Wills and power of attorney.

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I am a carer for my husband who cannot live independenty.

I want to review our wills and sort power of attorney for him and me.

Are there solicitors that specilse in these things, and for people with cancer and if so how do I find out about them?

  • Dear   ,

    I am sorry to hear about your husband’s health and can understand that you wish to have your wills and Power of Attorney sorted out.  

    We often find that the best way to deliver this guidance is to speak to you in person so that we can tailor it to your individual needs. If you’re able to, you can contact us on 0808 808 0000 and select option 1 then 2 and then 1 to get through to one of the Financial Guides on the line. We’re here from 8am until 6pm from Monday until Friday. Alternatively you can speak to us on webchat here.


    In the meantime, I’ve included some information below which you might find helpful. It’s  important to know that this only applies to England or Wales (we have separate guidance outside of England and Wales, so please let me know if you are in Scotland or Northern Ireland and I will be happy to provide some more bespoke information).

    You mentioned using a specialist solicitor to assist you. We cannot recommend a specific solicitor who specialises in cancer patients, but below I’ve given you details for Disability Law service. They provide free legal advice to people with disabilities and their carers.

    For further information on the areas of law they cover visit: http://dls.org.uk/

    If you’d like to contact them with a general enquiry, you can email at advice@dls.org.uk

    Or telephone: 0207 791 9800 (option 7)

    Alternatively, you may wish to use a solicitor recommended by your family or friends, or visit the Law Society of England & Wales website:

    http://solicitors.lawsociety.org.uk/

    Or call the Law Society of England & Wales on 020 7320 5650

     

     

    Updating a Will

     

    Wills should be reviewed at regular intervals and certainly after any major life changes such as:

     

    • Marriage (invalidates an existing will unless made in consideration of marriage)
    • Separation or divorce
    • Having a child
    • Moving to a new house
    • Death of an executor

     

    You can’t amend a will after it’s been signed and witnessed – the only way this can be done is by making an official alteration called a codicil. Codicils should only be used for minor adjustments, and they should be signed and witnessed in the same way as the original will.

     

    If you need to write a new will there are several ways that you can do so.

     

    You can write your own will but, unless your affairs are very straightforward, it’s safer to use a legal professional. Financial help through the legal aid system isn’t normally available for writing a will but it is occasionally in special circumstances. The chosen solicitor can explain if legal aid is available.

     

     

    If there is a need to find a solicitor, talk to family and friends for a personal recommendation. If this is unsuccessful, a local firm can be found by looking on the Law Society of England & Wales website:

     

    www.lawsociety.org.uk/find-a-solicitor/

     

    Alternatively, contact the Law Society helpline on 020 7320 5650 (local call rates). Lines are open 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

     

     

    Macmillan Free Will Service across the UK

     

    People can sign up and choose from a list of our respected will writing partners to write their will online, face to face at home, face-to-face using video appointments, on the telephone, in branch and via the post. Please note, not all options are available in all parts of the UK.

     

    After the will writing partner has been selected, we’ll pass on some details so they can make contact and start the will writing process. If the will is urgent, it’s better to register over the phone.

     

    There isn’t any obligation to leave a gift in the will to Macmillan.

     

    Visit https://www.macmillan.org.uk/donate/gifts-in-wills/free-will-service.html to find out more about Macmillan’s Free Will Service or to register. You can also call 0203 424 3677 to register.

     

    Will writing options available from elsewhere

     

    Some charities offer a free will-making service. They hope that users of these services will leave a legacy to the charity concerned but there is no obligation to do this. For a selection of charities offering a free will making service to over 55s for one or two months each year, visit www.freewillsmonth.org.uk

     

    There’s also www.willaid.org.uk which offers a free will writing service once a year. If preferred, try calling them on 0300 0309 558. In return for a will, they ask for a voluntary donation.

     

    There are also some other cancer specific charities with free will making offers and it may be worth checking if a particular type of cancer has a charity offering these.

     

    Membership of a union or staff federation may include legal services so check membership conditions. If it does, it may be possible to arrange a will at a reduced cost.

     

     

    Power of Attorney (England and Wales)

    A Power of Attorney (POA) is a legal arrangement which allows an individual (the donor) to give another person or persons (the attorney) the power to take over their affairs.

    The donor must have the mental capacity to make their own decisions when setting up a POA. 

    There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and it’s possible to use either, or both:

    • Property and Financial Affairs LPA This gives an attorney the power to manage all of the donor’s financial affairs including buying and selling property and investments, running bank and savings accounts and managing tax affairs.

    This type of LPA can be used as soon as it’s registered, with the donor’s permission, even if the donor can still make their own decisions.

    • Health and Personal Welfare LPA This gives an attorney the power to make decisions about the individual’s welfare, for example; medical treatment and whether they should go into a care home or hospice. This can be a general power covering all decisions or can be restricted to specific areas. In addition to this, the donor may make an Advance Decision – sometimes called a ‘living will’ – this gives legally enforceable instructions about the circumstances in which they would, or would not, wish to receive life-prolonging treatment.

    This type of LPA can only be used when the donor can no longer make their own decisions.

    An LPA can’t be used until it has been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) for which there is a fee of, currently, £82 (although there are exemptions for those in receipt of certain benefits or on a reduced income). This process can take up to 20 weeks (as of January 2024).

    An LPA can be cancelled at any time whilst the donor still has mental capacity. If mental capacity is lost, it can only be cancelled with the agreement of a court. The arrangement also stops if the donor dies.

    For more information on LPA you can call us or contact the Office Of public Guardian on the details below.

    www.justice.gov.uk/about/opg

    Phone number: 0300 456 0300 - Phone lines are open Monday - Friday 9:00am - 5pm (Except Wednesday 10am - 5pm)

    The forms can be printed off, posted or filled in online. To do so visit the website below:

    https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney/make-lasting-power

    It may help to use a solicitor in order to ensure that the forms are completed correctly, although this isn’t compulsory.

    There are some alternatives to an LPA so below I’ve detailed what these are for you.

    A Temporary Arrangement

    If the donor only wishes to give someone else power to manage their affairs for a set period, for example whilst they are in hospital or away on a long holiday, they can do this using an ordinary power of attorney.

    An ordinary power of attorney doesn’t have to be registered with any official authority, but it does have to be written in a certain way. It stops when the donor cancels it or loses mental capacity.

    Standard wording is needed for an ordinary power of attorney. Either contact a solicitor or buy an ordinary power of attorney document from a law stationer (some high street stationers also stock them) or arrange for a solicitor to prepare one.

    Once again, please see www.lawsociety.org.uk/choosingandusing/findasolicitor.law for a solicitor in your local area.

    Third Party Mandate

    A third-party mandate is where the account holder arranges with their bank to accept instructions made on their behalf by someone else. The account remains in the account holder’s name, but a third party will be able to make withdrawals, write cheques and carry out other transactions in their name.

    It’s important to remember though, if the account holder loses mental capacity, the bank must be told, and the mandate will stop. Also, if the account holder dies, the mandate will no longer be valid.

    Joint bank account

    Another alternative for accessing someone else’s account is to make it a ‘joint account’.

    A joint account is one which is held in joint names with someone else. A joint account can be arranged by adding a second person to an existing single account, or by opening a new joint account.

    The owners of the account would then become the joint owners of the money in the account and would be able to write cheques, set up standing orders and direct debits, make payments and access funds. If either person died, the surviving account holder would then automatically inherit the whole account.

     

    I hope that you find this information helpful. If you have any further questions, please contact us on 0808 808 0000.

     

    Wendy

     

    Financial Guide