Thousands of Scots risk leaving themselves and their family or loved ones in financial woe by not getting proper advice about how to plan for their retirement years.
According to Scottish family law firm Gibson Kerr, many people in Scotland are choosing to forgo taking legal advice about how to deal with their money and assets in later life, as they do not want to pay unnecessary costs during the current economic slowdown.
But while the majority of these people think they are making a shrewd financial judgement by putting off their elderly planning, Gibson Kerr believes that they are actually leaving themselves and their families in jeopardy.
Scott Rasmusen, partner at Gibson Kerr, said: “Planning for your own or a relative's old age is an emotive and complex subject, but it is vitally important to address such thorny issues now to avoid storing up financial troubles for the future.
“There are many people who think that they can take care of everything themselves, as they don’t want to pay money to a lawyer or advisor. However, compared to the potential financial problems that can arise from poor old age planning, the cost of getting advice is actually very small.
“There are others who don’t want to pay the money to a lawyer during the current economic slump because they don’t think they have sufficient funds in place to justify the expense. Their argument is that they will wait and get the advice they need in a few years time when the economy has improved, but this is actually a very risky strategy.
“The truth is that getting the right advice is vital to ensuring your own – and your family’s – security in the future and the sooner you do so, the better. You never know what is coming around the corner, so it pays to be properly prepared.”
Scott highlights how paying for elderly care is the biggest expense that retired Scots are likely to face during their retirement years, but that many people are either not prepared for or not aware of the high costs associated with care. However, he says that by getting advice early, these people will be able to identify the best ways of financing their future care and avoiding problems arising once it is too late.
He also adds that it is important for anyone approaching their retirement to ensure that they have an up-to-date will in place, and that they have set up a power of attorney with a loved one – so that their families can take control their finances if they become incapacitated, and that loved ones will not face the tumult of having to go to court.
Scott continued: “No-one likes to think that the worst will happen to them, but this is a real and present issue when people reach retirement age. Therefore it pays to not only have your finances in order so that you can fund the appropriate care in your old age, but to also put all of the legal paperwork in place to ensure your family is provided for if you die.
“Around two thirds of people in the UK haven’t yet made a will, which is a huge number. All of these people are leaving themselves at risk of not ensuring that the right inheritances they want to bestow on their family and loved ones will go to the right people. Furthermore, if you don’t have a power of attorney in place, you run the risk of your family not being able to appropriately manage your affairs if something happens to you.
“When it comes to paying for your care home fees or other elderly care costs, it’s advisable to get your finances in order at an early stage and to get the right advice about the legal position of paying for these fees. You need to know what your care entitlements are, whether you are eligible to receive any funding and what options – such as equity release – are available to help you cover the costs.
“The easiest way to review all of these options is to seek advice from a professional legal expert. By making an affordable investment at an early stage, you can help stop difficult situations turning into impossible ones in the future.
“Apathy should never be an option when it comes to planning for the future. By getting help from the outset, you will not only improve your own peace of mind, but also ensure you and your loved ones do not miss out in the future.”
Gibson Kerr is a family-run law firm that has been established in Edinburgh for more than 100 years. It provides a comprehensive service encompassing both property and personal law – including powers of attorney, executries and wills – and full details of its services can be viewed on the website www.gibsonkerr.co.uk