Death planning guide: living wills

Death planning guide: living wills

Money Savings Expert Martin Lewis has compiled a checklist of 20 things you need to consider when planning for the financial well-being of your family (it’s on his website). The check-list includes tips on wills, inheritance tax, funerals and setting up power of attorney.  Our last post addressed the actual value of over-50s plans. This post looks at the use of ‘living wills’.

'Living will' is a term often used to refer to an advance decision (or an advance statement). Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, an advance decision is a legal statement that lets you say if you don't want certain types of medical treatment in certain situations, if you lose capacity in the future.

For example, you may not want to be resuscitated if you become too ill to make the decision later on, or refuse to receive a blood transfusion if it's against your religion.

Advance decisions are free to make, and you don't need to go via a solicitor. You do need to be over 18, and have mental capacity when you make it, for it to be valid.

 

You can amend it at any time.

It only comes into play if you lack capacity to make or communicate the decision in future, eg, if you had a stroke, accident or late-stage dementia. If you change your mind about the statement at any point after making an advance decision, it becomes invalid. You can cancel or amend an advance decision at any time, verbally or in writing.

 

How to do it

To make an advance decision, make a written statement of any treatments you'd like to refuse and in which circumstances, giving as much detail as possible. If you want to refuse certain treatments even if your life is at risk, make this clear.

Someone else can write it if you're unable to. Sign it if you can (again, someone else can do this while you're present if you can't), and date it. A witness should sign and date it too.

An advance decision can also be made verbally, eg, to your doctor, but this is more risky, so it's best to put it in writing if you can. Store it safely, and ensure your relatives, close friends and doctor know about it. If it refuses life-sustaining treatment, your advance decision must be in writing, be signed with a witness and must include a statement that the advance decision is to apply to the specific treatment ‘even if life is at risk as a result’.

This only applies in England and Wales, so isn't legally binding in Scotland or Northern Ireland, though should still be taken into account by medical professionals. See the Age UK website for full info. Don't confuse an advance decision with a Lasting Power of Attorney.

 

We have produced guides to help you with Legal Guardianship, Probate matters and also understanding Powers of Attorney.  Our Estate planning team can help with these as well as with living wills. To talk to one of the team, please call us on 01787 277375 or use the online form.

Death planning guide: are over-50s plans worth it?

Death planning guide: are over-50s plans worth it?

Money Savings Expert Martin Lewis has compiled a checklist of 20 things you need to consider when planning for the financial well-being of your family (it’s on his website). The check-list includes tips on wills, inheritance tax, funerals and setting up power of attorney.  Our last post addressed the gift of organ donation. This post looks at the ‘over-50s insurance plans’ to see if they are really worth it.

 

Over-50s plans promise to pay a fixed lump sum on death, with no need for a medical, which you could then use to cover your funeral costs.

While these sound like an easy way to protect your loved ones, there's a crucial term in the small print: "Premiums are payable for life and you could pay more in than is paid out on death."

Because the amount it pays out is fixed, if you live a long time you may end up paying more for the plan than you'd ever receive.

So if you've got a plan already, don't just cancel. First, do some sums to see how good or bad these plans work out for you. For full details see MSE’s Over 50s Life Insurance guide.

Death planning guide: saving lives

Death planning guide: saving lives

Money Savings Expert Martin Lewis has compiled a checklist of 20 things you need to consider when planning for the financial well-being of your family (it’s on his website). The check-list includes tips on wills, inheritance tax, funerals and setting up power of attorney.  Our last post covered the pitfalls of saving passwords. This post addresses the ability to save a life once you’re gone.

Registering as an organ donor can be a huge help to someone in need after your death. However, it's a personal decision, so it's worth thinking about this early. On average, three people that need a transplant die every day due to the shortage of registered organ donors – by registering you could save or improve as many as nine lives.

If you decide to, it's quick and easy to register on the NHS Organ Donation website, via the NHS Donor Line on 0300 123 23 23 or by texting SAVE to 62323.

Beware of listing passwords

Death planning guide: beware of listing your passwords

Money Savings Expert Martin Lewis has compiled a checklist of 20 things you need to consider when planning for the financial well-being of your family (it’s on his website). The check-list includes tips on wills, inheritance tax, funerals and setting up power of attorney.  Our last post covered planning for retirement. This post covers the dangers of listing passwords.

 

It may seem like a good idea to write down the passwords to your online accounts for after you've gone. But it's worth considering that even if your next of kin has your login details, it's likely they'd be in breach of the website's terms by using them, which could get them into trouble legally.

For others to legitimately use your online accounts after your death, they'd need to notify the website via the proper channels, and get permission to gain access.

It's still worth listing the names of any online storage accounts (eg, if your photos are stored on a website, for example) and any other sites you've membership with on your financial factsheet to help your next of kin know who to contact after you're gone.

The safest thing to do is simply to list any providers with a rough indication of the product, with no password info. Though it may take time for your relatives to gain access this way using your death certificate, they'll at least know which organisations to contact.

Living well vs leaving an inheritance

Living well vs leaving an inhertitance

Death planning guide: living well

Money Savings Expert Martin Lewis has compiled a checklist of 20 things you need to consider when planning for the financial well-being of your family (it’s on his website). The check-list includes tips on wills, inheritance tax, funerals and setting up power of attorney. 

Towards the end of their lives too many people scrimp, attempting to save some money for their children’s inheritance.

You shouldn’t be one of these people. Your old age is a time when you should be able to enjoy the fruits of your earlier labour. One way to do this is to think about what income you need to be comfortable in old age and establish a pension accordingly. In the age of austerity this can be easier said than done. In which case you need to take care of your requirements in old age, ensuring that you have enough income to be warm and comfortable.  Your children don’t need to be left anything, they can take care of themselves or gain access to the services that can help them achieve this.

Powers of Attorney

Death planning guide: powers of attorney

Money Savings Expert Martin Lewis has compiled a checklist of 20 things you need to consider when planning for the financial well-being of your family (it’s on his website). The check-list includes tips on wills, inheritance tax, funerals and setting up power of attorney.  Our last post covered funeral planning. This post covers all you need to know about powers of attorney.

Thinking and talking about what would happen if our faculties deserted us is uncomfortable. Yet you need to consider how much worse the situation would be if you became incapacitated through a stroke, accident, dementia (eg, Alzheimer's) without sorting it first.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document where someone (while they still have mental capacity) nominates a trusted friend or relative to look after their affairs if they lose mental capacity.

It's best to do this whilst you're in good health, as the financial and legal complications can be huge if you want to do this after your health has deteriorated.

We have produced a guide regarding powers of attorney

 

 

Death planning guide: planning your funeral

Death planning guide: planning your funeral

Money Savings Expert Martin Lewis has compiled a checklist of 20 things you need to consider when planning for the financial well-being of your family (it’s on his website). The check-list includes tips on wills, inheritance tax, funerals and setting up power of attorney.  Our last post covered financial understanding for the family. This post covers the need to plan your funeral.

 

When a loved one dies, having to make funeral decisions with no guidance - which music, did they want flowers, where to scatter ashes - can be harrowing at an already painful time. Yet making a few quick decisions on your own funeral now can be a real help to your relatives after your death, and it needn't be drawn out.

Things to discuss include how much you can afford to spend, whether you'd rather be buried, cremated, or even have a 'green' funeral, as well as any music, flowers, religious rites and readings.

  • Note down your wishes for the ceremony. Age UK's free LifeBook has a section that lets you note down details of your funeral wishes to help others, and can be sent to you in booklet form or via email.
  • It can be MoneySaving. While you may love the idea of a no-expense-spared film star funeral, going for simple, cheaper options (eg, cremation rather than burial, flower-free ceremony, asking friends and family to be pall bearers etc) will help keep costs down.
  • Ask for flowers to be donated. If you do have bunches of flowers at your funeral, you may want to ask for them to be donated afterwards to a nearby organisation, such as a local hospice, for others to enjoy.
  • Don't go it alone. Planning your own funeral can be a lot to bear, so ask for help. Friends and relatives can give vital support, and if you'd like a religious ceremony, your local chaplain, rabbi, imam or priest will be able to give guidance on any rites needed. If you want to arrange a non-religious, or civil, ceremony a funeral celebrant is an option.

 

Sharing responsibility

Sharing responsibility

Death planning guide: shared responsibility

Money Savings Expert Martin Lewis has compiled a checklist of 20 things you need to consider when planning for the financial well-being of your family (it’s on his website). The check-list includes tips on wills, inheritance tax, funerals and setting up power of attorney.  Our last post covered inheritance tax planning. This post covers the need for others in the family to understand the financial running of the household.

It's likely you make a good share of your household's financial decisions. Yet if you died, would your loved ones know which date the rent's due, when your car insurance runs out and where the stopcock is?

The MSE poll showed that out of those in a relationship, an average 49% of users said they usually control all the family finance in their household.

So as well as making a financial factsheet, take time to ensure your partner, kids, parents or flatmates have the practical skills they need to look after the household.

Whether you usually keep the car maintained, sort the savings or pay the milkman, make sure those who rely on you know how to do it for themselves too.

Death planning guide: saving on inheritance tax

Death planning guide: saving on inheritance tax

Death planning guide: saving on inheritance tax

Money Savings Expert Martin Lewis has compiled a checklist of 20 things you need to consider when planning for the financial well-being of your family (it’s on his website). The check-list includes tips on wills, inheritance tax, funerals and setting up power of attorney.  Our last post covered legal guardianship. This post covers what you need to know about inheritance tax planning.

 

When you die, the Government assesses the worth of your estate (everything you own) from cash and investments to property and business. If you don't do any planning for this, many can expect 40% of this to go in tax.

There are lots of ways to deal with this, including giving gifts at least seven years before you die, leaving cash to charity and more.

The key is to act early!

You can find out more from the Government's website or you can contact one of our Probate team. Our probate and estate team team includes; Stephen Whiskin (Partner), Phillip Povey, Jamie Robinson, Carolyn Armstrong, James Hadley (Head of Private Client) and Ann Turnbull.