26th March 2021
Will you be remembered? People, pets, property and charity
How will you be remembered? That is a poignant and thought provoking question, I know. The emotional aspect of considering what will happen to your assets on death can be the most challenging aspect of a Will. But the pain of not facing this discomfort can make things so much harder for those you love.
Writing a Will is a good way to make sure your affairs are in order. It is a good time to consider what you have and who should receive what. As well as ensuring your loved ones are provided for, making a Will is also an opportunity to remember and be remembered by leaving a thoughtful gift to the special people in your life or to a charity close to your heart.
Some clients want to ensure that a family heirloom or special keepsake passes to a particular family member or friend. Others, may wish to leave a cash gift to grandchildren or godchildren, or as a thank you to a member of staff for all of their hard work.
Making provision for a pet can also sometimes be a priority and failing to provide for a beloved pet can cause lots of confusion and difficulty.
Your Will is a record of your last wishes. It could have a very practical and emotional impact on your loved ones. What will your Will say?
Will you marry me? Marriages, mergers and misunderstandings.
In many civil law countries couples have to elect how they will own their assets when married. This is not the case in common law jurisdictions like Jersey.
If you or your children have been waiting to get married this year it is sensible to review your estate planning before doing so. Getting married carries with it a number of legal obligations including an expectation that your spouse will inherit from your estate. However, it is possible under Jersey Law to enter into a marriage contract, a pre or post nuptial contract as they are commonly known, so that each party can choose how their estate will be dealt with.
Parents, grandparents and those with a family trust should take a pragmatic view of any impending nuptials. They may choose to focus attention on preserving family wealth or providing particular support for the next generation.
Pre-nuptial agreements are the best tool for an engaged couple to agree the division and claims on any assets in the event of a divorce. Parents, grandparents and trustees (or their lawyers) are often best placed to approach this sensitive subject to avoid any embarrassment or misunderstanding.
Will you trust me?
One in six of us will develop dementia by the time we reach 80. Since October 2018 the legal issues caused by the loss of capacity can be mitigated in part by putting in place a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
An LPA is a document by which you nominate someone or a group of people to, in certain circumstances, make decisions for you. This will apply to your property and affairs and your health and welfare. Your attorney(s) must be somebody that you absolutely trust to act in your best interests. This is because it is likely that when the LPA is used you will be at your most vulnerable.
It is often the case that a loved one or a close friend is appointed as your attorney. For a married couple with adult children it is usual to see a spouse appointed as the primary attorney and the children as the reserve attorneys. Where you have more than one attorney you may choose how each attorney may act and include instructions, preferences and restrictions in the LPA. It is entirely up to you to choose. For example, couples who have separated may wish to appoint someone else as their attorney. Whereas, unmarried couples may wish to appoint each other rather than their nearest relative. A lawyer or a similar professional might be appointed where your affairs are particularly complex or where you require a neutral person that you can rely upon.
An unrestricted LPA dealing with your property and affairs can be very useful as it can be used as soon as it registered by the Court. Vulnerable clients who have been in lockdown this last year have found these to be invaluable as it has allowed their attorney to deal with matters on their behalf while they remained at home.
If you have not updated your Will since 2018 then there is a good chance that you do not have an LPA in place. Although for some people an LPA will never be used, not having one in place can cause a number of issues for your loved ones should you lose capacity at a time when they could least do without those problems.
Corbett Le Quesne
Simon Lofthouse has recently joined Corbett Le Quesne as Head of Private Client. Simon is a solicitor specialising in Wills and LPAs and Probate. Corbett Le Quesne is a specialist family law firm. Many clients want to deal with life changes with lawyers they trust and with whom they are familiar. Family lawyers are familiar with helping people when life is at its most challenging and divorce, death and dementia are some of the biggest changes we can face.
If you want to know more, please contact Simon for a free 30 minute information session. You can contact him on Simon.firstname.lastname@example.org or 07797 863982 or 01534 733030 or visit our website at www.corbettlequesne.com.
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