We know that if you or a loved one is currently serving in the Armed Forces, you will have a lot to consider, including putting your affairs in order for the future. While none of us know what is around the corner, you will be living a unique way of life and will face potential dangers that most will not encounter. Having a Will is the best way to protect your family at an already difficult time and it is important that you receive the right legal advice to ensure that your Will is comprehensive.
Our Armed Forces experts within our Wills, Probate and Estate Planning department have experience themselves of serving in the military or through their family connections so are best placed to support you in making the appropriate decisions.
Your Will is a legal document that sets out your wishes for your loved ones in the event that the worst happens while you are serving. You can make plans for your assets including your property, financial arrangements and personal effects, specifying who your beneficiaries should be, as well as appointing guardians for your children should you pass away before they turn 18 years of age.
Should you die without having a Will in place, your estate will pass under the rules of intestacy, which may not be how you wish for your estate to be distributed. The intestacy rules will depend on whether you are married and have children; it is important to realise that your unmarried partner will not inherit under the rules of intestacy, even if you are living together.
In this situation, it would be your direct family who would inherit your estate. Therefore, if you are cohabiting with your partner it is even more imperative that you have a valid Will in place to ensure they are secure for the future.
The additional benefit to writing your Will when you can is that you can give proper consideration to who will be your Executor or Executors. These individuals will be responsible for distributing your estate and arranging probate; an important role, so it is crucial that you choose a person who is trustworthy and capable of administering your estate.
If you are unsure about who to choose, we can act as Executors and store your Will on your behalf, should you wish.
There is an option for those in the Armed Forces to have a Military Will, otherwise known as a Privileged Will, however in our experience this is rarely detailed enough for your specific requirements and can lead to complications in the future.
This Will is usually made by those in active military service, but can be made by other personnel serving in the Armed Forces. They are usually drawn up once orders are received that you are to be posted in an operational area.
This kind of Will is more informal than a normal Will in various ways:
While this makes it more convenient if required at short notice, this does mean the Will is more open for disputes and challenges, and it does come with additional regulations regarding the revocation of the Will in the future.
The Privileged Will can also be restrictive in the following situations:
Whether your requirements are basic or complex, we can advise as to the implications of each kind of Will, the consequences relating to Inheritance Tax and any complications that could arise.
If you are going on operations and need to give a person you can trust the legal right to manage your finances while you are away, we would recommend that you consider a Power of Attorney (POA) as well as a Will. There are various types of POA, however a General POA may be useful as it can be restricted to the time that you are away on operations. You can appoint a person of your choosing, whether that is a spouse, family member, friend or a legal representative to look after your finances and property while you are away. This can be particularly useful if you are going through a house sale or purchase, or if your bank accounts are used for any bill payments, for example. The General POA would cease to be valid if you were to lose capacity. Therefore a Lasting Power of Attorney would be more useful in the long term.
There are two types of Power of Attorney that would be beneficial in your situation, known as Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA):
The difference between an LPA and a general POA is that an LPA is invaluable in the unfortunate situation that you become wounded while on deployment and lose capacity to manage your own affairs when you return from active duty. Without an LPA in place, your loved ones would be required to apply to the Court of Protection to become a Deputy; a timely, complicated and costly process that could be avoided with an LPA in place.
We can advise not only on the Power of Attorney itself, but review with you the responsibilities of your Attorneys to enable you to make the right decision about who to appoint.
Our team of specialist Wills, Probate and Estate Planning Solicitors have extensive experience and can offer expert advice on the following:
We offer a 10% Armed Forces discount to forces personnel and their families so please contact your local office to discuss your situation and see how we can help you.