Time to Put Your Affairs in Order?
Written by Emma Adkins
Private Client Consultant Solicitor
Wills and lasting powers of attorney are things that most people have heard of. Despite this, a surprising number of adults in the UK either do not have anything in place at all, or have out of date wills or lasting powers of attorney.
As most people know, a will sets out what should happen to your assets on your death. Wills vary for each individual, with some being relatively straightforward and some being more complex. Every person is different and requires tailored advice suited to their circumstances. At Greystone Solicitors, we can provide that advice, to give you peace of mind that your will is set up in the best possible way, taking into account the likely inheritance tax position, any potential tax planning and your specific family situation.
Lasting powers of attorney are documents that enable you to give other people the legal authority to manage your affairs on your behalf during your lifetime. There are two types of lasting power of attorney, one that covers your property and financial affairs, and one that covers your health and welfare. We are able to advise upon and prepare lasting power of attorney documents on your behalf.
Why make a will?
If you do not have a will, your estate will pass under the intestacy rules, which set out a fixed order of priority for who will inherit your estate. If you make a will, then you have control over where your assets go on your death, and can incorporate tax planning in to this. Having a will can also give added benefits if you have foreign assets, or children from a previous relationship, or if you have business assets or agricultural assets.
It is important to ensure that your will is properly drafted and that you are given the correct advice. A poorly drafted will can result in additional costs being incurred in the administration of your estate after your death, due to having to prove your intentions, dealing with disputes between beneficiaries or even having to go through court to determine the distribution of the estate. On the other hand, a well drafted will could save both solicitors costs and inheritance tax on your death.
Why make a lasting power of attorney?
You have to make a lasting power of attorney whilst you have mental capacity, although most people do not need their attorneys to use the power until they have lost mental capacity. You therefore have to make them before they are needed. If you wait until they are needed, often it is too late.
If you lose mental capacity and have not made a lasting power of attorney then someone (usually a family member) will have to apply to the court for an order allowing them to manage your affairs. The process of applying to court can take anything between 6-12 months, and usually costs in excess of £1,500. The court usually only grants orders in respect of your property and financial affairs. Health and welfare decisions are normally left up to the medical professionals and Local Authority if you do not have a health and welfare lasting power of attorney.
Making a lasting power of attorney is a lot more straightforward than someone having to apply to court. It usually takes a couple of months and costs a fraction of the price of the court application. There is also the major advantage of you being able to choose who manages your affairs on your behalf, rather than the court choosing a person for you.
If you own business interests then this should also be included in a lasting power of attorney, either with the same attorneys as for your personal affairs, or in a separate document solely covering the business matters.
As well as wills and lasting powers of attorney, Greystone Solicitors are able to provide the following services:
- Administration of Estates – if you are appointed as an executor, we can deal with the administration of the estate on your behalf, including obtaining the grant of representation, collecting in the assets, paying any debts, submitting tax returns and distributing the estate to the beneficiaries.
- Tax planning and advice – we are able to provide advice on capital gains tax and inheritance tax, and assist with implementing tax planning measures appropriate to your individual situation.
- Trust work – we can deal with the creation, administration and ending of trusts. This covers all types of trusts, including personal injury trusts, trusts for vulnerable people and trusts over property.
- Deputyship applications – in the event that a friend or family member does not have a lasting power of attorney and has lost mental capacity, we can assist you with making an application to the Court of Protection for a deputyship order, allowing you to manage their affairs.