Posted by: dweitz May 14th, 2015

Ten things to consider to keep Control of your Affairs when moving into Later Life

  1. Make sure that your wills are up to date:  Many wills for couples made before 2008 made provision for each spouse to use of the tax free Inheritance Tax allowance known as the ‘nil rate’ band.  These often involved setting up discretionary will trusts on the first death.  The transferable allowance introduced in October 2008 by Alastair Darling means that this may no longer be appropriate to your circumstances.

  2. When updating the wills don’t forget to put in place a Lasting Power of Attorney.  This has replaced the enduring power of attorney and comes in two parts; part 1 Finance; part 2 Welfare.  Unlike enduring powers of attorney these are registered with the Court of Protection immediately.  Some people worry about losing control but taking this action puts you firmly in control by making a decision about whom you trust to look after your affairs when you are in sound mind.  The alternative is to leave the decision to the court of protection who will need to appoint a deputy.  This is a lengthy process and could involve the appointment of someone who doesn’t know you well.

  3. Do you still own shares with share certificates?  Consider transferring them to a nominee account.  Dealing with shares after someone’s death, when the certificate holdings may not be current or complete, or indeed might have been lost all together, can involve unnecessary expense. Sometimes even transferring them into the name of your spouse can be fraught with difficulties particularly if shares are registered in the USA.  Many nominee accounts will still allow you to benefit from any shareholder perks that you have become used to.

  4. Does your spouse know the passwords for your computer?  Find a safe place to store this information as it can be vital for a surviving spouse to know. 

  5. Make a list of all your assets including account numbers of investments and deposit and bank accounts.  Keep these with your will and ensure that they are kept up to date at least annually.  

  6. Make sure that your attorneys know your preference if you need extra care.  Do you want this to be in your own home?  Many people have a preference for receiving care in their own home but have not considered whether any adaptations need to be made to enable this to take place.  Do you have accommodation if live in Care is required?  Could adaptations be made easily?

  7. Do you understand the role of the Local Authority in your area?  If you need care the Local Authority is obliged to provide it.  They are not obliged to provide it free and the services are means tested.  At the current time, if you have assets of more than £23,500 you will be expected to pay for your care. If you are paying for your care you remain in charge of your assets the local authority has no power to seize them.  They are however alert to any attempt to deprive yourself of assets to avoid paying for care.  The Care Act is bringing about changes to the way in which Local Authorities approach their liability to provide care. Some of these have already come in on April 6th 2015. Other changes including a cap on care charges of £72,000 come in from April 2016.  The care charges cap only relates to Nursing Care and not the hotel costs of care homes.

  8. Do you hold all your assets separately or in Joint Accounts? It is a good idea to have at least one account held jointly so that you have access to the money.  Accounts of the deceased are frozen until probate has been granted.  This can cause unnecessary hardship to the surviving spouse at a time when they are vulnerable.

  9. Should you consider paying for your funeral in advance by purchasing a Funeral Plan.  This is very much a question of choice but remember that the banks allow for the payment of a funeral from closed accounts and that the cost if paid for after death is an expense to the estate.

  10. Last but not least, spend your savings doing the things that you want to do whilst you are fit and healthy. Spend time with the family; make gifts to the grandchildren; visit those far of places you have always dreamed of.  Memories are priceless.