Wills and enduring power of attorney are needed everywhere and we’ve had a query about them from a pensioner in Western Australia.
“Just looking for some advice on wills and enduring power of attorney. I am a pensioner and I live in WA,” she says.
“Can you suggest anyone that could help me in Bunbury or Busselton region. Not sure who to ask or where to go and it can be very costly to do that paperwork.”
A good place to start is the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. It has helpful information about what’s required in the preparation of a will and enduring power of attorney, although not actual legal advice. It has good Q&As on its website.
Here are other steps we suggest you could follow, for whatever community you live in.
We don’t know the professionals working in the towns of Bunbury or Busselton, so we can’t make any recommendations.
But as a first step, go to the Western Australian Law Society’s “Find a Lawyer” page. When looking for a private practitioner, we suggest working through Law Society listings where ever you live, rather than through the phone book or internet directly. This is because members of a Law Society have to meet certain standards to be on their lists, which helps to protect your consumer rights.
For Western Australia, enter the area of law, which in this case will be “Drafting of Wills”. Then enter the suburb or town. Both Bunbury and Busselton are there. A list of the solicitors in those communities who practice in the area of estate planning and or wills will pop up.
If you ring them individually to ask if they offer special rates to pensioners, they could say yes. Don’t be discouraged, many do.
You can also use a copy of a will downloadable from the internet or which you can buy from a newsagency. But be cautious about these and ask a lawyer to look over yours, even if this costs a small fee. It is easy to make a mistake and end up with a will that is invalid, without realising it. While lawyers and or the court could make a decision based on what you wrote, this could be very costly for your beneficiaries.
The Public Trustee “offers independent, professional trustee and asset management services to the Western Australian community.”
They are government agencies established in each state and territory in Australia. Their services include Will and Enduring Power of Attorney drafting, deceased estate administration, and personal trustee and administration services. Their rates are generally lower than those of a private practitioner. They can be found at:
The offices of the Public Trustee have had negative publicity in Queensland and Western Australia over their role in guardianship of vulnerable citizens. But as we understand, this does not affect their work in the area of legal advice about wills and powers of attorney.
Western Australia also has community legal centres. These are not-for-profit organisations providing quality, free or low-cost legal services to disadvantaged and vulnerable people. They don’t do work on wills and powers of attorney. But the staff could make suggestions about who you should talk to.
South West Community Legal Centre can be found at: https://www.swclc.org.au. Their phone number is 1800 999 727. But they don’t tend to work with wills and estate planning.
Law Access is a non-profit arm of the Western Australian Law Society, set up to help vulnerable Western Australians access legal assistance. They are private practitioners and normally charge. But if they do work for low cost or pro-bono’ this can be searched on the website.
Let’s define ‘enduring power of attorney’.
According to the Western Australian Government: “An Enduring Power of Attorney (commonly known as an EPA) is a legal document a person can make that gives another person/s, or organisation, the legal authority to make financial and/or property decisions on their behalf.”
It means the same thing in each state of Australia. But the legislation varies slightly from one state or territory to another. A power of attorney drafted in one state or territory can be valid in another state or territory. But ones written in other countries are not.
Another point to remember is that there is a difference between an enduring power of attorney and a general power of attorney.
And you need to make sure there is no confusion between an enduring power of attorney and an enduring guardianship, which is completely different.
“An Enduring Power of Guardianship form allows you to choose one or more trusted relatives or friends to make personal, lifestyle and treatment decisions on your behalf. The people you appoint become your substitute decision-makers if you are no longer able to make decisions.
“An Enduring Power of Guardianship is a legal document that gives your chosen guardians the legal authority to act for you and to make decisions on your behalf.” https://qhscb.squiz.cloud/advancecare/create-your-plan/create-your-plan-wa
Resources for help preparing your will.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau is a great place to start with these questions. Go to: https://cabwa.com.au/help-categories/wills-estates/
Western Australian Law Society’s Find a Lawyer page. https://www.lawsocietywa.asn.au/find-a-lawyer/
To find out more about an enduring power of guardianship in Western Australia, go to:
Read about access pensioners can have to free drafting of documents in NSW, through the NSW Trustee and Guardian here: