The view from an expert
The view from an expert
Iain, who qualified as a solicitor over 20 years ago, specialises in private client law. He works on wills, succession planning and lasting powers of attorney. Often he is involved in asset protection. Iain has a particular interest in later life issues.
Iain advises that “every adult” should have a will. “Many people think they don’t have enough assets to need a will but when we meet they quickly realise that they’d like to control what happens to what assets they have when after they have died. . People often think what they have automatically goes to their nearest and dearest, but the only way to ensure that happens is with a will. A will provides control, without one what happens to any bank accounts, securities, property, and other assets you own at the time of death is decided by the laws of intestacy and could even end up passing to the state. . Having a will gives you peace of mind.”
“There’s a perception that people only see lawyers when there’s a problem. This can make the experience seem daunting but I enjoy being with people so aim to make the conversation as relaxing as possible. As a starting point I think to myself, how would I like to be treated? At the end of the process people often say ‘Thank you for helping me get my affairs in order, now I can get on with more important things’”.
“A further reason for not preparing a will is a fear that talking about death will hasten it, but let me reassure you that writing a will is not simply a conversation about death. When you come to see me I want to get to know you, and find out what it is you want to achieve. We’ll have a chat, as I want to get to know what you need so I can then advise you how best to put your wishes in place.. These conversations can be unexpectedly relaxing and undaunting because we’ll talk about what’s important to you, you’ll be protecting and providing for those you love.”
“I advise against making a homemade will. A well drafted will covers all of the angles. You’ll tell me what you want to achieve and I’ll set out the options for you. We will probably have up to an hour long conversation. I’ll then work on your will and you will often then come back to see me to discuss the draft, cover any questions you may have and check that the will covers everything you wanted. I normally recommend that your will is prepared to offer flexibility to cover what you would want to happen if circumstances change in the future. I also recommend reviewing your will every three to five years, or earlier if there is a change in your personal circumstances or legiaslation. In most cases there may be no need to make a change but if you have for example, an addition to the family, maybe a grandchild, you might want your will to reflect to this.”
Iain tells me “I see my role as giving practical, pragmatic and bespoke advice. I’ll look at what you want, and will see if there is anything additional you may need to consider. I like to make a difference, so will signpost you if I think it will help. I’d refer you to an accountant or financial adviser for money or similar matters if appropriate, or if you have a close family member with experience of mental health problems I would suggest speaking to Rethink Mental Illness.”
“My personal experiences mean that charity is close to my heart. Throughout my career I have never just been about ticking boxes to get the job done, I’ve always wanted to add value and give something back. It’s important for me to do something for others and contribute to a worthwhile cause. Although I am not permitted to suggest making a gift in their will to a specific charity, I can raise charitable giving as an option. Clients often see wills in a very compartmentalised light, but they are often gratefully surprised when they learn that making a gift in their will to a charity is an option.”
Iain was involved in the 2015 Remember A Charity in your will week campaign. How did that come about? “I asked someone at Remember A Charity if I could use some of their stats, such as the percentages of people who support charities as opposed to those who benefit charities in their wills. They were happy to share these with me and then asked if I was interested in being filmed jumping out of an aeroplane! It was part of the campaign to show the extremes people go to for the causes that matter the most to them. The message was that you don’t have to go to extremes for the causes you love, you can simply put a gift in your will to a charity that matters to you. The day was great fun - I even had a stunt double in the initial promotional video!”
Iain Wanstall TEP (Trust and Estates Practitioners)
Labrums Solicitors LLP