Getting your Financial Affairs in Order

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During our lunch-time seminar at the end of 2018, we discussed making a Will for our Businesses and looking at contingency plans in case of a medical emergency or even death, and how this would impact on us, our businesses and our next-of-kin.  However not everyone has to consider such huge business implications.

So, we started thinking about a Personal Affairs Checklist (PAC) for all our clients and their families.  A PAC is not a will and should not contain instructions about what should be done with your assets. It is a record of what your key personal records, assets and papers are, and where they are kept.

  • No one ever plans to be sick, disabled or dependant on others.
  • We don’t want to think about the possibility of having a sick or ailing parent.
  • What if you had an emergency and you lost your home in a fire or a similar disaster?

Yet, it is this kind of planning that can make all the difference in an emergency.  It pays to have all your important information organised and easily accessible.  It is worth planning for the “what ifs” and “just in cases” of tomorrow.

As we looked into customising one specifically for HTH Accountants, we found an excellent resource on the Irish Hospice foundation website  www.hospicefoundation.ie called the Think Ahead Form.  This includes everything we considered and then some.

We recommend that you take a look at this resource and take some time to complete it.  A copy of the form should be deposited with a trusted friend or relative, or solicitor if they have a copy of your Will. As some of the information will change from time to time, it is recommended that the PAC is dated and then kept up to date.

Put your important papers and copies of legal documents in one place. You can set up a file, put everything in a desk or filing drawer or folder.  On the same website, you can also download a useful form Where my possessions are kept.

Would someone else know where your current and savings accounts are held, what credit cards you hold, who your financial adviser is, where your safe-deposit box is, where your investments are held, who your beneficiaries are or whether you have policies that entitle your dependents to death benefits?

Power of Attorney

Power of attorney is a legal device in Ireland that can be set up by a person (the donor) during his/her life when he/she is in good mental health. It allows another specially appointed person (the attorney) to take actions on the donor’s behalf if he/she is absent, abroad or incapacitated through illness. The relevant legislation is the Powers of Attorney Act 1996 and the Enduring Powers of Attorney Regulations 1996 (SI No. 196/1996) as amended by SI No. 287/1996.

You do not require a solicitor to create a General Power of Attorney. It can be created when signed either by you or at your direction and in the presence of a witness. However, it is advisable to get legal advice before you sign a form appointing someone else to manage your affairs. You can appoint anyone you wish to be your attorney.

A PDF form of General Power of Attorney is given in the Third Schedule of the Power of Attorney Act 1996 from the Citizens Information website.

Advance directives let you make arrangements for your care if you become sick. Two common types of advance directives are:

A “Living Will” gives you a say in your health care if you become too sick to make your wishes known.  In a Living Will, you can state what kind of care you do or don’t want. This can make it easier for family members to make tough healthcare decisions for you.

An Endurable Power of Attorney for health care lets you name the person you want to make medical decisions for you if you can’t make them yourself. Make sure the person you name is willing to make those decisions for you.

If someone in Ireland is mentally incapacitated (for example, because of illness, disability or a progressive degenerative illness), all of their assets and property are normally frozen and cannot be used by anyone else unless they are jointly owned or, someone has power of attorney to deal with their property or money.  Power of Attorney is just one of the legal arrangements that you can make during your lifetime, in the event you become incapacitated or unable to deal with your affairs. Information to help guide you in recording and registering your preferences in the event of emergency, serious illness or death is available at www.Thinkahead.ie where you can also download the Think Ahead Form.

The document creating an Enduring Power of Attorney is complex and requires the involvement of a solicitor and a doctor and can only come into effect when certain procedures have been gone through and the courts have a general supervisory role in the implementation of the power.

The law requires that at least 2 people must be notified of the making of an Enduring Power of Attorney, none of whom will be the attorney. One of the notice parties must be your spouse or civil partner if living with you. If this does not apply, one of your notice parties must be your child. If neither is applicable, one of the notice parties must be any relative (that is parent, sibling, grandchild, widow/widower/surviving civil partner of child, nephew or niece).

We hope that this information is useful and at least gives you some food for thought.  If we can assist in any way, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Regards

 

Kieran Horgan