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Your will and legal matters

Making your wishes known

Even if you feel you do not have much to leave, it is important that what you do have is left to those you care about. If you do not make a will, this means you die intestate. Your spouse will be the main beneficiary unless stated otherwise. If you are not married to your partner they will not automatically be a beneficiary, so make arrangements in advance. The absence of a will causes lengthy delays so organise things in advance.

Age UK provides a document that provides information so your family and friends understand your wishes after your death. This document should be given to a trusted family member for safe keeping. It cannot be used as a will. Call the Age Concern Information Line on freephone 0800 169 65 65 and ask for the form headed 'To my family, friends and executors...'

Other legal matters
Visit www.lawsociety.org.uk to find details of a suitable local solicitor. Some solicitors may have funding schemes to help with the cost. Remember to check in advance what fees will apply.

Living will

A living will (also known as an advance directive) usually takes the form of a written statement setting out what types of medical treatment the maker of the will does or does not want in specific circumstances should they be incapable of giving or refusing consent. It must be signed whilst the maker is mentally competent.

Lasting Power or Attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document by which one gives another person (the Attorney) the power to act on their behalf and in his or her name. It can be drawn up at any time while you have capacity to do this but it has no legal standing until it is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

Partnership rights

If you and your partner are not married you should seek advice because different rules apply around:

  • Bereavement and registration of death.
  • Inheritance.
  • Next of kin status and incapacity.
  • Pension provision.
  • Tenancy.
  • Wills and intestacy (if you die without leaving a will).

Questions

  1. Writing a will helps save your family from worry in the future, and means your wishes will be met.
  2. It makes sense to think about writing an advance statement or directive, also knownn as a 'living will'.
  3. Discuss with a solicitor or your local Citizens Advice Bureau about making a will and the fees involved.
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