We all start the New Year with good intentions and resolutions to improve. Here are some thoughts to keep your affairs in good shape without having to join a gym!
Make a Will
Surprisingly around half of all adults who die every year don’t have a will. Making a will can be simple and straightforward and may cost less than you think. You can deal with your finances, appoint executors, create trusts and appoint guardians for your children. It is particularly important to make a will if you are unmarried or if you have children who are under 18. Without a will you leave matters to chance and the law.
Keep your Will up to date
This is almost as important as making a will in the first place. If your wishes change then you must change your will. Having an out of date will can be worse than not having a will at all. Do your executors need updating? Do your wills contain trusts that are no longer appropriate?
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.
List your Assets
Consider listing your assets and giving a copy to your family or executors. The popularity of online investing can make it hard for families to know what you have and where your assets are invested. An up to date list can make things easier.
Powers of Attorney
Your will speaks from your death and comes into operation then. What if you are incapacitated before then? If you have a stroke or develop 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. 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 matters such as where you live, care plans and end of life issues. Before it can be used the LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. My tip is to register straight away after the LPA has been signed. This can avoid delays later. Once registered the LPA can be kept in a safe place until needed.