With everyone still coming to terms with the necessary restrictions being placed on our daily lives, most people are now working from home, subject to having their children interrupting them to watch various videos on the internet, and are now finding themselves with more time on their hands without having to tackle the daily commute. My usual escape would be to watch sport of an evening or at the weekend, but with this not being available for the foreseeable future, I have come across a number of articles online offering suggestions as to how people should use their time at home. If, like me, you do not see yourself getting into knitting just yet, or losing to the family at Monopoly and dealing with the fallout that inevitably ensues, then perhaps now is an opportunity to do some of the things that you know you really should do but your normal hectic daily routine has put on to the back burner.
Some recent studies suggest that most people do not have a Will in place and too few have Lasting Powers of Attorney in place either, despite the latter becoming more popular and pertinent in recent years as their importance becomes increasingly recognised.
Having a Will in place is important for a number of reasons. If you die without having a Will in place, the default rules set out by law, known as the Intestacy Rules, dictate as to whom receives your assets. Although it is possible for the result to be varied following your death, and for certain persons that qualify to make a claim against your estate, this depends on co-operation from those who were set to receive under the Intestacy Rules, incurring unnecessary legal expenses, which can be significant if there is a lack of co-operation between the relevant parties, and the creation of additional tension in the family at an already difficult time.
For Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs), of which there are two types: Property and Financial Affairs; and Health and Welfare, these are important to have so that if you were unable to make a decision regarding your health or personal affairs, then your appointed attorneys would be able to make decisions on your behalf. Issues can arise if you were to lose mental capacity and have no one appointed to look after your finances or business accounts, meaning that someone, usually a spouse or close relative, is required to apply to court in order to be appointed as a deputy to look after your affairs. However, this process can take at least six months and is more expensive than creating an LPA in the first place due to the additional legal advice required in making the application to court.
At this time of uncertainty, it serves as a good reminder as to how fragile life can be and of the importance of having your affairs in order should the worst happen. At BPE, we are still available via our usual landlines, mobile numbers and emails and so can answer your queries about making a Will and/or LPAs, or any other estate planning issues that you might have.
These notes have been prepared for the purpose of an article only. They should not be regarded as a substitute for taking legal advice.