How to prepare for the future
I was asked recently to talk about what are the 5 top tips for preparing for aging and any potential decline in wellbeing that that might bring. And the answer is more straightforward than that, as I came up with a top 4!
The 4 things are:
- Make a Will
- Create Lasting Powers of Attorney
- Have a conversation with your family
- File your paperwork & keep it organised
So starting with making a Will, why is this so important? It allows you to choose where your belongings go. Even if you don’t own lots of things of value, people still want to be able to remember you when you have gone and to have a memento of someone who has died is a lovely way to do that.
It allows you to appoint Executors, who are the people or person who will make sure your wishes happen, they are the people dealing with the paperwork. They can also be beneficiaries, but they don’t have to be, the 2 separate roles are different.
As well as appointing Executors, if you have children under the age of 18, you can appoint Guardians for those children. In the event of the death of a parent, the other parent with parental responsibility will primarily become the carer, unless there is reason not to allow that to happen and the Family Court can intervene. The Family Court will take into account the best interests of the child, which will include any appointment of Guardians in the Will. Not all cases end up in the Court if the matter is uncontested by the various parties involved, it should be the destination of last resort for a dispute.
On top of Executors and Guardians, you can make a funeral wish, which is simple terms is whether or not you want to be cremated or buried, but can include much more detail if you want. I have had entire memorial service directions, including who will read which passage and a hymn list. It doesn’t have to be in that detail, but if you have a wish, let your family know, so that they can carry it out, it is usually comforting to them to carry out your wishes as a last act of love for you.
The final part is leaving your estate, ie all your assets, to whoever you want, possibly including family, friends and charity. If you have people who are reliant upon you, then it is best to leave them something, otherwise they can make a claim on your estate, but other than that, you are free to leave your estate to whomsoever you like. Most people leave it to their family or part of their family and if you are going to disinherit a member of your family, it is helpful to give information as to why, to help to rebut any claim they may make. Family disputes are completely normal, most families don’t get on, it is only about the degree with which that happens! So when these disputes become so difficult that the only way to deal with them is via lawyers, whilst the lawyers will love it, the family is losing money! You cannot stop someone from disputing a Will, the best that you can do is limit their chance of success, which will hopefully reduce the cost of litigation.
So if you want to prepare for the future, make a Will, as long as you are over the age of 18, there is no time when it is too early, but there can be a time when it is too late!