Where there’s a Will, there’s a way

Having an up-to-date Will and knowing where it is, becomes critical when unexpectedly you are required to change any banking accounts and one partner is unable to sign. Once Dorothy was officially diagnosed with dementia she was not legally permitted to sign. Fortunately, like many couples, we always had ‘joint’ bank accounts from the time we married, with either party to sign for any transaction.

I thought that would cover any eventuality, and it nearly did. When Dorothy’s condition worsened and it required her to be placed in permanent care, a whole new financial world opened. First thing I needed to do was to open a new, separate, account for her. Secondly, I needed to change the signing authorities for it and amend our existing joint account, so that it only needed me to sign and for one of my family to be an alternate signatory. Then I needed to consolidate all our finances to pay the Refundable Accommodation Deposit (RAD) to her new Care home who were happy to loan me our shortfall of $200,000 at nearly 6% interest rate (and it remains so, despite bank interest rates being low now!). That interest is debited against the RAD paid, each month, and will continue until the accommodation is terminated.

Those financial processes were hampered by me having to find our original Wills. That should have been easy, I certainly had a ‘copy’ but that was not acceptable to the bank, or anyone else – only ‘original signed Wills’ or a certified copy are acceptable!

I soon discovered that the solicitor, who had retained the originals for safe-keeping five years ago, was now nowhere to be found! He had retired, his home/office was unoccupied and there was no record of his whereabouts. It took three calls to the Law Institute to discover his private phone number, as only he was permitted to divulge the name of the firm who had bought his law practice. It should be incumbent, indeed a mandatory law, for such a change to have been notified to all clients whose original documents were transferred. Eventually, the new custodian solicitors released and delivered the ‘Original’ Wills.

Then began the process of getting ‘certified’ copies. Our bank, BankFirst, were immensely helpful and were also able to certify an extra copy for me. So, there’s the lesson: make sure you have access to an ‘original’ Will, and/or a ‘certified copy’, at all times!

Financing this unexpected move really added to the emotional impact of separation from my loved wife of over 60 years. Selecting, then being involved with a care home, a financial advisor, a bank, a caring family, and Centrelink, all at the same time, was overwhelming. You will almost certainly need some help. Maybe now is the time for you to think this through…..