As Autumn starts, many of us make a resolution to get organised in the house and tidy up the garden. There is something about a new academic year, the weather changing and holiday season coming to an end that spurs us into action. It is also a good time to sort out paperwork. This gives us a real sense of achievement and peace of mind.
Here are some checklists that will help you get your legal and financial affairs in order. These tasks don’t have to be tackled in one go. If you put these steps in place gradually, you won’t have to worry about them again. It is like spring-cleaning one room at a time. They are also a starting point if you are helping an elderly relative to get organised.
To help a family member, financial advisor, will draftsman or attorneys (if you have a Power of Attorney) get up to speed quickly:
- Draw up an asset schedule.
- Make a list of your online passwords for bank accounts, building society accounts, utility providers, household, building and motor insurers and your online shopping provider.
- If you don’t contact these organisations online – make a list of their names, addresses and phone numbers.
- Put your list in a safe, secure place and tell a family member/friend where these details are stored in your home.
For family members/ a close trustworthy friend (if family are too far away):
- Deliver a copy of your front door key to them.
- Explain how to disarm your house alarm.
- Make a key list of names, phone numbers and email addresses for your employer, GP surgery, dentist, solicitor, accountant, optician, garage, insurance providers, financial advisor, vet.
- Tell them where the above key list can be found.
- Tell them where important documents are stored e.g. your Will, power of attorney documents, insurance schedules, the deeds of your house or business premises, original share certificates.
- Let them know the combination for your home safe if you have one.
Think about your financial affairs and discuss them with your family:
- Do you have a Will? If so, is it still tax efficient? Does it reflect your current wishes?
- Who do you want to appoint as your “executors”? These are the people who pay debts, any tax liability, gather in, manage and distribute your estate after your death.
- Ask them if they are happy to act for you?
- If you have minor children, who should act as their guardian if you and their other parent have both died?
- Ask them if they are happy to step in and look after your children?
- Do you want to place any protection over your assets after your death, for example using one or more trusts?
- Is it prudent to gift assets now whilst their open market values have fallen?
- Do you have a Power of Attorney? If not – this is a good time to put one in place.
If you would like help with Wills, LPAs or estate planning please get in touch via email or the contact form on our website.