Kainat Jones

Can I include digital assets in my will?

Can I include digital assets in my will?

Yes, you can include digital assets in your will. Digital assets can encompass a wide range of items, such as online accounts, digital media, cryptocurrencies, domain names, intellectual property, and more. Including these assets in your will allows you to express your wishes regarding their management and distribution after your passing.

Here are some steps you can take:

  1. Identify Your Digital Assets: Begin by creating an inventory of your digital assets. This includes listing all relevant online accounts, email accounts, social media profiles, websites, blogs, online storage, digital files, cryptocurrencies, and any other valuable digital assets you possess.
  2. Appoint a Digital Executor: Designate a trusted individual as your digital executor or digital asset trustee in your will. This person should be tech-savvy and capable of handling your digital assets according to your wishes. They will be responsible for managing and distributing your digital assets as specified in your will.
  3. Nominate a Contact: Some companies, for example Facebook and Apple, allow you to nominate a person to deal with your account once you have passed away, they’re usually referred to as a ‘legacy contact’. You should make enquiries to see if you can nominate someone on your account.
  4. Provide Access Information: In your will, include instructions on how to access your digital assets. This may involve sharing passwords, encryption keys, or other necessary access credentials with your digital executor. Ensure this information is kept secure and updated regularly, and ensure you are not in breach of any T&C’s before doing so.
  5. Specify Your Wishes: Clearly express your wishes regarding the management and distribution of your digital assets. Specify who should inherit or have access to specific digital assets and how they should be handled. For example, you may want certain online accounts to be closed, transferred to others, or preserved as a digital legacy.
  6. Consider Legal and Practical Considerations: Consult with a legal professional such as ourselves to ensure your digital assets are addressed correctly in your will.

Remember to regularly review and update your will, including the provisions related to your digital assets, as circumstances change. By addressing your digital assets in your will, you can help ensure that your wishes regarding these assets are known and respected your passing.

How we can help
If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Wills & Probate team simple click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Kainat Jones

How often should I review my LPA

How often should I review my LPA

Reviewing your Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is an important step to ensure its accuracy and relevance over time. It’s always best to consult with a legal professional such as ourselves for specific recommendations tailored to your circumstances.

As a general rule, it is recommended to review your LPA periodically, typically every two to three years or when significant life changes occur. Additionally, you should consider reviewing it if there are any changes in relevant laws or regulations that may impact your document.

Here are some common situations when reviewing your LPA would be advisable:

  1. Personal Changes: If there are changes in your personal circumstances, such as marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child, you may want to review your LPA to ensure that your appointed attorneys and instructions still align with your current wishes.
  2. Relocation: If you have moved to a different country or jurisdiction, it is important to review your LPA to ensure its validity and effectiveness in the new location.
  3. Health Changes: If there are significant changes in your health status, it is wise to review your LPA to ensure that your instructions and preferences regarding healthcare decisions remain accurate and up to date.
  4. Attorney’s Availability: If your chosen attorney(s) are no longer willing or able to act on your behalf, it is essential to review and update your LPA to designate new attorneys.
  5. Changes in Relationships: If there are changes in your relationship with your chosen attorneys, such as a breakdown in trust or communication, you may want to reconsider your choices and update your LPA accordingly.

Remember that reviewing your LPA does not necessarily mean making changes every time. It is an opportunity to assess whether the document still reflects your wishes and if any modifications are needed. Consulting a legal professional such as ourselves will ensure that your LPA remains valid and aligned with your intentions.

How we can help
If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Wills & Probate team simple click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Kainat Jones

Are you too young for an LPA?

As a solicitor specialising in this area of law, I’m pleased to see that more and more people are understanding the importance of putting Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) in place. It’s a common misconception, however, that LPAs are something for the older generation only and not needed by younger adults.

We routinely find that we are contacted by adults who want to ensure that LPAs are in place for their older friends and relatives, but those same adults often have not considered the importance of having LPAs in place for themselves, this is despite understanding the importance and relevance of them for their relative.

Having seen first-hand the application of LPAs for young adults I find this concerning and would stress the importance of LPAs for all adults including young adults. Why is that? Before I go into the importance of LPAs, I’ll briefly outline what they are and what they can be used for:

What are Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs)?
An LPA is a formal legal document which gives a person or persons of your choice (called your Attorney(s)), the power and authority to make decisions on your behalf during your lifetime. There are two types of LPA:

1) Property and Financial Affairs LPA – This LPA allows your Attorney(s) to make decisions about your money and property; for example, paying bills, receiving income, or buying and selling a house. You can also have LPAs to cover business affairs if you run a business.

The property and Financial Affairs LPA can, if you choose, be capable of use while you have mental capacity (that’s the ability to manage your own affairs) and if you lose mental capacity. It can therefore be used if for example you need someone to assist with your affairs on a temporary basis as well as being capable of long-term use.

2) Health and Welfare LPA – This LPA enables your Attorney to make decisions about all health, care and wellbeing matters, such as where you live, what you eat and medical matters. You may also give your attorney(s) the power to accept or refuse life-sustaining treatment on your behalf. This LPA can only be used in the future if the person who made the LPA lacks the ability to make a health and welfare decision for themselves.

Both types of LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used. This is the government body that supervises all lasting powers of attorney

Too soon?
For younger adults, it may feel too soon to create LPAs. As young adults we can feel invincible and hold the belief that LPAs simply will not be needed because we will be fully capable for many years to come, however they may be more useful than you think.

Why would a young adult need LPAs?

  • Just in case, LPAs can only be made at a time when you have the mental capacity to make them – that means the ability to understand the nature and effects of the LPA document you are making. Therefore if a young adult has an accident or illness that results in them losing mental capacity, either temporarily or permanently, it is not possible to make one at that point.
  • If you lack mental capacity to make an LPA, it will be necessary to make an application to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. This can be a long, stressful and particularly costly process for your loved ones and there is no guarantee over who the Court would appoint as your Deputy. There are annual requirements and costs associated with a Deputyship order that aren’t an issue with an LPA. In addition, court of protection orders are rarely entirely satisfactory for health and care issues.
  • The effects can be devastating; not just for you, but for your dependants. If you lose the ability to manage your financial affairs while you are young, even if the condition is temporary, the effect on your loved ones can be huge. Young adult life is likely to be one of the times in life where an individual has many responsibilities. Not having an LPA in place could mean leaving your partner, with no way to access your money. They could face a long and costly battle to access your funds and in the meantime be unable to pay the mortgage, household bills, or even pay for childcare and child maintenance. Even if you have critical illness cover in place, without legal authority in place, your partner may be unable to access it on your behalf.
  • The impact can reach further than just your family; if you run a business and have staff and customers who are financially dependent on you. For example, can your business pay wages and honour contracts if you are absent?
  • Unmarried couples many couples co-habit as opposed to getting married. Living together and purchasing properties together means a level of financial co-dependence. If married, it is less likely that a spouse would meet resistance from other family members if it was necessary to apply for a deputyship order if one of the couple lost the ability to manage their affairs. LPAs would ensure that in a difficult time your partner could deal with your funds to arrange payment of household bills, pay the mortgage and insurance and deal with any other financial matter relating to the property.What can be more distressing for an unmarried couple, however, is that whilst a hospital can in certain circumstances liaise with a ‘next of kin’, that relationship link is not as obvious for a non-married couple as it is for a spouse or other relative. No person can give medical instructions on your behalf without a health and welfare LPA in place, but for non-legally related persons, the walls can be higher and they can feel even more helpless in an already difficult situation.
  • Back packing and working abroad? LPAs can often be useful to allow parents, for example, to manage financial matters for adult children while backpacking. I’ve seen this work well for several families. Those who work abroad, for example Military families can also benefit from having the added certainty and flexibility of having a trusted person assist with the management of finances while they are away.

Once you have created your LPAs they are there ready for using when required. They can only be used with your consent and can be revoked at any time if your situation changes.

How we can help
If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Wills & Probate team simple click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Kainat Jones

Quick guide to LPAs

Quick guide to LPAs

Download our free Quick guide to LPAs covering:

  • Your rights under an LPA
  • What do LPAs cover?
  • Appointing an attorney
  • When is an LPA valid?
  • Replacing Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA)

Click here to download your free quick guide

Quick guide to Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA).

A Lasting Power of Attorney will ensure that the people you trust are able to take important decisions on your behalf if you become mentally or physically incapable of doing so for yourself. 

In this free guide, we set out the benefits of having an LPA and some of the things to consider when setting an LPA up.

To download your free copy simply complete the form below:

Name

 

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Wills & Probate team simple click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Kainat Jones

Making a Power of Attorney in Dementia Action Week

Making a Power of Attorney in Dementia Action Week

Dementia Action Week runs 16 – 22 May and is a national event that sees the public coming together to take action to improve the lives of people living with dementia.

When a person receives a dementia diagnosis, this doesn’t automatically mean they cannot make important decisions. However, as their symptoms worsen, they may no longer be able to make decisions about their finances, health or care. We refer to this as losing mental capacity. If you are concerned about losing mental capacity, you may wish to take steps now to protect yourself.

In this article, we look at how someone you trust can make decisions on your behalf or how you can help a loved one living with dementia protect their rights for a time when they lose mental capacity.

Mental capacity – explained
In short, mental capacity means that the person can understand, remember, and use information to make important decisions about their life. Mental capacity can be difficult to ascertain; some people are perfectly able to make daily decisions such as what to eat and what to wear but struggle with financial or health decisions.

Only a healthcare professional can determine whether a person has lost mental capacity. The assessment is not solely based on the person making a strange decision or a single mistake or misremembering a few details but later remembering the correct information.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 protects and empowers people who may have lost mental capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment. The Act also states that where a decision must be made on behalf of a person who has lost capacity, this decision must be made in their best interests. There is a checklist to help decision makers decide.

Dementia and making a Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so for yourself. This person is called your attorney. Your attorney can be a family member, a close friend or you could even appoint a professional, for example a solicitor, to be your attorney. You can appoint more than one attorney and even replacement attorneys.

To set up a Power of Attorney, you must have the mental capacity to do so, so it is important to do this as soon as possible if you have received a dementia diagnosis.

Do you need a Power of Attorney if you are married?
It is essential to understand that no one has the power to make decisions on your behalf if you have not set up an LPA. Your spouse or civil partner cannot automatically deal with bank accounts or pensions or even make decisions about your care if you lose mental capacity. As a result, even if you are married or in a civil partnership, setting up an LPA is essential.

If you are interested in making a Power of Attorney in Dementia Action Week and would like a free initial consultation with one of our specialist Wills & Probate team, simply click on the “Speak to our Experts” button, call 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Kainat Jones

Gifting and inheritance tax: Explained

With Chrismas only a few short weeks away, the giving and receiving of gifts will be high on everyone’s agenda. As part of your inheritance tax planning, you may consider gifting money or property to family or friends, but what should you be aware of?

In this article, we give a brief overview of gifting and inheritance tax, including who you can gift to, how much you can gift, and what it means if you continue to benefit from the gift.

Giving away money or property to avoid inheritance tax 
One of the easiest ways to mitigate your inheritance tax liability is to gift money (or property) to friends, family, or charity while you are still living. There are some gifts you can give in your lifetime which will not incur tax after your death, including gifts to your spouse or civil partner. If you make a gift seven years before your death, it will usually be excluded from the value of your estate for inheritance tax purposes. Gifting can be a complex area, so you should speak to a solicitor about gifts as part of your estate planning process.

Who can I give gifts to and how will this impact the inheritance tax position of my estate?
Gifts to your spouse or civil partner are usually tax-free, however, this does not apply to unmarried partners or cohabitants. If you wish to leave gifts to an unmarried partner or cohabitant, other family members or friends, you should seek estate planning advice to determine the most tax-efficient way to do this.

Annual Exempt Allowance
Each individual is allowed to give away up to £3,000 in any one tax year. You can carry forward your exemption amount for up to one year. So, for example, if you do not use any of your allowance in 2021, you can gift up to £6,000 in 2022.

Small gifts 
You can give small gifts of up to £250 per person, such as for birthdays or Christmas presents, unless another exemption has been used for the same person.

Wedding gifts 
There is also an exemption for wedding gifts, with how much you can gift dependent on your relation to the couple getting married. If you are a parent, you can gift up to £5,000, if you are a grandparent or great-grandparent you can gift up to £2,500, and for everyone else, the exemption threshold is £1,000.

Potentially Exempt Transfers
Outright gifts that exceed any of the above allowances are known as potentially exempt transfers. If you die within 7 years of making the gift, the gift will be brought back into your estate for inheritance tax purposes. This will reduce, or use up, your nil rate band allowance (the nil rate band is the amount each individual can leave without incurring inheritance tax).

Retained benefit 
You must be aware of the consequences of making a gift which you will still benefit from during your lifetime. The most common example is where a parent gifts their home to their child but continues to live in the property rent-free until they die. When this is the case, the property will still form part of the estate in the event of death, regardless of whether seven years have passed since the date of the initial gift.

If you would like a free initial consultation with one of our specialist Wills, Trusts & Estates team, contact us on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk.

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Kainat Jones

Should you make your Powers of Attorney online?

It is possible to make a Power of Attorney online, but whether you should is a different matter.

The process of making a Power of Attorney seems straightforward, but for those who are unfamiliar with the process, there are many potential pitfalls which could result in your application being rejected or your wishes not being carried out correctly.

In this article, we look at some of the reasons why it may be preferable to instruct a solicitor to advise you and to prepare your Power of Attorney rather than attempting to prepare your own online.

How do I make a valid Power of Attorney? 
Strict formalities must be followed for a Power of Attorney to be valid. For example there is a strict order as to who signs the document and if not followed, your Power of Attorney will be rejected by the Office of the Public Guardian. To be valid, and to be able to use the Power of Attorney, it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

Why use a solicitor to set up a Power of Attorney? 
When you instruct a solicitor to set up your Power of Attorney, your solicitor will be able to guide you through the two different types of Lasting Power of Attorney, explaining how and when each one can be used and by whom. Your solicitor will be able to tailor their advice to your individual circumstances, which can be invaluable when preparing important documents such as these.

Your solicitor can explain who can be appointed to act as your attorney(s) and can explain what duties and obligations they will have as your attorney(s).

A Power of Attorney can operate in a number of different ways and your solicitor will explain the various options to you. Can attorneys make decisions alone, or must they make decisions jointly with others? Would you rather stipulate which decisions are to be made together and which they can make separately? Would you want your Attorneys under your Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney to be able to use the document as soon as registered, with your consent? Or only once you have lost capacity? These are just some of the questions that may arise during discussions with your solicitor that may otherwise be overlooked should you attempt to set up a Power of Attorney yourself.

Your solicitor can explain what would happen with your Power of Attorney documents should one of your attorneys predecease you or be otherwise unable to act (for example, if your attorney loses capacity).

Your solicitor will analyse your assets and liabilities to identify whether you need a separate power of attorney to cover any business interests.

You may also wish to set out your wishes for how your affairs should be managed; your solicitor will help you to express any wishes you have clearly. They can also advise on how these should be set out to ensure that all eventualities are covered, and your wishes can be carried out as you intended.

Your solicitor will explain the effects of a Power of Attorney to you clearly to ensure that you understand the effect of the document and the power you will be giving to your attorney(s), which can prevent the validity of the Power of Attorney from being challenged at a later date.

If you instruct a solicitor to prepare your Power of Attorney, you can be confident that it will be set up correctly and tailored to meet your individual needs and circumstances. In addition to this, your solicitor can also advise you on any additional steps you may wish to take, such as revising your will or inheritance tax planning.

If you would like a free initial consultation with one of our specialist Wills, Trusts & Estates team, contact us on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk.

How an AIP will help you secure your dream move

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.