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.
Why you should consider having a GPA during the coronavirus lockdown
If you are self-isolating or housebound but need someone to go out and about on your behalf to manage your property and affairs, a General Power of Attorney (GPA) could be a useful document to have in place.
A GPA can be put in place much more quickly than a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This is because it doesn’t need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, a process that can take between 6 -10 weeks. It is also a much shorter document.
What is a GPA?
It is a document that enables a person, the “Donor” to delegate authority to a trusted individual, the “Attorney” to manage the Donor’s property and affairs.
What is a GPA used for and what is its scope?
A GPA is only valid while the Donor has mental capacity and ceases to work if s/he loses capacity. If you become too ill to make your own decisions, it is not as valuable as an LPA.
The Donor and Attorneys must be over 18 and not bankrupt.
It can only be used for property and affairs not health and welfare decisions.
It cannot be used to make a Will for the Donor or decisions about marriage.
The Donor grants the power to the Attorney either for a specified or an unlimited time.
He can make the power specific to one task only or for all financial transactions.
The Donor is legally liable for the actions of the Attorney on his/her behalf.
The Attorney must act with utmost good faith to the Donor, keep meticulous records and not mix the Donor’s money with his own.
If the Donor or the Attorney lose mental capacity or go bankrupt, the GPA will cease.
How do you set up a GPA?
Appoint one or more Attorneys.
Check that they understand the scope of their authority, responsibilities and agree to act for you.
If you appoint them to take decisions “jointly”, they must agree with each other on all decisions.
If you appoint them to take decisions “jointly and severally,” one can take a decision without the agreement of the other/s.
Specify that the GPA will only last for a set period for example, “during the current Covid-19 lockdown,” or for a particular task such as a house sale/purchase or sale of stocks and shares.
The GPA document sets out that the Donor nominates the Attorney/s to act on his or her behalf and is signed and witnessed as a Deed with two witnesses.
Send a copy to the bank, fund manager or other professional with whom you want the Attorney/s to work.
It is a good idea for the Donor to notify the professionals directly before the Attorneys use the GPA.
I’ve changed my mind – how do I revoke it?
It can be revoked at any time by the Donor.
It is best to revoke it in writing and notify all Attorneys and the people with whom they have been dealing, such as fund managers or bank personnel.
The real reason that you are asking them such personal questions. Five talking points to focus a discussion around estate planning and power of attorney and make it practical not emotional.
About me and Paget Will Writing Ltd. I qualified as a solicitor in 1993. I worked in private practice for 20 years specialising in different areas of litigation. I ran contested estate disputes and Court of Protection actions for the last 15 years of that period. I set up Paget Will Writing Ltd in 2016 and have been trading for nearly 2 years.
Five things to talk about with ageing parents: • Legal Documents • D to the power of 3: Disorderly Document Deluge • Long term Care Planning • Living Arrangements • I’m asking because I care
Will – A written document with your instructions as to how your assets should be distributed after death. If you die without one, the state will decide where your property and money goes.
Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Affairs – A document that appoints a trusted person to take charge of your finances and other assets if you lose mental capacity.
Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare – A legal document that empowers a trusted person to make healthcare decisions if you lose capacity to do so yourself.
Advance Decision to refuse medical treatment – anticipatory refusal of specific medical treatment to be used should person lack capacity to give consent in the future.
Advance Statement – an expression of a person’s current wishes and feelings to be taken into account by a decision-maker in the future.
Disorderly Document Deluge
Where do you keep your important paperwork? Encourage them to organise the following paperwork and store it in a safe place known to you or their LPA attorney/s: