WillBits

Judiciary

Courts and the judiciary are creating new traditions as they move toward a digital judicial system. There is support from a wide variety of legal industry experts, legal industry representative bodies, government agencies and legislators for the creation of uniform national Power of Attorney legislation and the creation of a national register of enduring power of attorney (POA).

The Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) says that there is an issue with greedy children using a POA document as a "licence to steal" from their elderly parents. The ALRC are advocating for the Law Council of Australia to review the guidelines for the preparation and execution of wills, consistent POA legislation across all states and the establishment of a national register of powers of attorney that is authoritative, searchable and can be accessed by key stakeholders such as banks to try to prevent financial elder abuse. Probate in South Australia is leading the way with an electronic lodgement system, but is still hamstrung by the tradition of paper wills.

The Civil Affairs Tribunal (SACAT in SA, VCAT in Vic, etc) are experiencing an increased incidence of financial elder abuse issues coming before their magistrates, exacerbating the backlog of cases before the courts. The South Australian Law Reform Institute (SALRI), a committee hosted by Adelaide University, has identified a need for a public will bank.

In July 2019 the Council of Attorneys General identified the need for creating uniform national legislation for POAs and overseeing the creation of a national register of POAs. The Council has undertaken to investigate the feasibility of developing a National Register of Enduring Power of Attorney and formulating a uniform set of legislation.

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