Incapacity or death – Are you prepared? The 3 must haves!

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Incapacity or death – Are you prepared? The 3 must haves!

1078417_shutterstock_20502179v2In the busy world that you live in it is sometimes difficult to find the time to address certain issues that really do make a difference. In the event of incapacity or death the 3 Must Haves are the Will, the Lasting Power of Attorney and the Information Log.

The Will

You know it makes sense to have a Will. In a Will you can, for example, provide for your family and friends or charities, appoint people of your choice to deal with everything on your death, appoint guardians for your minor children and record your funeral arrangements.  If you do not have a Will the law lays down who should inherit your estate, but do you know who that will be?

You may think that you do not need to make a Will because you are too young (in other words you think you are invincible) or you have no relatives. Well, you are never too young to make a Will (it is not just the preserve of the aged) and if you have no relatives do you not have friends or charities that you would like to leave your estate to? When you leave your loved ones behind, to grieve and to adjust to life without you, the least you can do is make sure that your affairs are in order and a Will is part of that order.

The Lasting Power of Attorney

Everyone should have one, just like a Will.  A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) (successor to the old Enduring Power of Attorney) gives people you trust the authority to deal with your affairs in the event that you are not able to do so. There are two types of LPA: a Property and Financial LPA gives your Attorneys authority to deal with such matters as your home, your bank accounts and your investments, and a Health and Welfare LPA allows your Attorneys to deal with more pastoral issues such as your daily requirements and wellbeing.

You may think that similar to a Will an LPA is only for the elderly but this is far from the case. Yes, it is definitely a requirement for the elderly but is a must have for everyone. If, unfortunately, you end up in a position where you are not able to manage your affairs, for example, having suffered a stroke and you do not have an LPA in place, your family will need to apply to the Court of Protection to make decisions on your behalf, a process that is both time consuming and expensive. If you are a business owner who will be entitled to run your business in your absence? No one. Unless, of course, you have given your Attorneys authority to do so.

When your Lasting Power of Attorney has been completed it needs to be registered at the Office of the Public Guardian before your Attorneys can act on your behalf. You will then know that it will be accepted when the time comes for it to be used. And it should last your lifetime!

The Information Log

So you are a tidy person and your Attorneys (if you have an LPA) or your executors (if you have a Will) will be able to find all your papers and important documents.  Great, their job will be so much easier.  But what if you are not as tidy as you might be? And let’s face it this probably is the preserve of the aged who may have time on their hands to become tidy. Just to be quite clear this is nothing to do with having a tidy house. It is to do with making sure that, in the event of your incapacity or death, those that need to can find all your important documents, for example, bank books, investment certificates, dividend counterfoils etc. And in this digital age, and as you go more paperless, much of the important information you have is held on your computer.

One way of being tidy is to have an Information Log in which you detail all your assets and liabilities and your contacts and their details for those who deal with various matters on your behalf.  The Log can be written out or better still held electronically and amended when there are changes to your assets, liabilities and circumstances.  However, make sure that someone trustworthy has access to the password on your computer or all your hard work will be for nothing!

So, how prepared are you?  Click here to take our survey.  We're collecting stats on just how prepared you all are and will feed back the results when appropriate.

James Mackenzie, Solicitor, asb law LLP


Published: 9 Dec 2011

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