Life can be wonderful, but also unpredictable. As the last couple of years have shown us, even if you’re in perfect health today, you could become unwell or have an accident tomorrow.
Should the worst happen, a key worry for many people is that their family is taken care of financially, and for them to receive the maximum benefit of their life’s work.
Also, it’s important for most people that if a time comes when they can no longer make decisions about their finances – and health and care – that their loved ones are able to make decisions on their behalf.
Read on for two simple ways you can ensure your family can manage your finances if you can’t.
1. Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
If you’re unable to make decisions yourself because you don’t have mental capacity – perhaps you’re seriously ill in hospital or you develop a condition such as dementia – a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) enables a trusted person to make important decisions for you.
This person may be a family member or carer, or anyone you choose. They are referred to as your “attorney”. You can choose to allow your attorney to make all decisions, or you can limit the decisions they have the power to make.
It’s important to remember that once you lose mental capacity you can no longer put an LPA in place. So, it’s something you should do sooner rather than later.
Despite this, Canada Life research shows that 4 out of 5 adults – and 77% of people over the age of 55 – do not have an LPA.
Different types of LPA
There are two main types of LPA. You can set up one or more.
- Property and financial affairs LPA. This allows your appointed person to make decisions about your property and finances, such as managing your bank account and paying bills.
- Health and welfare LPA. This allows your appointed person to make decisions about your care and medical treatment, such as where you live.
Note that you don’t have to lose mental capacity for a property and finance LPA to come into effect, while you do for an attorney to make health or care decisions on your behalf.
The benefits of an LPA
There are many good reasons to have an LPA. Here are a few of the top benefits.
Make decisions for the future
Nominating a trusted person as your attorney will ensure you have someone who can make the decisions you’d have made, had you been able to.
Choose someone you trust
With an LPA, you can nominate a person you trust such as a family member, friend, or carer.
You can also choose to have more than one attorney. For example, if you own your business you might want to have a co-director as an attorney to make business decisions on your behalf.
Avoid stress and expense
If you don’t have an LPA and you become unable to make your own decisions, your family members are not automatically given the power to make them on your behalf. They would have to apply to the court for a Deputyship Order, which can take significant time and be expensive.
Benefit from peace of mind
When you arrange an LPA, you’ll have the peace of mind of knowing that should your health deteriorate, or you have an accident, you and your affairs will be cared for by someone you trust.
2. Expression of Wish form
While a will normally outlines who you’d like to receive your assets when you die, a will won’t typically cover your pensions.
So, if you want to ensure your pensions pass to the people you want them to when you die, a simple document can help.
An “expression of wish” form is a formal request to your pension scheme stipulating who should receive your pension benefits when you pass away. While the document isn’t legally binding, it gives the trustees of the pension scheme some guidance when they come to pay benefits.
Despite this being a simple step, MoneyAge report that 72% of UK adults have not completed an expression of wish form. However, without an up-to-date form, you could lose control over who receives your pension when you die.
Make sure your pension benefits go to your chosen beneficiary
As a will won’t typically cover your pensions, it’s important to complete an expression of wish form for all your pensions. It’s also important to update the forms regularly, or as your circumstances change.
For example, if you were to divorce and remarry, and you didn’t update your expression of wish form, the trustees might pay your pension benefits to your ex-spouse.
Another common example is where a person has nominated their children from their first marriage, but gone on to remarry, and perhaps even have more children, without updating their expression of wish form.
The person’s new spouse and additional children could legally challenge this, but it may be a lengthy process and could lead to arguments between family members.
Your pension provider can help
If you’re not sure whether you have completed an expression of wish form, or you want to update an existing form, contact your pension provider.
They will be able to supply you with the necessary document to complete.
Get in touch
If you want to ensure that your family are supported if the worst happens, we can help. Please get in touch by email at [email protected] or call us on 0345 505 3500.
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate estate planning, tax planning or will writing.