Advanced Health Directives

Many clients view Advance Health Directives as complicated, daunting documents that force them to make unpleasant decisions. Unfortunately, the nature of an Advance Health Directive is to ask some confronting questions, but it is also the best way to let your family know what your wishes are in the event that you are unable to tell them yourself.

An Advance Health Directive will ask questions about how you would like to be cared for if you are unconscious or unable to communicate your wishes, such as:

  1. Would you like life sustaining measures to be taken, such as assistance with breathing or artificial nutrition or fluids?
  2. Would you like to be resuscitated in the event that your heart stops?
  3. Would you like pain relief or antibiotics, if required?

It is strongly recommend that if you have personal or religious beliefs that affect these matters, you make an Advance Health Directive stating your wishes. An Advance Health Directive also prevents fights between family members about your care, and allows you to take the pressure off your loved ones to make difficult decisions at a time when emotions are likely to be running high.

When should I make an Advance Health Directive?

You should make an Advance Health Directive as soon as possible, before you lose the mental capacity to understand the document. Your wishes as outlined in the Advance Health Directive are not final. You can change them at any time while you remain mentally capable of doing so. It is recommend that you review your Advance Health Directive every two years, or in the event of a major change to your health.

How do I make an Advance Health Directive?

Unlike an Enduring Power of Attorney or a Will, an Advance Health Directive is not a purely legal document. Once your Advance Health Directive has been prepared, you should take it to your General Practitioner so that they can explain the medical nature of the document to you and assist you in completing the first part of the form. You should then take it back to your solicitor so that your signature can be witnessed and the legal ramifications of the document can be explained to you.

Advance Health Directives are very important medical and legal documents. If you would like to discuss an Advanced Health Directive, Enduring Power of Attorney or a Will please contact our office and make an appointment with Gerard Pender.

*The legal information in this article is of a general nature only and not intended to be legal advice to rely upon.

Scam Alerts

Scammers are a common problem these days, whether its by phone, email, post or knocking on your front door. They will try anything. Lately Pender Accounting Group has been receiving, a higher than usual, amount of calls regarding the legitimacy of emails and phone calls. We urge all our clients to keep their personal information secure and to report any suspicious activity immediately. Information like bank account details, tax file numbers or your date of birth are keys to your identity, and can be used by scammers to break into your life.

November 2017 Phone Scam – Fake Debts

ATO impersonation scam recorded messages are continuing throughout Australia. An example of a message claiming to be from the ATO;

‘This call is to inform you that there has been a lawsuit filed against you concerning tax evasion, this case is about to get registered in the Commonwealth courthouse of your territory. So before things go wrong or before the police from the local police department approach you and issue a warrant for your arrest, kindly call us back on 02XXXXXXXX. I repeat my telephone number again which is 02XXXXXXXX. Again this is XXXXX from the Australian Taxation Office. Thank you and you have a wonderful day.’

The message may be a female or male robotic voice recording. They claim to be from or representing the ATO, often the ATO Tax Crime and Investigation Unit or the AFP.

The number they provide is not a valid number from the ATO Phone us page.

Other indicators to look for are:

  • Advise a complaint has been made against you and you are committing tax fraud or claim that you have to pay a debt that you know nothing about
  • Threaten immediate arrest or court if you don’t pay straight away. They won’t provide explanations or allow you to ask questions about the debt and often get aggressive or abusive
  • They will ask you to pay using unusual methods of payment that the ATO does not use, such as iTunes, Bitcoin, store gift cards or pre-paid visa cards
  • People have reported receiving phone calls with the offer of a tax refund. They request credit card details for the funds to be deposited into. Instead, the scammer steals funds from these cards without your knowledge. The ATO DOES NOT issue refunds to credit cards

It’s OK to hang up!

Scammers are emailing people to tell them to claim their tax refund online. But how do you know if it’s real? If the email does not address you by name, offers you money you weren’t expecting or asks you to download a form then it’s a scam. Only the following email address from the ATO are legitimate;

  • noreply@ato.gov.au
  • noreplyCAS@ato.gov.au
  • no_replySBIT@ato.gov.au

The ATO allows you to subscribe to general updates which inform you of any scams they are aware of.

If you are concerned about any emails or phone calls received regarding tax or business please contact our office and talk to Nicholas Pender.

You can also contact the ATO scam hotline on 1800 008 540 to make a report.

A Will Can Now Be A Text Message

In a recent well publicised Court decision, the Court in Queensland determined that a Will made by text message was valid and enforceable. This was after a costly and contested Court battle.
Historically, Wills were made with great formality, had to be properly witnessed and the requirements for completion of the Will, including the signing and witnessing of it were strictly enforced.

The Law is now much more flexible and a Court will often accept a Will which is not properly signed or witnessed or completed or a Will made by a text, or email or some other method. On the face of it, this would appear to make it easier to make a Will and may be an encouragement to people to make Wills in a less formal way.

Each person has the right to make a Will as they see fit and in the manner they see fit using a Solicitor or not. However, these more informal Wills will often create complexity and additional costs in the administration of an estate and there may be less certainty about the final distribution of a Will to beneficiaries. Such Wills are more likely to be contested. The administration of the estate may take much longer and may be significantly more expensive in legal and other costs.

Homemade Wills and Post Office Kit Wills are now becoming more popular. Often these are not made correctly, not properly signed or executed and their meaning is uncertain. This again, leads to further delays, uncertainty and potentially significantly more legal costs.

There is no substitute for a properly made Will by a Lawyer.

Contact one of our experienced Lawyers at Walker Pender Group Pty Ltd, to assist you to make a proper and accurate Will.

*The legal information in this article is of a general nature only and not intended to be legal advice to rely upon.