Safeguard your future by reviewing matters now

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Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney

Safeguarding your future by reviewing matters now

Many of us have someone in our family who has been diagnosed with dementia. It is a very distressing condition for the person and the family because, amongst other things, your loved one can no longer make decisions for themselves. Solicitors will not be able to act without a "court of protection" if a person’s condition has advanced to a point where they are unable to manage their own affairs and sign legal documents.

However, if you are considering your own future and old age, here are the two most important things you can do to ensure your legal affairs are in order for your family and loved ones. Make or update your Will and/or set up a Lasting Power of Attorney.

Make or update your Will

It is important to make or update your Will now so that you will have peace of mind for the future. By making a Will you can decide to whom to leave your assets and who you want your executors to be. They will be responsible for administering the estate on your death. You can only do this if you have the mental capacity to do so. Therefore, it is important to make one now. Speak to one of our solicitors who will carefully draft your Will for you. They will give you advice about many aspects you may not have considered, such as any inheritance tax and how any of your business assets should be dealt with.

If you die without a valid Will, the intestacy rules apply and your relatives, in a strict order, will inherit your estate. Unmarried partners are not entitled to anything under the intestacy rules. Therefore, if you are not married, it is important that you make a Will to safeguard your partner’s future.

You should review your Will regularly to keep it updated regularly.

Lasting Powers of Attorney 

You should also consider what would happen if you were unable to manage your affairs whilst you are alive. A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document, which gives someone else the power to make decisions on your behalf. There are two types of LPA. One covers your finances and property and the other covers health, medical and welfare decisions. 

Like a Will, LPAs can only be made if you have the mental capacity to understand and sign the legal document. Therefore, it is a good idea to consult a solicitor with a view to making one  in advance. If you do this, you can have peace of mind that the LPA documents are ready to be used should you need help in the future. If you lose the ability to manage your own affairs and have not made an LPA, the only alternative is for someone to make a Court application which is a costly and time-consuming process at what may already be a stressful time. This may, or may not, be the person you would have chosen to direct your affairs.

LPA for financial decisions

An LPA for financial decisions can be used while you still have mental capacity, or you can state that you only want it to come into force if you lose capacity. This can cover things such as buying and selling property, paying the mortgage, investing money, paying bills, and arranging repairs to your property. You can restrict the types of decisions your attorney can make or let them make all decisions on your behalf.

If you are setting up an LPA for financial decisions, your attorney must keep accounts and make sure their money is kept separate from yours. You can ask for regular details of how much is spent and how much money you have. These details can be sent to your solicitor or a family member if you lose mental capacity. This offers an extra layer of protection.

LPA for health and care decisions

This covers health and care decisions and can only be used once you have lost mental capacity. An attorney can generally make decisions about things such as: where you should live, your medical care, what you should eat, who you should have contact with, and what kind of social activities you should take part in. You can also give special permission for your attorney to make decisions about life-saving treatment.

A Word of Warning

If you are married or in a civil partnership, you may have assumed that your spouse would automatically be able to deal with things like your bank account and pensions, or make decisions about your healthcare, if you lose the ability to do so. This is not the case. Without an LPA in place, they will not have the authority.

What happens next?

If you decide you want to put an LPA in place, your solicitor will have the relevant forms and an information pack from the Office of the Public Guardian. Your solicitor will fill in the form. The form needs to be signed by the certificate provider who is someone who confirms that you understand it and have not been put under any pressure to sign it. The certificate provider will most likely be your solicitor or another professional person such as a doctor or social worker. 

To make a Will or a Lasting Power of Attorney, please contact our experienced team of lawyers on 01492 874774 or 596596 today.