Nobody plans to fail, but when it comes to addressing our later life affairs, many of us do fail to plan. While this is a topic we may not wish to face, the peace of mind that comes from having a plan in place is worth its weight in gold.
In an ideal world, we would all live long, healthy lives with plenty of time to get our affairs in order. But that is not always the case, unfortunately. The unexpected can happen and circumstances can change – for example, our ability to make decisions for ourselves being removed by unforeseen illness. Although it’s an uncomfortable thought for some, procrastinating a little too long could leave our loved ones without the information they need during a stressful and difficult time.
It isn’t difficult to understand why we put these things off. They seem hard, can involve legal professionals and sound daunting and expensive. For some, it can even feel a little morbid. But it doesn’t have to be that way. At Age UK Camden, we’ve helped lots of people, just like you, to put their affairs in order. And what’s great is that once they have taken control and put their plans in place, they have all felt less stressed, enjoying the peace of mind that comes with knowing their wishes will be carried out, and their family will be protected from uncertainty, whatever the future holds.
In this article we’ve addressed some of the areas you may wish to think about. But remember, please don’t feel like you have to do everything at once. Start by talking to us. We’ll help you work through things at your pace, so it doesn’t feel overwhelming.
More than half of British adults have yet to write a Will, so you’re certainly not alone. Having a Will in place allows your loved ones to sort everything out much more easily when you die. Without a Will, there are certain rules which dictate how the money, property and possessions should be allocated, which may not be what you would want. Dying intestate, or without a Will, means that people you want to benefit from your estate – such as a partner you’re not married to or in a civil partnership with – may get nothing. In addition, any wishes for your children may not be carried out. It is also important that if you re-marry or circumstances change, you change your Will accordingly.
ADVANCE DECISION (LIVING WILL)
An Advance Decision allows you to express your wishes to refuse medical treatment in the future. It would only become relevant if there came a time when you were unable to make or communicate your own wishes. Advance Decisions are legally binding in England and Wales, as long as they meet certain requirements.
An Advance Statement lets you record anything that’s important to you when thinking about your health, care and wellbeing – like any religious or spiritual views, your daily routine or where you would like to be cared for. An Advance Statement is not legally binding. However, it does have legal standing because it must be taken into account when someone, i.e. a medical professional, is deciding what is in your ‘best interests’.
LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY
This is a legal document that allows you to appoint one or more people to help you make decisions, or to make decisions on your behalf, when you are no longer able. The emotional challenges dementia, stroke or an accident can put on you and your family are substantial. This could be made even worse if you lose your faculties without a Lasting Power of Attorney, as your assets could be locked down – even stopping your family paying for your care. And what’s key to remember is you stay in control. With a Lasting Power of Attorney you nominate a trusted friend or relative to take control of your assets, but only if and when you lose capacity. It’s a bit like an insurance policy in case the worst happens.
Putting a funeral plan in place can be a surprisingly liberating experience. Perhaps it is the fact that a pre-paid funeral plan can spare loved ones from difficult decisions and financial worries during an emotional and stressful time. For many, it is also the ability to spend time thinking about the type of service they would like, that best expresses their faith, spiritual views or personality.
Whatever the reason, there is no disputing that the cost of funerals are ever increasing. In 2017 the average price of a funeral was £4,078, which is predicted to rise to £4,944 by 2022. One reassuring aspect of funeral plans is, regardless of how much prices may rise over time, there will be no hidden costs or additional fees when it comes to using the plan – whether that be in five or 50 years’ time. The vast majority of providers also offer monthly payment options to help spread the cost from one to five years, depending on your preference.
Estate Planning may sound very grand, more akin to aristocracy and entrepreneurs, but the reality is, you may be surprised by the assets you have accumulated. Especially if you own a house or flat in Camden. You may be shocked to find out how much it is worth now, especially if you haven’t had it valued in a while. The point is, having a chat about your assets, where you would like them to go and getting some advice regarding any potential Inheritance Tax is a great place to start. It will also help you to make your Will, as well as any gifts you may like to make while you are living.
Age UK Camden has partnered with McClure Solicitors to provide FREE Wills and FREE Will reviews. Here’s a chance to get your affairs in order at one of our upcoming Will Clinics.
When: First Wednesday of every month. 10am-4pm.
Where: Henderson Court Day Centre
102 Fitzjohn’s Avenue, NW3 6NS
Spaces are limited so book your place now by calling 0800 852 1999.