Wills and Funeral Plans for People With Learning Difficulty?

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
The way I see it, is that a poor will is often better than no will at all. Most of us are worth a great deal more dead than alive, and I would hate to have the lawyers, like the leeches they are, bloat themselves on legal arguments and delays whilst my children went without. So, October is often Free Will month, and you might as well just get on with it and write something simple. If you want to set up a legally binding trust, that will prevent your child from losing all their welfare benefits due to having too much capital whilst proving them with holidays and clothes etc, then Mencap or (in Scotland) Enable, are experts in this area. And it is something that I am seriously considering.
Okay, well what I have found out so far is this:

I can make my own will up in the usual way and appoint a guardian for my son as you would for any child, so that bit is quite straight forward.

The stuff from Mencap is very good; I can arrange for monies from my estate (which sounds so grand, but it will only be a small life insurance policy and a small pension!) to go into a trust fund for him, which will then last over the whole of his life (because he has learning difficulties and can't make his own decisions). So that means that (a) it isn't counted as income when he applies for benefits and care packages and (b) unscrupulous people shouldn't be able to get their hands on it as applications for money from it have to be approved and I can leave a letter of wishes explaining what I would like it to be used for and specifying any certain people that shouldn't be allowed to get near it. Our family situation is horrendous so I do feel happier knowing that they can't get their hands on it.

I can write into my will that if my son and I die together (before he's 18) or if I die and then he dies (before he's 18) then I can state who I want the money to go to in either case.

Once he's 18 (and legally an adult) I would need to apply to the court of protection to write a will on his behalf. That can include wishes for his funeral (as I would like to know that his ashes will be scattered in the same place as mine and my dad's). What I'm not sure of yet is what happens if I die before he's 18. I'd assume that his guardian would be able to do it instead, particularly if I've stated that in my will? But I need to read a bit more to find out, Court of Protection stuff is all very new to me, I got some good info from Mencap and there is a link to a website with more information as well so I will update if/when I find out any more.

So far - it doesn't look as difficult or as daunting as I though it would be. It's quite a lot of paperwork and having to check out/organise people as trustees/executors/guardians and trying to share all of that out so it isn't all left to one poor knackered person to deal with everything! But I am plodding through it all; the fee for Mencap is £305 to set the trust up which I didn't think is bad and then once it's active (after I die) there's a small annual fee to manage it but obviously they take that out of the money that's in there, you don't have to make arrangements to pay that separately. So far, so good!
Because of the very valuable information contained in this topic I'm going to move it to "Tips & Practical Advice" where more members are likely to see it :)
susieq wrote:Because of the very valuable information contained in this topic I'm going to move it to "Tips & Practical Advice" where more members are likely to see it :)
Thanks, Susie, I have read a bit more and confused myself again now!

The information sheet I have got from Mencap about the Court Of Protection mentions Deputies and mentions specifically having to apply to the court in certain situations, such as making a will on someone else's behalf (it also mentions selling a property). It gives this link:

http://www.justice.gov.uk/protecting-th ... d-deputies

That says that the court can appoint a deputy if no-one else is willing or able to take on the role. So I assume from that that mum can do most things but that something legally binding (like a will) would require permission from the court in order to make sure it's done properly, although it looks like that wouldn't be a terribly difficult thing to organise assuming there are no concerns about whether you are acting in the person's best interests or not. So I guess if I leave details of this in my will, if I die before he's 18 then his legal guardian can sort everything out if I state I'm happy for her to become his deputy if such a need arises? Then I guess it's only a problem if there's evidence of wrong doing?(NB it does say the laws aren't the same in Scotland and Northern Ireland).

A friend of mine works for a law firm and her boss has offered to check this over for me as she's off work sick at the minute and very bored! So I've just bought a Will pack from WHSmiths and got a free info pack from Menap (which also contains the trust deed form so I can set that up as well), so between the two sets of info and this court of protection stuff I've just about written up everything I think needs to be written. This nice lady is going to check it over for me and Mencap check the paperwork at their end so hopefully between the two it will all be alright. Mencap did give me a list of solicitors who specialise in wills for people with disabilities but the cheapest quote I got was £750 to £1,000 minimum which is out of my price range.

I'm hoping to get the paperwork sorted and sent off in the next week or so so if I get anything back saying I've done it all wrong I will get it posted up! Have given myself a headache with it all but I'll be glad when it's all done.

NB - Also thought I'd mention that I've arranged to donate my body to science when I die which I quite like the idea of. I'm on the donor list as well so they won't take a body if the organs are removed but if you're intact they can use you and I do like the idea of making some sort of contribution from beyond the grave! If anyone else is interested the info is on here:

http://www.hta.gov.uk/bodyorganandtissuedonation.cfm
Just though I'd update this briefly as everything finally got sorted, there was quite a lot of paperwork and rewriting things (it's funny how many things occur to you when you start thinking about this sort of thing) and a couple of people were a bit miffed I wasn't 'leaving' my son to them! Like he's a sideboard or something :) But got everything sorted out eventually, Mencap were very helpful and now have the completed trust fund, a copy of my will, a letter of wishes which explains what I'm happy for the money to be spent on and instructions on who they're not to take any notice of (which is more or less everyone I'm related to, unfortunately!). So it's all sitting in a folder now with the cheerful title of 'What Happens When I Die' but at least everything is organised and all in one place so hopefully it won't be too hideous for the exectutors to sort things out and get everything organised (and the people I've asked to do that are very sensible and fastidious types anyway so fingers crossed it's all been made as painless as possible).