Spring is finally here: the daffodils are brightening up my garden and the lighter evenings and warmer days are on the way. Now comes the inevitable spring clean. As well as spring cleaning our homes, it is also important to consider a spring clean of our personal affairs:

  1. Review your will If you have already a will in place, now could be the time to review the will taking into consideration any change in your family and personal circumstances. You should also check that the will reflects your current wishes. Furthermore, 6 April 2017 sees the introduction of the new Residential Nil Rate Band. This is an additional nil rate band available on death alongside the existing nil rate band of £325,000. The additional relief will initially be set at £100,000 and can only be set against residential property left to close descendants such as children or grandchildren. Additionally it can only used by those whose estates amount to less than £2.2 million. It may therefore be sensible to check whether your property passes to close descendants should you wish to make use of this additional allowance.
  2. Make a will if you don’t have one Statistics show that over half of the population have not written a will. If you die without a will, there is a risk that your property may not pass to the people you would choose for it to pass to. Without a will, your property would pass in accordance with the intestacy rules. Unmarried partners and those who have not registered a civil partnership cannot inherit without a will and if there are no surviving relatives, the estate passes to the crown. Failure to make a will can often cause complications and additional stress for your loved ones during what is already a difficult time for them.
  3. Consider putting a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place The numbers of people making a lasting power of attorney are increasing year on year. A lasting power of attorney allows you to appoint specific people (your attorneys) to make decisions in relation to your property and financial affairs and health and care decisions at a time when you are unable to make those decisions for yourself. It also allows your attorneys to deal with your bank accounts and property as if they were you. These are very powerful documents and although it is always hoped that they will never need to be used, they can be a great relief when they are most needed. Should a person lose mental capacity and no LPA is in place, in order to enable another person to make decisions on their behalf or deal with their affairs, an application for a deputyship will need to be made to the Court of Protection. This can be a time consuming and costly affair and again, can cause additional financial and personal pressure to your loved ones at a difficult time.