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The importance of wills and lasting powers of attorney

View profile for Katie Hayden
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Why do I need a will?

A will enables you to leave a clear instruction as to how you wish your estate to be distributed, and can ensure provision for family and friends.

If you die without a valid will in place, then the law decides who inherits everything you own under the intestacy rules, which can produce undesirable results.

There are many important reasons to make a will, but if you do not have a will, you might like to consider the following:

  • Do you want to leave your estate to specific people or charities?
  • Are you unmarried and want to ensure that your partner will benefit from your estate?
  • Do you have children under 18 for whom you would need to appoint guardians?
  • Do you have estranged relatives that you do not wish to benefit from your estate?
  • Do you want to leave any specific legacies or gifts to loved ones?
  • Do you have pets that you would like to be cared for?
  • Do you want to make it easier for your loved ones to administer your estate after your passing?

If the answer to any of the above is yes, the best way to ensure your wishes are followed is to make a will.

What is a lasting power of attorney and why do I need one?

A lasting power of attorney is a legal document which allows you to appoint one or more individuals to make decisions on your behalf, should you ever lose mental capacity or be unable to look after your affairs yourself.

There are two types of LPA:

Property and Financial Affairs LPA – This allows your attorneys to make decisions about your finances and property. This means that your attorneys can manage your bank account and other finances, pay your bills and sell your home on your behalf if necessary. This type of LPA can be used even when you still have mental capacity, but would like assistance in dealing with your affairs.

Health and Welfare Decisions LPA – Under this LPA, your attorneys can make decisions about your health and welfare, which can include the medical treatment you receive and deciding where you live. This type of LPA can only be used if you are unable to make decisions for yourself.

Without a LPA in place, should you lose capacity then it is necessary for an application to be made to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy to act on your behalf. In this instance, the Court decides who is to be appointed, which is often a long and costly process.

I am based at our Chelmsford office and can be contacted on 01245 453837 or katie.hayden@birkettlong.co.uk

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