Family and personal FAQs
There are a number of reasons why you may need legal help for your family, which include:
making a Will setting out how you want your estate to be distributed in case of your death
appointing someone else to have the temporary authority to sign legal documents or manage your personal affairs, on your behalf, by using a Power of attorney
expressing your wishes about how you want to be treated and cared for in certain situations by making a Living will
protecting your and your future spouse’s assets by entering into a Prenuptial agreement before getting married
setting out the financial arrangements to avoid problems if the relationship breaks down if you are moving in with someone you’re not married to, using a Cohabitation agreement
giving parental responsibility to a parent without parental responsibility (ie because you are not married to the child's birth mother and your name is not on the birth certificate) using a Parental responsibility agreement
For more information, read Protect your family.
Once you've decided to make your will, there are a number of things to consider. These include:
appointing an executor (ie the person who will carry out your wishes after your death)
appointing guardians for any children under 18
decided how you want to leave your estate and who you want to leave gifts to
In all cases, it is important to have a written Last will and testament to ensure that your wishes are followed.
You can be known by any name you like (such as a nickname) as long as it is not for a criminal purpose.
If, as an adult, you want to be officially known by another name, or change your name, you need to complete a deed poll or a statutory declaration of change of name and then notify everyone of the change. A Statutory declaration of name change should be sufficient for most purposes. However, some official government departments, such as HM Passport Office (HMPO), may require you to change your name using a deed poll which is a more formal document as it can be enrolled at court.
A General power of attorney (POA) is the most straightforward power of attorney that you can make. A POA is normally used for 'one-off events' and for a short period of time.
For example, you may be in the middle of an important transaction but are about to leave the country on holiday. A general power of attorney will allow you to appoint somebody to sign documents on your behalf in your absence so that the transaction is not held up. Once you are back from your travels, you should revoke the power of attorney.
General powers of attorney shouldn’t be used if you intend for the attorney arrangement to be long-standing or for the arrangement to continue if you were to lose your mental faculties. In these circumstances, you should consider making a Lasting power of attorney.
For more information, read General powers of attorney.