Charities and Estate Planning

The Australian Charities and Not-for-Profits Commission (ACNC) Charity Register reports there are over 60,000 charities registered with the ACNC in Australia.

It also reports that the growth of the register increases at a rate faster than population growth and faster than business formation.

The Australian Charities Report published by the ACNC relating to the 2019 reporting year demonstrated that charity revenue grew by 6.8% that year, significantly more than the 2.2% growth of the Australian economy.

The sector had revenue of some $166 billion, with government funding accounting for over $78 billion and donations accounting for almost $12 billion.

The Report showed over half of all charities administered by the ACNC had no paid staff! Yes, that’s right: most of all charities administered by the ACNC are run entirely by volunteers.

Even so, the charities sector employs around 11 percent of all people in Australia.

If you are updating your Will, you might consider giving some of your assets or money to an entity registered with the ACNC (whether your local sporting club or Rotary club, the RSL, RSPCA, Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Cancer Council, etc).

Choosing Well

There are many things in life which we do not choose.

We do not choose to be born. We do not choose our parents. We do not choose our siblings. We do not choose our families. For many these are all wonderful gifts.

We do not choose when we get sick; nor when we die.

We all know thought that one day we will die – and this may, and may not, be after a period of sickness.

What we can do is to decide now who will make decisions for us in the event of our later becoming so unwell that we can no longer make decisions.

It is the mantra of our firm that each adult Australian should have in place an Enduring Power of Attorney. Such a document made by competent Australians (this person is known as the Donor, because we only use ‘fun’ and well-known terms in the law) grants a trusted family member, friend or professional (who is known as the ‘Donee’) the legal authority to make decisions for the Donor when the Donor can no longer do so.

Importantly, the Enduring Power of Attorney only allows the Donee to make decisions about the Donor’s property and finances – and nothing else.

Without an Enduring Power of Attorney, to obtain the legal authority to make property and financial decisions for a loved one, an application needs to be made to the State Administrative Tribunal. Your loved one will have no say in who is appointed to the role.

Because of the limit of an Enduring Power of Attorney, many people also make an Enduring Power of Guardianship – which allows the Donor to appoint someone to make all sorts of other decisions (such as where the Donor lives, what work the Donor does, if any, who is allowed to spend time with the Donor, what type of healthcare the Donor receives, and the like).

We don’t have time here to talk about another choice people have – that of an Executor for a Will, but it is another important decision for people to make.

Careful thought and good advice will go a long way to helping you make a good decision all in these respects.