I don't need a will or a lasting power of attorney. I am too busy enjoying myself, partying, travelling and living to think about old age and dying.
How often have I heard that line in my career. Well the sad fact is you need both because it is not old age that is going to get you in your mid 20s but the unexpected. The unexpected accident, the unexpected mistake, the unexpected illness. Just because you are still young it doesn't mean you are superhuman. So here is why you need to plan for the future.
It was not a happy day in my office when Mrs T came in to talk to me about making a will as her son had been unwell. Her son was full of beans, a go getter, the life and sole of the party. He had finished university and had been working for three years in London. He had recently purchased a house with his girlfriend. Things were really beginning to look good for his future. Mrs T was smiling and glowed when she spoke about her son and then she stopped. Her face changed.
Her son had been out with his friends for a night out. He had a few too many beers. He had fallen and banged his head on the pavement. He had been knocked out and was taken, unconscious, to hospital. This is how he stayed for four months. As a result of his fall he had a bleed on the brain which caused brain damage. Mrs T no longer smiled and glowed. She had grown old in seconds. Her face was full of concern and worry. She explained to me how he had not been able to work, how his company had been good to begin with and had kept his job open but after six months things had begun to change tone in conversations. She told me how his girlfriend had struggled to pay the mortgage on their new home and to clear the bills. His salary and savings were in accounts in his sole name. She did not know how his recovery would go because it was unclear as to his capacity to make decisions and the level of capacity he might regain. She told me how there had been discussions about treatment and operations to relieve pressure in his head and whether he would survive. These conversations went on for several months. He was young and care free and have never thought about the what if.
Had he thought about the what if he might have made a will when he purchased his house. If anything did happen to him his assets could have passed to his girlfriend. Now if anything were to happen to him they would pass to his mother and father. Slightly awkward as he has not seen his father since he was seven. His girlfriend would not automatically receive his assets unless they were held jointly. She would have to make a claim for provision under the 1975 Inheritance Act.
Had he thought about speaking to an independent financial adviser he might have taken out life insurance to ensure that the mortgage payments were covered in the event of his death or a terminal illness.
He may have put in place lasting powers of attorney for his financial affairs and his health and welfare. These would have allowed him to have someone make decisions on his behalf if he could not.
Whatever age you are it is important that you have the right documents in place for the what if.