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legal and financial matters
You can create some legal documents yourself, although it is usually wise to seek professional advice, such as from a solicitor.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA)
What does an LPA do?
It gives legal power from you “the donor” to another person(s), called “the attorney(s)”, to make decisions on your behalf. So your attorney must be someone you trust to act as you would want them to and make decisions on your behalf. There are two types of LPA and both schemes are administered through the Office of the Public Guardian:
Health & Welfare LPA - This allows you to chose a person(s) to make decisions regarding for example your daily routine, where you are cared for, treatments that keep you alive. These powers will only be used when you are incapable of making your own decisions.
Property and Financial Affairs LPA - This allows you to choose one person(s) to make decisions about for example collecting benefits, paying bills or selling property. If you give them permission, they can start using this power straight away.
It is useful to make sure your GP or health care provider knows that you have a Lasting Power of Attorney in place so that they know who to contact in an emergency.
Making your will
Whilst wills can be made without a lawyer in extreme circumstances you are strongly advised to seek the services of a solicitor. Making a will can be relatively straight forward with the correct support and legal advice. However, emotionally it can be hard to face the decisions that are necessary to complete this process.
In order to make a will, it would be advisable to choose a solicitor with whom you have a good rapport (a list of local solicitors that provide a will making service can be obtained from the Law Society via www.solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/). Prior to an initial meeting you will need to determine whether a will questionnaire needs to be completed. It is likely that you will need to consider the following:
Who you would like to act as your Executors – these are friends or family members who you choose to deal with the administration of your estate following your death.
Any specific items that you would like to leave to any beneficiaries of your will.
Who you would like to act as guardians for any children that are minors on your death.
To whom you would like to leave your estate. If you have more than one beneficiary, you may consider whether you would like to leave a proportion of your estate to a number of beneficiaries or a certain sum to a particular beneficiary and the remainder to others.
For more information please refer to our page on the role of an Executor.
What happens if you don't make a will?
When someone dies without having made a will, their estate will be divided in accordance with the rules of intestacy. Where the estate passes will depend on the deceased’s family circumstances and it would be advisable to obtain legal advice at this stage. There is also a specific way of determining who should be responsible for dealing with the administration of the estate in these circumstances.
For Independent Advice
Please be aware that there are many organisations that offer advice on making and administering a will because they have an interest in receiving a legacy. While this is often provided with the best intentions, such advice is not necessarily impartial.
Speak for me LPA
Clare Fuller, a registered nurse with over 30 years experience in end of life care provides end of life care analysis and recommendations, including Lasting Power of Attorney consulting and drafting.
Formal Legal documents explained