Wills, Trusts and Power of Attorney

Wills, trusts, and powers of attorney are important legal tools that help you plan for the management and distribution of your assets and affairs during your lifetime and after your passing. They play a crucial role in estate planning, ensuring your wishes are carried out and providing protection for you and your loved ones. Here’s an overview of each of these legal instruments:

1. Wills:

A will is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding the distribution of your assets and the management of your affairs after your death. It allows you to:

  • Designate beneficiaries who will inherit your assets, such as money, property, and personal belongings.
  • Nominate an executor, the person responsible for carrying out the instructions in your will and managing your estate.
  • Appoint a guardian for minor children if you have any.
  • Specify funeral and burial arrangements.
  • Address specific bequests or gifts to individuals, charities, or organizations.
  • Express your preferences regarding the distribution of assets that may not pass through the will, such as retirement accounts and life insurance policies.

Creating a will is a fundamental step in ensuring that your estate is distributed according to your wishes and can help prevent potential conflicts among family members.

2. Trusts:

A trust is a legal arrangement where one person (the grantor or settlor) transfers assets to a trustee to hold and manage on behalf of beneficiaries. Trusts offer several benefits, including:

  • Asset Management: A trust can provide professional management of assets, ensuring they are invested and distributed in accordance with your wishes.
  • Control: You can specify how and when beneficiaries will receive distributions, which can be helpful if you want to provide for specific needs, protect assets from creditors, or ensure responsible use of funds.
  • Probate Avoidance: Assets placed in a trust typically avoid the probate process, which can streamline the distribution of your estate and maintain privacy.
  • Tax Planning: Certain types of trusts can offer tax advantages and estate tax planning opportunities.

Common types of trusts include revocable living trusts, irrevocable trusts, testamentary trusts (created through a will), and special needs trusts. The type of trust you choose depends on your goals and circumstances.

3. Powers of Attorney:

A power of attorney (POA) is a legal document that grants someone (the agent or attorney-in-fact) the authority to make decisions and act on your behalf in financial, legal, or health matters. There are two main types of powers of attorney:

  • Financial Power of Attorney: This grants someone the authority to manage your financial affairs, such as paying bills, managing investments, and making financial decisions if you become incapacitated or unable to handle your affairs.
  • Healthcare Power of Attorney: This grants someone the authority to make medical decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so. It may also be combined with a living will or advance healthcare directive to express your wishes for medical treatment.

Creating powers of attorney can provide peace of mind knowing that someone you trust will be able to act on your behalf if you are unable to do so.

It’s important to work with a solicitor experienced in estate planning to create these legal documents. They can help ensure that your wishes are properly documented and legally binding. Estate planning should be a holistic process that considers your unique circumstances, goals, and the laws of your location.

Will writing is not part of the Openwork offering and is offered in our own right. Openwork Limited accept no responsibility for this aspect of our business. Will writing and trusts are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. We will refer you to an appropriate professional for this service.