Many people in Scotland die without leaving a Will. Without realising it they can be leaving their loved ones with the prospect of additional paperwork, increased costs and a longer period of time to wind up the estate. Worse still, when you die without leaving a will, the law imposes a set of rules that determine who will inherit your property when you die. These rules will not necessarily produce the results that you would expect or wish. This can lead to a great deal of heartache for those left behind.
It is best not to leave such important matters to chance. All of these problems can be easily avoided by having a professionally prepared will. None of us like to think about what might happen when we are no longer here but it is important to make time to plan ahead.
There are many traps for the unwary in succession law and you should seek advice if your affairs are complicated at all. Whether you want to provide for children from a previous relationship, ensure protection for an unmarried partner, or minimise your exposure to inheritance tax, careful planning is vital.
It is also equally important to update an existing Will if your circumstances have changed or if there have been changes to the law which would mean that your Will may no longer be as tax efficient as before. We recommend reviewing your will every three to five years.
Your Will would usually cover the following:
- Appointment of Executors to administer your estate after your death
- Setting out which people are to be given items from your estate
- Give your Executors the powers to distribute your estate to your chosen beneficiaries or invest some or all of it for a given period of time. This can be important if there are funds to be held for children.
- any special arrangement for business interests that you may have set out preferred funeral arrangements.
A Living Will allows you to record your wishes about future medical treatment if you are no longer able to make those decisions yourself. There are many medical treatments which can extend life and keep you alive. If however you become seriously ill you may not want to undergo such treatments, but may be unable to communicate your wishes to medical professionals in charge of your care. Having a Living Will can remove pressure from family members who would otherwise be left to make these difficult decisions.
Please contact us if you would like to find out more and we would be happy to discuss your requirements with you.
Powers of Attorney
You never know what might be round the corner…..
A Power of Attorney authorises another person or persons to act on your behalf. This person, known as your “Attorney”, can deal with the management of your financial affairs and personal welfare. The document can be framed so that the powers can be used immediately. Alternatively, it can be designed to come into force only once a person becomes unable to handle their own affairs as a result of their mental capacity being impaired.
A Power of Attorney cannot be signed after a person loses capacity to manage their own affairs. . If you do not have a Power of Attorney then your family could be involved in costly court proceedings to be awarded the right to manage your affairs if you are no longer able to so yourself.
There are the following types of Power of Attorney:
- Financial which gives your Attorney the authority to deal with your financial and business affairs. This can come into effect at any time.
- Welfare allows your Attorney to deal with aspects of your welfare such as care provisions and medical treatment. This only becomes effective if you are unable to make these decisions yourself.
- Combined includes both financial and welfare powers.
Powers of Attorney are regulated by the Office of the Public Guardian and all Powers of Attorney must be registered with them before they can be used. We will arrange for the registration of the Power of Attorney on your behalf.
We would strongly recommend all our clients put in place a Power of Attorney as a prudent part of their future planning and should you wish to discuss your options please call Craig Harvie on 01738 310047.