4 June 2024

Importance of Future Planning: Wills & Lasting Powers of Attorney

Wills and LPAs

The accomplished writer Noelle Hancock once commented ‘procrastination is the lazy cousin of fear, when we feel anxiety around an activity, we postpone it’.

Majority of adults don’t have a Will

Nowhere in the world of law does this quote ring truer than when writing a will. Research by the National Will Register conducted in the UK found that 42% of adults have not discussed what should happen to their estate when they die, and a quarter of those surveyed said a considerable reason for this was because the subject was too morbid.

Arranging a Will gets put off because thinking about death is difficult or worries about the costs involved. On some occasions, it is simply because people imagine there is no need. However, without a will, you cannot ensure your family will be cared for in the way you would wish.

This can be a particular issue for unmarried couples who are also not civil partners as, without a will, nothing would go to the surviving partner. Instead, your Estate will entirely pass to your children, or if there are no children, then it will go to family, such as parents or siblings. Therefore, if you’re not married and have significant assets (for example, a property in your ownership), then a Will should be top of your priority list.  It’s also particularly important where there is a second marriage, with children from previous relationships.

Importance of Future Planning

The other vital element of this future planning is to think about who would manage your affairs and make decisions if you have an illness or accident that leaves you incapable of looking after things yourself. Matters such as this are dictated by documents known as Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs).

A common fallacy is that there is some automatic right for spouses, civil partners or children to look after finances when someone loses mental capacity or becomes unable to deal in person.   However, there is no such right – the only certain way that relatives or trusted friends can handle your affairs is to sign an LPA while you are mentally capable.

Anyone over 18 can set up an LPA, and at any point during their lifetime, as long as they have ‘mental capacity’ to make the decisions involved in drawing one up.  Professionals, such as the Partners at Howell Jones, can also be appointed as attorneys if there is no suitable family member or friend.

There is a concerning trend in the number of applications being rejected by the Office of the Public Guardian (where the LPAs are registered) so it is always advisable to consult a solicitor before completing LPAs to receive professional advice and build in the right protections from the outset.  Expert knowledge can ensure you have an LPA that reflects your wishes and protects against possible financial abuse.

If you are considering putting Wills or LPAs in place, please contact Howell Jones Surrey solicitors on 0800 011 9813 to discuss your options. 

our lawyers deliver an excellent quality service, independently recognised by The Law Society and our many returning clients.

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