It is said that procrastination is the grave in which opportunity is buried.
For many of us, the need to do (or review) our will never makes it off our ‘to do’ list. Similarly, the question of whether (or when) we should make lasting powers of attorney is put off. Such legal planning is something which is too easy to postpone.
But there can be a financial cost to this procrastination – one that is entirely avoidable.
Writing your will allows you to plan the devolution of your estate, and more. You can choose your executors, appoint guardians for children, as well as deciding where your assets pass.
But your will can do even more than this. It gives you the opportunity to ensure that your wishes are tax efficient, making the best use of the many valuable inheritance tax exemptions and reliefs. If you are a business owner, for example, you may want to consider the best way of maximising any potential business property relief. This could be by a direct gift or a trust structure – there are more options than you may realise.
Using a professional to prepare your will significantly reduces the chance of a dispute arising after your death (something which is becoming more common). The costs of post-death challenges are often disproportionate and exhaust an estate, resulting in an outcome that the testator would not have wanted.
Your will also protects your loved ones. Without it, the intestacy rules will decide where your assets pass, and who will administer your estate. These rules are a ‘one size fits all’ formula which is rarely appropriate in a modern society, often leading to an inequitable result. For example, the rules make no provision for cohabitants or stepchildren. The intestacy rules also give inheritance to family members at the age of eighteen, an age which many testators would consider too young.
These are all avoidable consequences of not having a will. By tackling this and ensuring it is effective and up to date, you are making the most of the planning opportunities that are available.
Wills protect your assets and loved ones after you have died. But what about during your lifetime?
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) allows you to appoint one or more attorneys to manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf if you lose mental capacity. This can relate to your property and financial affairs or your health and welfare decisions. The appointment of an attorney will give your affairs continuity if you are ever unable to give instructions yourself. LPAs are essential protection to prevent a costly hiatus in the management of your financial affairs. Consistent and proactive management of investments gives the best results, and the interruption of this represents a significant and avoidable financial risk own
So, when is the right time to make LPAs?
According to Catherine Whitaker TEP of Legacy Law, the short answer is ‘Now’. She says ‘Mental and physical
incapacity can arise in different ways. Some are gradual, such as the onset of Alzheimer’s or dementia, but some are
sudden like an accident or stroke. It can happen to anyone at any time – planning is key’.
It is important to remember that not all LPAs are equal. Professional advice will be needed if your attorneys are to be
able to complete tax planning or utilise discretionary management schemes on your behalf – these types of powers
are not automatically included in an ‘off the peg’ LPA. A professional can also incorporate safeguards and guidance to
give you robust and practical documents.
Maintaining your personal legal documentation is an important task. The pandemic has taught us how quickly life can
change. Making the most of the opportunities for forward planning can future-proof your affairs and ensure the best
outcome for you and your loved ones.
Improvements to your client valuations
We continue to make improvements to your valuations, and benchmark performance will now be present in your
next valuation for easy comparison against your usual portfolio performance. We have also made some changes to
our benchmark names, outlined below.