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Putting Your Affairs in Order: Wills & Powers of Attorney

August 16, 2018  |   Posted by :   |   Blog

wills and probate solicitor Thames Valley

You wouldn’t hesitate to insure your car, your home, or your most prized possessions – so why do people put off making a will and setting up powers of attorney? For some, the thought of ‘putting their affairs in order’ might feel overwhelming, morbid, or scary. Others may (erroneously) believe the process is complicated, lengthy, or expensive. And others may simply be living in blissful denial, thinking (or hoping) that the worst will never happen.

A frankly staggering two-thirds of Brits currently don’t have a will, with almost half (40%) of those aged over 55. If you die without a will in place, your family may be saddled with unexpected debts, or be left without inheritance, especially if you are unmarried or have step-children. Similarly, if you find yourself unable to make decisions – for example due to serious illness or dementia – and have not set up powers of attorney, your family will have no guidance as to how you would like your care and assets to be managed.

No matter your reasons for putting off making a will or arranging powers of attorney, you probably know deep down that it’s something you should do. And though there’s no ‘right time’ to sort these things out, the best time to put your affairs in order is now. To put it bluntly, do you really want your loved ones to suddenly have to deal with legal issues, bills, and important decisions, or would you rather your solicitor was able to take the burden off their shoulders with clear instructions on what to do? The answer’s easy, right?

Time to stop putting it off and start putting your affairs in order.

Making A Will

Making a will allows you to legally state your wishes for how your assets, property and possessions are divided among your friends, family, or any charities to which you wish to donate. A will is vitally important if you have any dependents, are unmarried (and wish your partner to inherit), or have complex assets and liabilities such as businesses, properties, or investments to consider.

A properly-made will also enables you to pay less inheritance tax, as well as giving you the opportunity to set down preferences for funeral arrangements and factoring in all those little decisions like who you’d like to look after your pets when you’re gone.

Lasting Powers of Attorney

Lasting Powers of Attorney (or LPA) is a process in which you appoint someone (a family member, friend, or your solicitor) to handle your decisions in the event you are unable to do so yourself. There are two types of LPA to consider: one for your health and welfare (such as how to pay for care, or what kind of treatment you consent to), and one for your property and finances.

Putting Your Affairs in Order

Now that you’ve decided to get things sorted, here are a few tips on how to go about it:

  • First things first, talk to your family about your intentions for your will and powers of attorney. You will need to appoint an executor for your estate, and you may need to decide on a potential guardian for your children. Think about who will be affected by your choices and sit down with them to talk about the future.
  • Next, make a list of assets and liabilities: that includes bank and savings accounts, property, businesses, pensions, health/life insurance policies, investments, high-value possessions, and debts. You may also wish to list items of significant personal value that you would like to be passed on to specific family members or friends in your will.
  • Be prepared to get some paperwork together before you speak to your solicitor. This might include birth and marriage certificates, property deeds, divorce decrees, and tax documentation. You will also need to provide details of any dependents.
  • The next and most important step is finding a solicitor you trust to handle your affairs. A good solicitor will help to take the weight off your shoulders and give objective advice on your individual situation, for example: helping you to minimise inheritance tax, or acting as an executor.
  • Finally, once your will and powers of attorney are set up, make sure you give your family instructions on where to find any necessary documentation and how to contact your solicitor. You may also want to make an assets register and make a list of any accounts, insurance policies and utilities that will need to be dealt with after you’re gone.

You may not be able to predict the future, but you can protect your family and friends by putting your affairs in order and making sure you have an up-to-date will and powers of attorney in place, giving you all peace of mind and reassurance that your affairs will be taken care of according to your wishes.

To speak to one of our expert wills and probate solicitors get in touch at www.franceslindsay.co.uk or book a free 45 minute consultation to discuss your needs.

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