The importance of Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney

New Year’s Resolutions:
Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones

This article was written for Age UK Essex’s December 2012 newsletter.

The festive period is nearly upon us and soon we will be spending quality time with our family and friends. In doing so, it is important to remember that without having your affairs in order, those people that you care for most will be left with a difficult situation to deal with in the event that something happens to you.

They may not make the most cheery subjects for discussion, but now is the time to make or update your Will and Lasting Power of Attorney as a part of your New Year’s resolution and ensure that everything is in place for you and your loved ones.

Resolution No. 1: Make or Update Your Will

Not making a Will can cause serious problems for those left behind. If you pass away without having made a Will, known as ‘intestate’, then there are rules which determine how your estate is divided up; by the order of surviving next of kin. Dying without a Will can mean that your money, personal belongings and even your home could go to the person you least want to have them and your loved ones could lose out – particularly if you are co-habiting.

Recent research found that 56% of people don’t have a Will; either because they haven’t got around to it, haven’t thought about it or just think that they don’t need one. In fact, more than a third of people aged over 65 without a Will felt that they didn’t need one which is more than any other age group.

Within a Will you can also leave instructions to assist your family at an already difficult time by deciding what type of funeral you would like and also who will be your Executors and put your wishes into effect.

Resolution No. 2: Make a Lasting Power of Attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that gives a trusted friend, relative or a professional the ability to manage your finances and/or any specific health and welfare needs during your lifetime, should you no longer be capable of doing so, either physically or mentally.

It is estimated that dementia affects one in five people and it is a worrying reality for many adults. But it’s not just the threat of dementia that should make you think about a Lasting Power of Attorney. Age-related illness, an accident or a simple fall could leave you unable to manage your own affairs. This is where the importance of a Lasting Power of Attorney cannot be overstated. If such a situation occurred, it would be reassuring to know that the people you trust will be in charge of your finances.

The most important thing to remember is that a Lasting Power of Attorney can be created by you at any time but can only be arranged while you are still of sound mind. If you lose your mental capacity or become too unwell to do so, this will cause problems for those you care about most, will become costly to resolve and will inevitably cause delays in someone being able to help you.

Remember, a Lasting Power of Attorney is not just for older people, anyone can set up a Lasting Power of Attorney and the sooner that it has been done, the sooner you will have the peace of mind to know that you are adequately protected should the worst case scenario occur.

Resolution No. 3: Help us to give something back

I am a Solicitor with Leonard Gray LLP which is an approachable, friendly and supportive firm of solicitors based in Chelmsford, Essex. It gives me great pleasure to announce that Leonard Gray has been selected by Age UK Essex as their chosen partner for Legal, Mediation and Estate Agents services.

Leonard Gray has over 100 years experience and a reputation for integrity. Of course, I haven’t been with the firm for all 100 years, but I have been here long enough to know that the firm really cares about the needs of older people and, as a solicitor who acts for older people on a daily basis, I consider that no-one could be in a better position to assist Age UK Essex.

Leonard Gray will be making a donation to Age UK Essex for any client who instructs us on the production of the Age UK Newsletter. These donations help Age UK Essex to invest in the other many worthwhile services provided to its members.

Chris Kelly
Chris is an experienced, friendly and professional Solicitor with our "Wills, Probate, Later Years" team. Chris is partner of Leonard Gray and a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), which is the leading professional body for practitioners in the fields of trusts and estates. He is also a Trustee/Director of Age UK Essex and a Dementia Friend.