The dawn of a New Year brings an opportunity to start off on the right foot. The past couple of years of living in the Covid pandemic has taught us a lot of things. One lesson is that you can’t predict what is going to happen – and with that in mind, being well-prepared can only be a good thing.
It may be that you have good intentions, but never seem to get around to making that will or arranging an appointment to discuss an LPA. For others, taking such actions may not seem a priority… estimates are that around 54% of UK adults do not have a will – with the most common reason cited for not having one being ‘not getting around to it’.
Here, Jill Waddington looks at some of the legal documents that should be at the top of your ‘to-do’ list this year.
Make a Will
A Will remains one of the essential legal documents every individual or couple should have in place. Without a valid will, it will be left to the rules of intestacy as to how your property and financial assets are allocated. For those with complex family structures or the growing number of cohabiting couples, the rules of intestacy are unlikely to mean your estate would be divided as you would wish. It is also worth remembering that a Will can specify arrangements for dependents – allowing you to choose who would become the legal guardian of any children.
There are a number of events in life that should especially trigger the need to put a will in place. These include becoming a homeowner, becoming a parent, getting married/entering into a civil partnership, getting divorced/civil partnership dissolution, or experiencing any other significant relationship or financial change. However, making a will is a sensible step at any stage in life.
Review your will
Just as there are a number of common triggers that increase the need for having a will drafted in the first place, any significant changes to your circumstances should also prompt a review of your will. Even if your personal circumstances may not have changed, the legal landscape may have, which could make a review every 5 or so years a worthwhile process.
Make Lasting Powers of Attorney
Making a Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to make your own choice of the person/people, who you feel would make the best decisions in relation to your welfare, to become your deputy and make decisions on your behalf should you no longer have the capacity. Lasting Powers of Attorney can relate to your financial affairs or your health and wellbeing, or both.
Without a Lasting Power of Attorney, the only option for taking control of financial affairs after the point of capacity loss is for an application to the Court of Protection to be made. Making an LPA is a fairly straightforward process and means that you can rest assured your affairs will be taken care of by someone you trust.
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.