Carolyn looks at a few conversations that are worth having with your family and loved ones while they are healthy and well to make life less stressful if that changes in the future.
Giving your assets away when you die
Your assets will be divided according to the rules of intestacy. In most cases this means that your assets go to your closest family members, however if more than one of you dies at once, or if you don’t want to benefit the people the law has chosen then you might not like the results. It also means you haven’t chosen who looks after your children, who receives particular items or who should be your executor.
By making a Will you ensure that you have stated your wishes clearly. A solicitor will help you think through several scenarios to make sure that
Medical treatment if you get ill
When you are ill, you can usually discuss treatment options with the doctor and jointly reach a decision. However, it may be that you become unable to make treatment decisions or express your wishes, for example if you are unconscious following an accident or a stroke, have a learning disability, or have dementia.
You can make plans in advance for such eventualities by making an advance decision to refuse treatment and/or making and registering a Lasting Power of Attorney for health and care decisions. You may also want to prepare an advance statement of wishes and care preferences to let others know what you would want and take it into account, if they must make decisions when caring for you and you are not be able to tell them yourself
Managing your financial affairs
If you lose your mental capacity then no-one else automatically has the right to access your bank accounts or deal with your property and finances. If you haven’t made any preparations then someone will need to make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed to deal with things for you – this is a long, slow and expensive process.
By making a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs. This allows you to choose who is appointed and how they act and ensures that they can act in the easiest way possible. It’s important to get this in place while you are healthy and well, in case you lose capacity suddenly and don’t have time to get things in place.
It is always best to get advice when getting things in place for your future. Carolyn Snellgrove is our STEP-qualified expert solicitor who is a member of Solicitors for the Elderly. Call her for advice on all of these issues or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.