There are some simple steps which can offer some peace of mind to the elderly and their families. The key is to act in good time as the required legal documents need mental capacity in order to be valid. If mental capacity is lost, it is necessary to apply to the court of protection, which is costly and time consuming.
Wills are top of the list for most elderly clients. Although there are restrictions on how assets are disposed on when looking at care fee calculations, for elderly couples there are some changes which can be made to the way property is owned which, when coupled with a will can minimise money lost to care fees.
I regularly see how useful powers of attorney can be when caring for elderly parents and everyone should give sincere consideration to putting them in place. Even having the conversation about them often provides reassurance and guidance for family members.
I offer a package when powers of attorney and a will are produced at the same time.
Marriage is a good time to think about getting your affairs in order. Any previous will is usually revoked on marriage unless it was set up in a specific way to take account of a future marriage. I’m happy to look at your will for free to see if it needs reviewing.
If you have a previous spouse named in your will and you get divorced, any gift to them will no longer be valid. I can set up a new document while you are divorcing and will rewrite it for free after any financial agreement relating to the divorce is reached. Divorce is a time of great change and these changes usually need thoughtful consideration when considering a will.
On second marriage it is imperative that you think carefully about where your assets would go as the situation can become more complicated.
Stepchildren or blended families
Many of us now live in blended families with all the complications which can arise. I have direct experience of this myself and understand that it can sometimes be difficult to raise the issue of inheritance when there are competing needs. I will assist sensitively. A life interest is something which many of my clients find very useful as it can allow a spouse or partner to continue living in the home, while allowing securing any inheritance for any children of the family. This kind of trust also protects a child’s inheritance against the possibility of remarriage by the surviving partner. If the survivor remarries any inheritance will be preserved for the children of the person making the will and not pass inadvertently to someone else.
The law is not designed to help those who cohabit and still sees anyone in a co-habiting relationship as having very few rights. If you aren’t married and you wish your partner to inherit from you or even be able to stay in your shared home, you really need to be specific about this in a will. If it is left to chance there is no absolute right for a partner to inherit in the same way that there can be with a married couple.