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SPONSORED CONTENT: All I want for Christmas ….is a Will and Power of Attorney with Harper Macleod

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Julie Doncaster, a Partner at Harper Macleod, looks at why getting your personal affairs in order could be a great way to bring peace of mind and goodwill to every family.

Julie Doncaster, a Partner at Harper Macleod
Julie Doncaster, a Partner at Harper Macleod

What is on your wish list for Christmas? And what are your goals for 2022? The beginning of a new year is often the time where you dust off the running shoes or receive brand new ones and bad habits are kicked to the curb, even if it’s only temporarily.

While it is not that likely your wish list includes making a Will or putting in place a Power of Attorney, there are a number of reasons why these are among the most kind and financially sensible ways to protect your estate and your loved ones.

If you die without a Will, the law will govern how your estate should be distributed, and this may not necessarily be in line with your own wishes. In some cases a parent or sibling will inherit before a long standing cohabiting partner. An ex-spouse can also end up as the executor of the estate.

In Scotland, you are considered an adult at 16 and, without a Will, there is no way to extend this to a more suitable age or provide a trust arrangement so that a vulnerable or disabled beneficiary can benefit in a safe and controlled way and protect means tested benefits.

A well drafted Will can reduce or eliminate inheritance tax and can be a very helpful method of mitigating care costs. It can also provide for mixed families, balancing out the different interests and bringing peace, comfort and certainty to all.

Where there is no Will in place, the family can expect a much longer and expensive exercise that requires an additional Court process which, in most cases, costs more than the price of a straightforward Will.

A word of warning for all those now convinced to get their Will in place, all Will writers were not created equal and there is as much to be lost in a poorly drafted Will as there is in not having one at all. There are strict requirements to adhere to when preparing a Will and Scotland has quite particular rules that are different to our English neighbours.

Power of Attorney

Just as important as having a Will is putting in place Powers of Attorney. During the pandemic we have seen an increase in people making use of their appointed attorney to help with jobs that they are not able to do because they are shielding at home.

Combined Powers of Attorney can cover welfare and financial matters and are often quite wide ranging, with the appointed attorney being able to step into the person’s shoes to deal with their affairs. Most banks and other institutions now insist upon seeing this deed even when they know the family well.

The alternative is a Guardianship Order granted by the Court. This can involve 10 times the cost of putting in place a Power of Attorney and can take up to a year to put in place. Year on year, there will be ongoing reporting requirements for the appointed Guardian to submit accounts and keep a management plan and insurance in place.

It is wise to put a Power of Attorney in place at the same time as Wills as you must have good capacity at the time of signing these deeds. They also must be signed in the presence of a practising solicitor or doctor.

So while putting in place a Will or a Power of Attorney may not be the classic New Year’s resolution, it could potentially be one of the most useful and easy to achieve.

Get in Touch

Our team can assist with all these matters and are readily available to meet with you at our office or at your home. Please do not hesitate to contact us on the number below.

Harper Macleod
Harper Macleod

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