Top ten later life planning myths

There are many myths surrounding later life planning. Here we explain the reality behind ten of the most common misconceptions:

  1. If I make a Will I am more likely to die – Ironically, other people claim that if you make a Will you actually live longer! In reality, of course, a Will (or lack of one) is extremely unlikely to have any effect on your life expectancy. On the other hand, dying without a Will in place will usually make things much more difficult for your family to deal with.
  2. I don’t need a Will because I want everything to go to my spouse, then my children – Unfortunately it is not always the case that spouses will get everything; the first £250,000 will go to your spouse, anything over that is split equally between your spouse and children. Children will also receive all of this money outright on reaching the age of 18. If this is a substantial sum, it may be better to protect this for longer.
  3. My family/friends will sort out everything – Unfortunately without a Will your friends and family have no automatic authority to deal with your estate.
  4. It takes so long and is expensive – Your first meeting with us usually takes around 1 hour. We then send you a draft Will with an explanatory letter, you let us know if you want to make any changes or additions and then the final version is signed. Typically making a Will is done within 2 weeks. If you need longer this is fine, but in an emergency Wills can be completed within 24 hours or less.
  5. Trust Funds are only for the uber wealthy – This myth I am sure stems from American TV shows! Whilst Trust Funds are used where there is a lot of money (to ensure there are controls and the beneficiaries do not get “carried away” with their inheritance), they are also often used in circumstances where it would not be sensible for people inherit outright (young children, vulnerable adults, people with drug/alcohol dependencies, people going through divorce etc) or where you simply want flexibility in how your estate can be divided as you do not know what future circumstances are likely to be.
  6. If a solicitor writes my Will, my family will be forced to use them for probate – Only if you appoint the firm as executors. We usually recommend that your executors are people you know rather a solicitors’ firm, wherever possible. Of course, if you think that a specific firm would be best then by all means appoint them, but remember that even if your family needs help, they can always take advice from any solicitor.
  7. I’m healthy/young; I don’t need a Lasting Power of Attorney – Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are used to allow another person to manage your affairs if you lose mental capacity. Whilst these circumstances seem more likely in older people or where there are certain medical conditions, unfortunately a loss of capacity can strike at any time through illness, accident or injury. Having these documents in place is just as important for young people as for those in later life.
  8. If I make an LPA my attorneys will take over immediately – If you have mental capacity, there are strict rules in place that mean your property and finance attorneys can only act on your instructions and your health and welfare attorneys cannot act at all. When you have lost mental capacity both your property and finance and health and welfare attorneys can act for you, but they have to do so in your best interests.
  9. I don’t need a Health and Welfare LPA, my family will just make the decisions for me – Whilst, strictly speaking, your family should always be consulted as to what is in your best interests, without a Health and Welfare LPA this often does not automatically happen and the ultimate decisions as to your care are determined by those caring for you (e.g. care home, doctors) who may not know what you would decide if you were able.
  10. My spouse/child is a joint signatory on my account; that will be enough – Quite often a person puts their bank account into joint names with another party in order to enable them to assist with the management of money. This can create a number of problems. If you lose capacity you can no longer give consent to the other joint holder operating the account. The result is that the account may be frozen and the other account holder will not be able to use the account without an LPA, EPA or Deputyship which has been properly registered on the account. Furthermore, on death if you have a joint bank account there may be uncertainty as to who inherits the money in the account.

Rebecca McCarthy is a solicitor in the private client department at Barker Gotelee, Ipswich solicitors.

Personal Solicitors Ipswich – for more information on our range of legal services, please call the team on 01473 611211 or email