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Business as Unusual in COVID-19: The Estate Planning you need to keep things running as normal

In the wake of the current situation, many people and their families have found themselves on the less prepared side of this pandemic, and whilst most are desperately reaching for the supermarket shelves, there far more pressing needs that should be addressed.

Many of us have been self-isolating to avoid falling ill or been forced into quarantine due to being exposed or, sadly, testing positive for the virus. Similarly, there are a wave of employees working remotely, leaving employers wondering how they will execute important documents if signatories are unavailable.

The reality is this: staying home has become our new normal, and so for many of us, it’s no longer business as usual.

Three ways to maintain life outside the home, while staying home:

  • Appointment of a Medical Treatment Decision-Maker or Enduring Guardian (depending on your state/territory), authorising a person or persons to make decisions on your behalf about your medical treatment or personal affairs when you no longer have capacity to do so.
  • General Powers of Attorney, allowing companies to authorise a person or persons to make decisions on behalf of the directors and give effect to those decisions.
  • Enduring Powers of Attorney, allowing individuals to authorise a person or persons to act on their behalf with respect to financial, legal and personal matters.

Preparation in the current climate is key

  • Example 1:

Tom*, a healthy young man, recently returned from an overseas business trip and ordered into quarantine, particularly since he’s shown signs of respiratory problems possibly associated with COVID-19. However, at the same time he has important business operations and property matters that he is unable to attend to in person.

Luckily for Tom, he prepared a Power of Attorney before travelling overseas, in case his return was delayed for an unexpected reason. For Tom, it’s business as usual, and while he works for home, his Power of Attorney can be a signatory on his behalf, and finalise his urgent property transfer.

  • Example 2:

Bethany*, an elderly woman with pre-existing health conditions is awaiting test results to determine whether she has been infected with COVID-19 and has been self-isolating for her safety. Having updated her estate plan in 2019, her will remains valid and she has a Power of Attorney as well as an appointment of medical treatment decision-maker in place.

Bethany’s Attorney is now able to obtain prescriptions for her regular medication relating to her pre-existing conditions, and have her personal affairs managed, without taking the risk of leaving her home.  

For Bethany, she is able to maintain some of the normal aspects of her life while she remains home safe.

* Names have been replaced to protect the confidentiality of our clients.

Ensuring you have a secure estate plan in place can ensure that you and your family avoid unnecessary complications when business is as unusual.

For all enquiries in relation to being better prepared for a crisis and updating your estate plan, including a Power of Attorney, please contact our expert team today.

Author: Maryam Mekhail – Estates Planning Division Manager. – Melbourne. Contact Maryam by clicking here or calling: +61 3 9602 9007


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