It is very easy to postpone and procrastinate on life admin tasks that may raise uncomfortable topics or may seem difficult to do. A popular way to do this is listing them as a New Year’s Resolution to be subsequently forgotten about come February. However, although it may not be a priority for many, it is very important to ensure that you have a Will that is up to date and a power of attorney ready in case it is needed.
We would recommend having the following in place:
- An up-to-date Will.
Without a Will your estate will go through the intestacy rules, which may mean that those you wish to benefit from your estate don’t receive anything and it may instead go to people you would rather have not benefitted. Having an up-to-date Will ensures that your wishes and current circumstances are taken into account.
- A Memorandum of Chattels.
This is a document that is held alongside your Will. In essence it is a list of specific items that you may wish to gift to specific people, such as a watch or jewellery. The benefit of using a memorandum of chattels is that it can be easily updated as often as needed without having to change your Will.
- A Letter of Wishes.
As above, this letter is also held alongside your Will but allows you to be even more specific about what your wishes are. A common use for this is when you have children under the age of 18 and may wish to detail to a guardian how you would like your children raised. Or to provide examples of when an inheritance could be given to a child early, such as to pay for school fees, a house deposit or a car. This makes it easier for your trustees to make decisions.
- A Lasting Power of Attorney for both property and financial affairs and health and welfare.
This is a document that is used while you are still alive but lack physical or mental capacity to make decisions for yourself. A common misconception is that you should wait until you are elderly or ill to obtain a power of attorney. In fact, the opposite is true, these documents must be put into place when you have capacity and we typically recommend them to everyone over the age of 18.
These documents will allow those who you appoint to step into your shoes. The property and financial power of attorney can be used to pay for any household or property expenses on your behalf. The health and welfare power of attorney allows your attorneys to express your views and beliefs to medical professionals when you are unable to do so, such as in relation to life sustaining treatment. If a power of attorney is not in place then your loved ones will be restricted in what they can do, even if they are your spouse.
Should you want any further information about making any of these documents please make an enquiry with the Inheritance Protection team who can guide you through this process here.