As the coronavirus pandemic continues, many people will naturally be anxious that their affairs are in order to ensure that the stress of loved ones is minimised should the worst happen and they become incapacitated or pass away.

Catherine Causey, Head of Private Client Services at WBW Solicitors, outlines some of the steps you can take to ensure your legal financial affairs are in the best shape possible and will be managed according to your wishes if you lose the capacity to do so.

Making a Will

To ensure that your assets are distributed according to your wishes after you go, it is vital to leave a Will. If you do not leave a Will, you will die ‘intestate’ which means all your property will be distributed out under the UK’s strict intestacy laws – which may not reflect your intentions at all.

As well as allowing you to provide financial security for your loved ones and make gifts of possessions and money to whom you choose, making a Will is also an opportunity to minimise the amount of inheritance tax payable on your estate and hopefully ensure that there will be no inheritance disputes after you have gone.

It also allows you to formally name guardians to look after your children, choose the people you want to serve as executors to manage your estate and distribute your assets according to your wishes, and make arrangements for your funeral.

Making a Will ensures that your affairs are in order after you die, but more and more people are also creating a financial lasting power, which allows them to nominate someone to run their affairs if they become incapacitated.

Making a financial Lasting Power of Attorney

A financial Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document which lets you (the donor) select a person or people you trust (attorneys) to make financial decisions on your behalf while you are out of action. This includes dealing with issues such as:

  • running your bank and savings accounts;
  • managing your investments;
  • paying your bills, including the taxman, your staff, suppliers, and any loan or mortgage payments due;
  • applying for benefits; or
  • buying and selling property.

The main benefit of a financial Lasting Power of Attorney is that you can state in the document exactly how you would like things to be run, providing guidance to your attorneys and placing any restrictions on them you feel are needed.

You can select family members, friends or professionals to be your attorneys, as long as they are over 18, have mental capacity and are not bankrupt or subject to a debt relief order. They can perform their duties for as long as you are unable to manage your affairs yourself.

Drafting your Will or financial lasting power of attorney can be a complicated business. You are strongly advised to seek specialist legal advice to ensure that you have considered every angle and that the final documents are legally binding and exactly reflect your wishes.

For further information, please contact Catherine Causey on 01626 202404 or email catherinecausey@wbw.co.uk

WBW Solicitors has offices in Newton Abbot, Torquay, Paignton, Bovey Tracey, Exeter, Launceston, Honiton, Sidmouth and Exmouth, all with private client advisers available to assist with Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorneys, Trusts and other legal matters.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.