Wills and estate planning

Why you need a will

Preparing a will gives a clear guide of how you want your assets distributed and helps alleviate any stress and cost (or lengthy court battles) over ‘who gets what’ after you’ve gone.

Did you know, for example, that if you die intestate (without a will) there is no guarantee your assets will be distributed as you would like?

A will also gives you the opportunity to name guardians for your children, establish a trust or donate to charity through an organisation such as the Queensland Community Foundation.

When you should update your will

You should review your will every 3–5 years to ensure it still reflects your wishes. You may need to change your will if any of the following occurs:

  • you get married
  • you get divorced or separate from your partner
  • you enter into a defacto relationship
  • your children or grandchildren are born
  • your executor or beneficiary dies
  • there is a change in your financial circumstances.

How you can make a will

The Public Trustee offer a free will-making service to all Queenslanders over the age of 18. The process is quick and easy, using a specifically designed will-making system to ensure your will caters to your needs.

We'll make sure none of your personal circumstances are overlooked. Professionally trained will-makers are equipped to answer most questions. We also have an experienced legal team to clarify complex details.

Making a will with us also means there’s no risk of your will being lost or destroyed, as we keep the original in safe deposit at no charge.

Contact the Public Trustee to make an appointment. Help is available for people who are vision or hearing impaired or who need an interpreter. Under special circumstances, our will-makers may visit your home, nursing home or hospital.

Handy hint: It’s important to note that your will is revoked or cancelled if you get married, unless it is made in contemplation of marriage. Divorce does not revoke a will but it cancels any provision in favour of the former spouse.

Enduring power of attorney

An enduring power of attorney allows you to give your attorney (a person you select) the power to make financial decisions–and personal or health decisions–if you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself. An enduring power of attorney allows you to plan for the unexpected, such as an accident or physical or other illness.

You can nominate 1 or more attorneys and say when their power will begin. You can give your attorney(s) the authority to make any decision that you could legally make yourself or limit their powers to terms set by you.

A financial attorney is responsible for all financial matters, including receiving income, paying bills, taxation and contractual issues, investment and financial planning, legal actions or property management.

A personal/health care attorney may make decisions such as where you live, who you live with, daily issues like diet and dress and giving approval for you to receive certain types of health care.

Why you should make an enduring power of attorney?

You should make an enduring power of attorney if you are 18 years of age or over and have the capacity to understand the nature and effect of the power you are giving to your attorney.

If there comes a time when you are unable to manage your own affairs, it may be too late to make your wishes clear to those who will care for you.

The best way to provide peace of mind is to legally appoint someone now to manage your financial and personal/health matters in case in the future, you are unable to do so yourself.

How you can make an enduring power of attorney?

You can make an enduring power of attorney at your local Public Trustee office. We also attend regional courthouses to provide this service to people who live in remote areas. Contact us to make an appointment.

What if you don't know someone to make an enduring power of attorney?

The Adult Guardian can be appointed to look after the rights and interests of adults who are unable to make personal and/or health decisions for themselves. The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) can appoint the Adult Guardian as their guardian if any of the following apply:

  • there is evidence that a person has impaired decision making capacity and they have no family, relatives or friends who can act as guardian and make decisions on their behalf
  • the person has impaired decision-making capacity and has been abused, neglected or exploited
  • the person has impaired decision making capacity and there is such serious conflict in the family about the decisions to be made for the adult that QCAT decides that it is best for someone outside the family or supportive network to act as the adult’s guardian.

Read more about creating and updating wills and awarding enduring power of attorney.

Advance health directives

If you become seriously ill, you may be unable to communicate your healthcare decisions.

An advance health directive allows you to plan what medical treatment or health care you would like in the event that you cannot make decisions for yourself. It also enables you to appoint an attorney for health matters if you wish.

Make an advance health directive

Statutory health attorney

A statutory health attorney is someone with automatic authority to make health care decisions on your behalf if you’re an adult whose capacity to make health care decisions is permanently or temporarily impaired. A statutory health attorney will make decisions about your health care if you are too ill or incapable of making them.

For example, consent may be needed for medical treatment or an operation while you are unconscious. Or you may have an intellectual disability, dementia or an acquired brain injury and may be unable to make your own decisions.

A statutory health attorney will act if you have not:

  • set out relevant directions for your medical treatment in an advance health directive (see above)
  • appointed an attorney for personal matters under an enduring power of attorney (see above) 
  • had a guardian appointed for health care matters by the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal.

You do not need a special form to formally appoint a statutory health attorney. A person automatically acts in this role because of their relationship to you.

Read more about your statutory health attorney’s responsibilities.