Ben Jago, as supplied and published in Star Observer 10 November 2015
Make sure that your wills, powers of attorney and advance care directives refer to partners as such rather than just by name.
An interesting article published in the Star Observer on 10 November 2015 and written by Shannon Power, identifies the issues and grief that can be caused through not understanding the steps to ensure a same sex partner is next of kin. Whilst the article refers to a same sex relationship the message is just as relevant for all couples in de facto relationships. The full article can be read here.
Ben Jago and Nathan Lunson, lived together five years and were intending to be married in New Zealand in 2016. Their relationship, though not officially registered, should have been recognized as a ‘significant relationship’ under the Tasmanian Relationship Act. A significant relationship is similar to a de facto relationship recognized in other states and territories of Australia.
Ben found Nathan dead in January 2015 in the home they had purchased together. Ben however was not recognized as next of kin with no say in funeral arrangements or any recognition of the relationship they had together. Ben said it meant he hadn’t been able to grieve.
The article quotes advice from Michael Tiyce Principal of Sydney-based family law firm Tiyce and Lawyers who indicated a number of legal options which could be taken to ensure final wishes are respected.
“An executor of a will is responsible for the disposition of the deceased’s body, for example by burial or cremation,” he said.
“Appointing your partner as your executor would generally resolve the issue, and it is important that such documents as wills, powers of attorney and enduring guardianship appointments refer to partners as such rather than simply by name to avoid any confusion.”
The Adelaide law experts at Williams Barristers and Solicitors can assist you with ensuring your Will, Advance Care and Power of Attorney documents accurately reflect your wishes.