5 tips for your affairs
Make a will
Making a will is the single most important step every adult should take, particularly if you are unmarried or have children under 18. Around 50% of adults die every year without having made a will which can result in heartache for your loved ones. Making a will can be simple, straightforward and may cost less than you think. In a will, you can deal with your finances, appoint executors, create trusts and even appoint Guardian for your children.
A will can also help to prevent your estate falling into the wrong hands. Without a will you leave matters to chance and the law, meaning it is not you who is in control of who gets your assets.
Keep your will up to date
As important as making a will in the first place is keeping your will up to date. If your wishes change, then you should also change your will. Don’t put it off otherwise your wishes will not be carried out. Having an out of date will can be worse than not having a will at all.
Take tax planning advice
Many people misunderstand how inheritance tax will affect them. It is important to take comprehensive advice that informs your will and management of your finances to ensure that any tax allowances or exemptions are fully utilised. From April this year new rules apply to the taxation of family homes and your will may need redrafting to take account of these changes.
Asset preservation is a complex area; therefore many people find it confusing. If you wish to secure assets for your family and loved ones specialist advice is essential to avoid making poor choices.
Powers of attorney
Your will speaks from your death and comes into operation then. If you are incapacitated before then perhaps by having a stroke or developing dementia your executors have no power to manage your affairs while you are alive. It is important to plan ahead and have a properly drafted and effective Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”) in place as “insurance” in case the worst happens, in that event attorneys you trust and have chosen will have power to deal with your assets in a way you want.
There are two types of LPA. An LPA for property and affairs would cover for example paying bills collecting pensions and generally looking after your affairs. An LPA for health and welfare can cover personal matter such as where you live, care plans and even medical treatment including end of life issues. These are sensitive, personal issues and it is important that your attorneys should know your wishes.
Before it can be used, the LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, this can take months rather than weeks. We would advise registering the LPA straight away then it can be kept in a safe place until needed.