In these unprecedented times, you should think about whether now is the time to consider what plans you have in place to deal with your personal affairs.
Whilst any risks of the Coronavirus pandemic can be minimised by following government advice, this infection looks like it will have dramatic implications.
So what should you have in place now and indeed at any time?
Still in this age where people’s families and finances are increasingly more complicated, the majority of people have not made a Will.
By making a Will, you can:
- Protect your wealth and investments for future generations
- Choose your executors – the people who look after your estate and carry out your wishes
- Make sure you don’t pay more Inheritance Tax than required whilst protecting your assets
- Appoint guardians for children under 18
- Account for changes in your family such as birth, marriage, divorce, bankruptcy and death
- Help your executors by increasing the powers given to them by law
- Make gifts to young children, disabled children or charities.
However, without a Will:
- Your estate may not pass to the people you want it to. Specific rules (known as Intestacy rules) will apply and will dictate how your estate is distributed
- If an unmarried partner dies without making a Will, the surviving partner has no right to any inheritance under the existing intestacy rules
- If you have children and have not left a Will, no arrangements will be in place covering who should take over parental responsibilities.
Reviewing your Will
You may well be one of the minority who have made a Will. However, it may be that the Will was made some time ago and significant life events have taken place. This might mean that your Will is not up to date or reflective of what your current wishes are. It is important to take the time to review your Will and ensure it meets with your wishes.
Lasting Powers of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which allows you to give another person (your attorney), the authority to make important decisions on your behalf.
You can only make an LPA when you are mentally capable. It’s a vital tool allowing you to make arrangements for the possibility that you may not be physically or mentally capable of managing your affairs.
There are two types of LPA – Property and Financial Affairs and Health and Welfare.
Property and Financial Affairs LPA
This allows your attorney(s) to deal with your property and financial affairs which would include:
- Paying your mortgage and bills
- Buying, selling or arranging repairs to your property
- Investing your money
- Giving people access to your financial information
- Paying for care and other things you may need.
Property and Affairs LPAs can be used by your attorney(s) whilst you are mentally capable and when you are not. This can be a very convenient way to delegate authority to your family.
If you’re a business owner, there are some specific issues that an LPA can cover. You can find out more about those in a recent article – Lasting Powers of Attorney & Why Business Owners Should Have One.
Health and Welfare LPA
This allows your attorney(s) to deal with your medical, welfare and care needs:
- Where you should live
- Whether or not you should have a certain type of medical treatment
- Who you should have contact with
- What kinds of social activities you should be involved in.
If a decision has to be made about life-sustaining treatment, your attorney(s) can only refuse or consent if you have said in the LPA that you want them to be able to make that kind of decision for you.
Health and Welfare LPAs can only be used by your attorney(s) at a time when you are unable to make such decisions for yourself.
How can we help?
At Actons, we have specialist lawyers who will be able to assist you in getting your affairs in order and planning for the unexpected. We do appreciate that this is not a topic everyone is eager to discuss.
However, with forward planning and the right advice you can rest assured that your loved ones will not face any unnecessary difficulties in managing your affairs should they need to.
Following government advice, we are currently offering telephone or video meetings and not face to face meetings, other than in exceptional circumstances.
Posted on March 23, 2020