The Importance of Setting up a Will and Lasting Power of Attorney

Wills

Many of us never get round to making a Will. Not having a Will can cause financial worry and problems for your loved ones. Taking the time to write your Will and secure the future financial needs of your heirs is very important, especially in today’s climate.

If you pass away without having made a Will, this is called dying ‘intestate’. The intestacy rules determine who inherits what from your Estate, which means your preferred beneficiaries could miss out and a large proportion of your Estate could go to the taxman!

If you live with your partner but are not married or in a civil partnership then your assets will automatically pass to your closest blood relatives, i.e. your children, parents or siblings, meaning your partner will miss out on inheriting from your Estate. Whether you’re married, single, cohabiting or divorced, you need to write a Will to ensure that your assets are distributed in line with your wishes.

Once you have your Will in place, it is paramount that you keep it up to date if your circumstances change, such as through marriage or divorce. Your assets will be distributed in line with your current Will, therefore, if you change your mind or you now wish for your Estate to be distributed differently, you will need to update your Will with your new wishes to ensure your loved ones do not miss out.

Planning and updating your Will helps to prevent the many family feuds that seem to follow a person’s death. By ensuring your wishes are clear you make things easier for those left behind.

Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

If many of us never get round to making a Will, there are even fewer who will set up a LPA. Many people assume that a LPA is just for the old, which couldn’t be further from the truth. If the current Coronavirus pandemic has taught us anything, it is that no matter if you’re old, young, healthy or not, you could end up in hospital unable to deal with your own affairs.

There are two types of LPA, one covering property and finance and the other health and welfare. The health and welfare LPA allows decisions to be made regarding medical matters about a family member should they become incapacitated due to ill health. A property and finance LPA gives similar permission over property and money such has paying bills and managing bank accounts.

If you become incapacitated and you do not have a LPA in place your loved ones will have to apply to the Court of Protection and a deputy will be appointed. The Court of Protection will grant legal protection and safeguards for you; however, the process is lengthy and more expensive than a LPA.

Setting up a LPA provides you with the security and knowledge that your affairs will be taken care of by someone you trust in the event of incapacity. It also provides your loved ones with the peace of mind that they will be able to manage your affairs without having a lengthy process to gain the permission they need.

How can we help?

Smythe & Walter are now able to offer a Will and LPA writing service via our very own India Johnston. If you need to set up your Will or LPA, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.

Lee Smythe MSc