On financial remedy & disposal:
“Legal fees are notoriously expensive and when it comes to financial remedies in the courts people can pay hundreds of thousands of pounds trying to unwind or sort out complex scenarios. Sometimes this cannot be avoided, but there are often circumstances when people could have avoided a dispute if they had set up their estate differently.
“For instance, there are often scenarios surrounding complex families and how estates are distributed. Some of these situations sound like something from a soap opera but rare situations do happen. Just this week a court has heard how a couple died and they need to decide who died first in order to determine which family inherit the house, given that the step children were brought together by the marriage. If he died first – the wife would have inherited and her family benefits and if she died first – the husband would inherit and his family benefits.
“There are a number of financial planning tools that could have avoided this scenario ending up in the courts – a will or a trust – both of which are vital tools to prevent post death conflict, ensures the deceased’s intentions are followed and speeds up the distribution of the estate.”
On lasting power of attorney:
“The sharp increase in Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPAs) over the past number of years is an encouraging trend. However, despite the rapid incline, we should not forget that we have an aging population where dementia is, unfortunately, a high possibility. A power of attorney can give you the peace of mind that a trusted individual is going to be in a position to take control if you are no longer able to make decisions.
“There are often huge misconceptions around LPAs that stop people from setting them up. Our research with the Big Window reveals that awareness and real understanding is scant and often superficial. There is common confusion over the cost, the process, how it interacts with inheritance tax and probate among others.
“On top of these knowledge barriers there is a vast emotional weight applied to conversations around LPA. This is far more than just an administrative decision, it is an awareness that there may be a time that you can’t and shouldn’t be making your own decisions. No one wants to consider themselves or loved ones in that state.
“We need to continue to do more to raise deeper understanding of what a power of attorney is and provide tools and structures to facilitate conversations.”