Will you lose your capacity this year? Here’s a salutary statistic – this year, 2016, it is estimated that some 118,739 people in Queensland will lose their capacity to make their own decisions. That statistic becomes scary when combined with another one – only about 14% of Queenslanders have an Enduring Power of Attorney (“EPA”).

Trouble is most of us won’t receive any prior notice or a reminder in the mail advising us that it could be our turn to lose our marbles. But hey, it doesn’t really matter, does it, because it will never be me or you, it will always be somebody else. When it comes to the law of probabilities, we apply the old mantra, ‘Life is uncertain, eat desert first’ and, this year, it could be me, or you or ‘them’.

What moves me to harp on this subject constantly is my experience of life and law and how most of us just don’t see, or want to see, the two forces as either close or connected. We would much rather live life without the law interfering. The best legal description we can give to that is ‘being silly’.

The law, in fact, is not an Indian giver but a real giver of valuable things that we can use to confront those unknown future life events. One of those is the EPA. Yet the statistics show that we’re just not interested until, that is, it’s too late.

I cannot tell you the family anguish, stress, anxiety and cost that I have witnessed over the years because people were silly. A failure to put in place these legal gifts leads, inevitably, to having to confront a lengthy, costly and complex legal process to overcome the oversight. Just as an example, a failure to put in place an EPA by an elderly lady who was the sole director and shareholder of a large family company and who suddenly lost her capacity from a stroke, resulted in the expenditure of over $340,000 in legal costs to fix the problem. Mind you, most of those costs were attributable to a guerrilla war waged between her 4 dysfunctional adult children. But, in the end, this would have been avoided if she had just done something earlier such as an EPA.

It is remarkable how many of us leave a legacy of lethargy which then only results in a legacy of implosion in our families.

Yet, I’m not sure why I am I telling you this now. The elderly lady above incurred far more in legal fees than if she had come to me in better times to do her EPA. Trust me, it would have cost her significantly less than $340,000.

On second thoughts, ignore everything I have said above, please don’t do one of these important documents, it might be good for you but it’ll be bad for my business.

 

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