There is no such thing as a standard Will or trust – everyone’s circumstances are different and your Will should be tailored to your own situation.
Wills can be tailor-made to whether you are single, married/Civil Partnership or co-habiting. Consideration such as provision for children, step-children or grandchildren under 18, disabled or vulnerable dependents, care of elderly relatives, ownership of the house, etc., are all taken into account when drawing up a Will.
These can either be Single Wills or a pair of Mirror Wills (2 documents drafted as a “matched pair” for a married/co-habiting couple/Civil Partnership) all with or without trusts and guardianship clauses (see below).
Appointment of Guardians
If you have children under the age of 18 you need to set out clear instructions as to who you would want to take care of them after you die. Failure to do this will lead to the decision being taken by Social Services and the courts. By appointing guardians you can ensure that your wishes are followed, not their’s.
A trust is a simple arrangement in a Will to ensure your assets (usually money and property) are looked after properly after your death. A trust is created where you entrust your assets to responsible people of your choosing (the Trustees) for the benefit of someone (usually children or vulnerable adults).
Life Interest Will Trust – A trust drafted into a Will that passes money to named beneficiaries but allows someone to take the income from the money while they need to.
Occupational Will Trust – A trust drafted into a Will that passes property to named beneficiaries but allows someone-else to occupy the property while they need to.
Discretionary Will Trust – A trust drafted into a Will that allows trustees to decide who of a group of beneficiaries can inherit, when and by how much.
LASTING POWERS OF ATTORNEY
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) gives a person of your choice the legal authority to look after your financial affairs and/or health and care should you lose the mental capacity to do so.
An LPA is not just for older people – it’s a hard thing to contemplate, but younger people may become incapacitated through serious accident or illness and without an LPA in place, no-one is legally allowed to make decisions on your behalf. Also, if you spend long periods of time abroad, you may wish to appoint an attorney to oversee and manage your financial affairs at home.
If you don’t have an LPA, it means relatives may face long delays and expense applying to the Court of Protection to take control of your assets and finances.
Financial Decisions LPA
This can be used while you still have mental capacity. Your Attorney can take decisions relating to matters such as your bank accounts (even a joint bank account is frozen if one of you loses mental capacity), buying and selling your property, managing any investments, benefits and paying your bills and mortgage.
Health and Care Decisions LPA
This can only be used if you no longer have mental capacity. Your attorney can take decisions relating to matters such as your level of care, where you live, consenting to or refusing medical treatment or life-sustaining treatment or even deciding what you wear or eat if necessary.
Reviews of your Will
It’s important to update your Will to reflect your changing circumstances. Wills which have been previously prepared by Valley Willwriting can be updated.
Severance of a Joint Tenancy
Changes joint ownership of property into ‘Tenants in Common’ which enables the owners to pass their share of property in their Will to someone else.
Letter of Wishes
This is a separate document which can sit alongside your will where you set out a little more information and guidance for those you’ve chosen as Executors, Trustees or Guardians.
Advance Decisions (or Living Wills)
An Advance Decisions is a document which gives you the option of deciding in advance whether you would want to refuse life-sustaining treatment if you were faced with a certain set of medical circumstances. It would mean that relatives and doctors would not be able to make the decision for you.
As a legal document, your Will should be treated with care and securely stored to prevent damage by fire or water, loss, theft or tampering. Valley Willwriting can explore with you the many options for how your Will can be registered, stored and accessed.