01635 292356 
I am asked this question a lot. I can understand it because making a will is something which people put off, sometimes for years. Some people don't want to face their own mortality, some find it too upsetting, some can't decide on who to appoint as guardians for their children and life has a habit of getting in the way. We all lead busy lives and making a will rarely finds itself at the top of anyone's to-do list. Usually people contact me about making a will because something has happened within their own family or friendship group that has caused them to stop and think. Recently, it has been coronavirus which has stopped people in their tracks and prompted them to get their affairs in order. 
 
So, when people finally decide to make a will, it is vital that they choose the person or company that they trust, and who understands their situation. Sometimes I hear people say 'Don't use a will writer, you should use a Solicitor'. This, I believe, is because will writing as an industry is not regulated and means that somebody with no experience or qualifications could set up as a will writer - very worrying when you are dealing with such an important document for yourself and your family.  
 
The advantages of using a will writer over a solicitor are usually cost, flexibility and personal service. There are some fantastic solicitors who are very experienced with wills and LPAs, but there are also solicitors who don't write wills very often. Whether you choose a solicitor or will writer, choose carefully.  
 
I am very proud of Heritage Estate Planning and the advice and service we provide to our clients. Firstly we are full members of the Institute of Professional Will Writers, this means we adhere to their strict code of practice and have met their membership criteria through experience and qualifications. We receive wonderful feedback from our clients who are happy to recommend us to their friends and family. Before Covid 19, we saw all clients in their own homes at a time to suit them - the only thing that has changed is that we now see our clients in their own homes at a time to suit them, over zoom - our clients like this approach and have been able to get their wills in place during lockdown - this is a service option we will continue to offer when we go back to a new kind of normal. We put our clients at the heart of everything we do, which is why we continue to provide free updates on all of the wills we write. We believe in supporting our staff with their personal developement and our Office Manager has recently enrolled in the level 3 willwriting exams through CILEx. Will writing is what we do, every single day - it is our area of expertise and it's not a sideline to another more prominent service. 
 
So, when choosing how you want to write you will, think about what is important to you and how you would like to receive advice and guidance. We offer free consultation meetings and are always happy to answer your questions, review an existing will or talk through your own situation, which may feel incredibly complicated - usually I am able to show you how straightforward making a will is, once I understand you and your wishes. 
 
Contact us to book for your free consultation meeting: 
 
Tel: 01635 292356 
email - ailott@heritageestateplanning.co.uk 
 
Do I need to make a will? I hear this question a lot and the simple answer is, yes, you probably do. If you are an adult and you have a child and/or possessions that you value, then by making a will you can ensure that your wishes will be carried out when you die. Firstly, it's worth understanding what thew law says if you die intestate (without making a will).  
 
Married couples 
If you are married and your estate is worth less than £270,000, your spouse will receive everything. If your estate is worth more than that and you have children, your spouse receives £270,000 absolutely and half of the remaining estate; your children will receive the other half of the excess over £270,000. If you don't have children, your spouse receives everything. 
 
Single people/non married couples 
There is no legal protection for you if you are co-habiting. As there is no formal legally recognised partnership, if you have no will, your estate will be distributed according to the laws of intestacy and your partner will not be entitled to anything. If you have children, your estate will be shared between them. If you have no children, but your parents are still alive, your estate will go to them. If you have no surviving parents, it would get shared between your siblings, then your nieces/nephews, then grandparents, then Uncles or Aunts, then cousins, then The Crown. 
 
If you have children 
Your will enables you to appoint people you trust, sho share your values, beliefs and ethics to become guardians of your children if the worst happened. Without legally appointing people in this way, there is a risk that your children could end up living with guardians appointed by the court, who may not have been your choice, had you made a choice. 
 
As you can see, it's absolutely crucial, if you are single, cohabiting or if you have children under 18 that you make a will. So many people I see have complex family situations where they have strong views about particular family members not receiving an inheritance from them. Unless you make a will, the law will not consider family dynamics and will distribute in the standard way. 
 
As well as choosing who looks after your children and who benefits from your estate, a correctly drafted will ensures that these decisions are made as quickly as possible and as tax efficiently as possible. 
 
If you have made a will 
Your will is a document that should be reviewed as you have a change in circumstance or every five years. Many people make their will, put it in a drawer and nvere look at it again. This can sometimes be worse than not making a will at all. Another question I hear frequently is 'When should I review my will' - here are my main prompts: 
 
Marriage - If you get married, unless you will included an 'in contemplation of marriage' clause, your will is now invalid - it MUST be re-written. 
Divorce - Unlike marriage, a divorce does not invalidate your will, but legally, your ex-spouse is treated as though they have pre-deceased you. This means they won't act as your executor or benefit from your estate, but inless you have built in contingency, it could mean that you die intestate or partially intestate. You are strongly advised to review your will. 
Separation - Unlike divorce, this relationship status is not legally recognised, so unless you change your will your ex-spouse will still benefit from your estate. 
Having Children - Arguable the most important reason for making a will - making a choice over who cares for, loves, nurtures and supports your chilkdren into adulthood 
Buying a property - This is probably your biggest asset and a will can ensure that it goes to who you want it to. 
Receiving an inheritance - This can change your own financial situation, tax advice may be required and a will can accommodate this. 
Family fall-outs - Sadly this happens more than you think and non-provision clauses can be included in your will and a professional willwriter will always make copious notes on the reasons for their exclusion 
People you have appointed have died - It's common for parents to be appointed as Executors and Guardians and as they get older, they may be less able to take on these roles or they may die. 
Business Assets - When you write your will you may have been employed. If you start a business, depending on how it's set up, this may need to be inclided in your will - a profesisonal will writer will be able to advise you on this. 
 
If you have been considering making or reviewing your will, always seek advice from an expert. Heritage Estate Planning are full members of the Institute of Professional willwriters and offer free consultation meetings. Please get in touch if you have any questions or would like to book a meeting. 
 
I come across a lot of people who think that if they were to ever lose mental capacity, their next of kin would be able to make all the important decisions and I really wanted to write this article because that thinking isn't correct. 
 
When you are a minor, the person who has parental responsibility is legally bound to make decisons about your care and treatment. Once you reach the magic age of 18 and become an adult, unless you have a legal document in place, if you were to lose mental capacity due to an accident or illness, nobody can make decisions about your care and treatment. This leaves your family and those close to you feeling helpless and causes a lot of distress - we often receive calls from family members wanting advice on what they can do when their loved one has already lost mental capacity. 
 
So what happens if you lose mental capacity and have not drawn up and registered a Lasting Power of Attorney? Well firstly, there are two types of LPA; one that deals with your property and financial affairs and one that deals with decisions relating to your health and welfare. Both are very important but I am focussing on health and welfare for the purpose of today. The reason being that the majority of people who do make their LPAs, unless they have taken advice from somebody like me, only draw up the LPA for Property and Financial Affairs. There are many reasons for this but the main one I come across is there is still this belief that family will be able to make the decisions and as long as the LPAfor Finance is in place, it will be ok. When I reviewed my mum's paperwork a few months ago, I was shocked to learn that when she went to see a solicitor to draw up her will and LPA, the solicitor did not even mention the Health & Welfare LPA - so my mum was unaware that this document was available until I spoke to her about it. I'm relieved to say she now has this in place! 
 
If you lose mental capacity and do not have an LPA for Health & Welfare (and this is the first question medical staff, social services and private care homes will ask) those people who love you and know you best will not be able to decide how and where you receive care. They will also not be able to make decisions about life sustaining treatment, if you are being given it. So many people I speak to have very strong views on life sustaining treatment and their family know how they feel about being 'kept alive' but that knowledge without the legal document in place is worthless.  
 
The only option your family will have is for one of them to apply to the Court of Protection (COP) to become your Deputy. This process is lengthy and costly as it will involve court fees. Often the COP are reluctant to issue Deputyship for Health and Welfare as it is more subjective than financial affairs and harder to audit. A lengthy and costly process, taking many months, is not a great prospect for family who will be upset and stressed. 
 
The Health & Welfare LPA gives you a voice if you don't have a voice. The people you trust will be able to consent to or decline medical treatment and examinations, choose the type of place you receive your care, make decisions on the food you eat, the clothes you wear, the exercise and leisure you enjoy and can complain about any aspect of care you receive. 
 
Drawing up a Lasting Power of Attorney is straightforward - it is essential that you only appoint people that you wholeheartedly trust and it is also very important to discuss your thoughts and feelings about your health and wellbeing in advance of them ever needing to make decisions for you. That way, you can be reassured that they will be making the decisions you would have made if you were able to. You can go onto the website for the Office of the Public Guardian (https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/office-of-the-public-guardian) and submit your form on line (or print and post) if you feel confident that you do not need to take any professional advice. There is a registration fee of £82 per document. Alternatively, you can speak to a professional who can give you advice and guidance on selecting Attorneys, how they will act for you, any preferences or instructions you may want documented and can act as your Certificate Provider (The person who confirms you have mental capacity and are not being coerced). 
 
The important thing is to appoint the people you trust most to make decisions for you and get your LPAs drawn up and registered as you never know when/if they may be needed until it's too late. 
Click on this text to edit it. 
 
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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