Whilst the past few years have brought unprecedented events, now the restrictions from Covid are largely a thing of the past, we can at least look to the New Year with a sense of certainty. Despite the best intentions, the events of the last few years have got in the way of many of us proceeding with our plans – and this includes putting protective legal documentation in place.
With this in mind, we provide some advice on the steps to take to start the year as you mean to go on.
Make a Will
Making a will is a sensible step at any stage in life.
There are several key stages involved in making a will. Firstly, you will need to consider your full list of assets and debts and come up with a rough valuation of your estate. You will then need to carefully plan who you wish to benefit from your estate and in what proportions. Families are often more complex in structure now than in times gone by. Being specific and clear about how you wish your estate to be divided, including any special gifts, is therefore important. You need to ensure you have thought about every eventuality – including what will happen in the event that any of your named beneficiaries pass away before you.
There are other key elements to consider, such as who should be appointed as the executor of your will and appointing a guardian for any minor children.
Should you have a will in place already, it is important to ensure that this is still up to date, appropriate and reflects your ongoing wishes. Should you have married, had children, divorced or experienced a significant change in your financial situation since you last updated your will, a review is essential.
Creating a Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to make your own choice of the person/people, to become your attorney and make decisions on your behalf should you no longer have the capacity. This can be for your financial affairs, your health and well-being, or both.
Lasting Powers of Attorney can be used once registered with the Office of Public Guardian, and without an LPA, it may be necessary to make an application to the Court of Protection for someone to be appointed as Deputy. This process can be complex, expensive and take many months.
Taking proactive action avoids problems later on, and this could lead to better outcomes. Therefore, if you’re looking to the New Year as an opportunity to take control of your future, making a Will and/or LPAs is a great place to start.
Jill Waddington is a solicitor specialising in private client law at O’Donnell Solicitors. Please contact Jill Waddington on 01457 761320 to arrange a convenient appointment to discuss LPAs or any aspect of planning for your future.