Many people, in good faith, believe that their legal affairs are all completely up-to-date when in fact that may not be the case. Making a will is of course seen as an obvious thing to do by many people, but this is certainly not the only thing which needs to be considered to ensure one’s legal affairs are up-to-date.
Here is a checklist of just four things to consider when considering whether your legal affairs are in fact up-to-date:
- Have you made a will? This is of course very important. Indeed, it is crucial not just to make a will, but to ensure it is up-to-date and reflects your circumstances. Moreover, do ensure that your executors know that they are appointed as executors, and that they know where your original will is stored. Furthermore, ensure they know where they can find details of your assets which will need to be administered after your death.
Failure to make a will or keep it up-to-date – it goes without saying – can lead to a great number of problems when your estate is dealt with.
- Have you made a power of attorney? This is very important. It allows those appointed as an attorney to manage your affairs straightaway, should you so wish, or only if you were to lose mental capacity in future. Do keep in mind that if you lost mental capacity, you cannot make a power of attorney. So it is very important to arrange this when you do have mental capacity, so it can be used later. There are two types of lasting power of attorney available – one is for property and financial decisions; another is for health and welfare decisions.
Failure to make a power of attorney can mean that if you were to lose capacity, your affairs cannot be managed at the very time they need to be, and a party/parties would need to be appointed via a Deputyship order by the Court Protection to manage your affairs.Not only is this incredibly stressful for all concerned, it is also very time-consuming and far more expensive than simply making a power of attorney.
- Have you taken advice regarding estate planning? This may include obtaining advice in connection with inheritance tax (IHT) planning. It is important to consider taking advice early as IHT planning can be more effective if started sooner rather than later (circumstance dependent of course).
Failure to take estate planning advice can mean, for example, that your estate faces a much larger inheritance tax burden than would otherwise have been the case had correct legal measures been effected.
- Is your property/are your properties registered with HM Land Registry? It may well be, but if not, this is something to very strongly consider. Nicola Lucking, an experienced Solicitor in our conveyancing department, has written an article about this, ‘Why Registration Makes Sense’, which is well worth reading. You can find the article on the blog section of our website.
Failure to register your property can mean that, for example, a sale of your property, either during your lifetime or after your death, can take significantly longer than would otherwise be the case had it been registered.There is also a risk that a fraudster could seek to register your property in their name.
These are just four ways in which your important legal affairs can be brought up-to-date if they are not up-to-date already. At Capron & Helliwell Solicitors we can advise and assist you with any of the points above – just give us a call on 01692 581231 and we can discuss your matter with you further. Always beware of ‘DIY’ when dealing with your legal affairs – our experts have seen a number of legal disasters where people have not taken legal advice and unfortunately, in many cases, it is too late to rectify the situation once the problem has been brought to our attention…
Every case, of course, depends on its own circumstances so always take legal advice from a trusted professional about your own set of circumstances.
This article was written 9 September 2020 and the law may change following this date.
Richard Tinkler is a Partner based at the Helliwell House office in Wroxham.
Capron & Helliwell offer a fixed fee first appointment for family law matters - for details or to book an appointment please contact Dawn Pennell on 01692 581231.
This article aims to supply general information but it is not intended to constitute advice. Every effort is made to ensure that the law referred to is correct at the date of publication and to avoid any statement which may mislead. However, no duty of care is assumed to any person and no liability is accepted for any omission or inaccuracy. Always seek specific advice.