The current COVID-19 pandemic is prompting many people to prepare or update their Wills and Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
Some might think these people are panicking unnecessarily, but it is one of the more considered responses. Whilst it is true that most of us will make a full recovery from COVID-19, the sudden way it has come into our lives is a reminder that although death is a certainty, its timing is not.
Wills and LPAs have moved to the top of so many to do lists because people would like a say in who will look after them and take care of their affairs if they are unable to do so. They want to choose who will look after their young children and inherit specific items from their personal estate.
Who Should Prepare a Lasting Power of Attorney?
It is sensible for everyone over the age of 18 to have a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). LPA’s act as an insurance policy. They are something you hope you never have to use but are there just in case. There are two types of LPA: ‘Property and Financial Affairs’ and ‘Health and Welfare’. Both allow you to nominate people, referred to as attorneys, to look after you and your interests if you become incapacitated.
If you do not have an LPA in place, your loved ones would have to apply to the court for a deputyship order to make decisions on your behalf. This is a time consuming and costly process, which may not allow the Deputy the same level of access to your affairs as you would wish. You might also find yourself with an unwanted person looking after your interests.
During a temporary or more permanent incapacity, the LPA’s will ensure that bills are paid, the fridge is stocked and the children do not go without.
LPAs are also important for business owners who are the only person in their company with the authority to make financial decisions. For further information read our blog: Business Owners Should Protect their Operations in case they are Incapacitated by Coronavirus
You should be aware that an LPA must be registered and this can take up to 2 months from submission of the application. It may not come into effect before you need it in this pandemic, but we would recommend that you get the process going as discussions are taking place to reduce the timeframe and it will be helpful to have an expression of your wishes should anything happen.
Is there a quicker alternative?
If you are concerned about what will happen if you fall ill before an LPA takes effect, you can execute a General Power of Attorney (GPA) for the interim. This can be drafted by a solicitor and is valid from the moment it is executed. A GPA is usually valid for up to 12 months and can be as specific or as general as you want it to be.
Although we do not recommend that you leave it until the last minute, we can prepare urgent GPA’s if you start to show symptoms of illness.
Who Should Prepare a Will?
The simple answer is anyone who cares what will happen to those left behind. You might not have vast wealth to leave to anyone, but if you have young children you can set out your wishes for them, as well as leaving specific sentimental gifts to family members and friends.
Without a Will, or an up-to-date Will, you could leave behind uncertainty, pass inheritance to unwanted persons and control in the hands of people you would never have chosen.
Those going through a separation or divorce are particularly vulnerable to this. You need to be aware that your ex-partner continues to be your legal spouse and heir until your relationship has legally ended. Unless you prepare a Will that states otherwise, your ex will continue to enjoy the rights of inheritance for a spouse. For further information please read our blog: Why You Should Update Your Will As Soon As You Decide to Separate
Seeing a Solicitor without breaching the Stay At Home rules
We are continuing to support our clients with their Private Wealth, Wills and Estate Planning matters whilst respecting current Government guidance on social distancing. You can meet with us via video call or we can take your instructions on the telephone or in email.
For further information about preparing or contesting a Will or Power of Attorney, please contact Sangeeta Rabadia.