Elderly Client Advice
It is very important to make things as easy and straightforward for your family in case you lose your capacity to make decisions and for after you have died.
Many people find it very difficult to think of future times when their health may be failing and mental capacity has been lost or for a time after they have died. It is not easy to address such matters and often families find it very hard to talk about such times to come.
Most people die without leaving a Will and they lose capacity, not having made Lasting Powers of Attorney. Sometimes people are so private that there is no record of where they keep their bank accounts or life policies. Every year there are millions of pounds of assets which are unclaimed because no-one knows who owns them. The situation is exacerbated by more assets being held online without any paper trail and no-one knowing a person’s passwords.
Digital assets cover things like on-line gaming and betting accounts, store reward cards and alternative currencies such as bitcoins. They are often quite valuable and exist only in the electronic world.
Social Media Accounts
Social media accounts are difficult as the law is very unclear and they are not dealt with in the normal course of dealing with the probate and administration of an estate. Each account has different rules and the person must make separate arrangements to manage the account during their lifetime. An example arose last year when a mum phoned asking for help because her daughter had died suddenly and she had a business which operated solely within Facebook. Mum couldn’t gain access to the account, not even to tell her late daughter’s customers or suppliers.
Wills And Lasting Powers Of Attorney
These are very real and practical difficulties families are facing and they could be alleviated through simple planning, made at a time when you are fit and healthy.
As a basic step, you should make a Will and Lasting Powers of Attorney. As part of our discussions, you will receive planning documents in which you can record important financial information, your funeral wishes and information re your digital accounts and you can them keep these documents up-to-date and with your important papers where your family will be able to find them, when the time comes.
Health And Welfare
In relation to health and welfare, you may be happy with the authorities deciding what happens if you lose mental capacity or you may wish your family to make these best interest decisions for you. If you wish your family to have the responsibility, you need to make a Lasting power of Attorney for health and welfare. However, it is no use giving someone legal authority to make decisions for you, if they don’t have enough information about how you live, your wishes and priorities. When we talk about these important and very sensitive issues, I will give you a document in which you can set out what is important to you including your beliefs, your views on life sustaining treatment, your medications and likes and dislikes. This information will be used when you can’t make your own decisions. The document can be kept up-to-date and provides a framework to discuss and address these issues.
By providing your details, you are happy to allow contact about your query from a solicitor at Catherine Higgins Law Limited.