Expect the unexpected. Addressing estate planning and mortality.

Life is comic in texture and tragic in structure. Nobody likes to think about the certainty of our own demise. Nobody likes to think about estate planning and mortality. It goes against millions of years of evolution to consider not being around. In truth, however, as social beings, our worlds extend beyond ourselves. Those we care about, form a part of our world that persists after we die. 

Ask yourself, which is more a part of you, your loved ones or your little finger, then ask yourself which would you rather lose. 

In planning for end of life, you are taking an altruistic step for those you care about. I want here to consider some of the matters that you might open up for discussion. 

  1. Wills. In the absence of a well drafted will, there’s: i) a high chance of confusion and insecurity amongst those you love; ii) a decent chance of your estate’s ultimately being lost to care fees or a future spouse of your current partner and iii) a material chance of catastrophic intra-familial conflict.
  2. Funerals. The one people hate to think about. Where no discussion on how your funeral might be conducted, has taken place, those you love will be faced with a significant organisational burden, under real time pressure, whilst newly bereaved. They are likely to seek outlet for their feelings of loss ,in ceremony and over spend around the funeral.
  3. Lasting power of attorney. Documents which appoint those you trust to manage your affairs should you lose mental capacity. Only 2% of people have them. Those that don’t risk a freezing of shared assets; lengthy and hugely costly pursuit of court orders; inability to consent or reject medical treatments and loss of decision-making power around residential care. 
  4. Insurances. Life, critical illness, mortgage cover. In a sense, the only reason anyone works is to provide some certainty in the future for those they love. Catastrophic loss can be protected against, and I urge you to take seriously the notion of having enough insurance in place. 

 

I don’t want to quote actuarial statistics in this article, though as one in the will industry, I will say that I ask every client that I engage the question: “does any medical reason make preparation of the will urgent in the order of 14 days?”. Those who answer yes to this, number less than 2%. Notwithstanding, I find myself attending hospital beds (more recently car parks) to obtain signatures, with frightening regularity. 

Act now, it’s later than you think!

You don’t need to do anything more at this point, than make an enquiry, have the initial conversation, begin! Speak to our client advice team on 0121 202 4714 or click here and we’ll call you.

Lasting Powers of Attorney

When should I make Lasting Powers of Attorney?

Subject to certain caveats, that I’ll come back to, you need to do this now. Here, I’m going to explain why. 

Firstly, and for absolute clarity, lasting powers of attorney (“LPAs”) allow you to appoint those you trust to act in your place, on critical financial and health matters, in the event you lose the ability (the mental capacity) to do so yourself. 

So why make Lasting Powers of Attorney now?

  1. LPAs can only be made while you have mental capacity. They can’t be made after ‘they are needed’. It may be too late by the time you receive a diagnosis. 
  2. They take a long time to put in place. You have to register these with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before you can use them. This may take more than 6 months. This is more than enough time to lose mental capacity following a dementia diagnosis so best to start the process now.

 

  1. There is no ‘next of kin’ in law. In the absence of Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs), authority to make key decisions on your behalf may pass to local authorities. This includes decision such as whether you are to go into residential care and where that is to be in the country. 
  2. The alternative is slow and expensive. If you don’t have Lasting Powers of Attorney, and have lost mental capacity. Your loved ones may apply, through the courts for a deputyship. This application, which may take between 1-2 years, is estimated to cost 10-15 times more than implementation of Lasting Powers of Attorney. 
  3. Don’t underestimate the impact of ‘limbo’. While there is no deputyship or Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, financial operations, on your behalf, cease. Payments to third parties will continue to flow from your bank whether appropriate or not. Local authorities occasionally pick up admin tasks and may charge exorbitantly for it. Shared assets may be locked, making life difficult for loved ones. Consents for treatment may also be difficult to give. 
  4. The likelihood of capacity loss is probably greater than you think. Mixed dementias present in 22% of the elderly. Alzheimer’s disease prevalence rises from around 7% at 65 to 20% at 80.  Vascular dementia is seen in 4.2% of those over 65. 23-29% of people over 25 will have a stroke and annual traumatic brain injury admissions affect 0.5% of people. 

Serious thought should be given to who is appointed as your attorney. They are not policed and should be someone that you trust absolutely. 

 

When you are ready to make your Lasting Powers of Attorney, speak to us and have Confidence in our service and advice. For more information visit our page on LPAs: https://confidencewills.co.uk/lpa/.

Upsells and Wills, what to watch out for.

A number of clients contact us, having been upset by requests for payment of much greater sums than anticipated (known as an upsell), by a supplier engaged to make their Will. In this article I want to look at situations in which pricing opacity and disparity prove problematic. 

Before I begin, I should make clear that a majority (around two thirds) of clients, are perfectly happy with the firm they appoint to create their Will (there’s no statistical difference between solicitors and Will writers in this regard, though DIY/online users fare less well). Only around 5% feel forced to spend more than anticipated because of an upsell (albeit this is far too many), though around a quarter report spending more than they wish. 

I shall present three (non-exhaustive, though representative) examples of experiences of Confidence Wills’ clients as they were reported to us, and allow you to draw your own conclusions but under no circumstances will we draw you in with a ‘cheap Will’ only to sell you something you don’t need – aggressive upselling.

The first case is that of a couple who engaged a firm in the midlands to draft their will at a rate of £185. In the event, the will writer in question visited the client’s home and sought to offer the clients a will, with a property trust for ~£4,000 (7-1,000% the going rate). On being refused, left muttering of how he’d ‘failed miserably’(audibly)! Two weeks later the clients had no Will and didn’t know which way to turn. 

The payment requested was ridiculous, there was no trust between client and professional. Worse, there was no chance of the professional doing anything other than pushing that high value service for all it’s worth. No-one was listened to, or got what they wanted, even the optimistic salesman ended up £185 down on the day. 

The second case, is perhaps the most common configuration which we encounter. Our client, another couple, based in Manchester, took up a firm on their offer to make a will at a rate of £20 (on a discount app). They were subsequently offered a will with a trust in it for around £800. This is a fairly common marketing strategy employed by some firms. The Will Writing industry is pretty efficient economically and you can bet that those approaching you with very low fees up front make it up somewhere. As mentioned, this is known as an upsell. There is a distinct difference between offering something someone needs and drawing someone in with a price that you know client’s  won’t be paying.

The model involves taking up a lot of clients’ time, information gathering, on the basis of a very low-priced offering, building inertia and offering inflated services later. We have had clients approach us and ask us to unravel these documents without starting from scratch, of course we can’t. Don’t be fooled, if it looks too good to be true it probably is.  If you’re in this position, before you pay, speak to us and get some advice.

Finally, I want to report the case of a lady in Maidenhead. Her case is unusual; however, the consequences potentially extreme. She appointed a firm of solicitors to make her Will. They quoted around £200 for the service. On the day the professional requested £1,800 to put the lady’s home into a lifetime trust (to ‘protect it from care fees’). From a cost perspective, the price isn’t extreme, these arrangements do run into the low thousands. The problem is the product itself. Not only do lifetime trusts like this cause unnecessary paperwork, THEY DO NOT WORK! This arrangement creates a ‘reservation of benefit’. They shouldn’t be offered. There are still firms (of solicitors) presenting these to clients. Steer well clear, this presents a potentially catastrophic risk to those left behind. If encountered, you should contact the law society or the Society of Will Writers to report it. 

If you’re considering these issues, I urge you to act now, speak to our client advice team on 0121 202 4714 or click here and we’ll call you.