It is however about key things you can do to ensure your family is protected in the event of a disaster personal to you and which will be important regardless of what happens in the next months and years* because, as the famous saying goes, “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”.
*barring major legislative change
1. Make a Will
Everyone knows they should and yet roughly 60% of the population still haven’t gotten around to it. Whether that is because it doesn’t seem pressing at the moment, because you think you don’t have enough assets or because you think it’s too expensive, a properly drafted Will can ensure your wishes are carried out after your death.
That may mean ensuring your millions are left in a tax efficient way to your chosen beneficiaries. However, for the majority of the population it means making sure your furry friends have a home to go to, uni friends get your collection of shot glasses, or that your favourite clothes are donated to charity. It is especially important for parents of young children to have Wills setting out who should be guardians for minor children in the event that both parents pass away before the children reach adulthood so that uncertainty at a very distressing time is minimised as far as possible.
2. Lasting Powers of Attorney
It is a common misconception that LPAs are solely designed for elderly people who are becoming unable to manage their own affairs. In fact, although they are ideal for people in that situation they are also important for those who run their own businesses (sole traders in particular), and those who want to ensure their affairs could be managed in the event of a serious accident or injury whether temporary or permanent.
LPAs are particularly useful for those who have dependents living with them because the appointed Attorneys can ensure bills get paid and the household continues to run while the donor of the LPA recovers from their incapacity or more permanent arrangements are made for their care. There are two types of LPA: one governing financial decisions and another for decisions relating to health and welfare. It is possible to make one or both either at the same time or separately, and guidance as to how the authority conferred should be used can be provided within the document.
3. Tax Planning
Inheritance tax is a levy that many resent paying, having worked hard all their lives to build up their assets (and having paid income and other taxes already). The increase in house prices in recent years means that people who would not consider themselves rich are often closer to being over the tax free allowance of £325,000 per person than they realise. This area of law is currently being reformed, with an additional ‘main residence’ allowance due to be introduced in April 2017 although the detail of some of the provisions is still unclear.
A regular review of your assets with your financial advisor and your solicitor can mean that effective planning can take place to ensure those you wish to benefit receive as much of your legacy as possible.
If you would like advice on any of the above, Spratt Endicott offers a free 20 minute meeting for initial advice each Tuesday and fixed fees for any work undertaken can often be agreed at this point. Please call 01869 252 761 to make an appointment. Spratt Endicott is recognised by The Legal 500 UK (A clients’ guide to the capabilities of law firms) as the leading firm in North Oxfordshire in terms of its expertise and experience in the areas of powers of attorney, trusts, estate planning, wills and probate.