On Martin Lewis’ Money Show this week, he covered the 3 unpleasant events which many individuals and families try to avoid thinking about: death, divorce and dementia. While these are topics which are uncomfortable to think and talk about, the consequences of not planning ahead can be very serious.
Unfortunately, everyone will die. You can make the process easier on your loved ones by planning ahead and making a Will.
Why write a will?
The benefits of writing a Will include being able to choose who will deal with your estate (your assets after your death) by appointing executors, choosing guardians for any children under 18 in the event that both parents die, and choosing who receives what or how much from your estate.
Choosing who you wish to provide for in the event of your death and expressing it in a Will is extremely important. If you fail to write a Will, the statutory rules set out in the Administration of Estates Act 1925 come into effect, known as the intestacy rules.
The beneficiaries of an intestate estate vary depending on who survived the deceased as well as how much the estate is worth – is there a surviving spouse or civil partner, and are there surviving children? Are there grandchildren of a child who died before the deceased?
It is important to note that no matter how long a person cohabits with their partner, unless they marry or enter into a civil partnership, the surviving partner will inherit only property owned jointly with the deceased and nothing owned in the deceased’s sole name. For cohabiting couples, assets in the sole name of the deceased will pass to his or her children if there are any, or potentially to the deceased’s parents, or brothers and sisters. While this may seem unfair, it is purely the result of the deceased choosing not write a Will and the legislation designed to operate when that happens.
It is also important to note that the legislation defines children only as blood issue or legally adopted children. It does not include stepchildren, or any child who does not have the deceased’s name on their birth certificate.
Grandchildren will not inherit anything unless their parent, a child of the deceased, has already died.
The bottom line is that without a Will, you will have no say on how to provide for your loved ones when you die. We can help by providing you with advice tailored to your unique circumstances and drafting a Will which clearly states your wishes.
What happens if you develop dementia or you lose capacity?
Dementia is another difficult topic to discuss, particularly for adult children of elderly parents, but again there are steps which you can take to ensure that if you do develop dementia or your mental capacity diminishes for any other reason, people that you trust are able to look after you. Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs), unlike Wills, are documents which many people make hoping they will never be needed. The reason for this is that LPAs must be made while an individual still has sufficient mental capacity to understand the documents and their importance – they cannot be made once dementia has progressed to a stage where the individual cannot retain information relevant to making the documents. You can make 2 types of LPA: one to cover Property & Financial Decisions, and one to cover Health & Welfare Decisions. These documents state who you would like to make these decisions in the event that you are no longer able to do so – your appointed attorneys. Your attorneys should be people you trust, and who understand your wishes, so having a frank conversation with your attorneys while you are able to do so is very important.
LPAs must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used, and currently the time between the application to register and receiving the documents is around 20 weeks. This means that making LPAs long before they might be necessary is the wises course of action to avoid difficulties in accessing finances or being able to make decisions about longer term care.
The team at Morr & Co can assist you with making LPAs, ensuring they are correctly executed, and registering them with the OPG.
Contact us to make an appointment and we will try to make the difficult decisions as simple as possible.