Legal documents that should be on your New Year to-do list

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THE dawn of a New Year brings an opportunity to start off on the right foot.

The past couple of years living in the Covid-19 pandemic has taught us a lot of things. One lesson is you can’t predict what is going to happen – and so being well-prepared can only be a good thing.

It may be that you never seem to get around to making a will or arranging an appointment to discuss an LPA. Estimates are around 54 per cent of UK adults do not have a will, with the most common reason being ‘not getting around to it’.

Here, Jill Waddington looks at some of the legal documents that should be at the top of your to-do list this year.

Jill Waddington

Make a will: A will is one of the essential legal documents every individual or couple should have in place. Without a valid will, it will be left to the rules of intestacy as to how your property and financial assets are allocated.

For those with complex family structures or the growing number of cohabiting couples, the rules of intestacy are unlikely to mean your estate would be divided as you wish. It is also worth remembering that a will can specify arrangements for dependents, allowing you to choose who would become the legal guardian of any children.

There are a number of events in life that should especially trigger the need to put a will in place, including becoming a homeowner, becoming a parent, getting married/entering into a civil partnership, getting divorced/civil partnership dissolution, or experiencing any other significant relationship or financial change. However, making a will is a sensible step at any stage in life.

Review your will: Any significant changes to your circumstances should prompt a review of your will. Even if your personal circumstances may not have changed, the legal landscape may have, which could make a review every five or so years a worthwhile process.

Make Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA): This allows you to make your own choice of the person/people who you feel would make the best decisions in relation to your welfare, to become your deputy and make decisions on your behalf should you no longer have the capacity. Lasting Powers of Attorney can relate to your financial affairs or your health and wellbeing, or both.

Without an LPA, the only option for taking control of financial affairs after the point of capacity loss is for an application to the Court of Protection to be made. Making an LPA is a fairly straightforward process and means you can rest assured your affairs will be taken care of by someone you trust.

• Jill Waddington is a solicitor specialising in private client law at O’Donnell Solicitors. Call her on 01457 761320 to arrange a convenient appointment to discuss LPAs or any aspect of planning for your future.

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