As a Private Client Solicitor, I am very much used to talking about death and dying. However, this is not the case for most people, and such a subject can be difficult for many. I fully support the Dying Matters Awareness campaign, which challenges our perceptions and attitudes around dying. Although the COVID-19 pandemic has forced many to face their own mortality and we may be more open to talking about dying, more needs to be done.
The Dying Matters Awareness campaign states that across the UK thousands of people are dying without their wishes being met. When it comes to your finances and estate, you can be in control of what happens when you pass away. A recent High Court case highlighted the importance of having an update to date Will and probate plan. The case decided on the estate of Margaret and Alan, a married couple who died within months of each other in 2019 at the age of 71.
None of us know what is around the corner, so what can you do to get your affairs in order?
- Make a Will.
Take control of your estate by making a Will. With a Will you can decide who administers your estate, appoint guardians, give gifts to friends, family, and charities, and ultimately decide who receives the bulk of your estate.
If you do not make a Will, you will die intestate and the Intestacy Rules will apply. This means you will have no say on who administers your estate and who inherits your estate. This can cause claims being made against your estate if for example, a cohabitee, has not been provided for.
In our article ‘Digital Assets and your Will’, we reviewed some of the more common types of digital assets which may be included in your Will and the steps you can take to protect them.
- Funeral wishes.
At Steeles Law we provide you with a form which you can state your funeral wishes in detail. It can be as simple as requesting a cremation, to choosing hymns and readings. Although these are not legally binding, it still provides good guidance to family and friends who are left behind. It can be difficult to know what a loved one would have wanted, so stating funeral wishes can mitigate the stress they may be feeling planning a funeral.
- Estate/Tax Planning
For many it is a comfort to know that their loved ones will be provided for when they pass away. This is often achieved by successful and effective Estate Planning.
Unfortunately, it can be the case where there is no thought given to Estate Planning, that HMRC end up with more than your loved ones.
- Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney
Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) can be instrumental in deciding how a person dies. With a Health and Welfare LPA you have the power to appoint attorneys to give or refuse consent to life sustaining treatment. You can also include preferences and instructions on medical treatment, where you live and who visits you. All vital instructions which can impact on how and where you die. An LPA gives you the opportunity to have your say when you are unable to provide these instructions/preferences yourself.
If you would like to discuss any of the points raised in our article further, our specialist Private Client Team are able to guide you through the Wills, Trusts and Probate process. Please contact our dedicated Wills, Trusts and Probate team by calling 01379 652141 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
*The information provided in this article is designed to provide useful information on the subject, not to provide specific legal advice.