Putting your legal affairs in order
In later life, spending quality time with family and friends is a much more appealing prospect than putting your legal affairs in order, but planning for the end of your life will be of huge benefit to loved ones. In May 2018, Dying Matters Awareness Week and Dementia Action Week are encouraging people to think about what they want as they reach the end of their lives and the provision they would like to make for relatives, friends and charities.
Deborah Adams, Director & Head of the Private Client Dept who deal with wills and probate lawyer with Parnalls Solicitors in Launceston offers her top five tips when thinking about organising your affairs.
Make or update your will
Making a will is the most important step you can take to protect those you leave behind. If you die without a will, known as dying intestate, you have no say in what happens to your assets. You might think everything you own (your estate) will be divided between your closest family, but this is not guaranteed. Instead, the intestacy rules will apply, meaning the government decides who inherits what.
Making a will ensures your estate is shared according to your wishes and avoids an unnecessary burden on loved ones. Writing a comprehensive and legally accurate will is a complex process. Mistakes in wills can make them invalid, and lack of clarity can lead to family disputes. There are also tax issues to be considered.
It is a good idea to have your will regularly reviewed by your solicitor to make sure it still reflects your wishes. This is particularly important if you get married or enter into a civil partnership, if you get divorced, when children are born who you wish to benefit, or when you buy a property.
Think about a letter of wishes
There may be things you want loved ones to know after you die which do not belong in your will, for example funeral requirements, advice to guardians on raising your children, or an explanation of why someone has been excluded from your will. These are usually put into a letter of wishes, which can explain your thought process when making your will and provide guidance to your executors and family. A letter of wishes can include anything you like, but it must not conflict with your will.
Put in place a lasting power of attorney
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document allowing people of your choice to make decisions on your behalf if you become unable to. You cannot make an LPA once you lose mental capacity, so it is important to seek legal advice at an early stage. There are two types of LPA:
• Property and affairs: this covers decisions about your finances and property, like managing investments or selling your house.
• Health and welfare: this covers decisions about where you live, day-to-day care, and medical treatment.
Having an LPA in place will make things easier for your family. If you become unable to make decisions and do not have an LPA, it will be expensive and time-consuming for them to get authority to act on your behalf.
Consider an advance decision
An advance decision or living will allows you to put in writing your wishes about refusing medical treatment if you lack capacity. An advance decision is legally binding, which means the people caring for you must follow your instructions. It cannot be used to request certain treatment or for your life to be ended. The rules on advance decisions and how they interact with LPAs are complicated, and your solicitor can advise you on what best reflects your wishes.
Seek inheritance tax advice
Inheritance tax (IHT) does not just apply to the very rich. With rising house prices, more people become liable to pay the tax each year. There is no IHT payable if you leave your estate to your spouse or civil partner, and an additional allowance introduced in April 2017 means you can leave more tax free to your children and grandchildren. IHT is charged at 40 per cent, but there are lots of ways that the burden can be reduced. With careful forward planning and sound legal advice, you can ensure that your loved ones receive everything you want them to, without having to sacrifice more than necessary in taxation.
For help making a will, inheritance tax advice and any other estate planning issues, please contact Deborah Adams on 01566 772375 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Information to gather for your probate solicitor
Gazundering, what it is and how to avoid it
Relief from forfeiture – what happens if the tenant forgets to pay the rent?
Not so safe at work - compensation for an accident at work
New organ donation law: giving you control
Running a business from home
Have nude photos of you or your teenager been posted online?
Landowners’ rights and the Electronic Communications Code
Building in your back garden
Christmas is a time for giving (and inheritance planning)
Buying the freehold of your leasehold house
Redeveloping an empty pub for commercial use
Why it takes time to obtain the Grant of Probate
Social Media: The unconscious privacy threat
Is your reputation being threatened?
Making a will after your spouse or partner has died
Interns celebrate completion of internship at solicitors
Selling your home in a flat market, some top tips
Claiming compensation for a serious road traffic accident
New Media and Communications Court list reflects surge in internet defamation claims by Laura Baglow
Has your personal information been shared without your permission?
Planning your escape to the country, what you need to consider – part 2
Government consultation on new national model for shared ownership
Choosing a partnership structure
Planning for what happens when you die by Deborah Adams
Changes to legislation could offer protection for tenants in the private rental sector
Move to the country - Part One
The risks of DIY probate
Will your septic tank still be legal in January?
The death knell for ‘kiss and tell’?
Making a will when you retire
Selling your property at auction
Not looking so good - your guide to compensation for botched non-surgical cosmetic procedures
New threshold of seriousness in defamation proceedings
Legal considerations when building a granny annex
Choosing the right person for your power of attorney
Formal Interviews - Do you need legal representation?
Privacy rights and aerial images
Trustees’ duty to give information to beneficiaries
Five problems with a leasehold property
Taking your first commercial lease
Is your organisation protected from employee social media legal risk?
Have you been targeted by negative social media posts?
Farmers be alert when being inspected
Help for House Sellers?
Don’t let your digital assets end up in a digital grave
Valuing an estate for probate
Development proposals and your local authority search
What can you do if your child is injured in a serious accident
NetRights welcomes new protection for social media users
SHOULD I GET A LAWYER FOR A SPEEDING OFFENCE?
Supreme Court recognises that social media is a “casual medium” in libel battle
Choosing the best conveyancer who is right for you
Making a will after a second or subsequent marriage
Option or promotion agreement – which is best for landowners?
Anonymous pub and restaurant online reviews leave a bad taste
Have you had an accident involving a horse?
Help to Buy – beware of some cracks in the structure
Understanding Lasting Powers of Attorney
Changes to Energy Performance Certificate for Landlords
Had a cycling accident? Your route to obtaining compensation
New year, new home: tips to sell your home in the New Year
Tax Planning for your inheritance
Hearing loss: when your employer may be liable
Buying a home for your retirement, five things you need to consider
Farmers plan to diversify after Brexit
Ministers press ahead with probate fee shake-up - reports BBC News
Botched dental treatment? You may be entitled to compensation
Why a Health and Welfare Power of Attorney is a good idea
Will the new charge on building developments in Cornwall affect you?
Energy Performance Certificates – Do They Matter?
HMRC Challenging Stamp Duty Land Tax Payments
Ben Mitchell qualifies as a solicitor
The potential implications of Brexit on employment law
Appointing a guardian for your children
Houses in multiple occupation – new rules from October 2018
New Agriculture Bill published
Will Brexit affect my pension?
Dreaming of a holiday home? Sort out the legals before putting your feet up
Lasting Power of Attorney by Deborah Adams
Settled status after Brexit by Alexis Hager
How to choose an executor to administer your estate when you die
How overage agreements can boost profits from your land
Top tips for first-time buyers
How Could Brexit Affect My Farm?
Wills & Succession in Spain by Deborah Adams
Brexit – an international and local view by Alexis Hager, Litigation
Capital gains tax - important facts for non-residents of the UK
Buying a home: the importance of making sure the seller is entitled to sell
Changing a will after someone has died: it is possible and it could save you money
Your responsibilities when you have people working in your home
Sad passing of Battle of Britain pilot who served with Parnall family member
Considerations when buying a heritage property
Disciplinary proceedings at work: guide for employers
Employers should have a disciplinary process in place, but just following this may not be enough to avoid falling foul of the law and exposing yourself to the risk of an employment tribunal claim.