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Wills and LPAs: Why you need them

| Financial services

Emma McCann, Tax, Trusts and Estates partner at Age Co’s trusted Legal Services partner, Irwin Mitchell, explains why it's so important to have a Will in place. 

54% of the UK adult population doesn’t have a Will and only 1% of has a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) despite the vital protection that both provide. A lot of people don’t realise that if you don’t have a Will then the law decides who inherits your assets (known as the rules of intestacy).

This may not be the person you think it will be or indeed who you would want it to be. In fact in 2019 £53m went to the Treasury through intestacy, as people didn't have Wills in place.

Why is a Will so important?

The only way to override these rules of intestacy is to make a Will which clearly sets out your wishes for after your death. It can give you the peace of mind that you have formalised what you would like to happen and may help to prevent family disputes and upset following death. 

A Will also allows you to make gifts of specific items of money, items of sentimental value or to benefit your favourite charity. You can protect property too as well as children and other vulnerable beneficiaries via the use of trust arrangements, or appoint trusted individuals to important roles such as guardians, trustees or executors. None of this is possible without a Will.

If you don’t have a Will you should consider making one. If you do have one in place but it was made a long time ago or your personal circumstances have changed (marriage, divorce, family death, new baby, accident, illness or an inheritance, to name but a few) then it could be worth reviewing your old Will to make sure it still meets your needs.

Why do I need an Lasting Power of Attorney?

When making a Will it is usually good advice to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) at the same time. Where a Will makes arrangements for after your death, an LPA covers the eventuality of you losing capacity to manage your own affairs during your lifetime and who you want to be able to make decisions on your behalf.

Sadly 1 in 3 people over the age of 65 will develop dementia and every 90 seconds someone is admitted to hospital in the UK with an acquired brain injury. Nobody knows what the future holds and having an LPA in place is an important safeguard should this happen to you. Just because someone is your spouse or civil partner or because you consider them to be your “next of kin” it doesn't mean that they can automatically deal with your affairs, should you be unable to continue to do so.

The only way to ensure that you have someone in place who you trust to do this, is to make an LPA. There are two main types of LPA; property & finance and health & welfare. It’s a good idea to have both types in place so that you have someone nominated to deal with your finances as well as someone to make any important health decisions on your behalf.

If you make the arrangements to have a Will and LPAs prepared then you are well on your way to protecting not only yourself but also your closest family members and loved ones from unnecessary stress, worry and cost should the worst happen.

If you’d like to find out more about later life planning take a look at our Legal Services page.

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