2nd January 2018
Last night, I got home after my first day in the office of 2018 and reflected upon the day.
One of the things that significantly stood out was just how many clients would have had much less to worry about had they perhaps looked ahead (and dare I say, taken some of our advice) sooner. As January is traditionally full of new promises to ourselves on how we are generally going to be better at everything, I thought I would share some of the events of our first week back.
The wife of an elderly client phoned me in a distressed state as soon as the office phone was turned on. Her husband was critically ill and had decided he wanted to change his will and so, I did an emergency home visit accompanied by two witnesses from the office with my pen and paper ready to write out the will.
This part of the job was complete but it became clear from my bedside visit that this client had not made a Power of Attorney. Therefore, no-one could access his money and neither his medical team nor his wife had been provided with any legal authority regarding his determination not to be resuscitated.
Fortunately, he had his full faculties to tell me everything that he wanted. But he could no longer physically sign, and a Power of Attorney takes several weeks to pass through the formal registration. Had he arranged both of these matters, then his wife would have had access to his bank account, and the medical team would have had a complete Advance Directive (sometimes called a Living Will) to ensure that they followed his end of life choices. It is not too late for this, and I am returning to him to sort it out, but he was too exhausted to finalise this in one visit.
Another client had received a terminal diagnosis just before Christmas and wanted to organise her affairs to minimise the Inheritance Tax. It was a classic tale of having meant to do something for some time and not got around to it, and now it is too late. Inheritance Tax planning takes thought and time must elapse if gifts are to be made free of tax.
Finally, some clients contacted me very excited at having found a property to move to and arranged a buyer for their own home. The only problem was that they had lost their house deeds. They had assumed that “everything is at the Land Registry these days” – unfortunately not. Some properties are still unregistered, and if you have lived in your property for a long time, this is a possibility – so be sure to check it out.
My advice? Use these January days for getting sorted – have a legal MOT if necessary!
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