The importance of making a Will for unmarried couples
The number of cohabiting family households have doubled since 1997 yet there is no legislation in England and Wales that adequately protects such couples on death. Unmarried couples do not have the same rights as married couples especially when it comes to death and inheritance no matter how long you have been together.
What happens when someone dies without a Will?
When someone dies without making a Will (or their Will is invalid), their estate is dealt with under the rules of intestacy. This means that their estate is not always given to their person of choice and will be distributed in accordance with an order set by the intestacy rules.
Can I Disinherit My Spouse & Children From My Estate When I Die?
The short answer is yes you can as long as you understand the consequences of doing so. Often people choose to disinherit loved ones because of a dispute or a break down in relationship.
Why Do I Need a Will?
Most people believe that when they die, their assets will automatically pass to their loved ones and that they do not need to make a Will.
Others believe that partners and step children will also inherit from their estate if they do not leave a Will.
Some people also believe their nearest and dearest will ensure everyone is provided for.
What is an LPA and why do I need one?
An LPA gives another person, usually a friend or family member, (your Attorney) legal rights to look after your finances or health and welfare when you are unable to do so yourself. You may appoint more than one Attorney who will able to make decisions for and on your behalf when you are not in a position to do so however, as long as you have the capacity to make decisions for yourself, your Attorney(s) are not able to interfere with those decisions and even when you are losing capacity, your Attorney(s) must discuss with you first, wherever possible, any proposed decisions they wish to make on your behalf.
There are two types of LPAs. The first, deals with property and finance and allows your Attorney(s) to make decisions relating to any property you own or bank accounts which you hold. The other LPA deals with health and welfare and deals with issues such as medical treatment, what care you receive or where you should live. You can make both types of LPA or you can make just one depending on your circumstances.
Why do I need an LPA?
Making an LPA is a little bit like taking out life insurance. We hope that we never need to use it but it provides us with peace of mind knowing that we have done all that we can to assist our nearest and dearest during difficult times.
Contrary to popular belief, an LPA is not merely something the elderly need nor is its effect limited to dealing with the affairs of someone who has lost mental capacity. We never know what is round the corner, for example, we may have an accident which leaves us unable to deal with our affairs even on a temporary basis. Having an LPA in place will allow your appointed Attorney(s) to act on your behalf until such time as you are back on your feet and are able to once again take control of your affairs.
Don’t leave making an LPA until it’s too late
You should make an LPA sooner rather than later, as an LPA can only be made while you have mental capacity to understand the effect of doing so. Once you lose mental capacity, you will no longer be able to make an LPA and choose who deals with your affairs on your behalf. If you have not made an LPA and you have lost mental capacity, an application will need to be made for deputyship through the Court of Protection which is an expensive and lengthy process with no guarantee that those who have made the application with be appointed as your Deputy and it may even be someone that you do not know.