Wills and Estate Planning – How to Avoid a Fright

It’s no secret that people are often averse to looking into the future, particularly when it comes to considering their own demise.

There are many reasons people may put off writing a will or preparing Lasting Powers of Attorney. Perhaps they may think it’s too soon to think about such matters, or maybe it’s down to superstition and wanting to avoid thinking about death or the possibility of incapacity.

October may be the season of all things scary, but here, we look at taking the ‘spooky’ out of planning your future.

Secure peace of mind. Taking the step of putting a will in place can bring great peace of mind to the individual, couple or family concerned.

Plan for every eventuality. A good private client solicitor will ask many questions about your circumstances when drafting your will, looking at various scenarios that could occur. This can allow you to cover all the bases, so you can ensure everyone you would like to benefit from your estate will indeed do so.

Only pay the tax required.  By fully considering how your estate will be distributed, you may be able to plan for how you can look to minimise the amount of Inheritance Tax that may be payable.

Office of Public Guardian. If you do not have Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, an application would need to be made to the Office of Public Guardian. This process can take several weeks and there is no guarantee of who will be appointed as a ‘deputy’ – the person/people in charge of manking decisions on your behalf. This can be avoided by having Lasting Powers of Attorney drafted, which names who you would like to look after different aspects of your life (health and finances).

Keep disputes to a minimum. Without an up to date will in place, it may be that the way your assets are allocated are questioned down the line by family members that feel they have not been fairly considered. A will that has been carefully drafted with a solicitors’ help and has been reviewed over the years will provide a stronger basis for your wishes to be carried out, leaving little or no room for these to be challenged.

You get to choose. Without a will in place, the division of your assets after death would come down to the laws of intestacy. Similarly, if you were to become mentally incapacitated, once permission had been sought, decisions about your health or finances would be made by someone else. By proactively putting legal documentation in place, you get a greater say over what will happen to your assets in the future.

Jill Waddington is a solicitor specialising in private client law at O’Donnell Solicitors. Please contact Jill Waddington on 01457 761320 to arrange a convenient appointment to discuss LPAs or any aspect of planning for your future.