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Laws affecting older Aussies can change


Laws affecting older Aussies can change

Despite a common perception that laws are hard to move and rarely change, the legal landscape for retirees and older Australians is in a constant state of being updated and improved. DON MACPHERSON explains.

After many years of complaints about the state of the retirement industry the Queensland Government embarked on a complete revamp of the rules and forms in various stages during 2019, with ongoing changes filtering through progressively.

The aim is to ensure greater clarity and transparency for people entering into retirement village contracts.

Similarly, the rules and obligations for manufactured home parks – described, more as a marketing term, as over 50s resorts – were completely changed and updated as of September 2019.

The idea is that the “dog’s breakfast” of contracts that were historically presented were systematised and regulated to make sure people actually understood what they were signing up to.

The legal landscape for Wills is also changing, with recent cases granting probate to documents that don’t meet the strict requirements of the Succession Act.

Handwritten notes, notes scribbled on an old will, even a text message, have been endorsed by the court as a last will and testament. A warning though – while in some cases an informal document has been accepted by the court, the costs of achieving such an outcome, particularly when different beneficiaries have potentially different outcomes, could easily exceed $50,000 in legal costs.

This is all for the sake of avoiding the cost of a simple will.

Aged Care, which is a federal jurisdiction, is due for a significant shake-up arising out of the Royal Commission, with very substantial changes likely in the not too distant future.

Most recently, as of July 1, significant changes have occurred in relation to the tax treatment of granny flat agreements which are likely to make formal agreements more important than ever.

Perhaps we will soon see a flood of discrimination cases based on ageism, a growing issue for our society.

 Don Macpherson is an expert in elder law at Sunshine Coast Elder Law. Visit or call 1800 961 622 or visit

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