Landmark ruling by Supreme Court on life sustaining treatment
Why making a will or lasting power of attorney is important at every age
A recent case has highlighted the importance of early estate planning including LPAs which many do not consider important until later in their life. In this instance, a young mother in her early 30s was tragically diagnosed with a terminal illness and her health began to rapidly deteriorate. The young mother did not have a will or LPAs and these needed to be prepared urgently in light of the unpredictable circumstances. It was critically important to the young mother that her estate was protected for the benefit of her children and their future maintenance.
Any parent with young children will want to ensure that their children will be financially and emotionally cared for in the event of their death. They may also want to ensure that certain family members, such as their own parents or siblings, become their child’s future guardian.
A guardianship clause in a will can confirm who they want to be their child’s primary care provider and instructions concerning the child’s upbringing can also be made by way of a letter of wishes. This may cover issues such as where the child lives or where they are educated. This can provide great comfort that their child will be cared for as they would have wanted.
Creating a trust with the children as beneficiaries is a further method of creating financial security and protection. The assets of the deceased can be placed within a discretionary trust which is controlled by the chosen trustees. The trustees can then decide when it is appropriate to release funds for example for school or university fees, travelling expenses or when the child reaches a particular age, allowing the trustees to take stock of the prevailing circumstances at the time.
LPAs (Lasting Power of Attorney)
LPAs enable an individual to appoint someone they trust to make legal decisions when they are unable to do so. There are two types of LPAs; one concerning property and finance, and one for health and welfare.
A health and welfare LPA allows an individual to specify who can make important decisions concerning their medical care and treatments, including decisions concerning life sustaining treatment. Many individuals feel greater reassurance that it will be a loved one, rather than a doctor, who would make such personal decisions.
Property and finance LPAs enable an attorney to deal with an individual’s finances which can include managing bank accounts or investments, buying or selling property, or receiving income on their behalf. This is therefore an important consideration for business owners who may become unable to participate in business affairs. Whilst not all business interests and affairs can be managed using the LPA, the interests it does cover are potentially critical for the continued operation of their business and maintenance of their finances.
If you would like to discuss any of the issues in more detail, please contact Amy Lane.
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