In this first of two articles, Sarah Loveless, a Solicitor, Trust and Estate Practitioner and a member of Solicitors for the Elderly, considers whether you need to make or update your Will and/or make a Lasting Power of Attorney. Her second article considers the practical steps to be followed in making Wills and LPAs remotely during the COVID-19 lockdown. To contact Sarah direct, please email her, or complete the contact form at the foot of this page.
See also – COVID-19: making Wills and LPAs remotely
The current COVID-19 crisis is serving to focus the attention of many of us into putting our affairs in order. Of primary concern is whether you need to make or update your Will and/or make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
I do not have a Will, do I need to make one?
Irrespective of the current crisis, we strongly advise everybody to make a Will. This is because:
- if you die without a Will, irrespective of your wishes, there are fixed rules which determine how your money, property and possessions are allocated;
- unmarried partners and partners who have not registered a civil partnership, cannot inherit from each other unless that is provided for in a Will, which can cause serious financial and other problems for the survivor;
- if you have children, a Will allows you to make arrangements for them should both parents die;
- taking advice on your Will may allow you to reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax payable on your estate.
Do I need to update my Will?
If you have an existing Will, you should review it to make sure it accurately reflects your wishes. You should consider the following points:
Have your circumstances changed since you made your Will?
- Have you got married, remarried or entered a civil partnership? If so, your Will may be invalid.
- Have you got divorced, separated or dissolved a civil partnership?
- Have you had any (more) children or grandchildren?
- Have any family members or close friends that are included in your Will subsequently died?
Are you happy with the people appointed as your Executors?
Executors are the people who will administer your estate.
Do you wish to add any new clauses to your Will?
- Funeral Wishes;
- Personal Possessions;
- Specific Gifts;
- Monetary Gifts.
Did you make your Will before October 2007?
You may have created a “Nil Rate Band Discretionary Trust”? If so, this may no longer be required as in October 2007 the Transferable Nil Rate Band was introduced. This means that a deceased spouses’ unused Nil Rate Band for Inheritance Tax can be transferred to your estate upon your death. However, there may be good reasons why you may wish for the Discretionary Trust to remain in place and we would explore this with you.
Do I need a Lasting Powers of Attorney?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which allows you to appoint people (“attorneys”) to act on your behalf, if and when you lose capacity to make decisions yourself. You can appoint one or more attorneys, with a maximum of four. You can also have up to two replacement attorneys and can decide whether you wish to notify anybody of your Lasting Power of Attorney being registered.
There are two different types of Lasting Power of Attorney:
- Financial Decisions;
- Health & Care Decisions.
Financial Decisions LPA
A financial decisions LPA can deal with the following points:
- Managing a bank account or building society account;
- Paying any bills;
- Dealing with the collecting of benefits or a pension;
- Selling your property.
With this type of LPA, you can choose whether you would like your attorneys to act for you as soon as the LPA has been registered (even if you still have mental capacity) or only when you have lost mental capacity.
Health & Care Decisions LPA
A health & care decisions LPA can deal with the following points:
- Your daily routine e.g. eating, washing, dressing;
- Medical care;
- Care homes;
- Life-sustaining treatment.
This type of LPA can only be used once you have lost mental capacity to make decisions yourself. This LPA gives you the power to decide whether you wish for your attorneys to be able to give or refuse consent to life-sustaining treatment on your behalf.
How can I make/update my Will or LPA now?
To arrange to make a Will or LPA now during the COVID-19 crisis, see our second article: