'Seek advice early' with estate planning

Date: May 13, 2011

One financial adviser has emphasised the importance of seeking legal advice "early" if you or a loved one is planning a move to an aged care facility.

Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald, Paul Intagliata, an adviser with ipac financial care, commented that it is essential to ensure plans are in place as quickly as possible.

If you are planning to make a major move to an aged care facility, you will need to meet with a trusted lawyer to ensure your will is current and up-to-date.

This lawyer can also help arrange the appointment of an enduring power of attorney - an individual who can look after your finances on your behalf - as well as an enduring guardian, who is the person who looks after your medical care.

Next, Mr Intagliata explained, you will need to let the power of attorney know they have been nominated for this important task and ensure they have the right information to make decisions on your behalf.

Often, the newspaper reported, it is adult children who seek out advice on behalf of their aging parents.

Health professional Debbie Beale commented on the issues facing her and her 86-year-old mother, who suffers from dementia, when deciding whether to move to an aged care facility.

She said: "My major lesson has been to ensure proper guardianship at a time when this is fully understood by all concerned.

"I have financial power-of-attorney responsibilities - however I always thought that medical or lifestyle decisions would continue as a co-operative process.'

Furthermore, she added that her mother's condition posed additional challenges when it comes to estate planning.

"The ravages of dementia can certainly change these dynamics," Ms Beal explained.

Planning a will should be considered "an act of love" for the family members you leave behind when you pass away, one expert has asserted.

Author Jean Blacklock commented to the Star Phoenix this week that many people fall into the common traps of failing to plan for family arguments, overestimating loved one or simply procrastinating when it comes to estate planning.

Finding a trusted lawyer with whom you can engage in a frank and open discussion is essential, she added, as sensitive financial issues will need to be addressed as the will is drawn up.

This kind of relationship means that you will also have a clear, upfront idea of processes, fees and how long you can expect everything to take.