With the Coronavirus pandemic ongoing, it has never been more important to ensure that your legal affairs are in order.
In this blog, we consider some of the steps you should take to make things as easy as possible for your family should you fall ill or pass away.
Making a Will
Over 50% of adults in the UK do not have a Will in place. It is extremely important that you have a Will to ensure your assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes when you pass away. If you do not have a Will in place your estate will instead pass in accordance with the intestacy rules – which may not distribute your estate as you intended.
If you have already made a Will, it is important that you review it regularly to make sure it is up to date and in line with your current wishes. Although you may not need to amend it every year, it’s a good idea to review the contents at least a year to see if changes are needed.
The current Coronavirus restrictions do not prevent you from making a Will. We are currently meeting our clients by video call for initial appointments. Once the Will has been prepared, we can send the Will to you to sign at home or you can attend one of our offices to sign at a safe social distance.
Leaving your affairs in order
If you haven’t done so already, it is important to let your executors know where your Will is being stored. There is no point in making a Will if it is not located on your death.
Your Will does not ordinarily provide a full list of the assets and liabilities of your estate. Therefore, it is sensible to leave a personal assets log with your will to assist your executors with the administration of your estate. If you already have a Will with us, we can send you a personal assets log to complete.
It is common for a Will to include a clause that gives your personal items to your executors to distribute in line with your wishes. It is therefore sensible to keep an up to date letter of wishes with your will to give clear instructions to your executors on the distribution of any personal items not specified in the will.
If you have a made a pre-paid funeral plan, you should notify your executors so that they are aware of the plan and can contact the appointed funeral directors on your death.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs)
An LPA is a legal document that enables you to appoint attorneys (who would usually be family members or friends) to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so.
A Property & Financial Affairs LPA gives legal authority to your attorneys to deal with your property, bank accounts and investments.
If you lose capacity without an LPA place, your family will not have the legal authority to deal with your finances. This can be extremely problematic should funds be needed to pay bills and/or care fees. This LPA can be used by your attorneys whilst you still have capacity, as long as you have given them your consent.
A Health & Welfare LPA enables your attorneys to make decisions regarding your medical treatment, life-sustaining treatment and where you live. This LPA can only be used if you have lost the capacity (either temporarily or permanently) to make a decision for yourself.
LPAs are currently taking 12-14 weeks to register with the Office of the Public Guardian and they cannot be used by your attorneys until registration has taken place. Therefore, you should put LPAs in place and register them now so that they are ready to use as soon as they are needed.
If you require any help or have any questions, please get in touch with our Wills & Probate Team.