Monthly Archives: February 2017

Will You Make the Change?

The start of a new year automatically comes with a need to compare it with the last one. Whether you’re looking back on your family, career or the weather in 2016, amongst these things there is one more likely to be certain than the rest: change.

Life is constantly subject to change, giving away little indication of where it’s going to take you from one day to the next. As difficult as it is to predict the future, one way to help secure yours is to check your will.

If you haven’t already written one, surely the beginning of a new year is the best time to do so?

Wills are there to provide the most accurate reflection of your final wishes. Naturally then, they should be updated each time something changes which could affect those wishes. Neglecting to do this may mean loved ones are neglected in your will.

A recent study indicated that out of those who possessed a will, over half (56%) made their will at least six years ago. Just under a third (31%) had written their will over a decade ago.

Situations change on a day to day basis, so when it comes to a period of ten years, it is almost certain that circumstances have altered in some way. Like anything else in life, wills require maintenance to be fit for purpose.

Every now and then, it’s good to make sure your will says what you want it to, so you can check and update it if necessary. The Government recommend this is done every five years, but if you’ve recently had children or grandchildren, gotten married or gotten divorced, now may be a good time to
reassess your will so it takes these changes into account.

Small changes can be made using a codicil, whereas it may be more efficient for a new will to be written if more significant changes need to be made.

Reviewing your Will also gives you an opportunity to get advice to check that it is as tax efficient as it could be. Important changes are afoot in April 2017 and this can mean that your Will needs changing to make sure all available tax allowances can be claimed.

As well as providing you with peace of mind, a will review need not be difficult, with the help of legalmatters. Call us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

LPA – Professional v Personal

More than 850,000 people are living with dementia in the UK today, according to the Alzheimer’s Society. That problem is only set to grow in the coming years, with thousands of people every day reaching the stage where they are unable to make decisions for themselves.

One option for those entering later life, who are concerned about the prospect of developing dementia, is to consider appointing someone to become a lasting power of attorney (LPA). An LPA allows your ‘attorney’ – the person you appoint – to make those decisions on your behalf when you reach the stage where you are unable to.

You can appoint an LPA to cover your property and finances, your health and care, or both.

It’s important to think carefully about who you want to appoint as your ‘attorney’, as they will need to make many important and occasionally difficult decisions.

Most people appoint a loved one, whether that’s a partner, a close friend, a child, or even a grandchild. However, you can also choose a professional, such as a solicitor, for the role.

When choosing who to pick, consider what you are asking of them. It will need to be someone that you trust to always act in your best interests, and who you can rely on. There will be many responsibilities as your LPA, so you need someone who is reliable and can be relied on to meet their duties.

If you pick a professional, you know that you will be able to rely on them to meet their responsibilities. You will likely have to pay for their services though.

If you pick a friend or family member, it’s likely they will know you well and will understand your needs. It will be difficult for them to make decisions at times though, as they will be having to deal with the emotional impact of the situation.

You can appoint a replacement attorney if you wish, who can make decisions for you should your original LPA be unable to fulfil the role. You are able to combine both a family friend and a professional if you choose.

Dementia is a growing problem across the country, so putting plans in place is crucial. That should extend beyond an LPA and include a comprehensive will. By putting a will in place, you ensure that your assets are divided among your loved ones exactly as you wish.

We can help you with this.  Please call us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

A Change of Circumstances?

Statistically, the beginning of the year is the busiest time for people speaking to their lawyers about divorce. If you’re currently feeling the chill of a winter break-up, don’t forget to change your will.

 A lot of people assume that a will is automatically invalidated in the case of divorce. If you don’t change your will when you split, legally it still holds, although your ex-spouse will be treated as though he or she died on the day the decree absolute was granted.

This means that if you’d left everything to your spouse you’re effectively dying intestate, with no beneficiary, and all the problems associated with that come into force for the ones you leave behind. If you had named beneficiaries as well as your spouse included in the will, their share of your estate will increase proportionally.

If you’d named your ex-spouse as the sole executor or trustee of your will, this could cause chaos when you die as a new executor will have to be found and this process can cost a small fortune in solicitors’ and court fees.

In some cases, even though you’ve split, you may want your ex to be a trustee to safeguard the children’s interests, for example, and look after any trusts in their name. Unless you write a new will and specifically state that wish, your ex might be barred from any involvement.

It is complicated and for people struggling with the breakdown of a relationship, re-writing a will is often the last thing on their mind. It’s very important though.

Changing your will doesn’t need to be time consuming or expensive.  Here at legalmatters, we make the process easy for you, which can help take the stress out of the situation.  Contact us and we’ll talk you through your options and what happens next.

When you do write your new will, remember to state clearly that it revokes any previous wills and codicils and to safely dispose of your old one – your solicitor will talk you through this.

We at legalmatters appreciate that often the circumstances that require a new will to be written are tough. To discuss this, please call 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk. Do remember that spring, bringing with it brighter days, is on its way.

Helping Elderly Relatives This Winter

According to Age UK, each winter one person dies needlessly every seven minutes. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are steps we can all take to help our elderly relatives though the cold months, when they are at their most vulnerable.

Call or visit them

When the weather turns particularly cold, elderly people are less likely to leave the house. This may cut them off from human contact, leaving them lonely. If they are unable to get out and about, try to call on them – it will raise their spirits and leave them feeling less isolated.

Cook them a meal

It’s also a really good idea to share a meal with them where possible. This has a couple of benefits – for a start, you know that they will have eaten something decent and warm that day, which is extremely important. You will also be providing them with company and companionship, which is vital to keep their spirits up as the temperature falls.

Help with the shopping and any prescriptions

If they are stuck inside, then see if you can help with their food shopping. Ensure that they have a decent supply of all of the essentials.

You might also help pick up any medical prescriptions they may have, or find out if their local pharmacy has a delivery service they can sign up for.

Protect them from falls

When the weather turns cold, their steps and the pavement around their home may turn icy. Take round a mixture of salt and sand to put down in icy weather. Speak to your council first – some provide free bags of the mix. Alternatively, head down to a hardware store where you should be able to pick some up.

Turn up their heating

Low temperatures increase the risk of flu and other respiratory problems, and can also raise blood pressure. Ensure their main living room is heated to 21°C, and the rest of the house heated to at least 18°C.

Ensure plans are in place

Making sure your elderly relatives have a valid will and lasting powers of attorney (LPAs) in place to help with decision making is crucial, not only to ensure their wishes are taken care of, but to relieve the burden they may have in worrying about the future.

If you would like help with estate planning for an elderly relative, please call 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.