Plan for your future now by making a Will and Lasting Power of Attorney

Talking to our families about what we want to happen to us or our belongings if we couldn’t make decisions anymore isn’t easy. However, one person develops dementia every three minutes, and these conversations become a lot more difficult once these situations strike if things haven’t been sorted out first.

Without a will, did you know…

You have no way of ensuring what you want to happen to your assets when you die will happen
Married or civil partners may not get your home. Under the rules of intestacy, which are followed when someone dies without leaving a valid Will, if your assets are worth more than £250,000 your spouse only receives up to that amount plus half of everything else. They won’t therefore automatically get the house on your death for example, if it’s worth more than £250,000. To be safe, making a will is essential.

Co-habiting partners have no entitlement
“The Common Law husband/wife” is a myth and can lead to people believing they are entitled to part of their partner’s estate whereas this is not the case without making a Will. They can however, make a claim against their partner’s estate after their death if they have lived together for at least two years and it can be proven that they have not been sufficiently provided for following their death.

Rule of commorientes
If you don’t make a Will and both of you passed away at the same time and it is not known in which order, it is assumed that the older spouse died first. Depending on their assets and the existence of other family members, it is likely that the majority of their assets will pass to the younger spouse. It is therefore the family of the younger spouse which will benefit (not the older spouse’s family).

Without Lasting Power of Attorney did you know…

Your partner couldn’t access your cash to help pay for your care or sell your home
Stroke is one of the most common reasons people lose capacity very quickly while one person develops dementia every three minutes. If a couple have a joint account, then there are less issues as their partner can access money to pay bills and so on. If not, they will struggle to get access to their account from the bank without going to the Court of Protection.

Even dealing with utility companies can be tricky
Often they won’t speak or deal with you unless you are the account holder, or the householder and that person has given you their permission. If a couple have a house together and one of them loses capacity the other partner can’t sell the house, whereas with a Lasting Power of Attorney for finance and property this can be covered.

You have no say over your hospital treatment
With a health and welfare power of attorney it offers an opportunity for you to say if you want to consent or refuse life sustaining treatment for example, or for those acting as attorneys for you (which can be up to four people) to make that decision. Your nominated attorneys can make decisions over day-to-day healthcare and medical treatments, as well as deal with any health and social care staff.

NB: Just because you give the trusted person power of attorney over your health, that doesn’t mean they will automatically gain control over your financial affairs and vice versa.

And finally…Don’t worry that by making a Lasting Power of Attorney means you are immediately giving up control of your affairs. You decide when the LPA comes into force, either before or only when you lose capacity to make your own decisions. The key point is an LPA can only be set up when you have mental capacity, once it’s gone it’s too late!

Do you want to make a will or are you interested in finding out more information about Lasting Power of Attorney? Contact Janet Howson by calling 01538 370838 or email jeh@bowcockpursaill.co.uk

Bowcock & Pursaill have 90 years’ experience of helping you solve your legal headaches. Contact our private or commercial teams for an appointment today by calling 01538 399199.

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