I WAS back in my old primary school from 52 years ago chatting to the children. What a feeling.
There was a little girl aged around seven with her hand up. ‘How did you build such a big company?’ she asked with interest. I wondered how she knew it was a big company.
“It’s simple” I answered as I crouched down to be at eye level. “You want good customers and good staff. So, you decide your values and stick to them. Ours are fairness, kindness, and honesty. You attract staff and customers who match those.”
“Is that really how you built it?” she asked with a smile. ‘Yes’.
In turn, I explained that values are what you do when no-one is watching, which then brought me to the thought I always have when interviewing: If I wasn’t there (dead), but could see from above (he says with confidence) and this potential member of staff was advising my family and I could do nothing about it, how would I feel? It’s a great litmus test to decide who your lawyer, accountant and independent financial adviser should be.
With that in mind, I then thought about some of those later life plans that should be in place to protect just that.
Ensure you have a will in place. Don’t worry about over thinking it. Get something down on paper with your solicitor, because a will can be altered later (even after death if the beneficiaries agree).
Not having a will is just…. well…I can’t describe the pain. Just go for it. Not having a will at all is also very expensive, let alone an irreparable family break up.
Google the ‘laws of intestacy’ for motivation to make your will, but the key point is that someone else will decide where your hard-earned money goes, and the end point could automatically be the Crown.
For the record, I’m talking here to 70 per cent of the UK society who die intestate. Boy oh boy if you knew the expense and stress left behind, you would go for that as soon as is possible.
Set up a power of attorney, which will allow another person you trust to look after your financial affairs if something should happen to your health, and you were incapable of making your own decisions. You could do this whilst making or reviewing your will.
In the absence of which, when a person loses mental capacity, the court of protection can appoint a deputy to deal with your affairs. This can take some time, but also the deputy’s powers are more restricted than those of an attorney, let alone you would know the attorney, and not the court.
With a power of attorney, your attorney (someone you trust) can even make decisions around your property and financial affairs whilst you are still alive if you give them permission to.
If you are unable to make decisions for yourself, they can liaise with banks, collect benefits, sell property. They can also make decisions over your welfare, medical care and moving into residential care, so be sure to revisit this if you have fallen out with a partner!
Consider the issues without the power of attorney. Your relatives don’t know what your bank details are, they don’t know when, or where your bills are. They aren’t allowed to speak to your bank, nor can they pay the most obvious bills like heating. It’s hard enough talking to a bank when you are allowed to let alone when they don’t. Press 1 for a long queue, 2 to be sent to outer space or 3 to listen to the two options again.
It is also really worthwhile telling your family who your solicitor, accountant and Independent Financial Advisers are. This will save extraordinary amounts of time, money and stress and at a time when everyone is also emotional collapsed.
Clearing out houses, looking at old photos, picking out your loved one’s clothes are no party, and the strains of not understanding the finances are rock bottom. It is therefore also a good idea to share the name of your advisers with the other advisers so they can assist each other with the location of assets.
Oh. I forgot. Family arguments also make the above issues great fun too.
:: Peter McGahan is chief executive of independent financial adviser Worldwide Financial Planning, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. If you have a financial query, call Darren McKeever on 028 6863 2692 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.wwfp.net.