Planning ahead for death by the National Bereavement Service

Most of us know that writing a Will, leaving instructions for the type of funeral we would prefer and deciding how we would wish to be cared for in the event of loss of capacity are all sensible things to do. But these tasks can be difficult, so many of us put them off.

Like so many things in life, however, thinking about these things is usually worse than doing them. Afterwards we wonder why we became so stressed.

You don’t need legal advice to create any of these documents, but the National Bereavement Service does recommend using professionals. While there is a cost involved, a professionally created document is far less likely to be the subject of challenge or contention when it’s eventually needed.

If you complete Lasting Power of Attorney forms yourself and they are returned due to an error or omission, you will be charged by the Office of the Public Guardian (England & Wales) twice. That’s because you will need to complete the forms again. If a professional makes a mistake (and it does happen!) they will bear the additional cost.

Many people think a Lasting Power of Attorney, or a Will is something only to consider in old age, but this isn’t the case. Nobody can predict what the future holds. Some far-sighted people expected a global pandemic to happen at some time, but most of us couldn’t have predicted the world-wide disruption, loss of life, long-term ill health and economic consequences of Covid-19. We don’t set out on a journey expecting to be involved in a collision – but we know it can and does happen.

In most cases, planning for the future doesn’t take very long. A Lasting Power of Attorney, a Will, our preferences for how we are cared for, a Living Will or Advance Decision can be created with just one or two appointments with a solicitor or trust & estates practitioner. A funeral plan can either be arranged with a single visit to a funeral director of your choice or can be done online.

All you need to do is ensure the completed documents are held safely (most law firms offer this service). You need to keep copies for yourself and anyone else who may need them in the future. An occasional review – every year or so – to check your intentions or circumstances haven’t changed is then all that’s needed. And you can relax.