Why Do I Need A Will?
The most common question that I am asked by clients is why do I need a will and a power of attorney.
There is a common misconception in our society that wills and powers of attorney are unnecessary or that they can be put off until middle age.
Take the example of a newly married couple with no children. They may have just purchased their first home together and have the belief that if one of them were to pass away unexpectedly then everything would pass automatically to the survivor. Without a will, there is no way to ensure that assets will pass to the intended recipient or beneficiary.
If the couple were to informally separate but not divorce at this point they may have very different intentions in respect of the destination of their shared or independently owned assets than they did when they purchased a house together.
Without a will, there would be a presumption that subject to certain limits the surviving spouse would inherit everything irrespective of the intentions of the deceased spouse. The deceased’s estate would be distributed via the laws of intestate succession which govern how someone’s assets are split up on death in the absence of a will. In extreme cases where there are no surviving relatives, the entire estate can pass to the Crown.
It is perhaps difficult to consider matters such as these at what is usually a happy time for most people however it Is our job to ensure that all eventualities are covered.
It is possible that subject to certain circumstances your estate may pass exactly as you wish it to under the laws of intestate succession however as your circumstances change and the law evolves this may not always be the case. Essentially by not having a will a great deal is being left to chance.
I find that a lot of members of the public that I speak to understand powers of attorney to be something that may be required later in life. This may be true in certain circumstances however I would urge every single client that I meet with to at least consider a power of attorney today.
A power of attorney gives someone else the express authority to make decisions on your behalf in respect of welfare matters and/or financial matters. The power of attorney can only be granted by someone that still has the capacity to make decisions for themselves. It is too late once someone has lost capacity.
If for example your partner was to be involved in a car accident and was rendered unable to make decisions for themselves, in the absence of a power of attorney you will not be able to make decisions about their medical treatment, their general welfare or where their medical care takes place. It is possible that the local authority will make these decisions for your partner. Once your partner is no longer able to appoint an attorney to make decisions on their behalf the only recourse open would be to seek appointment as a guardian which is both a lengthy and costly procedure.
By granting a will and power of attorney now, you can remove any lingering doubts as to what may happen if the worst were to happen to you or someone else in your family.
Whether you have never had a will or power of attorney before or you would simply like to make revisions or amendments to your current documents we would be delighted to hear from you to talk you through the options available to you.