Like many other developed countries, Australia’s population is ageing and an ever increasing percentage of the population is aged 65 or older. With this comes a variety of legal considerations for legal professionals. This includes a need to be alert to elder abuse and capacity issues and an increased demand for Wills, Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPOA’s) and Advanced Health Directives.
Elder Abuse in an ageing population
Unfortunately instances of elder abuse – when an act or lack of action causes harm/distress to an elder person by someone they know and usually trust – are on the rise. Some statistics suggest as many as 15% on Australians over 60 experience elder abuse each year.
It’s important to know where to turn if you or someone you know needs support. The National Elder Abuse phone line is contactable on 1800 353 374. Life threatening or emergency situations should be directed to the police.
Rising rates of conditions affecting capacity (such as dementia) makes capacity an important modern issue. All adults are presumed to have capacity unless there is evidence to rebut the presumption. A person can have capacity for some decisions and not for others at any given time. Just because a person makes a bad decision, does not mean they do not have capacity.
Wills, EPOA’s and Advanced Health Directives
Wills, EPOA’s and advanced health directives are vital tools to document the wishes of individuals. They help protect their wishes should they become unable to make decisions (which can happen at any age).
All Australians over 18 should have a current, valid Will and EPOA. It’s important to review your Will when your circumstances change (such as when you get married, separated or if your family grows). To make or change your Estate planning documents, please give us a call today, or start online.
*The legal information in this article is of a general nature only and not intended to be legal advice to rely upon.