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How to tackle big decisions in later life

| Financial services

Making good decisions over life’s big issues can help you face the future with confidence. Here are our four tips for getting them right.

Life is full of big decisions – especially on important family events such as marriage, moving home and leaving an inheritance.

Asking family and friends is one way to help you decide – but they can only offer their own opinions which may or may not be right for you. That's why taking professional legal advice can make sense – ideally, allowing plenty of time to consider all the options before making the best decision.

Four tips for making good decisions

1. Don’t put it off

It sounds obvious but some people put things off and never get around to them – or do so only when they reach a crisis point. It is estimated that more than half the UK population don’t have a Will, many of them homeowners.

So, if you can, try to make a start on having those important conversations.

2. Take your time

Forward planning can give you peace of mind, but many people make decisions about their future while under pressure. Perhaps that’s down to poor health, or circumstances changing suddenly such as a fall or going into hospital, but it could also be because they simply rushed to get things done.

What someone might agree to when facing a tight deadline is not always what they’d choose if they had more time for careful thought, and decisions made in times of stress can be ones that are regretted later.

Very big decisions, such as choosing a care home or planning your legacy, shouldn’t be taken lightly so where you can, give yourself the time to properly consider your options.

3. Get legal advice when it’s needed

Some decisions, such as making a Will, need legal expertise. DIY Wills can provide a lower-cost option that suits some people – but in most cases, a lawyer is vital to make sure a Will is watertight, clear and covers everything you need it to.

Wills need careful checking to make sure your wishes are properly understood and documented. They should also be reviewed over time so they’re up to date and reflect any changes to circumstances such as marriages, divorces, or new children in the family.

4. Plan for all eventualities

A time can come in anyone’s life when they lose the physical ability or mental capacity to look after themselves.

If you or a loved one is facing this situation, it’s advisable to appoint a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This is someone you trust to manage your affairs and make decisions for you if you lose the ability to do so.

These could be decisions about:

● how to manage your finances
● your health and welfare
● the type of medical care and treatment you receive
● what happens if you have to move into a care home

You may want one family member or friend to look after your finances and another to help with decisions about your health and well-being, including where you live.

Having a Power of Attorney arrangement in place can make things easier for your family when it comes to making decisions on your behalf. They will know what your wishes are and be in a position to respect and act upon them.

Explaining the Power of Attorney

The attorney must consult you on any decisions as long as you have the capacity. That way, the two of you work together to get the best outcome.

You can allocate Power of Attorney to your solicitor

It’s not always easy to know who to appoint as an attorney. Sometimes there can be difficult relationships within families, loved ones may disagree with your wishes or intentions, or perhaps you feel they simply have too many other responsibilities and you don’t want to burden them.

In that case, a solicitor can act as an attorney for property or financial issues, avoiding possible family tensions.

Where to find legal help

There are lots of different options for obtaining legal support including Age Co’s own Legal Services which are provided by Irwin Mitchell LLP. You can find out more about the Age Co service here. Alternatively, you can contact Citizens Advice for information, or read our article on how to find a good lawyer.

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