By making a Will, you get to decide what happens to your estate when you are no longer here.
Having a Will in place ensures that your estate is distributed as you wish. If you don’t have a Will in place, your estate may go to people that you don’t want it to. In the event that you die without making a valid Will, your estate would be distributed according to strict intestacy rules – your loved ones may not be legally entitled to receive anything and if you have no close relatives, your assets could even go to the government.
Whilst making a Will is one of those things that we tend to put off, doing so can ensure that your assets are left to the people you really want to have them. This can save a lot of time and worry in the long-run if you die without making a Will.
Making a Will doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Our team at Chilcotts Law will aim to make this as straightforward as possible. We will meet with you before drafting your Will to discuss your circumstances and requirements and ensure that your estate will be left how you want it to.
Our team can assist you and your new spouse with making legally binding, tax-efficient wills that will ensure your loved ones get the maximum benefit from your assets after you have gone.
Inheritance Tax Planning
The Inheritance Tax threshold is currently just £325,000 – any assets above this level are taxed at 40%. Effectively, that means that if you own a family home and have accumulated additional assets through inheritance, savings and other investments, such as shares, a significant amount of the assets you leave behind after your death could be lost to tax.
However, with careful, sensible planning now, you can ensure that your loved ones gain the maximum possible benefit from your assets after your death. Our team can help you with a range of measures which will help you to reduce the amount of inheritance tax payable on your estate – depending on your circumstances, we may even be able to help you avoid inheritance tax altogether.
Making a gift to charity is a very straightforward process. Many people think about leaving charitable legacies in their Will, but are not sure how to do this and whether or not there would be any implications on their estate. Gifts to charity do not accrue any Inheritance Tax and it is also a good way to support a charity that may have assisted you or had some positive effect on you or a loved one during your lifetime.
At Chilcotts Law we can refer you to the experts at Chilcotts Financial Planning to discuss and consider your tax planning further. This can also help with care home fees and other aspects that may be of concern both in your lifetime and after you have passed away.
Advance Decision (Living Will)
An Advance Decision, which is often referred to as an Advance Directive or a Living Will, is a legally binding document that can be used to refuse some or all forms of medical intervention, including life-sustaining or life-prolonging treatment, in the event that you should lose mental capacity in the future.
Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, anyone over 18 who has the mental capacity to do so can make an Advance Decision.
A valid Advance Decision is equivalent to the refusal of treatment by someone who has the mental capacity to decide for themselves, which means that if you refuse treatment through an Advance Decision, your doctors must in most circumstances respect your wishes or risk criminal charges. Our specialist team can help you to draw up an Advance Decision document which will allow you to express your choice, even when you have lost the mental capacity to do so.
There are some limitations to Advance Decisions. You cannot use an Advance Decision to name someone to make decisions about your treatment on your behalf. An Advance Decision can’t be used to request that your life be ended.
It is something we all take for granted but what happens to us when we lose our mental capacity?
Nowadays, progressive mental illnesses, such as dementia, mean that whilst we may be in good physical health, our mental health can rapidly decline and we can quickly lose the mental capacity to deal with our financial decisions. If this happens and there is no Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place, it can be a very costly and lengthy process involving the Court where decisions will need to be made on your behalf by another party. Often, this may be someone who does not know you such as Social Services and has no idea about your wishes and feelings. This person, known as a Deputy, may also be able to charge certain fees for looking after your property and affairs and would have the power to sell your home to pay for any care home fees if this were necessary.
However, if you were to give power to another person (your attorney) whilst you still had the capacity to do so, this would be registered in advance with the Office of the Public Guardian and if you were ever to lose the capacity to deal with your own property or financial affairs, then the process for your attorney to step in and do so would be very straightforward. Your attorney can be a family member, friend or a solicitor. You can have more than one attorney if you wish.
As well as making decisions about finances, you can give the power to your attorney to make decisions about your own health and personal care. This is equally important, especially if you have strong views about whether you wish to move to a care home or want to remain in your own home for as long as possible. Also, you can express your wishes about whether or not you wish to receive life sustaining treatment.
Having the power now to specify your wishes can mean that you have some degree of control over your financial affairs and matters concerning your own health and welfare. The LPA once registered, can also be used immediately, if you would prefer for your attorney to deal with certain matters on your behalf straight away.
Chilcotts Law specialise in preparing Lasting Power of Attorney documents and will also register this at the Office of the Public Guardian on your behalf. If you do not have a friend or relative that you wish to appoint as an attorney, Chilcotts Law can act as an attorney for their clients.