The importance of Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney
As part of our normal advice process, I always ask if my client has a valid will and lasting powers of attorney. Normally the answer is “No, I haven’t got around to it” and “What’s that?” respectively.
Time to be a little controversial; any adult who does not have a valid will is a fool and any adult without Lasting Powers of Attorney in place is begging to be robbed of £10-15,000 or much, much more!
Before I am accused of scare tactics to line my pockets, please consider that although I do offer referrals to will writers and solicitors, I do not get any fees for that, either from the client or the will writer. Tellingly, at a networking meeting of professionals, everyone was asked who had wills and powers of attorney in place; all the finance professionals had them, with no exceptions.
So, why do you need a valid will? To pass your assets on death to the people you care about and will most benefit from them. To protect your children when you are gone. To protect your life partner when you are gone. To prevent your assets passing to the State by accident or taxation. If you have children, then guardianship is perhaps the most important, as otherwise Social Services will have custody and control until the Courts decide otherwise.
So why do I need to establish powers of attorney? To manage your affairs, when for any reason, you are unable to. This could be after accident or illness, like a car crash or stroke, or on an extended expedition to the Amazonian Basin. If you are a land lord or business owner, this is vital, as without you the business may have to be liquidated or any decisions may only be made by the Court of Protection at great expense and considerable delay.
Most IFAs, will writers and probate solicitors will have a personal fund of horror stories about what can go wrong after a death or serious illness and I am no exception. I have seen the property portfolio of a landlord incapacitated after a stroke sold by the mortgage lender following non-payment of the mortgage, before he died. His family then fell apart into rows and acrimony as there was no will to specify what was to happen. The laws of intestacy dictated the eventual settlement and the biggest winner was the tax-man.
On a smaller scale, a local probate solicitor had to call the Police to prevent the brother of the deceased and a nephew from removing the stair carpet from the deceased’s house a day after the funeral. Just because they thought he’d want them to have it does not make it right!
Contact me with queries
If anyone is looking for general advice, then please write in to the blog and I would be happy to help with anonymous advice posted here. Alternatively, please call us on 0116 253 5600 and ask to speak to an IFA, (Independent Financial Adviser), for a no-obligation discussion.
If you know you need formal advice, have a look at http://bankfield.net/personal/legal-estate-planning/ or http://bankfield.net/protecting-you-your-family/ or ask around for a recommendation, it might even be me.