In order to prevent your loved ones experiencing financial difficulties, you can ensure that you write a Will and make certain that your Will is valid.
A Will is a legal declaration of an individual’s intentions as to how he or she wishes to dispose of their property after death. Once you make a Will then the legal process in dealing with your affairs will be easier and therefore less expensive.
There has never been a more important time to make or update your Will and there are some milestones in life when you should ensure you either have a Will or that your existing Will is up to date and meets your current requirements.
For any person to be sure their beneficiaries can inherit their successes then a Will is the only recognised lawful way to ensure the inheritance passes as willed. To make a Will you have to be 18 years of age and have the mental capacity to make a Will. Yes, it is a ‘grown-up thing’ as a client recently commented. You don’t have to be old or ill as a prerequisite to signing your Will.
We all should protect the family by making provisions to meet their future financial needs. There is no automatic rights of inheritance regarding people who live together as man and wife without being married.
We all should name a reliable, honest and trusted person who is able to act as the executor, the person who distributes the estate according to the Will.
For many people, having a child prompts them to think about or make their Will. Naming a trusted person who can be relied upon to act as guardian to any children under eighteen years of age is one of the most important decisions that anyone can make. After all, they step into your shoes when needed. Considerations should include their circumstances and lifestyle. Ask yourself; could your child or children be comfortable living with them at a difficult time?
A major step in life is marriage and the marriage revokes your existing Will. However, if you are currently planning your wedding, you can make a Will in anticipation of that wedding, but you will need to know the name of your future spouse. Marriage is, therefore, decision specific when making a Will. The Court of Protection has stated that for anyone to enter in a marriage then they must understand who they are marrying and what a marriage is.
Divorce does not revoke your Will and following a divorce, many people’s personal circumstances change including living and financial arrangements. You should renew your Will to stipulate who you intend to inherit from your life successes.
Who will look after the loving dog, cat or horse if no arrangements are in place? Pet owners often take the opportunity to plan for their care. Others feel that a bequest to their favourite charity is appropriate.
Don’t overlook that you should make proper arrangements and outline any wishes in a Will regarding your funeral. Is it cremation and what do you want to happen to your ashes?
The government of the day sets the nation’s budget and this means that your circumstances can change as a result. The summer budget of 2015 saw amendments to Inheritance Tax! The first in many years. The Government will add a “family home allowance”, eventually worth £175,000 per person, to the existing £325,000 tax-free allowance incrementally from April 6, 2017. We all can make arrangements to reduce or eradicate any taxes that might be paid upon passing.
If you die without leaving a Will some of your closest family members could be left with no right to inherit anything. Those who could miss out on inheritance include unmarried partners, close friends, carers or relations by marriage.
Dying intestate means dying without leaving a valid will. If this happens the ‘intestate person’ will have their property shared out according to the complicated ‘rules of intestacy’ where unmarried partners have no rights of inheritance.
If you haven’t written a Will it can lead to arguments and bitterness. Wills, or the lack of, have formed the basis of many intriguing news headlines. Do you want to be the next headline?
Powers that Last…
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). The first and most commonly registered is a Property and Financial Affairs LPA and the second type is a Personal Welfare LPA. One allows the attorney to deal with all financial matters and the banks will only allow access upon its production, the other allows the attorney to make decisions about health and care issues.
A person over 18 years can donate their authority to another trusted person(s) to make decisions for them when they lack the mental ability to do so themselves. Usually, the attorney(s) are family members, husband and wife with sons and daughters or brothers and sisters.
The attorney(s) always have to act in the person’s best interest and that is why usually family members are appointed. It can, of course, be non-family members.
People lose mental capacity for many reasons and capacity can fluctuate over time. People become ill or in some cases sustain a significant head injury.
You can put an LPA in place now and at any time before you lose capacity. The problem for family members occurs when no LPA has been put in place and they are needed. Family members have to go to the Court of Protection and apply for them to be put in place and this incurs considerable costs.
The notion of considering LPA’s at the same time as a Will is to ensure that you have had the opportunity to make arrangements to enable people to look after you if that day comes when you lose capacity. Let’s hope it never arrives.
November 26th, 2015