Countdown to the Holidays: Your Legal Checklist
As we approach the end of the year most of us will be looking forward to finishing work and heading off on holidays! Whether you are going to be travelling over the holiday break, or you are planning on staying home and enjoying some much-needed rest and relaxation, the end of the year provides a perfect opportunity to stop and think about your legal needs.
Don’t get caught out by leaving things too late. We have outlined some of the common issues that should be considered before the holidays below, but there are more. The most important thing to do is to make sure that you have enough time to plan accordingly.
1. Do you have an up-to-date Will, Power of Attorney and Enduring Guardian?
Whilst none of us want to think about it, unexpected events can occur, and it is important to ensure that your affairs are in order to protect your loved ones – particularly if you are planning on travelling.
A Will ensures that your assets and estate are distributed according to your wishes if you were to pass away. However, given that it only applies if you die, it is also recommended to have an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) in place. An EPA is crucial to cover the situation where you may still be alive but lose capacity to make decisions for yourself.
Similarly, if you are travelling, you may want to think about whether you will need someone to transfer money, sign documents, deal with assets etc in your absence if you are going to be away for any period of time. If this is the case, you should arrange to have your EPA updated or make a General Power of Attorney that authorises someone you trust to act on your behalf.
2. Have you made any necessary arrangements to ensure business payments can be made in your absence?
If you are a company director, or run your own family business, it is important be aware that your standard EPA will not give your attorneys the authority to act, make decisions or sign on behalf of the company OR in your capacity as director. You may need to make a separate power of attorney for this. This can be a similar problem for a family trust if you have one.
Similarly, you will need to make arrangements to ensure that any necessary payments can be made without you. You may need to organize temporary authorisations and/or signatories with your bank to ensure employees and liabilities can continue to be paid and you will need to prepare for any due dates (e.g. under contracts). Any business advisers, such as accountants or lawyers, may also be on holiday around this time, so it can be wise to be extra organised and be ahead of time in preparing for deadlines.
3. If you are separated, have you made the necessary arrangements regarding holiday plans or travelling with children?
When parents separate, there are often extra steps that need to be taken over holiday periods to ensure that both parties have access to the children and agree to any plans. There may also be parenting arrangements in place that need to be considered.
For example, if you are planning to take the children on holidays do you have the agreement of your former partner? If you are hoping to travel internationally with the children, do they have passports and are you permitted to take them out of the country?
The holiday period can often result in high tension in families where the parents have separated. You may even need to rely on assistance from a lawyer to resolve any issues that arise in a volatile family law situation. Now is the time to make sure that arrangements have been made so that the holiday season does not become a time of argument and dispute.
With so many other things to think about in the lead-up to the holiday season, it can be easy to neglect the legal issues, or postpone them and run the risk of leaving things too late. If you require assistance in organising your legal affairs before the holidays, contact CDQ today on ph: 02 8556 0130. Time spent planning now could mean a much more relaxed and enjoyable festive season!