Have you put your house in order?
This may sound like a gloomy subject, but it is nonetheless important, and an issue that all should address, to ensure that, when the time comes that we are unable to deal with our own affairs, whoever is left to manage those affairs is able to do so without too many difficulties, and, to the extent that is possible, respecting our wishes.
Giving your Enduring Power of Attorney to someone you trust to handle your affairs – financial or personal, or both – may be of vital importance. The Queensland Government website gives a lot of information about this, including that “you can complete an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) yourself but you may wish to first consider talking to your solicitor”. First, type in justice.qld.gov.au and select that site: in the search box in the top right-hand corner, type Enduring Power of Attorney and click on ‘GO’; then, from the Search Results list, select Enduring Power of Attorney.
You may have certain requirements in the event that you become terminally ill, regarding being kept on life support. These requirements can be included in an Advance Health Directive, or “Living Will”. Again, the Queensland Government website has helpful information on this document.
To enable your Executor to effectively administer your Estate in accordance with your wishes, you will require a valid Will. You should also be sure that your Executor know that you have made a Will, and where that document can be located. You can prepare a Will yourself, by purchasing a form from a legal stationer; or you can engage a solicitor to prepare the Will. Additionally, the Public Trustee’s Office can prepare a Will for you, at no cost and, frequently, that Office is then appointed as Executor. However, in the event that a Dispute arises concerning the Former Resident’s Exit Entitlement (i.e. affecting the quantum of the Estate for disbursement amongst Beneficiaries), these Beneficiaries would be unable to personally process the Dispute Application because the appointment of the Public Trustee as the Executor of the Will creates that Office as the “personal representative of the former resident” and thus requires that Office to be the Applicant in the Dispute. However, as prescribed in RV Act s21, a Retirement Village dispute is an issue between a Resident and an Operator about the parties’ respective rights and obligations under the Residence Contract or the Act. Recent experience with a regional Public Trustee was that the Office would not process Dispute Applications without first obtaining legal advice and,
in this instance, was reluctant to do so because of the cost to the Estate.
Whoever is the Executor (including the Public Trustee) may need to seek legal advice with regard to all aspects of obtaining your Exit Entitlement, and they should seek it from someone well versed in the Queensland Retirement Villages Act. The ARQRV’s Solicitor is best placed to do that, being a specialist in that legislation. He will advise as to the costs involved: for ARQRV members, his rates are very reasonable.
Above all, remember that for as long as you remain a financial member of the ARQRV, advice and assistance is available to you, or to your Executor or Beneficiaries, up to four months after your Exit Entitlement has been received. There are a number of potential pitfalls along the way to achieving that, and it is MOST IMPORTANT that you let your family, or your Executor, know that you are a member, and that this assistance is available to them on your behalf.