Putting your affairs in order
Posted on 8th January 2020
When people talk about ‘putting my affairs in order’, we often assume that they mean that they mean they’re ‘getting ready for death’. That doesn’t have to be the case.
In fact, everyone who has assets should think about what will happen if they are unable to manage them – for any reason.
Here are some helpful things you can do, to put your affairs in order.
Making a will is a good start. You might be just 19 years old with your first car and some money in your bank account. You might be 80 and living alone, without a surviving partner or children.
In either of these situations, if you die without a will, then your assets will be dealt with according to the laws for people who die ‘intestate’.
Without a will, you could be leaving your closest relatives (next of kin) to apply for probate and deal with inheritance tax, arrange your funeral and pay any debts you might have. This can all be very stressful, if they don’t know your wishes.
If you have children, you might assume that your partner or closest relatives can decide how they are cared for if anything happens to you, but that’s not necessarily the case. If you don’t have a will, the courts might make important decisions on behalf of your children.
If you do write a will, be sure to tell people you trust where it is and what it says.
Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)
LPAs will confirm who you would like to make decisions about your care and wellbeing and your finances if you aren’t able to express your wishes.
If you have assets, then this will give your ‘attorneys’ the power to look after things on your behalf. For example, they will be able to pay your bills and make decisions with medical professionals about any treatment you might need.
It’s important to make your LPA while you still have the ability to understand and clearly explain the instructions you are giving. So, for example, if you have a stroke or serious injury, you might not then be able to tell people what you want.
Record your assets
Another really helpful thing you can do is to create a list of all your assets and anything you might owe. Include the amounts of money involved and where any individual items are kept.
If you are unable to make decisions for yourself, following an accident, for example, then someone trying to manage your affairs until you recover will have a starting point.
Of course, this information should be kept securely and you should tell someone you trust where it is.
Collect important documents
We all have a lot of important documents such as our birth and marriage certificates, property deeds and insurance documents. You might have share certificates, Premium Bonds or pension plans. Outstanding bills, bank statements, credit card statements and tax documents are also important. If you have online bank or savings accounts, it will be helpful to print out their details too.
If you can keep all of this information together in a safe place it will make your own life easier and help anyone who needs to understand your arrangements.
If you make regular payments for goods or services, clubs, subscriptions or donations, it would helpful to keep a list of these as well.
Please get in touch if you would like advice about how to put your affairs in order.
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