Are you prepared for a health emergency?

In recent weeks the Royal Family have shown that they are as susceptible as the rest of us to health-related problems. King Charles had treatment for an enlarged prostate followed soon afterwards by a cancer diagnosis. The Princess of Wales spent thirteen nights in hospital and will spend three months recovering. The Duchess of York was treated for breast cancer last year and now is being treated for melanoma.

If, even royalty cannot avoid health problems, how can we prepare ourselves and our loved ones? It goes without saying that an up-to-date Will is a necessity. You may feel it is too soon to make such arrangements but better too soon than too late.

Writing a new Will

It is hard to over exaggerate the importance of making a Will to provide for your loved ones in the event of your death. You need to choose Executors, Guardians for any minor children, Trustees  and Beneficiaries and the ages and terms on which they will inherit. . If you are not married or in a civil partnership then your partner will not receive anything under the intestacy laws and nor will any step-children. With ‘blended’ families this is vital to consider. Inheritance Tax planning is also part of a Will to make sure your family benefit from the exemptions and reliefs available.

Reviewing your existing Will

  • When did you last review it?
  • Have the circumstances of anyone in the Will changed?
  • Are the taxation provisions still appropriate?  

We recommend reviewing your Will every five years or whenever your personal or financial circumstances change or those of anyone mentioned in the Will.

  • Who has died?
  • Who has married?
  • Who has had children?
  • Who may be too old to act as an Executor or Trustee?
  • Who has moved abroad?
  • Who has divorced?

All these reasons and more mean a Will may need to be changed.

The taxation of estates and lifetime transfers through Inheritance Tax is a fast moving scene at present with a budget on 6th March and an election soon. You may need to take advice about how your Will can be made more tax efficient and whether the tax saving provisions in the Will already are still appropriate.

Have you made Lasting Powers of Attorney?

Lasting powers of Attorney are made in respect of your property and financial affairs and health and welfare? If you were out of action for a prolonged period you would need to make sure that your loved ones had access to important accounts, documents, and investments. 

The most important of these would be:

  • Can loved ones sign on your Bank account? 
  • Deal with important paperwork including bills and subscriptions? 
  • Access to deal with tax returns including your income tax return
  • Access to investments?

Lasting powers of Attorney in  respect of your property and financial affairs can allow your chosen attorneys to handle all these things for you while you are out of action. With out an LPA the action could not be taken and a costly and lengthy  application to the Court of Protection would be needed.

Personal financial audit

It is  good practice to ensure that you check your finances generally and do an audit to check the following:

  • Are all bills on direct debit?
  • Is the house insurance on direct debit?
  • Is the car insurance on direct debit?
  • Do you know what happens to your death in service payment through your work?
  • Your pension fund?
  • Any life policies?

If your papers are stored physically make sure at least one person knows where they are how to access them if they are locked away. If stored on a computer, then you need to consider carefully how to give access safely to trusted family members or attorneys.   

Do you have a Health and Welfare LPA? 

With data protection and privacy issues and confidentiality even the closest relatives cannot always obtain information about their loved one unless it has been authorised beforehand with an LPA. In this way your loved ones can be given information about your treatment and consulted if you are unable to give your own views.

Set up an Advance Statement

The Law also permits an Advance Statement whereby you can set out in detail what you would like to happen if you were incapacitated for a long time.  

How Moore Barlow can help

The time to think about these issues is now while things are all well and not after a shock diagnosis when judgment may be impaired. Our experienced Private wealth solicitors can guide you as to the best action to take.