There are many reasons that you may one day become unable to make decisions about your own financial assets or physical wellbeing, either on a temporary or more permanent basis. As a result of advances in medical science we’re all living longer and as such common conditions associated with growing older are becoming more prevalent. But a loss of capacity to make decisions can happen at any age due to illness, accident, or any other incapacitating event. As such it is essential to have arrangements in place to ensure that your wishes are respected.

Having a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows you to choose family members or other trusted individuals (“attorneys”) to make decisions on your behalf when you’re unable to do so.

There are two types of LPA, one dealing with property and financial matters, the other with health and welfare matters. They can be made at the same time or separately.

A property and affairs LPA allows you to choose people to manage your financial matters according to your specified instructions. They will have the authority to handle tasks such as paying your bills, managing your income, buying or selling property, as well as managing your bank accounts and investments. A health and welfare LPA allows you to choose people to make decisions regarding your healthcare, medical treatment, and daily welfare, including decisions about where you live, what you eat, and the kind of medical treatment you receive. It would also cover day to day matters such as your diet and daily routine.

Both types of LPA need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used by your attorneys. Once registered you can continue to manage your affairs for as long as you have capacity, but your attorneys under the property and financial affairs LPA can also carry out tasks on your behalf if you want them to. A health and welfare LPA can only be used when you lack capacity to make a decision yourself. You may have the capacity to make some decisions about your health and welfare but not others.

In addition to putting in place Lasting Powers of Attorney, you may also wish to consider creating an advance decision, also known as a living will.

An advance decision is a legally binding document that allows you to specify the medical treatments you desire or do not wish to receive during your lifetime, should you become incapacitated and unable to communicate your preferences. This document covers situations where you may lack the capacity to make decisions about your medical treatment.

Whilst an advance decision can be made orally, this may lead to uncertainty regarding your wishes, so it is recommended to have a written advance decision to ensure clarity and avoid potential misunderstandings. If your advance decision includes a refusal of life-sustaining treatment, it needs to be recorded in writing, signed and witnessed to be valid.

It’s important to think about how your advance decision and LPA for health and welfare work together if you have both. Whichever you made most recently may override the other. If you make a health and welfare LPA first followed by a valid advance decision, this will stop your attorneys under the LPA from agreeing to treatment that you’ve refused under the advance decision. If you make the advance decision first, the LPA will override your advance decision, but only if your LPA gives your attorneys the power to deal with the same decisions about treatment.

If you are making an LPA and already have an advance decision in place, you can include details of this on the LPA form stating that you want your attorneys to take it into consideration, and a copy would need to be sent to the Office of the Public Guardian when registering the LPA.

The two documents can work together. If you have strong feelings about refusing certain types of treatment, including life-sustaining treatment, and don’t want to delegate decisions about to your attorneys this can be included in your advance decision, and you should not give your attorneys power to refuse the same treatment.

To find a Lifetime Lawyer near you who can help you with drafting LPAs or living wills, head to our find a lawyer page.

Deciding how best to manage your money and health can be challenging for vulnerable and older people, and when you lack the support of family this can add extra worry.

In the absence of children or nearby relatives, you can still create Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) and appoint a designated attorney. Many people in similar circumstances opt instead to appoint trusted friends as their attorneys. Alternatively, you may choose to appointment a qualified professional, such as a specialist lawyer or accountant, as your attorney. It’s important to note that professionals providing these services will be entitled to charge, but they will offer transparency regarding the potential costs involved.

To find a Lifetime Lawyer near you who can help you with drafting LPAs or living wills, head to our find a lawyer page.

Whilst it’s commonly understood that having a will in place protects your assets for your family after you die, it’s important to consider what happens if you lose capacity to make decisions during your lifetime. The prospect of someone else making choices on your behalf due to mental or physical limitations can be upsetting, but making Lasting Powers of Attorney allows you to choose people you consider to be suitable for this role and to understand their responsibilities in making decisions for you.

A property and financial affairs Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) can give you peace of mind in terms of who manages your bank accounts, investments, and family home, allowing you to outline your preferences for handling these assets during your lifetime, including provisions for financing any care you may require.

Knowing what to include in the preferences section of your LPA can be daunting and may involve difficult conversations with your loved ones. A specialist lawyer can work with you and your chosen attorneys to think through some of the possible scenarios that may arise, helping you to make the best decisions based on your personal circumstances.

If the level of care you require is greater than can be provided within your own home, you and your family may decide that moving into a care home is in your best interests.

Moving into a care home doesn’t affect your Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), nor does it imply a loss of capacity. However, if you do lose capacity before moving to a care home, having an LPA in place is the best way to ensure that your preferences are followed regarding the type of care you receive and how it is funded.

Typically, funding for care homes is means-tested, so if you have assets above a certain threshold (usually including any property that you own), you will in most cases be expected to pay privately. The preferences section of your LPA allows you to suggest how you wish for your care to be funded, for example whether you want to sell or let your home, or to borrow funds against its value from Social Services. Any preference you state in your LPA will be evidence of what is in your best interests and therefore something your attorney(s) should consider when making decisions on your behalf.

It is important to get professional, impartial advice to ensure that any preferences you state in your LPA are suitable for your circumstances. A specialist lawyer can help you to explore your options for funding your care, so that you can make a fully informed choice about the financial decisions you would like your attorneys to make on your behalf. To find a Lifetime Lawyer who can support you with this, head to our find a lawyer page.

If you lose capacity, your eligibility to claim benefits isn’t affected. Depending on your age, financial situation and personal circumstances, these may include Pension Credit, Attendance Allowance and bereavement benefit, among others. While there is no dedicated state benefit for those fulfilling the role of an attorney, if your chosen attorneys are also providing care beyond their attorney responsibilities – for instance, if they're family members offering additional assistance – they may qualify for other benefits, including Carer's Allowance.

It is important to note that any benefits you receive may be considered when calculating your financial contribution for care services in the future, such as the costs of a care home or at home care. You can plan for this situation by using the preferences section of your property and financial affairs Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) to state which benefits you wish to receive in the event of a loss of capacity. However, the best course of action for you depends on your personal circumstances, so you should seek advice from a specialist lawyer, who can help you and your family to discuss your options and make a fully informed decision. To find a Lifetime Lawyer who can support you with this, head to our find a lawyer page.

Financial abuse is where someone in a position of trust interferes in a person’s ability to acquire, use, or maintain their finances. It is always a crime but not always prosecuted; it can often be difficult for an older or vulnerable person to address, either because the perpetrator is a family member, or because the victim is afraid of not being taken seriously.

In recent years, the government has taken positive steps to address this issue and in 2015 included a legal definition of financial abuse in the Care Act. This Act aims to safeguard individuals who are unable to care for themselves in some way. In addition, the Ministry of Justice has established strict guidelines for anyone who is helping another individual with their finances . These guidelines apply to anyone engaged helping you with financial management, regardless of whether they hold the role of a appointed attorney, a court-appointed deputy, or even a well-intentioned friend or family member offering informal assistance. This application of the guidelines ensures a protective framework for all parties involved in handling your finances.

The best protection that you can give yourself (and anyone who is helping you) is to create a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) with the assistance of a specialist solicitor. There are two types of LPA, one dealing with your property and finances and the other with your health and welfare. The process of creating an LPA with a solicitor minimises the risk of fraud and financial abuse by ensuring that both you and your attorney(s) are fully aware of your respective rights and obligations, now and in the future.

If you are worried that you are at risk of financial abuse and want to discuss your concerns or get some advice, contact the Hourglass helpline on 080 8808 8141.

Some lawyers may charge a fixed amount for their services for example a Will or an LPA.

Legal fees can vary based on the specific services you require. Some lawyers adopt a fixed fee structure for certain services like drafting a will or creating a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). Alternatively, others may charge an hourly rate, which depends on factors such as the lawyer's expertise and experience and the complexity of your circumstances. The hourly rate will vary from firm to firm and generally, the more experienced the lawyer, the higher their hourly rate.

All time spent on your matter will be charged for and this includes various activities such as meetings with you, phone conversations, emails, faxes, research, drafting, and letters sent. It's a comprehensive approach that accounts for all professional efforts devoted to your case.

All legal firms are required to provide set out in writing details of how they calculate their fees, whether they are charging a fixed amount or are charging by the hour. If they are charging by the hour, they should provide an estimate of the likely costs involved. This estimate serves as a guide rather than a fixed cost. To exercise greater control over costs, you can set a limit on the charges and when this limit is reached, you can reassess and decide the next step to take. This approach allows you to regularly review the time being spent and how your matter is progressing.

To be eligible for legal aid, you must be on a low income and your matter can then be assessed to see it if qualifies for legal aid. Most of the work undertaken by members of the Association of Lifetime Lawyers does not qualify for Legal Aid. However, if the matter relates to community care, mental health, deprivation of liberty, public law issues or welfare benefits, help may be available if the firm you have selected has a contract with the Legal Services Commission for work in this area.

A will, also known as a last will and testament, is a legal document that outlines your wishes regarding distribution of your assets, property, and possessions after your death. It also allows you to name guardians for any children you have under the age of eighteen and specify other important instructions.

A will provides clear instructions on how your want your assets, such as property, money investments, and personal belongings, to be distributed among your beneficiaries after your death and can help minimise the tax burden on your estate.

With a will you have the power to decide who will inherit your assets. You can also name executors in your will, people who you trust to carry out your wishes as outlined in the will. For example, if you wish to leave assets or money to a charity or other organisation, a will allows you to do so.

Without a will, your assets will be distributed in accordance with the intestacy rules (a set of rules laid down in law), which might not align with your preferences.

A well-drafted will can prevent disputes and conflicts among family members and other potential beneficiaries by clearly stating your intentions. In the case of blended families, multiple marriages, or other complex situations, a will can help ensure that everyone is accounted for and treated fairly.

If you own a business, a will can outline your wishes for the future of the business and specify who will take over its management.

To create a valid will, you typically need to be of sound mind, follow legal formalities (such as signing in the presence of witnesses), and clearly express your intentions. Whilst you can create a basic will on your own this isn’t advised, especially if your financial or family situation is complex. Members of the Association of Lifetime Lawyers are experts in creating valid wills tailored to your circumstances.

If you already have a will, then you should review it regularly, at least every five years , to ensure it still meets your requirements in current circumstances. You should also review your will if any significant events have occurred, particularly births, deaths, and decisions to marry, divorce, form or dissolve UK civil partnerships, or if you or any of your beneficiaries have undergone gender reassignment.

To find a Lifetime Lawyer to support you with writing a will, head to our find a lawyer page.

When someone dies without making a will they are said to have died “intestate”. Dying intestate means that your assets, property, and personal possessions will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy, which are legal rules that determine how your property is divided among surviving relatives.

The intestacy rules in England & Wales prioritise your spouse or civil partner, if you have one, followed by children, grandchildren, and other close relatives.

If you’re married or in a civil partnership and don’t have children, then your entire estate will pass to your spouse or civil partner.

If you’re married or in a civil partnership and have children, your spouse or civil partner will inherit your personal possessions, the first £322,000 portion of your estate, known as the “statutory legacy”, and half of the rest of the estate. The other half of your estate will pass to your children in equal shares who will receive their inheritance at eighteen. If any of your children died before you, their children will inherit in their place. This includes legally adopted children and their descendants but does not include stepchildren and their descendants.

If you aren’t married or in a civil partnership and don’t have children, the order of priority for inheritance is your parents, then brothers and sisters, then half-brothers and half-sisters, then grandparents, then aunts and uncles, then half-aunts and half-uncles. If you have no relatives in any of these categories your estate passes to the Crown or government .

It’s important to note that the intestacy rules do not provide for unmarried partners to inherit, no matter how long you have been in a relationship or living together. Without a will, they won’t inherit anything.

If you have children under the age of eighteen, dying without a will means that you won’t have named guardians for them, potentially leading to disputes regarding with who they live with and where.

The process of administering an intestate estate can be more complex and time-consuming than if a will were in place. This can lead to delays in distribution of assets to beneficiaries.

Dying intestate can also sometimes result in disagreements among family members about how the estate should be divided, potentially leading to lengthy and costly legal disputes.

In summary, creating a will allows you to have control over the distribution of your assets, name guardians for minor children, and minimises the potential for family conflicts. Consulting a member of the Association of Lifetime Lawyers when creating a will, especially if your circumstances are complex, will ensure that your wishes are accurately documented and legally valid. To find a Lifetime Lawyer near you, head to our find a lawyer page.

A will can be challenged by contesting the will. There are several grounds on which a will can be contested, though it is usually a complex, difficult, and expensive process. Some examples:

  1. It may be claimed that the person making the will (“the testator”) lacked the mental capacity to understand the implications of making a will. Alternatively, if it is believed someone pressured or coerced the testator into making certain provisions in the will, it could be contested on the grounds of undue influence . Unfortunately, this could be anyone: a caregiver, family member, or anyone who had significant control over the testator.
  2. It could be claimed that the testator did not fully understand the contents of the will when they signed it, in which case the will can be challenged on the grounds of lack of knowledge and approval.
  3. If there’s evidence that the will was forged or that someone fraudulently manipulated the testator’s signature or the content of the will, it can be challenged too.
  4. Wills must be executed according to specific legal requirements including being witnessed in the presence of two independent witnesses. If the execution process was flawed, the will might be considered invalid. This is why it is important to seek the appropriate support when writing your will, from a regulated legal professional.
  5. A new will can invalidate a previous one. If there’s a dispute about which will is the most recent, this could lead to a challenge.
  6. If it’s believed the will contains error or mistakes, it might be contested to correct the inaccuracies. And if the language in the will is unclear or ambiguous, it could lead to disputes among known beneficiaries.
  7. The will can also be challenged if certain family members or dependents have been excluded or feel adequate provision hasn’t been made for them in the will.

Contesting a will can be emotionally charged and legally complex. If you’re concerned about the potential for your will to be challenged, or if you believe you have grounds to challenge a loved one’s will, seeking advice from a member of the Association of Lifetime Lawyers is crucial. Likewise, when creating your own will, consulting with a Lifetime Lawyer can help ensure that it’s drafted in a way that minimises the potential for challenges. To find a Lifetime Lawyer near you, head to our find a lawyer page.

Whether you need to pay inheritance tax depends on several factors, including the value of the estate of the person who has died and your relationship to them.

Inheritance tax in England & Wales is subject to a threshold known as the nil rate band (NRB), which is currently £325,000, and has been fixed at this level until April 2028. This means that estates valued below this level are usually exempt from inheritance tax.

In addition, there’s a residence nil rate band (RNRB), otherwise known as the downsizing allowance , which was introduced to provide an extra allowance for people leaving their property to direct descendants. The definition of direct descendants for the purposes of the RNRB exemption is quite wide and includes a child, grandchild or other lineal descendant; a spouse or civil partner of a lineal descendant; a child who is, or was at any time, the stepchild of the deceased; an adopted child (adopted by them or their child adopted by someone else); a child fostered by the deceased at any time; and a child where the deceased was appointed as their guardian or special guardian when they were under eighteen.

This is currently set at £175,000 and has also been frozen at that level until April 2028. The RNRB exemption is added to the standard NRB exemption, potentially allowing for a higher threshold of £500,000 before inheritance tax is applied (but this will depend on the value of the property). If the deceased sold their property prior to their death, perhaps because they went into care, or had downsized, it may still be possible to claim downsizing allowance .

Assets left to a spouse or civil partner are exempt from inheritance tax, regardless of their value. Likewise, any assets left to charity are exempt from inheritance tax.

If the value of the estate exceeds the available exemptions, so is above £325,000 or £500,000 if RNBN is also applied, inheritance tax is typically calculated at a rate of 40% on the portion of the estate above the threshold for the exemptions.

Some estates will qualify for a lower rate of inheritance tax of 36% if at least 10% of the estate is left to charity.

Certain gifts and money? transfers made during the seven years preceding the person’s death may be subject to inheritance tax, as well as some older gifts in very particular circumstances .

Inheritance tax laws can be complex, and they may change over time. Seeking advice from a member of the Association of Lifetime Lawyers who is knowledgeable about the current regulations is advisable to navigate the process effectively. To find a Lifetime Lawyer near you, head to our find a lawyer page.

If you were to lose mental capacity and become unable to manage your affairs, your partner (even if you are married or in a civil partnership) would not automatically have the legal authority to manage your affairs unless certain legal documents are in place. This means that you would not be able to access their bank account to pay their bills or make any decisions for them.

It might come as a surprise that in cases where you hold a joint account with your partner and you lose capacity, they won’t automatically retain the authority to manage the account. Routine activities like standing orders or direct debits may be able to continue as they were authorised when you both had capacity, but the account will otherwise be frozen, and they won’t be able to access the funds or set up further withdrawals without the presence of someone with authority to manage your affairs on your behalf. Whilst this may be frustrating, these measures are designed to safeguard the account from potential fraudulent use.

To grant your partner legal authority to manage your affairs if you lose capacity, you need to create a lasting power of attorney (LPA). There are two types of LPAs, one dealing with property and financial affairs and another for health and welfare matters.

An advance decision, also known as a living will, allows you to specify your preferences regarding medical treatment in case you lose capacity and cannot communicate your wishes. This document guides healthcare professionals and helps ensure your medical wishes are respected.

If you do not have LPAs in place and you lose capacity, someone may need to apply to become your deputy through the Court of Protection . A deputy is appointed by the court to manage your affairs when you’re incapable of doing so. This process is more time-consuming and costly than having an LPA put in place beforehand.

It’s important to plan ahead and create the necessary legal documents, such as LPAs and advance decisions, while you still have capacity. This ensures that your wishes are respected and that someone you trust has the authority to manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf if you’re unable to do so yourself. Consulting a member of the Association of Lifetime Lawyers can provide you with tailored advice and help you navigate the legal requirements. To find a Lifetime Lawyer near you, head to our find a lawyer page.



Scams come in various forms, and scammers are constantly evolving their tactics.

Here are some common types of scams to be aware of:

  • Phishing Scams: These involve emails, messages, or websites that appear to be from a legitimate source but are designed to trick you into revealing personal information like passwords, credit card numbers, or login details.
  • Tech Support Scams: Scammers pretend to be tech support representatives from well-known companies, such as Microsoft, Apple or Dell, and claim that your computer has a problem. They may ask for access to your computer or payment for their services.
  • Romance Scams: Scammers create fake online profiles and establish romantic relationships with individuals. They then manipulate their victims into sending them money, gifts, or personal information.
  • Grandparent Scams: Scammers pretend to be a family member in distress, often a grandchild, and request money to help with an emergency.
  • Lottery or Prize Scams: Scammers inform you that you've won a lottery or prize but require an upfront fee to claim your winnings. In reality, there is no prize.
  • Online Shopping Scams: These scams often involve fake websites or sellers offering products at extremely low prices. Once you make a payment, you either receive nothing or a counterfeit item.
  • Charity Scams: Scammers create fake charities or solicit donations for real disasters. The money rarely goes to the intended cause.
  • Credit Card / Banking Scams: Scammers pose as credit card company or bank representatives and request personal and financial information for fraudulent purposes.
  • Government Grant Scams: Scammers claim you're eligible for a government grant but require payment for processing or administrative fees.
  • Imitation scams: A common imitation scam involves emails, texts, or calls that seem to be from HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). They might tell you about a tax rebate or ask for your personal information.
  • Loan Scams: Scammers promise loans with favourable terms but require upfront fees. After payment, no loan is provided.
  • Investment Scams: Scammers promise high returns on investments, often with little risk. Victims are convinced to invest in a fake scheme and ultimately lose their money.
  • Pyramid or Ponzi Schemes: Scammers promise high returns for investors but use the money from new investors to pay previous investors, creating the illusion of profitability until the scheme collapses.
  • Social Engineering Scams: These involve manipulating people into revealing confidential information. It could be done through impersonation, pretexting, or other methods.
  • Employment Scams: Fake job listings or work-from-home opportunities are used to trick job seekers into providing personal information or paying fees upfront for background checks, training, or other fake services.
  • Advanced Fee Fraud: Victims are asked to pay a fee to unlock a larger sum of money or a valuable item that doesn't actually exist.
  • Ransomware: Malicious software is used to lock you out of your own computer or data until a ransom is paid.

These are just some examples, and new scams emerge regularly. It's important to stay informed, be cautious, and verify the legitimacy of any unsolicited offers or requests for personal or financial information. If something seems too good to be true or raises suspicions, it's best to investigate further or seek professional advice. If you think you’ve been scammed, please read the answer to the next FAQfor information on what steps you should take to protect yourself.

If you think you’ve been scammed, the Citizens Advice Bureau recommends that you take the following action:

  • Protect yourself from further risks
  • Check if you can get your money back
  • Report the scam
  • If you feel threatened, report this to the police immediately by calling 999
  • If you’ve transferred money to the scammer in the last 24 hours, tell the police immediately by calling 101.
  • If the scammer contacts you either by coming to your door, calling you, or sending you a message, ignore them, but keep a record of what’s happened so you can report it.
  • If you’ve given the scammer access to your computer, then to stay safe you should:
    • Reset your passwords
    • Let your bank know your financial information might have been stolen
    • Make sure you update your antivirus software
    • Consider arranging for an IT professional to check your computer
  • If you think your password could have been stolen then you need to change your password as soon as possible, both for the affected account and any other accounts where you use the same password.
  • If you think your account has been hacked, the National Cyber Security Centre has advice on recovering an account that’s been hacked.

If you’ve lost money because of a scam, there might be things you can do to get it back.  Follow this guidance from The Citizens Advice Bureau on what options may be available.

By reporting the scam, you help enforcement authorities to track down the criminals responsible.

If the scammer is in your area or you’ve transferred money within the last 24 hours then you should contact the police on 101, or by dialling 999 if you feel threatened.

Otherwise, gather together details of the scam and report to one of the following organisations:

  • Citizens Advice Bureau via their online service or by telephoning their consumer helpline on 0808 223 1133. They will then pass the details to Trading Standards.
  • Action Fraud via their online service or by telephoning their helpline on 0300 123 2040 (18001 then 0300 123 2050 if using Relay UK)
  • If you’ve received a scam email forward it to [email protected] and it will go to the National Cyber Security Centre who may be able to stop other people being scammed.
  • If you’ve been scammed through the post, you can send it to Royal Mail for investigation at their address “Freepost Scam Mail”.Include the envelope it came in and a completed scam report downloaded from their website.You can also request a form via email sent to [email protected] or by telephone on 0800 011 3466.
  • If you’ve seen a scam advert online you can report it to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) using their online service.You may also be able to report it to the service where you’ve seen the ad; Google, Facebook an Instagram let you tell them about scam ads.
  • If the scammer is imitating a company or person, you can contact the real company or person to let them know their name is being falsely used.