance to prepare updated documents that reflect your wishes moving forward.