HB - The Legal Corner Magazine #Issue 7

Society today is generally risk-averse. We are cautious about taking risks ourselves or with our children or belongings. Whether it is a health risk being vaccinated, a child seat in a car, smoke/CO2 alarms in the house, we wish to minimize the risks and avoid injury or events that will adversely affect our lives.

You can decide who will be best to manage your Estate and implement your Will.

You can:

take into account specific situations, for ex - ample, a person suffering from a disability, a person underage, a spendthrift beneficiary, a beneficiary in receipt of means-tested bene - fits, or you can postpone an entitlement of a beneficiary to a later age.

appoint guardians for young children.

Yet people in general do not prepare for death or declining physical and mental capacity.

make specific gifts of money or assets to charities and individuals.

We all know we are going to die and none of us knows when. A poll commissioned by Will Aid involving 2,200 people across the country showed that only 29% had an up-to-date Will, with the majority admitting they had not got anything in place. We all hope to get older, yet many do not prepare for that old age by making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) for property and finance or health and welfare. Just as with a Will, no one knows when they will be needed, no one knows if or when a stroke, a fall, a car accident, or early-onset dementia may strike, and make these documents necessary. Unfortunately, if such documents are not in place, it may then be too late. For example, a few years ago, one of my clients (we will call him Mr X) came to see me as his wife had fallen and hit her head resulting in a coma. For tax reasons their investments were in Mrs X’s sole name. Thus, he was not able to access the monies they had jointly relied on to live. Mrs X did recover consciousness but was not able to deal with her affairs for over six months. LPAs are like an insurance policy; once they are in place you know you are prepared, but you hope never to have to use them. Wills Why should you make a Will rather than let the law decide who will inherit your Estate? The law may not divide your Estate as you would and may not recognise people who you would wish to inherit as having any entitlement. In a Will, you can decide who will inherit from you.

try and avoid family disputes.

leave your estate in a tax-efficient manner.

Given the flexibility and advantages which a Will offers, it seems remarkable that relatively few are putting one in place. Powers of Attorney There are two types of Powers of Attorney: the Ordinary Power of Attorney (OPA) and, since October 2007, Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA). OPA may be specific for a particular activity or event or cover all activities that an individual can legally do. The problem with an OPA is that it is automatically revoked when someone loses the ability to make their own decisions. This was the reason for the introduction of the Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), which enabled an individual to appoint persons to deal with their property and affairs and would not be revoked if they became unable to make their own decisions. The EPA has been replaced by LPA although if an EPA was made before October 2007, it is still valid. When LPA were brought in, a further new power was created to deal with health and welfare. This allows you to appoint people to make health and welfare decisions for you,


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