We are now into a new year and although you may have contemplated your New Year’s resolutions, did you give any thought about making or reviewing your will or power of attorney?
At an already difficult time when such documents are required, taking care of these matters beforehand ensures less worry for your family and friends and means you control how your loved ones are protected. Often overlooked is the importance of reviewing a previously signed will or power of attorney.
Without a will, the laws of intestacy dictate the various categories of your family who will benefit from your estate. This means you will have no control over what happens to your assets or the people who will benefit from your estate. This may mean that the people you really want to receive your assets will get less than you intended, or nothing at all.
Without a power of attorney, should you become unable to make your own decisions, a Deputy is required to be appointed by the Court to manage your affairs on your behalf, and this may not be the person you would have chosen. A lasting power of attorney (LPA) lets you appoint the persons (attorneys) whom you wish to manage your financial and health and welfare affairs. Having an LPA avoids the complex, lengthy and expensive Deputy application, the Court’s annual charge to oversee the Deputy’s actions and the need for the Deputy to seek the Court’s permission to deal with certain aspects of your affairs.
A will may need updating where there has been a change in personal circumstances, your beneficiaries or your wishes. Where any law changes have occurred, a review can ensure that your will remains tax efficient.
An enduring power of attorney (EPA) signed before October 2007 remains valid, although you may wish to consider giving your attorneys greater flexibility by updating this to the newer LPA version. Whilst the EPA registration process can take around six weeks and mean a delay in matters at a time when speed may be of the essence, a registered LPA allows your attorneys quick access to manage your affairs. Even if you feel your EPA requires no updating, you may wish to consider a Health and Welfare LPA as an EPA only covers your financial affairs.
When reviewing an LPA / EPA, consideration should be given to whether your appointed attorneys remain able to act for you and that any included restrictions remain relevant.
Following a review, no action may be required but at least this ensures your wishes continue to be up-to-date and correctly reflected based on your current circumstances.
If you are considering making or reviewing your will or power of attorney, please contact one of our offices.