did you know youre a yoyo

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Did You Know You’re A YOYO?

did you know youre a yoyo

YOYO stands for You’re On Your Own, and it has never been truer for Australian retirees.

In the 1980’s when Bob Hawke and Paul Keating changed government policy to encourage us all to save enough money for our eventual retirement, we did so with an expectation of mastering our own destiny to enjoy a wonderful and carefree retirement.

The idea was to reduce the dependence upon government funds for the old-age pension.

There has been a tremendous change in the social culture of Australia in the 40 years or so since superannuation commenced.

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Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: One More Hour … Baby Boomers, Pop Songs and Estate Planning

Genders and Partners I remember when I was young, the world had just begun, and I was happyi.

When I was younger, so much younger than todayii.

One more hour and my life will be throughiii.

Can you name the classic pop songs in which these timeless lyrics were sung? If so, then you’re probably at least as old as me, and you are a “Baby Boomer” (born between 1945 and 1965).

So what does this have to do with Estate Planning? Well quite a few things, really.

If we’re old enough to remember when these songs first made an impact on popular culture, then we’re at an age when we need to confront some harsh realities about our continued existence.

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End-of-Life Planning

End-of-Life Planning

Deciding how you want to live out your last days is a touchy subject for most people, but if you don’t take the time to do so now, you and your loved ones could end up suffering needlessly. While you are still of sound mind, you need to determine whom you trust to make decisions about your lifestyle and medical care if you are ever incapacitated.

An expert Adelaide estate planning lawyer can document your end-of-life wishes with an Advance Care Directive to help you attain peace of mind about your future and get back to the business of living in the moment.

The Looming World Crisis of Incapacity

The Looming World Crisis of Incapacity in SA

The Looming World Crisis of Incapacity

Australia is facing a tsunami of widespread mental incapacity among the largest and wealthiest segment of our population. Advances in mental health have not kept pace with advances in other areas of medical science.

According to Alzheimer’s Australia, more than 340,000 Australians currently have dementia, and that number is expected to reach nearly 900,000 in the next 35 years unless a medical breakthrough occurs. These grim statistics highlight the need for everyone to plan ahead so that their medical and financial needs are met should they ever become mentally incapacitated.

When it comes to Wills & estate planning in Adelaide, you can trust the oldest law firm in South Australia, Genders & Partners to guide you through the tough decisions you must make for your future care and financial welfare.

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Elder Abuse Caused by Lack of Estate Planning

Elder Abuse Caused by Lack of Estate Planning

On 26/02/2014 the UK Court of Protection decided the case of JS –v-  KB & MP .

The Court itself said: “This cautionary tale illustrates vividly the dangers of informal family arrangements for an elderly relative who lacks mental capacity, made without proper regard for:

      i.         the financial and emotional vulnerability of the person who lacks capacity; and

ii.         the requirements for formal, and legal, authorisation for the family’s actions, specifically in relation to property and financial affairs.”

The case concerned a 90 year-old female suffering from a progressive dementia. She had been cared for by her daughter for over three years.  The Court found that “The actual care arrangement is in many ways excellent … [the patient] is receiving devoted care and is reported to be happy. For this, [the daughter] deserve genuine credit.”

However, the Court found that the daughter had used informal and improper means by which the patient’s finances were utilised by the daughter to fund the care arrangements, and this led to the sale of the home in which she had lived for over fifty years effectively ‘over her head’, and the proceeds of sale being placed out of her immediate reach, rendering her financially highly exposed; government benefits and retirement pension payable to the patient had been subsequently been diverted into an account in the daughter’s name. All of this was done without legal authority.

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The Growing Need for Advance Care Directives

The Growing Need for Advance Care Directives

A 2013 report from Alzheimer’s Disease International warns that the number of older people needing care globally is set to nearly treble by 2050 from 101 million currently to 277 million.

Alzheimer’s is the most common cause of dementia or senility. Symptoms include loss of memory, mood changes, and problems with communicating and reasoning.

The report reveals that as the world population ages, the traditional system of informal care by family, friends and the community will need much greater support.

This means that increasing numbers of people aged 60 or over will require long-term care.  This will put huge pressure on families, both emotionally and financially. Carers often have to give up work to look after elderly relatives.

This epidemic of dementia will have specific legal consequences for patients and the people caring for them.  In particular, their loss of mental capacity to make decisions in their own best interests, creates a need to put in place an appropriate system of delegated authority.

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Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Kids Growing Up

As a parent, what is our worst fear?

Kids Growing Up

For most of us, it would be receiving that phone call telling us that our child is having a medical emergency. It might be a car accident, or some other health crisis, but as soon as we are notified we want to rush into action to help them.  No matter how old they are, they will always be our child, even if they are now an adult.

It used to be that when a child turned 21, he would receive a key to the front-door of the family home, in a rite-of-passage symbolising and acknowledging their transition from child to adult.

With the faster pace of life, and changing societal expectations, the legal age-of-majority is now18.

Did you know that if your children are aged 18 or older, even if they are still living at home with you, then you are no longer able to make their medical decisions for them? In fact, you have no right to speak with their doctor or nurses or see their medical records.

5 Common Estate Planning Mistakes

Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Star Trek and Estate Planning

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Of all the countries in the world, Australia ranks in the top 5 with longest lifespans (17 places ahead of the UK and 33 places ahead of the USA).  Each year, our average life expectancy continues to increase.

And yet, more than half of adult Australians do not have a legal Will, and even fewer have an integrated estate plan.

Life used to be simpler. People worked for the same employer for their entire career. They had government-guaranteed pensions. Medical expenses were manageable. Divorce was rare and remarriages rarer still.  25 years ago, when my legal career began, I can clearly recall the expression “broken home” being used as an excuse for various misconduct. Most people were not invested in the stock market.

But, the trade-off was that although life was simpler, it was also significantly shorter. Retirement didn’t last long, so people didn’t worry as much about having sufficient savings to last a lifetime. Long periods of incapacity were unusual.  You worked, then you died.

When the Australian Government began the aged pension in the 1920’s, they set the age-of-eligibility at 65 for men.  At that time, the average life expectancy for men was only 63, so the Government did not expect to have to pay out much for the pension, nor medical treatment, aged care or publically assisted accommodation.

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Wills and Estate Planning Adelaide: Is it Time for The Talk?

Challenging Estate Planning Conversations

Is it Time for The Talk?

In family life there are a number of “Talks” which parents need to have with their children. Remember “Where do babies come from?”

Well, much later in life, older parents need to talk to their adult children about Wills and powers-of-attorney, elder care and end-of-life decisions.

In my practice as a lawyer specialising in estate planning, I have repeatedly noticed that my older clients are generally much more willing to discuss estate planning issues than their adult children.

I have speculated as to the reasons for this, and have come up with a list of possible explanations:

  • Fear of being seen as interfering in their parents’ affairs;
  • Concern at how their interest in their parents’ estates may be interpreted by others;
  • Discomfort at confronting the mortality of their parents;
  • A recognition that parents are getting older, and perhaps their best health is behind them;
  • A perception of “passing the baton” from one generation to the next.