Last Will & Testament

A Last Will & Testament is a written legal declaration that sets out how you want to distribute your estate after you die. It contains the names of one or more persons who you have appointed to deal with all of your affairs (Executors). You can also state who you would wish to act as legal guardians for children.

A Will is one of the most important documents that you can ever sign. Whatever your circumstances, a Will enables you to safeguard the security of your loved ones and is the only way to ensure that your money, property and other possessions are distributed according to your wishes. A Will can also be updated as often as you wish.

If you die without a Will the ‘Laws of Intestacy’ determine what happens to your estate, which means that you cannot be certain that your spouse, partner or even your children will receive everything you would wish .

Lasting Powers of Attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that enables you to plan ahead and set out in advance what you would like to happen should you become unable to make decisions for yourself in the future. This is achieved by appointing the person or persons who you would like to make decisions on your behalf (your Attorneys). This typically will be your spouse and/or children.

There are two types of Lasting Powers of Attorney:

1. Property and Financial Affairs:

This type allows Attorneys to make decisions about property and finances, such as managing bank and building society accounts, dealing with utility companies and the sale or purchase of property.

2. Health and Welfare:

This type allows Attorneys to make decisions about health and personal welfare issues such as where you live, day-to-day care and medical treatment, but only if you have lost the capacity to make these decisions for yourself.

If you were to become incapacitated without Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, no one, not even your husband or wife, have any legal authority to act on your behalf. An Attorney must always act in your best interests, following the principles of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Life Interest Property Trusts

A Life Interest Property Trust is contained within a Will and is a method of ensuring that your share of a jointly owned property passes to your chosen beneficiaries upon your death, rather than it being automatically transferred to the surviving owner. ‘Life Interest’ is given to the survivor to ensure that he or she can remain in the property. In order for the Property Trust to be effective the property must be owned as Tenants in Common (See below).

The Life Interest Property Trust is particularly suitable for the following groups:

1. Mature couples who wish to put some protection in place for their property because of concerns over the asset being used in full to pay for long term residential care.

2. Couples who individually wish to ensure that their chosen beneficiaries inherit their share of the property without forcing their partner to sell. For example; where couples have children from a previous relationship and wish to ensure that they will inherit their share of the property.

3. Couples who are concerned that their share of a property may be inherited by a different blood-line.

Ownership of Property & Severance of Joint Tenancy

The most common way that couples own property is as “beneficial joint tenants”. This means that the property belongs to both of you jointly. You do not own a specific share in the property and you cannot give away your share of the property in a Will. If you die, your interest in the property passes automatically to the surviving owner.

The alternative way of owning property is called “tenants in common”. Owning a property as tenants in common means that you own a share each (usually 50/50), rather than jointly. This allows you to leave your share to specific beneficiaries in your Will rather than it being automatically inherited by the surviving owner.

The process of changing ownership from “beneficial joint tenants” to “tenants in common” is achieved by a Severance of Joint Tenancy and is very straightforward. It is also possible to decide how you own property at the time it is purchased.

Asset Protection Trusts

An Asset Protection Trust is a method of placing an asset in to a Trust during your lifetime. Typically this would be a property but a Trust can contain other assets.

There may be a number of reasons why transferring an asset in to a Trust can be advantageous. Equally there may be reasons why it would not be advisable, so the pros and cons must be carefully considered and a full evaluation carried out.

Living Will

A Living Will is a legally binding option for people wishing to retain control over future medical decisions. It is not concerned with financial affairs.

Usually, it gives specific details with regard to medical treatment should someone be incapable of communicating their own wishes at that time. It can request that a person is kept alive for as long as possible or it can request that life sustaining treatment is refused. A Living Will can be tailored to meet individual needs and is legally binding as long as, at the time of signature, the person involved:

  • is deemed mentally capable of making the decisions contained within the Living Will;
  • understands what will happen in consequence of the Living Will;
  • makes clear what future treatment is requested with regard to medical circumstances that may later arise;
  • makes the Living Will voluntarily and not under the influence of someone else;
  • It is signed and witnessed in the same way as a conventional Will.

Secure Document Storage

A Last Will & Testament and other legal documents such as Lasting Powers of Attorney are extremely valuable. It is therefore very important that they are kept in a safe and secure environment. We arrange the secure storage of such documents via The Society of Will Writers where all of your documents, including Title Deeds to property, life insurance policy documents etc, can be safely stored.

A Certificate of Safe Custody is issued to you, and ‘Custody I.D.’ cards are supplied so that you can pass them on to your executor’s. After all, it is just as important that those closest to you know where your important documents are kept.

Probate and Estate Administration

We are able to provide friendly, efficient and professional help to Executors of the deceased persons’ estate. This help can either be supporting you in fulfilling your responsibilities to the extent required by you or taking full responsibility for the administration of the estate.

As an Executor you must deal with the deceased person’s estate in accordance with the provisions of their Will. You need to exercise extreme care when taking on the role of Executor. Because if not dealt with correctly you could be personally liable for any debts or losses incurred.

Funeral Plans

A Funeral Plan is a straightforward, affordable way to pay for the funeral you want whilst providing protection against rising costs. When you purchase your plan the funeral director’s costs are set at today’s prices, with no more to pay for these services. In addition a funeral plan can help remove some of the burden and emotional stress from your loved ones, at a time when they are least able to cope.

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