Welcome to our latest departmental newsletter. The focus this time is on our Wills, Trists and Probate team.
DeBrieF TEAM SPOTLIGHT: Karen Witter, Partner…
What does your role at Davis Blank Furniss involve?
I am a partner and the head of the Private Client department. I specialise in dealing with high value and complex probates, complex wills including inheritance tax planning, the preparation of Lasting Powers of Attorney and trust drafting and administration.
What is the best thing about your job?
I particularly enjoy anything to do with inheritance tax and I always like the challenge of dealing with matters with a complex or unusual aspect. I am a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practioners. Having completed several years of additional learning and exams has taught me that you never stop learning!
What is the best case you have been involved in?
I very often deal with clients at really difficult times in their lives whether because they have suffered a bereavement or because someone close to them is ill. The best outcome for me is where the family I am dealing with has one less thing to worry about.
Name the person who has been the biggest influence on your career.
My mum and dad have been a huge support. I’ve worked for Davis Blank Furniss throughout my whole career so I’d have to say my colleagues – both past and present – have really shaped my attitude to work and how I operate as a lawyer.
If you were not a lawyer, what would you be doing?
I’d probably be an accountant!
Karen Witter on why it’s important to now consider your digital assets in your Will…
As private client solicitors, we are always telling our clients just how important it is to plan ahead and put your affairs in order.
Usually, this means making a list of your assets, thinking about who you want to leave your house and car, your cash and shares to and then writing a will to make sure that it all happens as you want. But have you thought about your other assets and belongings? What about your online photos, your Facebook profile, your blogs and e-books, your emails and tweets? If not, then perhaps you should.
Facebook has just set up a “legacy contact” for US users to nominate one person who can take control of their profile after their death. It hasn’t been rolled out in the UK yet, but no doubt we won’t be far behind.
Although it’s still a fairly new area for will drafting – and there isn’t much in the way of tried and tested case law – it is something that you can now consider when you are having a new will prepared.
So, if you’re a social media user – or you store your stuff online – think about who you would want to be in charge of it if you die. We can draft a new will for you, or update an old one, incorporating clauses which decide who’s in charge of your digital assets, and who you leave them to.
To learn more about Wills, please visit our dedicated page on the Davis Blank Furniss website:
Laura Johnson – private client solicitor – on the significance of an LPA…
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, more than one million people in the UK will suffer from dementia by 2025. This is a staggering figure, but it is not surprising given that we are living much longer lives. It is not just illnesses like dementia that can leave you unable to make or communicate decisions. You may become incapacitated, either temporarily or permanently, through an accident or illness. If you do not have an LPA in place and become mentally incapacitated, handling your financial affairs becomes virtually impossible and places additional burdens on your loved ones at an already difficult time.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) enables you to appoint a trusted friend, relative or professional to make decisions about your finances, property and personal welfare in the event that you are in an accident or you develop an illness that leaves you unable to make such decisions. The person you choose is referred to as an “attorney”. You, as the creator of the LPA, are referred to as the “donor”.
LPAs are recognised by banks, financial institutions, tax authorities, care homes and local authorities. Banks and financial institutions will almost certainly only deal with a person on someone else’s behalf if they have been appointed as an attorney. If an LPA has not been created and you lose their mental capacity then your family would have to apply to the Court of Protection for an Order appointing a suitable relative or friend to act as your “deputy”. This is a more onerous process; it will take at least six months and be much more expensive than it would have been to create LPAs. Whilst the family is waiting for the Court of the Protection to deal with this, there could be mounting care home fees, unpaid bills or other financial issues that need to be resolved. This will add extra stress and unnecessary pressure.
Doctors, carers and nurses are becoming increasingly reliant on the Health and Welfare LPA. If there isn’t one in place then they will obviously consult with the next of kin, but if decisions have to be made quickly – or if the family members cannot agree about the best course of action – then the doctors may proceed without consulting with the family. Having an LPA for health and welfare gives the attorney absolute certainty and authority to deal with the doctors, carers or nurses to ensure that you receive the care/treatment that you would choose. You can also include specific guidance or restrictions if there is specific care, treatment or medication that you would or would not want.
If you do not have an LPA in place and you develop an illness or have an accident that leaves you mentally incapacitated then it will be extremely challenging and frustrating for your family and friends to ensure that your needs are met and to ensure your financial affairs are kept in order.
The Glossop office of Davis Blank Furniss is staging its LPA Week from Monday 23rd to Friday 27th March. Various promotions will be on offer.
For more information, please email: email@example.com
If you have any queries or require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact our team of specialist solicitors on 0161 832 3304.