Legally Speaking - Part 7
Posted on 15 December 2017
One of the pleasures of progressing in my career has been to teach others and encourage the younger generation. It is a double-edged sword as these days it makes me realise how fast time is passing. I have a lovely apprentice at the moment but she is young enough to ask who Buddy Holly is and she can’t recall a time when there were no mobile phones. She looked mystified when I said that I used to have to tuck away ten pence when I went out in case I needed to call home. There is such pleasure in seeing her enthusiasm to learn and to have the opportunity of learning myself about a whole range of topics. I even have a vague understanding of the word hashtag!
The best part of having someone new to it all is the questions that they ask (and I don’t mean the ‘”who is Buddy Holly?” question). Charlie, our apprentice, has decided that she would like to stay with us in the Private Client team when her apprenticeship comes to an end. After a year of all round training in the practice, she is now concentrating specifically on our work and has given me a new perspective on some of the considerations of the technological world we live in.
She asked me recently “how do we know about money in online accounts when someone dies?” It is incredibly difficult for us and these accounts are very easy to miss when administering the deceased’s estate. Most financial institutions now encourage paperless statements and many people password protect their computers, tablets and telephones. We are often reliant on the knowledge of surviving relatives or, in some instances, we have to write to all financial institutions to make enquiries. This can increase the cost of administration and extend the time taken to fully conclude the estate.
There is a simple and practical solution to this problem; make a list of all accounts, assets and passwords and store this list safely with your will. It is also sensible to let your executors (the people that you have appointed in your will to deal with your estate) know where your will is stored and that you have also made a list of assets to help them.
Sometimes clients also provide a letter detailing funeral arrangements and this can be very helpful to your family. It also makes sure that you get the flowers and music that you want and saves arguments between the children who will all be certain that only they know your favourite song or that you always hated yellow chrysanthemums! Although we all hope to live forever (ideally as fit as we were when we were twenty with the wisdom gained over a lifetime) it is sensible to plan for the inevitable and any help you can give your loved ones will be very much appreciated in the fullness of time.
So it really only leaves me to say, following that cheery note, have a healthy, happy and fun Christmas. I have volunteered to be in the office between Christmas and New Year (probably with a plate of mince pies) so if there are any burning questions or issues that come to light over the turkey lunch then please give me a call. For those of you in the Martock area I will be at the legal clinic in The Parish Hall on 27th December, so please do pop in and say hello. I can be contacted on 01935 382689 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.