Covid-19 - Future Proof Your Estate

27th March 2020 Wills, Trusts & Estate Planning

With the official lockdown now in place in response to Covid-19, we are currently living through unprecedented times. Many people will be working and living within the four walls of their home, leaving only for essential exercise and provisions. Other people will be isolating completely if they fall within the categories of vulnerable people which the government have set out.

In uncertain times, it can be helpful to think of practical steps which you can take to plan for the future for you and your family. Thinking about your Estate now and taking steps to put the relevant documents in place can make life easier both for you and your family in later life and on your death. Below, we have set out the key documents which everyone should think about having in place as part of their Estate planning, regardless of age or health:

A Will

Putting a Will in place is important for everyone and will make it much easier for your family or friends to administer your Estate when you die. It allows for clarity as to your wishes which can alleviate some of the stress of dealing with the Estate for those that have survived you. Furthermore, if you have not put a Will in place then your personal representatives will have no choice but to share out your assets in line with the law of intestacy, which might not reflect your wishes. This is particularly important for those that wish to provide for an unmarried partner, as the law as it currently stands does not allow for a partner to inherit through the rules of intestacy. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a “common law spouse” when considering the devolution of an estate.  

Furthermore, for anyone with dependants, your Will would be the forum in which you set out your decision as to how those dependants will be cared for on your death and who will be their guardian.

A Will is especially important for anyone with a significant Estate, as correct advice and planning at an early stage can help to reduce the inheritance tax liability on your death, which in turn will benefit those you have sought to provide for in your Will.

JMW’s Wills and Trusts team is able to provide you with specific and expert advice on the structure of your Will in order to ensure it is drafted appropriately to reflect your wishes.

Lasting Powers of Attorney

Many people assume that a Lasting Power of Attorney is something which you only need to think about as you reach old age. However, as these documents need to be put in place before an individual loses capacity it is vital to deal with the administration of appointing attorneys sooner rather than later.

A Lasting Power of Attorney allows your appointed attorneys to deal with financial or health decisions on your behalf once you have lost the capacity to do so yourself. This, for example, means that your attorney would have access to your bank accounts in order to pay your bills for you or could make decisions about your care if unwell. You can have different attorneys for financial and health decisions.

Ensuring that you have dealt with your Lasting Powers of Attorney means that you have control over who is appointed and will have the opportunity to make sure that they are aware of your wishes to allow them to act in your best interests if the need should ever arise.

If you would like to discuss the process of putting Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, our team at JMW are on hand to provide advice or complete the necessary steps for you.

If you would like to discuss how to put you and your family in the best position for the future or would like to discuss this article further then then please get in touch with us on 0345 827 666 or through our online enquiry form.

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Grace O'Driscoll is a Trainee Solicitor located in Manchesterin our Trainee Solicitors department

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