Your legal affairs
It’s easy to keep putting it off, but taking some time to make sure your legal affairs are in check will give you peace of mind knowing that everything will be taken care of and your wishes carried out.
It’s never too early to start planning - there may come a time when you need to make decisions for a person you care for, or someone may need to make decisions for you. That’s why it’s important to keep all your financial affairs (e.g. bank statements, insurance policies etc.) together in a safe place. Just remember, you will need to let your friend/family member or executor (the person appointed to look after your estate) know where to find them so they can make sure your wishes are carried out.
Making a will
To make sure your wishes are carried out and your loved ones taken care of after you’ve gone, it’s really important you put together a will.
Not making a will could have serious consequences for those you leave behind, as your money, personal belongings and property may not go to the person/s you intended.
It is possible to write a will yourself but you may prefer to get help from a solicitor as there are certain criteria your will must meet to make sure it is valid. You may also need to seek legal advice concerning more complex matters such as the effect of Inheritance Tax on your estate.
For more information about how to write a will visit the gov.uk website.
Power of attorney
It’s not something we always tend to consider, but what would happen if you were to have an accident or an illness that meant you were unable to make decisions at that time?
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint one or more people (known as ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions or to make them on your behalf. This gives you more control over what happens to you. These decisions could be about everyday things like what to wear or when to pay a bill, or more important decisions like making a will and deciding where to live.
While you are still fit and well, you can set up a LPA to give someone the authority to make decisions on your behalf. There are two different types of LPA, including:
- Health and Welfare LPA – this lets someone make decisions about your medical treatment and personal welfare
- Financial and Property LPA – this lets someone make decisions about your finances, such as paying bills or selling your home.
The role of attorney involves a great deal of authority and responsibility, so it’s important to think carefully about who you would like to fulfil the role. You must be able to trust them to make decisions that are in your best interests.