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The Importance of Planning for the Future

Recent research has revealed that British people feel more comfortable talking about their own death or the death of a loved one than they did five years ago, but only a third have actually started to put plans in place for when the time comes.

The research was conducted by Comres on behalf of the annual Dying Matters Awareness Week, which took place last month. It found that:

  • only 1% of 18-24-year-olds say they have written a will,
  • 52% agree they have become more comfortable talking about their own death or that of people close to them over last five years, but only 35% say they have made a will,
  • two-thirds (67%) would help someone organise or record end of life plans, and
  • 45% feel talking or thinking about death scares them.

To mark Dying Matters Awareness Week, the Law Society issued a reminder of the importance of planning ahead to help meet the future needs of yourself and your family.

This is becoming more and more important, as people are living longer than ever before and there may come a time when individuals are no longer able to make vital decisions about future finances and care.

Putting a power of attorney in place is one important way that people can plan for the future, says the Law Society. This means that someone you trust is given the power to act or make decisions on your behalf in certain specified situations.

A power of attorney could be put in place to allow your attorney to manage your finances on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so, such as paying bills, collecting benefits, or selling your house. Alternatively, it could enable your attorney to make decisions on your behalf about your future day-to-day care if you are no longer able to care for yourself, including, if you wish, the power to accept or refuse life-sustaining treatment on your behalf.

A second important aspect of future-planning is writing a will. Failing to do this could create additional problems for bereaved family and friends.

The Law Society highlights that family structures have become increasingly complicated, and more people have property to leave that has risen significantly in value over their lifetime.

The legal consequences of dying without a will can depend on a number of different factors, including whether you are married, in a civil partnership, or living together, whether you have children, whether there are other surviving relatives and the value of your estate. The best way to ensure that your estate goes to your chosen beneficiaries is to make a will.

“It is worth taking care over a will to make sure that you understand tax liabilities and that property rights are properly addressed,” commented Law Society president Jonathan Smithers. “A solicitor can help explain the complexities and help you avoid any pitfalls.”

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