How One Document Can Affect Your Life

As soon as I answered my phone, I knew the situation was serious. Jane’s voice was shaky. She spoke quietly of her recent tragic circumstances.

Six years ago, Jane and her husband, Tom, moved to Perth from the UK with their two children, aged 6 and 8. After months of intensive house hunting, they found their dream home and signed the contract to buy the house. The settlement was booked for three weeks later.

The night before their move, the four of them sat around a make shift table eating dinner. Tom was talking to Jane when he suddenly fell off his makeshift stool. Jane burst into laughter, thinking the stool had broken. When Tom didn’t get up from the floor, Jane panicked. She thought Tom had suffered a heart attack. No. Tom had suffered a stroke.

By the time Jane called me, Tom had been rushed to the hospital and he had undergone many medical tests.   The doctor confirmed that Tom had lost all movement on his right side. The full extent of his brain injury was still unclear and it would take some time to be diagnosed.

The next day, while sitting at Tom’s bedside, Jane received a phone call from Susan* – their settlement agent.  Jane and Tom still had to sign some final papers with their bank as part of the settlement to buy the house. Susan suggested that Jane call their bank.

When Jane called the bank, their short response was NO! Without an Enduring Power of Attorney from Tom, Jane was not allowed to sign any of the papers for the house on his behalf.

Suddenly, Jane’s world felt apart. How could the settlement of the house go through without Tom’s signature? She didn’t have an Enduring Power of Attorney from Tom.

Tom and Jane discussed each of them getting a Will and an Enduring Power of Attorney a year ago but it wasn’t a priority for them at that time. Their agenda did not include the ‘unexpected.’

Fortunately, I was able to help Jane urgently with a legal hearing. The State Administrative Tribunal authorised Jane to act as Tom’s Attorney. She was able to sign the final papers for the house.

Tom’s situation improved however his brain injuries meant he could no longer sign any paperwork. He also couldn’t make his own financial decisions. Jane had to make all his financial decisions and sign all relevant paperwork on his behalf.

The emotional strain of Jane’s tragic situation would have been avoided had Tom signed an Enduring Power of Attorney.

Don’t underestimate the ‘power’ of an Enduring of Power of Attorney. Without it, your world could fall apart around you.

Get the proper legal paperwork to protect you and your family from such tragic circumstances. Contact SBT Legal today.

* Names changed to protect the person’s identity.

Shirley Tascone