There are some simple steps which can offer peace of mind to the elderly and their families. The key is to act in good time as legal documents need mental capacity to be valid. If mental capacity is lost, someone will need to apply to the court of protection, This is costly, time consuming and often worrying.
Wills are top of the list for most elderly clients. Clients often want to avoid care fees but this is not always possible. Councils can take assets into account if they have purposely been given away to avoid care fees. There are some changes which can be made to the way property is owned which, when coupled with will, can help elderly couples shelter property. minimise money lost to care fees.
I regularly see how useful powers of attorney can be when caring for elderly parents. Everyone should give sincere consideration to putting them in place. Just 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 account for 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. I will rewrite it for free after any financial agreement relating to the divorce is reached. Divorce is a time of great change and usually needs thoughtful consideration when making a will.
On second marriage it is imperative that you think carefully about where your assets would go as the situation can be complicated.
Stepchildren or blended families
Many of us now live in blended families with all the issues which can arise. I have direct experience of this myself and understand that it can be difficult to raise the issue of inheritance. There are often competing needs and I will assist sensitively, ensuring you can protect your loved ones. A life interest is something which many find very useful. It can allow a spouse or partner to continue living in the home, while securing any inheritance for children. This trust also protects a child’s inheritance against the possibility of remarriage by the surviving partner. If the survivor remarries any inheritance can be preserved for descendants 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.