Are you prepared for dying or for the loss of capacity?
These are both subjects most of us don’t want to think about, but having your house in order can make a big difference to how matters are left for your family when you die, or to yourself if you lose capacity.
Do you have a Will?
Do you realise, if you don’t have a Will then in the first instance £250,000, your personal chattels and an absolute interest in 50% of the remainder of your estate goes automatically to your spouse or civil partner. Children can receive only the remaining 50% (of personal assets) split equally between them, on attaining 18 years of age. Joint or trust property is excluded.
This is what happens to your assets, rather than going to the people you might want to benefit.
Do you have a Power of Attorney?
If you don’t, somebody may not be able to help you, for example, pay your bills or organise your finances if you lose capacity or just have to stay in hospital for a while.
And, perhaps most importantly, without a Health & Welfare Power of Attorney, your nearest and dearest may not ultimately be able to be involved with your health and end of life decisions.
These are all big things, but little things can help too.
Do you have a bank account in joint names with somebody else? If you do, it will mean this person will be able to pay for your care home fees or funeral expenses whilst things are sorted out.
Do people know who your Solicitor is? Or where your Will is? If they don’t, your affairs may not end up as you might wish.
Does anyone know where you keep your important papers? And where the key is for any safe box? When my father in law died we ended up opening his safety deposit box with a crowbar, only finding the key years later!
On a more positive note, if your affairs are well organised, then the end of life doesn’t need to be the negative event that many of us fear, but could be a peaceful and natural end to a life well lived, after all, it is one of those eternal certainties that we are all going to have to face.
As an aside, there have been some recent legal changes with regard to pensions – if you have funds in a pension, you may be able to leave these to your nearest and dearest in a very tax-efficient way.
So talk to someone and get your house in order, and make life easier for yourself and those around you!
Contact Patricia J Arnold & Co Ltd for more advice and information.