Friday 29th April 2022 from 9am

Wills & Estates Senior Associate Debbie Sage will join Robyn Hyland to talk about the importance of planning for end-of-life care and what options are available.

Planning to travel this Christmas? Make sure your Will is up-to-date and you have an Enduring Power of Attorney BEFORE you leave!


Attwood Marshall Lawyers Legal Practice Director Jeff Garrett joins Robyn Hyland on Radio 4CRB to discuss the importance of updating your estate plan, especially your Will and having an Enduring Power of Attorney before travelling this Christmas.

While you may be busy booking flights and packing your bags for a holiday break, don’t forget to ensure that your estate plan is current! In this festive season, when people are increasingly on the move, it is crucial to remember to update your Will and other essential estate planning documents, including having an Enduring Power of Attorney and a binding death benefit nomination for your superannuation.

The unpredictability of global and local crises, claiming lives unexpectedly, is a stark reminder. The truth is, you never know when unforeseen events may unfold. Particularly this Christmas, in the aftermath of COVID-19, with people reclaiming lost time through increased travel, it becomes even more crucial to take stock of your affairs before embarking on your next journey.

Just as you secure travel insurance when booking your flights – not because you anticipate the worst but as a precautionary measure – the same principle applies to estate planning. This isn’t merely paperwork; it’s preparing for the unforeseen to protect yourself, your assets, and your family.

The post-COVID era has shown us the importance of being ready for anything, especially when away from home.

Three documents to do before you travel

Estate planning is a highly personal process and should reflect your unique family situation, assets, and your testamentary wishes. There are three vital documents that everyone should have as a minimum.

Your Will

Whether you are travelling or not, having an updated Will is fundamental to estate planning. Unforeseen events can occur at any time, and the holiday season is no exception.

By updating your Will before you travel, you can deal with extremely important decisions, including appointing a guardian for dependent children and planning for their inheritance.

Don’t leave these critical decisions to chance or the courts to decide; take control of your family’s future by putting the necessary thought and documents in place.

Read more about making a Will

Your Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA)

This document is a crucial document that applies while you are still alive. In Queensland, it is a single document that allows you to appoint an attorney to make financial, personal and health-related decisions.

New South Wales is slightly different and requires two separate documents (Power of Attorney and Appointment of Enduring Guardian) to deal with financial and health-related decisions.

If you are unable to return home due to an unexpected event or if you suddenly suffer an injury or illness that impacts your decision-making capacity, having an EPOA in place allows someone of your choosing who you trust to handle your financial and personal affairs.

Whether signing essential documents or making health-related decisions on your behalf, the EPOA ensures your affairs are managed seamlessly without your attorney having to go through lengthy court processes to be given the power to step into your shoes and assist you.

There is a common misconception that our loved ones can automatically step in and make these decisions. However, if the unexpected happens, without this document it can be extremely difficult and stressful for all involved.

Read more about Enduring Powers of Attorney

A Binding Death Benefit Nomination – Superannuation

Many people often overlook their superannuation when it comes to estate planning. Superannuation benefits are non-estate assets, which means they cannot simply be dealt with by listing this asset in your Will.

Superannuation benefits require a specific approach for distribution. A binding death benefit nomination is a document that lets you specify who should receive your superannuation benefits after your passing. Without this nomination, the superannuation fund’s trustee has discretionary power to choose who should receive these funds, potentially resulting in your assets not going to whom you would have wanted to receive them.

Ensure your wishes can be fulfilled by completing this document, signed and executed similarly to a Will.

If you fail to execute the document correctly, it will be invalid.  

Read more about superannuation and succession

Is doing an estate plan a complex process?

The thought of estate planning may seem daunting or something that you don’t think applies to you and your circumstances, but the process is much more straightforward than you might think.

By visiting an experienced estate planning lawyer, you can discuss your family, assets, and your wishes and receive recommendations about what will work for your situation.

After this initial conversation, an estate planning lawyer can draft the necessary documents and ensure they are signed and executed properly so that they are legally binding.

Some people’s lives and families may be complicated. Still, when you see an experienced estate planning lawyer, they can ensure you get the right advice and draw up the necessary documents very quickly.

We have estate planning lawyers working right through the festive season to ensure no one misses the opportunity to update their estate plan before going on holidays or simply starting the new year with the peace of mind of knowing their legal affairs are in order.  

If you haven’t updated your Will in quite some time, or you don’t have one, there’s still time to get it done before you travel.

Key takeaways before you celebrate the holiday season

  1. Ensure your Will is professionally drafted: Make it a priority to have your Will drafted by an experienced estate planning lawyer to ensure it meets all legal requirements and considerations have been given to your plan. Although many people think completing an online Will or DIY Will kit is convenient and cost-effective, these documents often provide a false sense of security. The potential issues arising from these do-it-yourself documents are significant, making professional advice crucial.
  2. Consider an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPOA): If you don’t have an Enduring Power of Attorney, consider who you would appoint to step into your shoes if something unexpected happened to you and you could no longer manage your affairs or make decisions for yourself. These can be complex documents to complete, and there are a lot of things to consider. By sitting down with an estate planning lawyer, you can ask as many questions as you need and document your instructions. If you do not have a family member or friend you believe to be suitable to appoint to this powerful role, you can discuss alternative options with your estate planning lawyer. You may choose to appoint an independent professional, such as your lawyer or accountant.
  3. Explore additional strategies: When drafting your Will, take the opportunity to discuss your circumstances with an estate planning lawyer and any other strategies that may be beneficial to implement. Although we have mentioned three essential documents in this article, there are additional tools and strategies that can be implemented to ensure your wishes can be fulfilled, including establishing a testamentary trust to better protect a beneficiary’s inheritance from bankruptcy, divorce, or taxation implications, or establishing a special disability trust to secure lifetime care for vulnerable family members. Many options are available when you get the right advice to suit your needs.

Attwood Marshall Lawyers – Leading estate planning lawyers

This Christmas, give yourself peace of mind by ensuring your estate plan is in order before you travel. Taking these steps ensures that your loved ones are protected, allowing you to enjoy your holiday confidently knowing that your affairs are well-managed.

Attwood Marshall Lawyers has one of the country’s most experienced Wills and Estates departments, and our friendly team is passionate about helping people document their wishes. The process does not have to be overwhelming and is simpler than you may realise!

To understand what documents you may need to put in place for your estate plan or to update your Will, please call our Wills and Estates Department Manager, Donna Tolley, on direct line 07 5506 8241, email or free call 1800 621 071 anytime.

You can also make an appointment with any of our lawyers by visiting our website and using our online booking app. Our estate planning lawyers can meet with you at any of our conveniently located offices at Robina Town Centre, Coolangatta, Southport, Kingscliff, Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne.

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Jeff Garrett - Legal Practice Director - Wills & Estates, Estate Litigation, Property & Commercial, Compensation Law, Commercial Litigation, Criminal Law, Racing & Equine Law

Jeff Garrett

Legal Practice Director
Wills & Estates, Estate Litigation, Property & Commercial, Compensation Law, Commercial Litigation, Criminal Law, Racing & Equine Law

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The contents of this article are considered accurate as at the date of publication. The information contained in this article does not constitute legal advice and is of a general nature only. Readers should seek legal advice about their specific circumstances. 

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