Power of Attorney

With further studies showing more and more younger people developing mental conditions such as dementia every year, you must ensure you have a power of attorney sorted in line with your finances to make it easier for your loved ones. If you do not have a power of attorney in place, it means that your loved ones would need to apply through court to ensure they have access to your money to pay for your care etc.

It is a difficult subject to consider if you were unable to think or function independently, however it is important to consider the worse case situation such as dementia (Alzheimer’s) to a stroke or to a serious accident before it happens. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legally signed document where the person allocates (when in sound mental capacity) someone who will look after their affairs when they cannot. There are different types of LPA’s to consider – One is for finance and property whilst the other is on health and welfare (for example legal decisions over your healthcare, medical treatment). These are two separate documents so must both be considered separately or make a combined Power of Attorney (PoA) which allows for decisions to be made about the individuals financial and welfare affairs (only for Scotland).  For more information on health and welfare LPA, please follow this link to the Government page – https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/getting-started-as-an-attorney-health-and-welfare

Who can be your Attorney?

You can appoint anyone over the age of 16 to be an attorney, as long as they are not bankrupt. This can be from a family member to a friend or a solicitor but you must assign someone who understands your wishes and someone you trust. There is no limit to how many attorneys you can have and it may be worth considering more than one person in the case that something could happen. An attorney must be informed that they are your attorney and must agree that they are willing to act on your behalf which is signed by the acting attorney on the registration form.

 

How much can a Power of Attorney cost?

To register a Power of Attorney in Scotland, there is a compulsory cost of £77. If you, however, earn less than £12,000/year you can provide evidence to have the fee reduced. For more information on this, please follow the provided link – http://www.publicguardian-scotland.gov.uk/power-of-attorney/fees

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Wills

Save your family unnecessary distress at an already difficult time

Your Will tells everyone what should happen to your money, possessions, and property after you die (all these things together are called your ‘estate’). If you don’t leave a Will, the law decides how your estate is passed on – and this may not be in line with your wishes.

Reasons why you should have a Will
1. A Will makes it much easier for your family or friends to sort everything out when you die – without a Will, the process can be more time-consuming and stressful.
2. If you don’t write a Will, everything you own will be shared out in a standard way defined by the law, which isn’t always the way you might want.
3. A Will can help reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax that may be payable on the value of the property and money you leave behind.
4. Writing a Will is especially important if you have children or other families who depend on you financially, or if you want to leave something to people outside your immediate family.

Personal wishes
Your Will tells people two very important things:

Who should have your money, property, and possessions (in other terms your estate) when you die as well as who will be in charge of organising your estate and following the instructions you leave in your Will – this person is called your ‘executor’, and you can name more than one person if you want to.

You can also use your Will to tell people about any other wishes you have, like instructions for your burial or cremation. Your executor will do their best to make sure your wishes are followed, as long as they don’t involve breaking the law.

It might not always be possible to follow your instructions (for example, a person you want to leave something to might die before you do), but if you have a Will, there’s a better chance of things happening the way you want.

Legal validity
Your Will doesn’t have to be on special paper or use a lot of legal languages. A document is a valid Will as long as it:

  • Says how your estate should be shared out when you die
  • Is signed and dated by you in the presence of two witnesses, and then signed by the two witnesses in your presence – the witnesses can’t be people who are going to inherit anything from you (or their husband/wife or civil partner)
  • Was made when you were able to make your own decisions and you weren’t put under pressure about who to leave things to

Careful planning
If your family is quite small and you want to leave everything to them, making your Will should be quite straightforward.

If your situation is more complicated (for example, if you have a second family or you want to leave money and gifts to lots of people), you may need to plan more carefully. Either way, don’t put it off – make sure that what you leave behind passes to the people you intended.

Start by thinking about what you want to leave to who and then talk to your family – they may have some suggestions you haven’t thought of. Once you have a plan, look at the different options for making a Will.

You should aim to review your Will every 5 years to ensure it is up-to-date and accurate, in case of situations change.

If you require further assistance on Wills, either contact a solicitor or check out the Government website pages for more information.

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