Wills and power of attorney- Don’t leave it too late
Statistics from the Alzheimer’s Society show that there are around 850,000 people living with dementia and the number is expected to rise to over one million by 2025.
Charities that care for the elderly advise everyone to plan for a time when they might not have the mental capacity needed to handle their own financial affairs or deal with decisions about their care, and to make sure they make their Will.
A WILL IS IMPORTANT
Having a valid Will in place will ensure that after your death, your assets are distributed as you would wish. If you don’t leave a Will, then your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy, and this could mean that those close to you who you would have wanted to benefit from your estate might receive nothing, while distant relatives you hardly know might benefit instead. You need to make your Will when you still have the mental capacity to make your wishes known.
PROTECTING YOUR INTERESTS
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA), or Continuing and Welfare Powers of Attorney in Scotland, are becoming much more widely used. They can be written to cover both financial matters and health care provision, and give you the satisfaction of knowing that you have nominated someone who can legally act on your behalf if you no longer have the capacity to deal with matters yourself.
Many people wrongly assume that their loved ones can automatically deal with banks and building societies or health authorities on their behalf. However, this isn’t how the law operates. If you lose mental capacity or become seriously ill and haven’t made an LPA, a family member wouldn’t have the legal authority to deal with matters on your behalf, and would need to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy (Guardian in Scotland). This can be a lengthy and expensive process.
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate Last Powers of Attorney’s and Will Writing.