How many times have you said, “I must get a will sorted, or even update my will”. Now’s the time, with lockdown. Here are some things to think about with the extra time on your hands:-
Update or make a will
Did you know the Government has written a will for you? There are statutory guidelines in place which specify where your assets go if you do not have a will and it may see your assets pass to beneficiaries you would not want. If you are married, do not assume your spouse or civil partner will automatically inherit your whole estate – they may not.
Do you have children? If so, you have a duty as a parent to appoint a guardian who is responsible for taking care of your children after your death. If you do not appoint a guardian in your will, your family will have to apply to the Court so that it can make that decision.
Have your circumstances changed since your last will? This is a good time to review your will.
If you have a will that needs signing, it is important that you do so whilst bearing in mind the Government’s social distancing rules. It is important that you and your witnesses stay safe. We would recommend that you and your witnesses sign your wills outside so that you do not invite anyone who is not a member of your household into your home and so that you can safely remain more than two metres apart from each other. For example, you may wish to rest the will on a wall or car bonnet. Your witnesses can then remain more than two metres away from you and each other but still see you sign your wills. When you have signed the will, you can move away and invite your first witness to sign the will and write their details. They can then move away and invite the second witness to do the same. As there is concern that the virus can remain on paper for some hours, we would recommend that each of you wears disposable gloves during this process and that you each use a different pen.
It is important in conjunction with your will to check that your intentions for your estate are tax efficient. The Tax Planning team offer advice on lifetime planning and will planning, both of which could save your family unnecessary tax.
In addition, the new tax year started on 6 April. Have you reviewed your finances to make sure you are using all of the allowances available?
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs)
Many of us think LPAs are only for the elderly – think again.
There are two types of LPAs: one which allows someone to deal with your property and finances; and one which allows someone to make decisions about your health and welfare, should you be unable to make those decisions yourself. During COVID-19, how many people would have needed someone to make decisions about their finances or their health and welfare? Hundreds, potentially thousands.
If you do not have LPAs in place, again, your family are faced with a Court application to get the necessary authority to make those important decisions. If you have any assets, be it properties or bank accounts, you should have an LPA for property and finances.