I recently met with new clients to revise their Wills. They are a couple in their late sixties, retired, in good health and comfortably well off with a couple of children and three grandchildren.
I always visit the client’s home to take instructions and the initial question is ‘Why do you want to make a new Will or change your existing one?’
It is an obvious question, but without the answer, I cannot be sure I have met my client’s requirements and expectations.
They answered by saying they were carrying out an MOT: in their words, a Mindful Overview of their Things.
I had not heard this novel reply before, but immediately realised it was an excellent one. They went onto explain that their existing Will was out of date because it excluded their grandchildren to whom they are very close. However, their subsequent discussions about their Wills raised further questions about what would happen if they went into care, or either of them lost their memory.
They became a little concerned and fearful of the outcome, so decided to coin the term ‘MOT’. Lucky for me I received their phone call asking me to help them understand what they could do to retain as much of their estate as possible for their family, whilst reducing the burden that some aspects of old age imposes on families.
After discussing their Wills, I suggested a Family Protection Trust. A FPT is very effective in protecting estates from probate fees. In addition, the Trust addresses certain inheritance issues including divorce, bankruptcy, and even alcohol and gambling abuse. Even though neither of them expected these issues to transpire, they agreed that no one knows the future and the Trust offers effective protection for the inheritances they want to leave for their family.
My clients agreed this was a very worthwhile investment especially as the cost is inclusive of dealing with the local authorities by the professional Trustees and experts in Trust law; McClures of Glasgow.
They next asked about Lasting Power of Attorney. The assets in the Family Protection Trust are managed by the Trustees, and therefore do not require an LPA. However, the assets outside the Trust are a different matter, and arguably require more day to day management, for example receiving pensions, paying household bills and in some cases legal representation. They had looked at preparing LPA’s for themselves, but found the process too difficult. They knew that the alternative of their children applying for Deputyship is a tremendous burden, and very expensive. My clients said ‘the registration of our LPA’s is probably the best decision we can make for our children’. Agreed.
They then went onto ask about Advance Decisions. These used to be known as Living Wills. It is a decision made by someone after reaching the age of 18 and when they have the capacity to do so, stating what specific treatment they refuse (or would wish to be discontinued) if, at the material time they were lacking the capacity to make that decision for themselves. An Advance Decision requires serious discussion and exact understanding of the consequences. Nevertheless, my clients wanted some control and in particular wanted to help their family if they faced with circumstances where life and death decisions are required.
This was their MOT. Placing their future prospects into perspective and creating simple precautions to help their family at the time when they might need help most of all. They were not necessarily carrying out the MOT for themselves, but for their children.
Footnote: shortly afterwards I received another call from an elderly gentleman I spoke to at Saddleworth Show when he told me he did not see the point in he or his wife making a Will. Sadly his wife had recently died leaving a complex estate requiring a lot of sorting out because she had not made a Will. He asked me to call round so he could make a Will, a Lasting Power of Attorney and a funeral plan. He does not want to leave a complicated mess for his family to argue over. Food for thought!