Planning for your Future
There are three documents that will make an enormous difference to how much control you have over your life and assets if an event arose and you were unable to express your choices and wishes yourself. Recently we have had situations arise in both Villages where Residents did not have these documents in place and it has caused enormous distress for families who were faced with many privacy related and legal roadblocks in trying to work through financial, care or estate issues.
You do not have to go to a lawyer to write a will. There are many simple, plain English downloadable templates available on the internet that you can use to create a valid will. It is important to understand that when someone dies, their Powers of Attorney are no longer able to represent them – instead it is the Executor named in the Will that manages the necessary tasks such as clearing a Unit and arranging a refund of Equity to be paid to the Estate to be shared according to your wishes. When a Resident passes away and the Unit is to be vacated, we will ask for a copy of the Will so we know who the nominated Executor is to ensure that we are providing information to the proper person. Victorian Legal Aid has good information available on their website about making a will.
An Enduring Power of Attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint someone to make decisions about personal matters (such as where you live) or financial matters (such as paying bills) or both. This person is called an attorney. The power endures – or continues – if and when you are unable to make decisions. You can limit the power to cover only specific matters, and you can choose when the powers start.
Your attorney cannot make medical treatment decisions for you unless they are also your medical treatment decision maker. You can make an enduring power of attorney if you are aged 18 years or older and have decision-making capacity to do so. It is important to note that you can only make an enduring power of attorney for yourself, you cannot make one on behalf of someone else. If you are a power of attorney for someone else, you cannot just delegate the Powers that were given to you, over to someone else while you go away on holidays etc. For example, if your parent has given you authority to act as their Enduring Power of Attorney, you can’t just hand the official powers over to a different relative if you are going to be on holidays. The Office of the Public Advocate has information and downloadable templates for you to appoint a Power of Attorney.
You have the right to make your own medical treatment decisions. However, if you experience an injury or illness that means you are unable to make decisions, either temporarily or permanently, If this happens to you, Victoria’s Medical Treatment Planning and Decisions Act 2016 specifies who has legal authority to make medical treatment decisions for you. This person is called your medical treatment decision maker. You can choose your medical treatment decision maker by appointing someone to this role, providing you have decision-making capacity to do so. The Office of the Public Advocate has information and downloadable templates for you to appoint a Medical Treatment Decision Maker.
I encourage you to talk to the important people in your life about these documents and if you already have them (or their equivalent under the old Power of Attorney rules) in place, please make sure you know where they are. You can store a copy of these documents in your Resident file in Administration to be kept alongside the company copy of your Occupancy Agreement. Things change over time and the appointments and nominations may be different from when you first moved in so we will be sending out an updated details request in February asking residents to confirm the details we hold on file.
Kim Jackson, CEO