My name is Emily Littlehales and I am the director and founder of Celtic Law Ltd, based in Mold, North Wales. I have been in the profession for nearly 13 years and one of my favourite things to talk about with clients is making Wills and Lasting Power of Attorneys.
In this article, I thought I would take a broader approach to what I consider to be important for you when asking how to ‘get your affairs in order’. The reason we do this is to make everything as easy as it can be if a time comes where someone needs to deal with our affairs for us, either on death or during our lifetime.
There are legal steps to take as well as some practical steps which cannot be overlooked.
1. Make or Review your Will: According to Which? 54% of adults in the UK do not have a Will. 60% of parents do not have a Will. Writing a Will is a key step when putting our affairs in order. Making a Will is often triggered by a life event such as having children; getting married; moving house; bad news or sickness. Making a Will is simple and inexpensive and saves a lot of hassle. I strongly recommend you to make a Will, but go a step further by keeping it under review (every 5 years) and make this a lifelong habit to ensure it keeps up with life events.
2. Storing your Will: Once you have made a Will, think carefully about where you want to keep it. It needs to be safe and easy to find. I recommend clients store their Wills with the London Probate Registry (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/store-a-will-with-the-probate-service) If you want to store at home and have a ‘safe’, this is ideal. If you don’t, it may be worth considering buying a fire resistant envelope to keep it in. Wherever you chose, make sure the family know where it is.
3. Power of Attorney: A Financial and Property Lasting Power of Attorney allows someone to help you manage your money or your property when you are unable due to a mental or physical health issue, or for convenience. A Health and Welfare Power of Attorney will appoint someone to make decisions about your health and medical treatment where you are unable yourself, which can be useful if you have strong feelings about certain treatments. If you don’t have a power of attorney and need one, it can be very expensive and stressful. You need you to put these documents in place when you don’t need them, otherwise it can be too late. To me this is as important as making a Will as it ensures our affairs are looked after whilst we are still live.
4. Business Power of Attorney: This is important for those of us with business interests. They are a business continuity tool to cover the situation if for some reason you can’t run the business, either short term or long term. These documents can be useful if you want to take a holiday and want someone to legally delegate management of the business in your absence, but also in the event of something more serious which could take you away from your business for a longer or indefinite period. A Business Power of Attorney may protect your interests in a business, the income you take from it, your staff and regulatory or company’s house responsibilities.
5. Make a List: Having a clear list of what assets you have and where they are to be an essential part of getting your affairs in order. This ‘list’ will be helpful to anyone who may be dealing with a Will for you, or a Power of Attorney. Aim to make this a one stop shop of everything your family needs to know. You might not receive paper bank statements or assets may be recorded or held digitally – this list will ensure your family don’t miss anything. If you have a solicitor, accountant or financial adviser include their details as they will be well placed to help the family as they will know about you and your affairs. List your bank accounts, investments, shareholdings and where key documents such as Wills, Power of Attorneys and Deeds are stored.
6. Social Media/Digital Assets: It is easy to forget how important our social media accounts may be and what we would want to happen to them if we died. Making a note (perhaps in the same place as your list from point 5 above) of whether you would want those accounts closing or a notice placing on them can be important to us. Similarly, you may have important information or contacts stored in your email account that you would like to be dealt with. Considering what your family would need, passwords and passwords for your devices might be helpful.
I hope the above has inspired you to think about your own affairs and how you record what you have got, and what you want to happen with them.
If you have any questions it would be lovely to hear from you. Please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 01352 860 890.