A New Year Resolution to protect yourself and your family
Entering a New Year is always a good time to take stock…of our careers, our work and, of course, our lives in general.
At the centre of it all must be our families; everyone wants to protect their loved ones, both now and in the future.
There are many ways to do this and the law can certainly play its part. The most obvious things are to make a will and to consider setting up a lasting power of attorney (LPA).
Making a will is the best way to ensure that your wealth is passed on in the way you want.
Unfortunately, many people never get around to doing it, which means they are said to have died intestate.
If that is the case, their wishes will not be known, and their estate will be divided in a way laid down by law. It means their money may not go to the people they would have chosen themselves.
If there is no will, children, grandchildren and even surviving spouses may have to take legal action to receive the inheritance to which they believe they are entitled. Every week in the courts there are cases involving families who are in dispute because someone dear to them failed to make a will.
If you already have a will, make sure that it is up to date. If it was made several years ago it may no longer reflect your current circumstances, especially if you have divorced and remarried.
A solicitor can make the process quick and easy while ensuring that all the paperwork is carried out properly in accordance with the law.
While making your will you could also consider creating a lasting power of attorney (LPA) to protect your interests in case your health and mental capacity deteriorate.
LPAs enable you to nominate someone such as a family member or trusted associate to make decisions on your behalf if you ever lose the ability to do so yourself in the future through illnesses such as dementia.
The property and finance LPA allows you to appoint someone to look after your financial affairs and the personal welfare LPA lets you grant an attorney authority over such matters as health care and the kind of treatment you receive.
There are safeguards to prevent the system being abused so you can prepare for the possibility of ill health secure in the knowledge that you can leave important decisions in the hands of someone you trust.
If you don’t have such arrangements in place, your family may have to go through complicated and time-consuming legal processes just to get the authority to help run your affairs for you. That is the last thing they want at a time when they will already be worried about you and your failing health.
LPAs should be drawn up with the help of a solicitor to ensure that they accurately express your wishes and protect your interests.
No one can be sure what the future will bring them in terms of their health, but LPAs can at least ensure that their interests are protected should the worst happen.