It’s that time of year again.
January - the month named after Janus, the god of beginnings and transitions, and a time generally associated with rebirth, renewal and resolutions.
And as we reflect on the previous 12 months, our attention turns to how we want our lives to move forward.
Plans to get fit and healthy, lose weight and stop smoking usually feature but it’s also a perfect opportunity to tackle the bigger taboo topics no-one ever wants to talk about.
So let’s take a look at divorce, dementia and death…..it might sound depressing but we’ll all be affected by at least 1 of them!
1. ‘Divorce’ Day
As we ring in 2017, some of us might find ourselves newly single.
Whether you’re in the middle of a separation or find yourself filing your divorce petition on ‘divorce’ day (the Monday of the first full week in January when the most divorce petitions of the year are filed), now is the time to take control and make some powerful new resolutions to help you on the path to happiness and prosperity this year.
Make a ticklist of action points that’ll make your life better and consider the following:
- If you’ve been dragging your heels in 2016, commit to completing your divorce this year.
- Update your will, trusts, insurance policies and estate plans (where applicable), as your ex could still be a beneficiary despite your separation.
- Find ways of putting your own hurt, anger and frustration to one side and if you have children, putting them first – it’ll be better for you all in the long run; read our 6-step Co-parenting Plan for useful pointers on how to develop a positive strategy.
- Seek legal advice as early as possible - a specialist family lawyer can advise on your position and options, and give information about family finances and negotiating any financial settlement (this is especially important if you are financially the weaker party).
2. Dementia, stroke, accident – it’ll never happen to me
That’s what we all think isn’t it?
But did you know:
- 1 in 3 over 65s will develop dementia
- Stroke is the second single most common cause of death in the world causing 6.7 million deaths each year and the burden of disease (disability, illness and premature deaths) caused by stroke is set to double worldwide by 2030
- Every 90 seconds someone is admitted to hospital in the UK with a brain injury – traffic or contact-sport accidents are examples of what can go wrong.
Few of us pause for thought to consider the possibility of losing our faculties through illness or injury (at any age) and what the implications could be.
Believe it or not, the reality for your relatives is that sorting your finances is less straight-forward and manageable than if you’d died. You cannot assume that loved ones can walk into the bank and access your money, regardless of whether it’s to pay for your care or the mortgage.
Taking charge of a person’s affairs in this situation requires application via Court of Protection, which can be costly, complicated and stressful.
But there is an easy way to avoid this - by expecting the unexpected and setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
Put simply, an LPA is an easy and legally robust way of giving someone you trust the power to make decisions for you when you can’t make some decisions yourself.
For more information on LPAs, what they mean and how they work, pop in to our FREE Wills & Probate drop-in clinic.
3. The only things guaranteed in life are death and taxes…
….so the saying goes. But so many of us don’t talk about death, let alone plan for it.
Yes, it might be morbid, but it’s going to happen to all of us. So have you ever stopped to consider the potential financial and emotional costs to friends and relatives?
The death of a loved one is an immense trauma and, aside from dealing with the immediate bureaucratic and financial issues, can be significantly worsened by confusion, arguments and stress caused by the absence of a will.
If you die and you’ve not made a valid will, it’s described as having died intestate. This means that your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy, regardless of what your wishes and intentions may have been.
The rules of intestacy are rigid and it’s worth being aware of just some of the conditions applied: your ex may still be a beneficiary despite separation (if you are still divorced), which could result in your children not inheriting; step-children will receive nothing; grandchildren/great grandchildren may not inherit; estranged relatives may still inherit; inheritance tax may be higher than if you’d made a will.
But this potential minefield can also easily be avoided as sorting your will can be both simple and straightforward, and need not cost the earth.
Plus, at SH&Co. we’re currently offering a FREE wills initiative* whereby we’ve partnered with Cancer Research and PDSA who will cover the costs of a simple Will or mirror Will, making it even easier for you to get one drawn up or updated.
New Year, New You!
So, as you welcome 2017 with open arms, now is the time to act and make those BIG plans as well as shifting a few pounds!
At Susan Howarth & Company, we know that that many of these topics can seem complex, confusing and daunting which is why we run 6 FREE legal drop-in clinics every week for Family Law and Wills, Probate & LPAs.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions and get the information you need to make the best decisions for you and your family – it’s what we’re here for.
For more details, call us on 01606 48777.
* Please note there is limited availability and some conditions apply, please contact us for more details.