Have you made a Will or registered a Lasting Power of Attorney?
11 January 2017 10:22

 

Die will-less and your affairs can be in limbo for years. Yet many either don't want to think about making a will or are worried about the cost. You must be aware it could leave behind big problems, possibly as severe as being unable to pay the bills because the bank has frozen the account.

Whatever your age, if you've assets eg, a house, savings, or a business, and people or others you'd like to look after, consider making a will.

While thinking, talking and planning for death may feel uncomfortable, you need to consider how much worse the situation would be if you died or became incapacitated - through illness, accident, old age or emergency - without sorting it.

There are many specific reasons for writing a will, including:

Children or step-children under 18 - who will look after them?

Unmarried couples your partner is unlikely to benefit if you don't make a will.

Divorced update your will to include what happens to your assets if a previous partner remarries.

Specific funeral arrangements you can detail your will so that your family doesn't have to make the decisions.

Property Joint tenant' mortgages automatically pass to the other owner. If you've a ‘tenants in common' mortgage, it's important to say what happens to your share of the house. If you own a property overseas, inheritance laws may be different to the UK

Change in circumstances Update your will when you marry, divorce or have kids.

What does a will do?

Writing a will has four main functions:

  1. To name your executors
  2. To distribute your estate
  3. To provide for any surviving children aged under 18
  4. To mitigate inheritance tax

Lasting Power of Attorney

Without a Lasting Power of Attorney, if you lose the ability to manage your own affairs as a result of an accident or illness: • Your spouse or partner will not be able to access your assets or manage your financial affairs and welfare needs • Your family would have to apply to the Court of Protection to secure your benefits, arrange appropriate care and access insurance payments or pension benefits.

Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows someone you trust to make decisions about such things as your health care or finances at a time when you lack the mental capacity to make those decisions yourself.

The person making the Lasting Power of Attorney is known as the Donor. The person that the Donor authorises to act on their behalf is known as the Attorney.

There are two different forms of Lasting Power of Attorneys that can be made. One deals with your property and financial affairs. The other deals with your health and personal welfare issues.

Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney

Under a Property and Financial affairs Lasting Power of Attorney, your Attorney can do anything in relation to your property and finances that you could do yourself, e.g. buy and sell property, manage your investments, open and close bank accounts, claim benefits and pensions and carry on your business.

Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

Under a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, your Attorney can make decisions about social care issues and medical treatment, including life-sustaining treatment.

You can make one form of Lasting Power of Attorney without making the other. Each form has a registration fee payable to the Office of the Public Guardian of currently £110.

You may choose more than one Attorney. If you choose more than one, you must decide if your Attorneys must always act together or whether they can also act independently of one another. You can also choose to appoint a replacement Attorney who will act if the initial Attorney is unable to or their appointment is revoked.

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