1. Prepare a Will
Whatever your December excesses, contemplating your own mortality is not an exercise you should rush into. However, ensuring that you have an up to date valid Will is one way to make sure your assets are dealt with in the way that you want when you are not around. If you have prepared a Will it is important that your review this at least every five years or whenever there has been a change in your circumstances.
The decision to make a Will can be based on a number of important factors such as who should inherit, appointing guardians for minor children or to follow expert tax planning advice. It should also be remembered that an effectively drafted Will can often ring fence your assets against third party claims and can also prevent your assets from being used to pay care home fees.
Whatever the reason for making a Will, one area that is often overlooked when considering the benefits, is the appointment of the right people to act as Executors.
The Executors ultimately deal with finalising your financial affairs after your death and depending on your circumstances, this can be very involved, time consuming and stressful. It includes dealing with money, property, investments as well as juggling the emotions of family members and any potential family politics. The Executors could also find themselves in a position of defending any legal claims by disgruntled family members at Court.
By taking independent professional advice from your solicitor and making a valid Will you can ensure that your estate is dealt with by your chosen Executors being either close family members, friends or in some circumstances, your Solicitor.
2. Complete a Lasting Powers of Attorney
How would your loved ones manage if you were in an accident, couldn’t manage your own financial affairs for any other reason, or you couldn’t make decisions about your own health and welfare? Many people think a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is only for elderly people, but there are many reasons why everyone should have a LPA.
While you have the ability to do so, everyone over 18 should complete a LPA to cover unforeseen situations should they arise, which prevent you from looking after your own affairs. There are two types of LPA – Financial Decisions and a Health and Care Decisions, which if prepared would allow you to appoint someone you trust to manage your property and finances if you became unable to do so.
This includes; managing your bank accounts and investments, selling property, managing business interest and liaising with official organisations on your behalf, such as Department for Work and Pensions/HM Revenue and Customs. Your LPA would also allow you to appoint someone you trust to make health and care decisions for you if you can’t. For example; where you live, your day to day care, access to your information or authority on life sustaining treatment decisions.
Having lasting powers of attorney is as important as having a will and a LPA gives people the peace of mind of knowing that if they ever lose capacity, the important decisions about their life can be taken by someone they have chosen and can trust.
If you require assistance in preparing a Will or Lasting Powers of Attorney, or any need more advice please contact our Wills, Tax and Probate team on 01922 720333 or email firstname.lastname@example.org