How much does it cost to make a Will or a Power of Attorney?
Often, the potential costs for writing a will or obtaining a Power of Attorney can vary depending on the complexities of what is required. But here is a simple rundown on what you will need to know and the possible fees you may face.
Do I need a solicitor to write my will?
Having a will enables you to make legalised decisions about what will happen to your estate following your death. It can also ensure that you do not pay any more Inheritance Tax than is necessary.
While you can write a will yourself, if your circumstances are complicated, then you may want to consider using the services of a solicitor to complete the job for you.
A competent solicitor will ensure that your will is legal, thorough and water-tight against any future disputes. They should also be able to offer advice and talk you through everything you will need to know to achieve peace of mind that you are leaving your beneficiaries and your estate as you desire.
The current ballpark figures for the costs involved in having a solicitor draw up a will are as follows:
A simple will: £100-£200 plus VAT
A more complex will: £350-£400 plus VAT
What is mental capacity?
For your will to be legal, you have to declare that you are of sound mind and that you have the mental wherewithal to make clear decisions about your estate and what will happen to your assets following your death. This is known as having mental capacity.
However, some circumstances and conditions can render a person temporarily or permanently without the ability to make competent choices.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 deems a person is incapable of making decisions if they cannot perform one or more of the following actions:
- Understand the information required to make a decision
- Retain information for long enough to make a choice
- Think about or consider that information
- Communicate their final decision
Being able to declare that you have the mental capacity to create a will is a relatively straight forward affair. But what happens in more complicated situations when mental capacity is more problematic?
There are many conditions or incidents which can render a person to lose mental capacity. These can include:
- Alzheimer’s and forms of dementia
- Serious accidents causing concussion, coma or neuro-disability
- Health conditions, such as stroke or severe mental health issues.
It is in these instances that a Power of Attorney is required.
What is a Power of Attorney?
A Power of Attorney is a legally binding contract allowing your chosen friend or family member to make specified decisions on your behalf if you are unable to. The designated friend or relative is known as your ‘attorney’.
An ordinary Power of Attorney can only be used in respect of your finances for a temporary period, while you are still able to return to full mental capacity. For example, if you are in the hospital or suffering from a recoverable illness.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?
A Lasting Power of Attorney enables your designated person the right to help you make decisions or make those decisions entirely on your behalf.
You will need to set up an LPA while you still have full mental capacity and you can appoint one or more people to fulfil the requirements set out within the LPA contract.
The type of LPA you will need depends on what you want your attorney to deal with when mental capacity is lost. It is generally split into two categories:
- Property and Financial Affairs
- Health and Welfare
Do I need a solicitor to help with my Power of Attorney?
Much like a will, you can also compile your own Power of Attorney or Lasting Power of Attorney, however, due to the complexities involved you may want to consider hiring the assistance of a legal professional.
Different requirements need to be met for you to set up a Power of Attorney legally and your solicitor will ensure that all relevant conditions are met and that your document is not open to dispute.
Besides, your obligations will vary depending on where you are in the UK, and your solicitor should be au fait with these. For example:
Power of Attorney in England and Wales: You will need the signature of a ‘certificate provider’ to declare that you are capable of making the decisions set out in the POA. This can be carried out by someone you’ve known for a minimum of two years or someone with a professional occupation, such as a doctor.
Power of Attorney in Scotland: A ‘certificate provider’ will need to be either a solicitor who is registered to practise law in Scotland or a registered doctor.
What if I do not set up a Power of Attorney?
You cannot set up a POA or LPA posthumously. If you have lost mental capacity, then your designated person or family member will need to apply through the court to become a deputy which can be an expensive and lengthy process.
It’s worth noting that LPAs replaced the Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) in October 2007. Any EPA made before 1st October 2007 will still be valid and must be registered when the person loses mental capacity.
How do I set up a Power of Attorney?
As there are two separate LPA’s (Property and Financial Affairs and Health and Welfare), they are dealt with in two different manners. For example, if you have a Power of Attorney for your financial affairs, this does not automatically give your attorney the right to have control over your health and welfare, and vice versa. You will require two separate contracts, even if you are nominating the same person for both.
In Scotland there are three distinct Powers of Attorney:
- A Continuing Power of Attorney (financial matters)
- A Welfare Power Of Attorney (personal welfare)
- A Combined Power Of Attorney (covering both)
How much will a Power of Attorney or Lasting Power of Attorney cost?
Much like a will, the costs involved also depend on the complexity of your needs. It can be a long and expensive process, and it is worth having the assistance of a competent solicitor to aid you.
A breakdown of the possible fees involved are as follows:
- Property and Financial Affairs LPA: £400-£600 plus VAT
- Health and Welfare LPA: £400-£600 plus VAT
Registering a Power of Attorney
- £82 in England and Wales
- £79 in Scotland
- £151 in Northern Ireland
Costs in lieu of a Power Of Attorney
- £365 to register as a deputy with legal fees over £1,000.
- An additional fee of £485 if a hearing is needed.
- Deputies also need to pay an initial cost and ongoing supervision fees, which can be over £320 per annum.
- Those on low incomes (£12,000 per year) or certain benefits can apply to have fees waived or reduced.
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