It is fair to say that here in the UK we are not comfortable when it comes to discussing death or what will happen if we can no longer deal with our own affairs when we are alive.
There is an increase in disputes over peoples’ estates in the UK, because the deceased either did not have a will or failed to keep an existing will up to date with changed circumstances. The reasons for these disputes are various; family structures are more complicated than they used to be, as the nuclear family arrangement is altered by remarriage, co-habiting, step-children all impact on how your estate will be distributed after death and need to be taken into account when making or reviewing a will. The heartache caused by someone dying without a Will or with a will that does not take into account changed home circumstances can cause great anxiety and difficulties to those left behind.
A will is only relevant when you die. What happens if you are alive but unable to make your own decisions? It makes sense to prepare and elderly should consider making a Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) enabling you to choose who makes decisions on your behalf in the event that you cannot do so. Unfortunately, if you lose capacity and you do not have an LPA your family will not automatically be able to make decisions for you and may have to make an application to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy, which is often a distressing, expensive, lengthy process. It is important to remember that you can only prepare an LPA when you still have mental capacity; if you leave it too late that option is closed to you.