1. An increasing demand for Power of Attorneys (POA)
Demand for setting up Power of Attorney has surged over the past couple of months as we have watched the coronavirus pandemic unfold. An increasing number of our clients are using this time at home to make important decisions and discuss their wishes with their loved ones.
In Scotland, there are three types of POA to consider. Each one is a separate legal process: one is for financial affairs (continuing POA); one is for health and welfare; and the third, a combined POA, covers both.
If you are thinking of setting up Power of Attorney, talk to your family about your plans. Complex family circumstances can make it challenging to know what the right decision is. It is important to make sure your family understands and are comfortable with why you made your choice.
2. Will planning – with a digital twist
In March, demand for Wills jumped by 76%. As families are spending more time at home together, many are putting fresh plans in place or updating old Wills.
A pleasant and unanticipated outcome of lockdown has been the improved access we have seen with married couples. For many, video conferencing has allowed us to ‘meet’ both parties in the same place at the same time, at home. It is wonderful to see people in their homes and to talk at times that suit them. This has often been a challenging aspect of Will planning.
There are efficiency benefits to using video conferencing, too – we are finding meetings are very effective, positive experiences. There’s certainly no Zoom fatigue when everyone is getting something out of the call. One must wonder whether virtual meetings will become the norm, even after lockdown, given the convenience and our relative comfort with the technology now.
If you are thinking of updating a Will, do so in the context of all your affairs. Millions of people have seen the value of their assets and investments drop in the last two months. It is important to make sure that your estate plan still works for you and your family. Structuring your assets and formulating a legal strategy to minimise the financial impact is all part of the equation.
3. Financial stick or twist?
Many of our clients have serious concerns about the decreasing value of their investment income, while others have more immediate priorities caused by the impact of coronavirus on their businesses.
Either way, a financial re-assessment is critical at this stage. It is also one of the most common activities we have undertaken in the last two months. Mapping out possible developments, and the legal implications of the decisions that you make now, can prevent further complications down the line.
If you are thinking about financial and tax planning, remember that fluctuating asset values can also impact your tax planning. Try to stay updated as the global economy is fluctuating daily – now is the time to be in close contact with your advisor.