Making a Will
A will is a legal document, signed in the presence of two witnesses that states what should happen to your estate (your assets) after you have died. It allows you to name persons (your executors) who will carry out your wishes after death.
Whatever age you are, writing a will is the only way to make sure your wishes about your assets after your death are fulfilled. Many of us die without making a will and believe our wishes will be honoured anyway. This is not always the case. A will can make life easier to distribute your assets in the way you wish while avoiding any unnecessary taxation. If you do not make a will, the law, not you, will decide on the distribution of your assets.
If you would like to make a will, talk to a solicitor. You can find a solicitor by checking the Law Society’s website here.
This short film will explain the importance of setting up a Will.
Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)
An Enduring Power of Attorney is an arrangement for how your affairs are managed if you lose capacity in the future. It is a legal document in which you choose people who you trust to act on your behalf if you cannot decide for yourself. Whoever you choose must be someone you trust. An EPA can grant them use of and control over your assets and control of decisions about your personal care, like where you live, who you see, and what you wear. Normally the person you choose is a spouse or someone close – one of your children, a trusted friend, or a sibling.
If you are considering an EPA or would like to find out more about it, it’s important you do so sooner rather than later as an EPA needs to be prepared when you’re in good health and have capacity.
You will need a solicitor to guide you through this process. You may qualify for legal aid if you cannot afford to pay legal fees. You can find a solicitor by checking the Law Society’s website here.
Naming a Legal Guardian for Your Children/Dependents
If you are a parent who has children under the age of 18 or has someone who depends on you for care, it might help to prioritise making a will.
It is impossible to plan for every occurrence but making plans for your dependent’s care in the event of your untimely death is one step you can make to ensure the continuation of their welfare and future well-being. Your solicitor will guide you in making informed decisions. They will discuss with you options and issues you may not have considered and will help you think about the continuation of care. They will also recommend that anyone you choose to take over the care of your dependents is asked and you should discuss your wishes with them. If you have more specific wishes for your dependent’s upbringing such as education or religion, it is best to record in writing with your solicitor.
A guardian can be anyone who is over the age of 18, not in prison, and is of sound mind. Remember, you can always change your mind. Doing this is a simple process with your solicitor. Review your wishes every 5 years or following major life events, such as divorce.
Choosing Someone to Act on Your Behalf
Because of accident or illness and at any time in our lives, we could lose our ability to decide about our health care or medical treatment. When this happens, these decisions will need to be made by someone else. We can decide now who we would like to make these decisions for us. In an Advanced Healthcare Directive (AHD), this person is called a Designated Healthcare Representative.