Where there’s a Will, there’s a way
Having originally trained at Rollits and now in her twelfth year at the law firm, Sarah Adams is a Partner in the Private Capital team. Emma Fawke is an Associate in the same department and is approaching five years with the firm. Together they offer a wealth of knowledge and advice regarding Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney, or LPAs.
“To put it simply,” said Sarah Adams, “people don’t like thinking about not being around and as a result they don’t tend to talk about it. However, having a valid Will in place is very important, as it ensures that your final wishes can be carried out.”
Emma Fawke said: “There have been cases where people haven’t had Wills and it’s led to problems and issues, particularly where they don’t have children or they’re in their second marriage. There are many different circumstances in which having a Will makes everything simpler and clearer when someone passes away.”
Sarah and Emma explained that a Will sets out an individual’s wishes, but they can still be challenged on grounds of undue influence, poor execution, mental incapacity, or if a family member believes they’re not being provided for in the Will.
“That’s why it’s so important to have your Will created by a professional,” agree Sarah and Emma. “The law firm will ask the right questions, carefully word the Will to reflect wishes accurately, and anticipate any potential challenges or issues.”
When you decide to create a Will, the first stage is to get in touch with Rollits and you will be connected to a secretary who can offer the right support and assistance and then arrange an appointment, which could be over the phone, Zoom, Teams or in person. You may also be sent a Wills Questionnaire for completion, which allows you to consider your wishes and which gives you a framework of how it all works. This is followed by the initial meeting, which involves discussion of the wider picture such as family circumstances, what you want the Will to achieve, the assets in the estate, who will administer the estate, and who will benefit from the estate. The appointment can also include talking about your funeral wishes, guardianship if there are minor children, inheritance tax and lifetime tax planning.
“Rollits acts in a holistic and pre-emptive way,” said Sarah. “We look for things that could go wrong, think ahead, and do everything we can to prevent any issues which may arise. We also map a way forward and help the client to achieve their goals in the most tax-efficient manner.”
“It’s also important to look beyond your current circumstances and plan accordingly,” said Emma. “For example, if an executor or beneficiary passes away before you do, your Will should be prepared for multiple scenarios. If desired, Rollits can act as the executor of your Will and manage all of the administrative and legal tasks, such as communicating with banks and estate agents after you die.
“In short, without a Will you haven’t given anyone authority to do anything,” added Emma. “Also remember that if you’re in a relationship but not married, your partner has no automatic right to deal with your estate, regardless of how long you’ve been together. There are also scenarios that may require the writing of a new Will, such as when you get married, divorced, have children or grandchildren, and when your financial circumstances significantly change.”
Looking at lifetime planning, Lasting Powers of Attorney, also needs to be in place in the event that you lose the mental capacity to manage your own affairs. There are two types of LPA – one covers Property and Financial Affairs, and the other focuses on Health and Welfare.
“Many people assume that LPAs are for the elderly but you never know what might happen in the future,” said Sarah. “It doesn’t matter what age you are, as capacity can be lost temporarily or on a long-term basis. When this happens, an LPA ensures that the right people can make certain decisions on your behalf.”
“LPAs can’t be used to change someone’s Will,” assured Emma. “Once the person dies, the LPA ends and the Will comes into play. That’s why an LPA should be in place before you lose mental capacity, as it enables you to plan for the future.”
This area of law can prove confusing, which is why Rollits takes a gentle and compassionate approach with clients when discussing mental capacity:
“We don’t use technical language and instead explain everything in simple terms,” said Sarah. “Our approach is compassionate and personable, with the aim to prevent potential issues and make everything run as smoothly as possible. This gives our clients complete peace of mind that everything is in place in the event that they lose capacity.”