We are experiencing exceptionally difficult times.
We will get back to having fun with our families and our favourite pastimes before too long.
At the time of writing we have wonderful weather which many of us are able to enjoy however those who are working in essential services and in particular the NHS are working harder than ever and are at personal risk while they serve society. We all thank them for their service to us all.
Many of us are working from home and now have the time and the inclination to pay some attention to matters that were previously ‘on the back burner’. There has been a sudden acceleration of people wanting to be sure that their Wills are up to date and that their estates will qualify for full inheritance tax allowances.
We know only too well that vulnerability increases with age but anyone can experience incapacity due to accident at any time and this makes Lasting Powers of Attorney very important. This is because in the event of incapacity due to accident or illness, if there are no LPA s in place, it is our families who will have to manage our affairs at their own expense. My own family would find this very difficult. It is only fair to them that I have LPA documents in place so that they can access my own funds and use them for my benefit. The Lasting Power of Attorney for financial matters enables them to do this. There is also the LPA for Health and Welfare which gives your chosen attorneys to power discuss matters relating to your health and to make decisions if you cannot make those decisions yourself. Otherwise matters relating to your health are protected by the rules relating to confidentiality and doctors have to be mindful of this. If you do not have these documents and you are unable to make decisions regarding Care, then such decisions are made by the Local Authority. I would prefer these decisions to be made by my own family members who I have appointed in the Lasting Power of Attorney Document.
Lasting Powers of Attorney are tremendously important as they give your appointees the power to assist you while you are still alive.
A Will enables us to demonstrate our love and protection for those who are closest to us during our lives. Dying without a Will is called intestacy. The State then distributes our assets in a way that we may not have wished. This often causes bitterness in the family. Many couples are choosing to live together without being married or in registered civil partnership. If there is no Will, a partner does not have automatic inheritance rights. Many couples have children from a former relationship and wish to protect their partner and also ensure that their children eventually benefit. It is therefore vital to have a Will.
‘On line Wills’ are cheap. These are Will forms for you to fill in. They do not give you advice about the best way to provide for your family and they do not give you advice about inheritance tax. They do not ensure that the Will is properly signed and witnessed. I have seen a number of ‘homemade Wills based on a Will form and I have not yet seen one that is satisfactory. In short, you risk spending very little money now but your family is left with the problems of sorting matters out later and this also can cause family conflict and higher legal and tax bills.
It is always best to get the advice of a properly qualified lawyer/Will specialist who can advise you and structure the Will in such a way that maximum tax allowances will apply. A little money spent now on proper legal advice can save a lot of inheritance tax and even legal fees in the event that your Will should be contested after your death.
This article is necessarily brief and so can only give an outline which may not apply in your particular circumstances. It is wise to seek legal advice.
Susan Shaw – Shaws Wills 01428 712856.
Shaws Wills and Trusts is continuing to work for our clients during this difficult time.