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Have you got a will?


TC1474
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On Tuesday, I was in Essex with my colleague from our private client group, who was talking to a bike group about wills, probate and powers of attorney.


There was an audience of about 140 motorcyclists, and when asked the question, only about 10% had a will. Many had not thought about it, did not think it was worthwhile, did not think they had an estate of sufficient value or simply thought it was too expensive to make a will. So on that basis, I thought you might be inerested in an article recently prepared by my colleague Andy Grant who is an expert in the wills and probate area of law.


Great Britain has one of the best road safety records in Europe and the world. Despite massive increases in traffic over the last few decades, the number of people killed on our roads has fallen from around 5,500 per year in the mid 1980s to well under 1,754 in 2012. However, this still means that five people die on Britain's roads every day.


Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain, 2012

Killed 1,754

Seriously Injured 23,039

Slightly Injured 170,930

All 195,723


These figures are for road accidents in which someone was injured on a public road and which were reported to the police. Although virtually all fatal road accidents are reported to the police, it is known that many involving injury are not reported, even when some of those involved required medical or hospital treatment. It is estimated that the total number of road casualties in Great Britain is between 660,000 and 880,000 per year, with a best estimate of around 730,000. This includes an estimated 80,000 people who are seriously injured.


Common causes of these unnecessary tragedies include:


Speeding

Around 400 people a year are killed in crashes in which someone exceeds the speed limit or drives too fast for the conditions.


Drink Driving

Around 280 people die a year in crashes in which someone was over the legal drink drive limit.


Seat Belt Wearing

Around 200 lives each year could be saved if everyone always wore their seat belt.


Careless Driving

More than 300 deaths a year involve someone being "careless, reckless or in a hurry", and a further 120 involve "aggressive driving".


Inexperience

More than 400 people are killed in crashes involving young car drivers aged 17 to 24 years, every year, including over 150 young drivers, 90 passengers and more than 170 other road users


2011 Motorcycle Accident Statistics for Great Britain


There were 362 motorcycle users killed in 2011, a 10% decrease compared to 2010 and in line with the trend for motorcycle fatalities.


However the number of users reported as seriously injured increased by 10% to 5,247.


Total reported motorcycle user casualties increased by 8% to 20,150 in 2011.


Rider deaths were down 33% in 2011 compared to the average number killed per year from 2005-2009.


However, serious injuries for motorcyclists rose by 10% while all rider casualties were up 8% in a year.


The figures also show that 48% of crashes between motorcycles and cars were the result of the car driver failing to look properly.


Looking at the facts and figures above it’s clear to see that although fatalities in motorcycling are decreasing it could still be considered a dangerous pastime. There is an obvious need to make sure that you are protected as best you can before you ride your motorbike, and the stark reality is that this should include making sure that you have considered what would happen both to you and your estate if there were a serious accident.


My colleague Andy Grant, a specialist Solicitor who deals with wills and probate and unfortunately he is being asked to deal with more and more fatal motorcycle crashes where the rider had no will in place, or the rider suffered such catastrophic injuries, they are incapable of looking after their own affairs.


Here he explains some of the issues that can arise and what happens in such cases, and how you as a motorcyclist can avoid placing extra stress on your family and loved ones in the event that the worst case scenario occurs (which of course we all hope will never happen)


You should firstly consider having a will prepared. A will dictates what happens to your estate on your death and can also be used to appoint legal guardians to look after any minor children you have. If you don’t have a will then there are laws to dictate how your estate would be divided and this may not be in accordance with your wishes and the person or persons who have to carry out the administration of your estate may not be who you would have chosen. Not having a will can make the administration of an estate very difficult at a time of grief and stress.


You should also consider putting lasting powers of attorney in place. A lasting power of attorney appoints a person or persons as attorneys to make decisions on your behalf if you are mentally incapable of making them for yourself. There are two types of lasting powers of attorney; one relating to health and welfare and one relating to property and affairs. They are two separate documents, and you can have one without the other. Within a lasting powers of attorney you can include your wishes with regards to how you would want your money to be spent, or even go so far as to state whether you would want life-sustaining medical treatment. To be used lasting powers of attorneys have to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.


If no lasting powers of attorney are put in place then no one can make immediate decisions about your financial affairs and this can lead difficulties if you own a share in a business or are solely responsible for the financial affairs of your family. It could also mean that you are given medical treatment that you do not wish to receive.


If no lasting powers of attorney are put in place and someone needs to take control of your financial affairs because you lack mental capacity then they can apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed what is called a deputy. The difference between a deputy and an attorney is that you don’t choose who the deputy is, as they are appointed by the Court. The Court may not agree to the person applying being appointed or someone, such as a family member, may object to the appointment of the person applying.


The application process to be appointed as a deputy is very different from that of registering a lasting power of attorney and it is much more expensive, there is more administrative work to be done and takes much longer, sometimes up to 6 months. If welfare decisions need to be made on your behalf then, again, an application needs to be to Court of Protection, but the Court will usually only grant authority on a decision by decision basis.


Although a bit of a long read, if you have not got a will, maybe this may convince you to think about it. It only costs around £180 for a simple will, but it provides peace of mind and lack of aggravation for your next of kin should the worst case scenario occur.

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Question. Does a will have to be done by a solicitor? Or can i just type one on word haha. Get a few witnesses etc.

 

No, it does not have to be done by a solicitor, you could do it yourself.


However, as my colleague pointed out the other night, it is usually the wills that are self written or done by some of these will writing companies that get contested and as a result goes to probate, mainly becuase the wording of self written wills is open to interpretation and non specific.

 

I've never done one because I'm young and I presume anything I have would automatically go to my closest relatives? Am I correct in thinking this?

 

When we renewed our will about 5 years ago (and because I work in the firm) my colleague offered to include a will for my daughter within the price for the 2 of us. My first thought was, she is only 18. lives at home in the hotel of Mum and Dad, she was a full time student and did not work, so how the hell can she be worth anything.


Well, I was gobsmacked when we sat down and worked it out. The value of her assetts came to around £25,000.


Your assetts do not automatically go to your nearest and dearest unless you have specified it in a will, and without a will it goes to probate and the Government decide who gets what.


So, although you might be young, you might be surprised as to how much you are actually worth.

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When my grandad died, he didn't have a will but was worth quite a bit. It took about two years to figure it all out and that's without anyone contesting!!


After that, the more senior (over 60) members of the family got wills sorted out.. Lol


Now I have a daughter i was planning to get a will done for me. My estate and financial matters are messy enough whilst I'm alive - wouldt want anyone else to have to figure it all out, and certainly Dont want the uk.gov getting their hands on any of my stuff!!


In addition to then usual stuff (property, belongings, vehicles, money etc) I also need to figure out what to do with digital assets - domain names, websites, cloud hosted files etc... That's gonna take some figuring out!!


So yeah, I need to sort out a will....

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I have had a will for years. I am getting power of attorney sorted after two of my dads pals wives have been left virtually destitute after they both ended up in care with no mental faculties. Everyone from the banks to the satellite tv refuse to deal with the wives as they were not mentioned on the bills and have no power of attorney.

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