It is important to protect your assets after you are gone and ensure your loved ones are well taken care of

It is important to protect your assets after you are gone and ensure your loved ones are well taken care of

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Wills & LPAs

Many people put off dealing with their estate until it’s too late. Don’t leave your loved ones to deal with your affairs after you have gone, as it’s already a stressful and emotional time, and surely you want to be safe in the knowledge that you finances are in order if the unfortunate does occurs. You have worked hard during life so don’t leave your wealth open to misuse or wrongly distributed after your death. Your wishes are important, so let us help you to write them down and give you the peace of mind that everything is in order.
Estate planning is not always about after you have gone, it’s also about what happens if life doesn’t go to plan. If you have an accident or develop an illness which means you are unable look after yourself. It’s important to ensure that you have the right people making the decisions for you. This can be done via a lasting power of attorney.

For further information & advice please speak to one of our Estate Planners

Why make a will?
Without a will the law decides how your estate is distributed when you die and this may not be as you would have wished. If there are children a surviving spouse does not automatically inherit everything, and unmarried partners do not inherit anything at all. Make a will to choose who manages your affairs, plan for care home fees and inheritance tax, and to give your loved ones the security they deserve.

What type of will do I need?
For some people a simple will is enough but in most cases your assets could be better protected, and your estate administered more efficiently by an asset protection will.

Family Home Protection wills – These wills protect a surviving spouse or partner in the family home but allows the first to die to stop their share of the home being used to pay the survivors care home fees or being inherited sideways if the survivor remarries. When the survivor dies both shares of the family home are distributed in accordance with the wills.

Discretionary Trust wills – These wills allow a deceased person to continue to exercise control over how their estate is distributed by appointing trustees. The trustee can then make sure that the inheritance is not; squandered, used to replace benefits, or placed under the control of the control of the Court of Protection if a beneficiary is incapacitated. A discretionary trust will is the best way to provide for minor beneficiaries until they are old enough to inherit outright.

Life Interest Trust wills These wills allow a surviving spouse or partner to be the primary beneficiary of the estate of the first to die. However, as they benefit via a trust the assets are protected if the survivor remarries or is persuaded to change their will. If the couple are married when the survivor dies the maximum possible Inheritance Tax allowances are available leaving more of the estate for the beneficiaries. These wills are good way for couples in a second marriages to leave their share assets to their own children eventually, in the safest and most tax efficient way possible.

Lasting Powers of Attorney
Lasting Powers of Attorney are legal documents whereby a person called the donor appoints attorneys to make decisions about their property and financial affairs, and their health and welfare if they become mentally incapacitated. Lasting Powers of Attorney must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used this does not have to be done as soon as they are signed.

A Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs gives authority to deal with the donor’s property and savings , including claiming welfare benefits, operating a bank account, managing investments, buying or selling property, paying bills and dealing with tax affairs. The power can be used when the donor has mental capacity (if the donor allows for this). With some limited exceptions the attorney does not have authority to make gifts to others.

A Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare covers matters concerning the donor’s health and welfare, such as giving or refusing consent to medical treatment, arranging social care and, making decisions about who has contact with the donor, or where a person lives. Attorneys can only ever make decisions when the donor lacks mental capacity.
Do I need to make Lasting Powers of Attorney now ?

If you lose capacity to decide what treatment you want or where you want to receive care, your next of kin will not be able to make these decisions for you, without a Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare. Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 a team of professionals, some of whom will never have met you or your family, would make these decisions for you. If you want to make sure the people you know, and trust can be involved in planning your care and challenge decisions if necessary, you need to appoint them as your attorneys.

Do I need to make Lasting Powers of Attorney now ?
Without a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Finance no one, not even your spouse or children, will be able to deal with your financial affairs if you lose capacity, which could happen suddenly. Your family would be forced to make an application to the Court of Protection to manage your affairs. The application would be very expensive and there would ongoing expenses every year. There would be a long delay before the court gives authority and managing your affairs will be a lot more time consuming and stressful this way. It may be a Local Authority who is appointed by Court of Protection, rather than the people you know and trust.

If you lose capacity to decide what treatment you want or where you want to receive care, your next of kin will not be able to make these decisions for you, without a Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare. Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005 a team of professionals, some of whom will never have met you or your family, would make these decisions for you. If you want to make sure the people you know, and trust can be involved in planning your care and challenge decisions if necessary, you need to appoint them as your attorneys.

Alison is an accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly, an accredited member of the Society of Trust and Estate practitioners and for many years served as a trustee of Age Cymru a major Welsh charity

Alison Huggins – Head of Estate Planning