2014 has been a busy year for MSM.  Some interesting changes in Wills and Estate law have kept us on our toes.

We have also been working on making our website more useful to our valued clients, including developing platforms to post news and helpful hints.  Look out for out new improved site coming January 2015.

One big change was the introduction of the new Advance Care Directive (ACD) from 1 July 2014.  These replace old form Medical Powers of Attorney and Enduring Powers of Guardianship from that date.  But don’t worry – if you already have one of the pre 2014 documents you don’t need to change anything.  Your existing documents are still valid.  The new ACD is designed to be simple and DIY.  Unfortunately, like many DIY projects, what you end up with may not be what you intended.  Anyone who has tried to follow IKEA assembly instructions will know what I am talking about.  These “simple” online forms are still legal documents.  They are designed to transfer very serious rights and obligations to your decision maker.  Done properly an ACD is a powerful tool for good.  Done badly an ACD may be invalid or, perhaps worse, leave your family member or friend confused or without power to make the right decision for you.  If in any doubt, we urge you to seek advice.

Some good news for clients dealing with the loss of a loved one.  The Probate Registry has introduced a more streamlined administrative process which in most cases has improved the turnaround time for probate and other estate applications.  Other recent changes to the law relating to “intestate estates” (those who die without a Will) have removed some outdated requirements which for many years have caused unnecessary complications for the Probate Registry and additional grief for clients.

There was ongoing discussion about South Australia establishing a central Will registry.  No joy on this to date.  Wills continue to be held by law firms or by individuals themselves.  Lost Wills continue to be an issue.  This can add significantly to the cost of dealing with an estate.  We urge all our clients to either store their original Wills with us or to make sure they are stored somewhere else safe.  In either case it is essential to let your family and/or your executors know that you have made a Will and where it is being kept.

Please contact us if you would like more information about any Wills or Estate matters.

We take this opportunity to wish you and your families a very happy Christmas season and a safe and successful 2015.

From all the team at MSM