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COVID-19 has swept across the UK and the world and changed the direction of life as we knew it. With any event, positive, negative or catastrophic, it prompts a moment to reflect on what is important in our lives. For me, my life is made up of my wonderful family, caring, inspiring and crazy friendships, my love of fitness and the outdoors and my very rewarding career. For the purpose of this blog, I'll focus on my career which changed direction four years ago. 
Pretty much since leaving school, I had worked in Financial Services. I qualified as Financial Adviser in 1997 and after providing advice to clients for five years, I was promoted into a Supervision/Sales Management role. I am so thankful for my twenty year career in financial planning and when I look back, I realise how much training, support and development I received over this time from some truly amazing people. 
When you become self employed, it's not so simple - no-one is there encouraging your self development or highlighting great CPD opportunities and time can pass so quickly when your focus is getting a business off the ground. One thing I would highly recommend to anyone embarking on a journey of self employment would be to surround yourself with people who think bigger and better than you - it keeps you on the right track and helps you become the very best version of yourself. For me, I had just changed career quite drastically - from financial planning to the law and gaining qualifications to support this transition was essential. I enrolled in the CILEx level 3 will writing qualification and found a real love for the law and in particular, Estate Planning. 
We've recently had some structural changes in the business, which again has been an opportunity to reflect on the business as a whole and in particular, how can we further demonstrate our commitment to providing our clients with outstanding advice and service? 
Due to my background - managing professional advisersin a highly compliant environment and ensuring our clients received the very best service, I wanted my company to embrace both of these aspects. You may or may not know but will-writing is unregulated and this has never sat well with me, so earlier this month I took the decision to become a full member of the Institute of Professional willwriters (IPW) and adopt their code of practice. I absolutely love the professionalism of this body and the support available to its members and as a result, the service we offer and the processes we use have really stepped up. 
The development of my team and supporting their career development and aspirations has also been incredibly important to me and so, with the restructure, it was a fantastic opportunity to sit down and discuss my office manager Sarah's thoughts. Sarah joined the business in October and has proved herself to be a fantastic and valued team member - she is as keen as me to provide outstanding advice and service and is now enrolled on the CILEx level 3 course to improve her knowledge and understanding of wills and trusts. 
And me? Well with the chaos created with COVID-19, now seems like the perfect opportunity to dedicate time towards improving my knowldge and skills and I've embarked on the STEP level 6 qualification in wills and estates. 
Life's changes are inevitable and I believe it is our ability to adapt and respond that will ensure a successful and worthwhile journey. 
How can you be certain that your children will receive an inheritance if you die before your spouse and they remarry? 
This is a real concern for many people I speak to. Nowadays there are many different types of families, following separations and divorces resulting in a more complex family situation. 
If you make traditional mirror wills, leaving everything to your spouse and an agreement that on second death, everything will pass to your children, how can you be sure that if you die first and your spouse remarries, your children will get any inheritance? On marriage, or in this case, re-marriage, the will is invalidated and a new will would be needed. What if your spouse set up a similar arrangement to yours and left everything to their new spouse, on the understanding that on their death everything would then go to the children. If your spouse died first, there would be nothing to stop the new spouse from changing their will altogether, cutting your children out completely. 
Whenever I talk to clients about making a will, I always talk to them about why they also need a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). Certainly, during your lifetime, an LPA is far more useful to you and your family than your will. 
Your will, and your wishes contained in your will, only take effect when you die. So this leaves a big gap - if during your lifetime you lose mental capacity what happens to decisions about your health and welfare and ensures all of your bills are paid? 
An LPA is a legal document which allows you to appoint people you trust to act for you if you lose mental capacity. Most importantly YOU choose who will be able to make decisions and you are able to set out how you would like decisions to be made. Until you lose mental capacity you will continue to make decisions as you have always done. 
The majority of the UK population do not have a will, yet having a properly drawn up will in place is one of the most effective steps you can take to protect your family’s future. Having a will in place is not only vital to ensure that your money, property and possessions are distributed exactly how you wish after your death – and that your children are properly cared for by friends or family carefully chosen by you – but can also make the lives of those you leave behind a little less daunting. 
The effect of dying without a properly drawn up will in place (referred to as dying ‘intestate’) means that your estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy, which may not reflect your personal wishes, and a guardian for your children may be appointed by a judge rather than being somebody that has been carefully chosen by you to fulfil the role of guardian. 
Another equally important form of forward planning that could make life a little easier for you and your loved ones is to ensure that you have Lasting Powers of Attorney in place so that, in the event that you become unable to make decisions with regards to your finances or health yourself, due to a decline in your mental health, carefully chosen ‘attorneys’, can step in and make these decisions on your behalf. Sadly, most people do not have Lasting Powers of Attorney in place as they leave it too late, taking the view that it is something that need only been done by the elderly or infirm. Crucially, it is only while you still have sufficient mental capacity to make these decisions that you can put Lasting Powers of Attorneys in place. 
Effective estate planning need not be a daunting, nor expensive process, and can bring you peace of mind knowing that your family will be taken care of in accordance with your wishes after your death. We are all aware of famous cases in the media where celebrities have died intestate – with catastrophic consequences – and, yet, situations such as these can very easily be avoided. 
Call us today on 01635 292 356 to find out how we can help you gain peace of mind by putting wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney in place. 
Each time I see a client to take instructions to draw up their will, I also talk to them about why a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is so important. An LPA is a legal document appointing people you trust to make decisions and act for you if you are unable to do so in the future. There are two types of LPA; 
Health and welfare - covering decisions regarding medical treatment and the care you receive and 
Property and Finance - covering everything from paying bills, opening and closing bank accounts and buying and selling property. 
Crucially, your decision to draw up an LPA must be done whilst you have good mental capacity. Many people choose not to draw up an LPA because they feel they are too young and healthy and can't foresee the need for one. Given the shocking statistics that 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 are suffering with dementia*, making an LPA early will ensure that someone you trust can manage your finances and healthcare as soon as you are unable to do so. 
If there is no LPA, an application would need to be made to the Court of Protection to become a 'Deputy'. This can be an expensive and lengthy process at a time which will also be difficult for your family. Application fees are £400 each for Property & Finance and Health & Welfare, there care also be a £500 fee if a court hearing is needed plus annual fees of £320. Currently, the waiting time from making an application is between 4-6 months. 
Martin Lewis gave an interview on This Morning at the start of this year on the importance of making a will and LPA. Interestingly enough, the money expert confirmed that he has an LPA in place at the age of 42. https://youtu.be/7chQtUYtBLw 
Lasting Power of Attorney's were introduced in 2007, prior to this you would have had an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). EPAs are still valid if you drew one up before 2007, it would need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it could be used. 
If you would like to discuss making an LPA or will, we would be delighted to speak to you. 
Tel 079100 74611 
A phrase I often hear is: 
'We have chosen not to get married because a piece of paper won't change anything.' 
And I agree - in terms of their commitment to each other and how they feel about each other anyway. However, legally, that 'piece of paper' makes a huge difference if one partner passes away. 
With no will in place, the intestacy rules come into play and beneficiaries have already been decided. For an unmarried couple - the surviving partner is legally entitled to nothing. This can be challenged through the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 but there is no guarantee of success and it is, at best, a very lengthy process. Financial uncertainty at a time of emotional distress. 
A piece of paper which removes the uncertainty and unnecessary stress is a professionally drafted will. Making a will removes the need for a 'one size fits all' hierarchy of beneficiaries and puts the control back with the person who has worked hard to accumulate their assets. Making a will is making a choice. 
We work closely with Financial Advisers, Mortgage Brokers, Accountants and other professionals to offer a professional, affordable service to your clients in their own home at a time to suit them. 
Please call us on 079100 74611 to discuss how we can help your clients. 
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