Create certainty by planning ahead
The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us all that nobody knows what’s around the corner. Have you considered what would happen if the worst were to happen, for example, if you became ill or could no longer to manage your affairs? In most cases, a few simple steps could give you peace of mind.
Do you need a new or updated Will?
Put simply, Wills set out who you wish to inherit on your death. Putting one in place will help ensure your wishes are carried out when you are no longer around. If you have an old Will, check there have been no significant changes to your circumstances since you made it and that it still represents your wishes. If it doesn’t, make sure it’s reviewed and updated.
What happens if I die without a Will?
Without a Will, your estate will be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules. The result may be that your estate is not left as you would wish, which could result in people you do not wish to provide for benefitting from your estate.
Do you have Lasting Powers of Attorney in place?
Lasting Powers of Attorney are legal documents that allow you to choose who should make decisions for you about your property, finances, health and care if you become unable to make these decisions yourself. These documents allow you to give instructions and set out what you would like to happen in certain circumstances, for example whether you would want to receive certain medical treatments.
What happens if I become unable to make decisions and do not have a Power of Attorney?
If you do not have a valid Enduring or Lasting Power of Attorney and you lose capacity, no-one will have authority to deal with your property, pay your bills, access your bank accounts, or make decisions about your care.
In these circumstances, your family or friends may have to make an application to the Court of Protection to decide matters on your behalf or to appoint someone to manage your affairs. These applications can be expensive, time consuming and the person chosen by the Court may or may not be someone you would have chosen.
Many of the people we see are relatives or friends who are trying to sort out problems which could have been avoided if people had planned properly in advance. Although no-one knows what may happen in the future, the best way to prepare is to make sure you have an up-to-date Will and Lasting Powers of Attorney.
Kate Atkins is a Senior Associate in Berwins’ Life team and specialises in Court of Protection matters. If you wish to get in contact with Kate, you can either call her on 01423 542 783 or email KateAtkins@Berwins.co.uk.