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Helpful Advice on Wills & Power of Attorneys

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17 April 2020 - How can i help my vulnerable relatives?

If you have friends or relatives who have been asked to “shield” during the pandemic you may be wondering how you can help and support them at a distance.

There are the obvious steps, such as, food and medicine deliveries as well as emotional support you can provide by phone or text.  If you need to do more than this to help them with their financial affairs you could consider invoking or making a Power of Attorney.

Your friend or relative may already have a Power of Attorney in place.  You should ask them to contact their solicitor to check their records of whether a valid Enduring Power of Attorney or Lasting Power of Attorney has already been made.  It may be as simple as obtaining authority to release their Power of Attorney to the attorneys who can then start acting on their behalf.  With a power of attorney relating to property and affairs, it would, for example, be possible to redirect mail in order to better help and advise; help with broadband or TV issues; arrange insurance; cancel/change direct debits or standing orders at the bank; or set up regular payments; make purchases on their behalf.

If a Power of Attorney is not in place we can talk to your vulnerable relatives about making one.

Although Lasting Powers of Attorney (which are recommended and intended to last during periods of mental incapacity) take several months to register at the Office of the Public Guardian before they are valid, it may be possible to set up a General Power of Attorney which is effective immediately.

If you are already acting as an attorney or deputy and need advice our dedicated Court of Protection team are able to help and empathise with your situation, please be in touch.

 

If you want to do more for your vulnerable relatives ask them to call us and we can discuss various options with them.

John Griff, local broadcaster, interviews Vicki Pearce giving advice on putting your affairs in order in these challenging times.

Our first bit of advice is, please don’t worry unnecessarily.

Times like this tend to focus the mind and it’s important you have information and facts at your disposal, not half-truths and speculation.

If you made your will 5 years or more ago contact your solicitor and see if they offer a free will health check service – they should be able to tell you based on any change of circumstances if they think it needs updating.

For some changes your solicitor should be able to do most of the work remotely – in simple terms, you shouldn’t have to worry too much about travelling to see them. This will vary from solicitor to solicitor so the best thing is to call them.

If you haven’t got a Will, don’t panic.

Most law firms are continuing to work normally, or pretty much as normal. Most will see you if you feel a meeting is necessary and others are exploring how Wills can be done entirely remotely i.e. at a distance. This is an unusual step given the raft of regulation and compliance but these are exceptional times and the legal profession is working to deliver solutions for clients.

It’s worth checking that you (and your loved ones) know where your will is kept – normally your solicitor will have put the original into storage for you. They do this because a copy of a Will is not considered a valid document. Alternatively, consider registering with a service such as Certainty.  Many solicitors will have done this for you, as part of the service.

In the worst-case scenario you may need help with Probate. A solicitor can walk you through the necessary steps making the process as easy as possible in an otherwise distressing time.

Everything said above really applies to Lasting Powers Of Attorney and Trusts – your solicitor should be able to work with you from a distance, to help give you the peace of mind that comes with knowing that everything is in order.

The NHS and numerous charities that support hospitals and the needy are always there when we need them – Now might be a good time to think about whether you want to leave a gift, legacy or bequest to them. It’s a good way of showing some appreciation.

If you are worried – talk to us. You don’t have to be a client, you don’t need to have had your Will made with us. We’re here to help.