When considering your legal requirements for later in life, or even unexpected incidents, most people think about their wills and sometimes creating trusts for family members or organisations that they may be responsible for. One thing people tend to overlook is powers of attorney when really it should be one of the first things to consider.
What is power of attorney?
It is a legal document that gives someone else, of your choosing, the authority to act for you in case you are in some way absent or incapacitated and unable to act. A legal relationship is created, designating you the principal and your appointed person the agent. The Power of Attorney can be for something specific or can cover a multitude of things. You decide whether the powers are broad or limited. For example, if you needed to sell your business but cannot attend the closing in person, you can assign someone else to sign in your absence.
When do the powers of attorney come into effect?
If you have signed the legal document in front of two witnesses and have had it notarised by a professionally trained lawyer, then the Power of Attorney can come into immediate effect. You can provide your agent with the document and request that it not be used unless you are in some way unable to act for yourself, but unless you have specified the exact usage of it, they can use the Power of Attorney from the moment they receive it.
In this instance, sometimes it’s important to set up a Power of Attorney that does not come into effect until an event triggers it, such as an accident that leaves you unable to communicate or unconscious. This can be problematic, as the agent will need to present an affidavit to prove that this event has occurred in order to use the Powers of Attorney. Banks and other institutions may be reluctant to recognise the agent in this instance.
Will I lose control over my money if I provide someone else with Power of Attorney?
No, this isn’t the case. You still have your normal rights over your money and any assets but you are giving the agent the ability to access your money. It is assumed that the person you choose is trustworthy and won’t steal from you, so choose carefully.
If the relationship breaks down between you and the agent, or you have any reason to suspect that they are using their powers to steal from you, revoke the powers of attorney immediately. Notify all banks and institutions that you have done this. You can also take them to probate court to discover how and where your money is being spent. You may be able to sue the agent or press criminal charges if it can be proven that they have used the money without your consent.
If you would like to know more about setting up a Power of Attorney call Heritage Will Writers on 01603 894 500.
With an ageing population and a rise in the number of cases of dementia and other long-term conditions, many people worry about what’ll happen to them as they get older. One area of concern is looking after their finances when they may not be able to do so, and that’s why many people choose to nominate a power of attorney. A lasting power of attorney , or LPA, is a document that allows you to nominate other people to make decisions on your behalf, but is it right for you?
When can I nominate a power of attorney?
Anyone over the age of 18, who currently has the mental capacity to make their own decisions, can get an LPA. An LPA can relate to your health and welfare, can give power over your financial affairs and property, or can be granted for both. Many people get them drawn up when revising their wills , or when they’ve been diagnosed with a condition that could cause them to deteriorate in future, but any adult can get one done now in case they need it in future.
Who should I appoint?
When choosing someone to be your attorney, it’s important that they’re also an adult and have the mental capacity to take on your decisions. They could be a relative, friend, solicitor, or spouse, but should be:
· Someone you know well
· Someone you trust to have your best interests at heart
· Someone who is willing to take on the extra responsibilities that come with being an attorney
· Someone who takes good care of their own finances etc.
Setting up an LPA is a fairly simple process, you simply need to fill in the forms that are then registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, but it’s choosing the right attorney that can often be the trickiest part.
What can an attorney do?
Once you no longer have mental capacity to take care of your decisions, your LPA is put in place. If your LPA relates to property and financial affairs, your attorney will be able to take care of your money, bills, bank accounts, property, investments, trusts , pensions and more. Attorneys who have been nominated for health and welfare can help make decisions with regards to your medical care, day to day routine, and consenting to or refusing treatment. That’s why it’s so important that you trust them.
Can my attorneys change?
Yes, attorneys can be changed if you change your mind, as long as you still have the mental capacity to make decisions. They can also be removed from the LPA if they lack their own mental capacity, become bankrupt, or die. Otherwise, an LPA is in force until the donor dies.
Plan for your future by getting in touch with Heritage Will Writers on 01603 894500. Whether you’re looking to update your will or get an LPA, Heritage Will Writers work with clients across the South East of England to offer a friendly and professional service.
Having a will is so important, as it sets out a specific set of wishes, and divides up your property when you are no longer here. However, what some people don’t realise is that there are certain life changes and events that may necessitate you changing your will. If something needs to be changed, it’s important to get professional advice, ensuring that the changes you make are legal, and that the will is valid after the changes. Here are some reasons you might need to change your will.
Marriage or divorce
If you get divorced after writing your will, then it’s important to get it updated. A divorce can cause complications if you don’t have an updated will, and if you left everything to your ex-spouse, then it means the gift can go back to the estate, so would be divided as if you’d passed away without a will. If you still want to leave money or property to your former spouse, it’s possible to state this, but your will needs to be updated.
Those who marry or remarry should also ensure their wills are updated. Many people assume that wills will still be valid, even if they marry later in life, but your marriage can then revoke your will, meaning you need to make a new one.
A new child
Any children or grandchildren born after your will is written will need to be added to your will. They won’t automatically be included, so it’s important that you find a will writing service as soon as possible to get it updated. They can also advise on the use of trusts and other options, so you can ensure your new arrival is taken care of.
Rather than writing a new will, there are some situations where an amendment known as a codicil can be used. Some reasons for this include:
· Changing your executor or trustee – this can be because the original appointees have died
· Changing a benefactor
· Increasing a gift
· Updating your funeral plans
Codicils can be an easier option for making changes, but again it’s important that they’re carried out by professionals to ensure they are legally binding. They’re usually only used for small changes, and will need to be kept with the original will to ensure your new wishes are carried out. So, if there’s more than one change to make, then it’s sometimes worth having a new will written to avoid confusion.
Some people want to change their will to remove benefactors, as they’ve fallen out, or circumstances have changed. In these cases, it’s important to get legal advice, as there have been recent cases where relatives have been cut out of wills, then managed to claim their inheritance through the court anyway. That’s why using a professional will writing service is so important, as it ensures things are clearly laid out.
If you are considering having your will updated, get in touch with Heritage Wills today on 01603 894500 for a friendly, professional service.
Did you know that if you fail to create a will before passing away, your assets could be divided amongst your loved ones based on laws created in 1925? Most of us want to decide what happens to our wealth, possessions and estate when we're no longer here, and the best way to make sure that your wishes are honoured is to create a will.
Surprisingly, according to the Law Society, more than half of UK citizens don't currently have wills. Without a will or probate, you can't guarantee that the people you wish to inherit your wealth will receive a penny. For example, if you never married a partner you've lived with for years, they may not get any of your wealth when you pass away unless you create a will.
At Heritage Will Writers, our trained and experienced powers of attorney and will writers can help you create a legally binding will so that your money goes exactly where you want it to when you die. We can ensure that your will stands up in a court of law should anybody dispute your wishes, and we can also help minimise the inheritance tax on what you leave behind.
Below, we've detailed four common mistakes people make when writing wills so that you can avoid doing the same. Remember, if you want to get your will right the first time and secure peace of mind, we're only a phone call away.
· Ignoring the Rules
Technically, any scrap of paper can be used to create a legally binding document, but you need to follow the rules surrounding the creation of wills to ensure yours is honoured after you pass away. Don’t simply type a few notes into your computer expecting them to be the final say on your wishes, and consider whether professional assistance could be a worthwhile investment, especially if you're leaving behind a large estate.
· Choosing the Wrong Executor
The executor is responsible for settling your estate, sharing your assets among beneficiaries and paying any of your remaining debts, so it's crucial to pick a person you can trust. You don't necessarily need to hire a legal professional to execute your will, but avoid making the mistake of choosing someone who may make a huge mess or attempt to misappropriate some of your assets for their financial gain.
· Forgetting to Name a Guardian
If you're responsible for children under 18 years old, you need to remember to name a legal guardian on your will. This ensures somebody you trust becomes legally and financially responsible for your kids should something happen to you before they reach adulthood.
· Forgetting to Update Your Will
You'll probably need to make changes to your will as time progresses and your situation changes, such as if you get married, divorced or have children. While it's wise to draft your first will before reaching old age, it's important to make sure it remains up to date.
Let Heritage Will Writers Help You
We understand that nobody wants to pay too much thought to passing away, but it’s essential to have your affairs in order so that you know exactly what happens to your assets when the day finally comes. We're one of the most trusted will writing and probate companies in East Anglia and the South East, so contact us today on 01603 894500 to find out how we can help you.