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I joined Irwin Mitchell in 1997 having earlier worked for HSBC Trust Company (UK) Limited. My areas of expertise cover Wills, probate, estates, tax planning and trust advice.
My primary role is client relationship management and business development for the Wills & Probate teams. This involves working closely with many large financial institutions to ensure that we are delivering a quality service for their customers and to ensure we grow business between us.
Gillian is "very experienced" - Legal 500 2016
“The Consultation seeks to bring wills into line with modern society asking questions about digital /electronic wills and taking into account the rise in dementia and issues about mental capacity. With modern families becoming more complicated over recent decades wills have become even more important and it’s vital that the rules are fair for everyone and protect vulnerable people from potential financial abuse.
“It asks 65 questions on detailed proposals for change, and those interested in the subject must respond by 10 November 2017, but detailed consideration of the report is needed to understand many of the questions. This includes the major issue of the capacity to make a will, which still refers back to a court case in 1869, almost 150 years ago, and does not take into account the major changes in the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
“It will be important to consider the detail of these proposals, and any legislation that is then proposed to introduce changes, as to how these plans might be introduced. Under the proposals, the courts may be given more freedom to make decisions on assets if the wishes of those making a will are clear – but setting these boundaries and definitions may involve a series of precedent setting cases over a few years before we get to a true understanding of how the laws will be applied.
“There are also some concerns with digital signatures and how safe they may be from cyber-crime and abuse within families. Any systems will need to be built with protecting vulnerable people in mind. Questions are also raised about “Digital Assets” and feedback welcomed on any issues in the extensive digital world. This area is moving so fast it is difficult for the law to keep up, but an attempt needs to be made.”
Sadly, the incidences of dementia are on the rise. We see first-hand what happens when people fail to prepare for the future by speaking to their loved ones and putting a solid plan in place. It is important not to leave it too late by updating your Will and making a Lasting Power of Attorney whilst you are able to do so.
If you lose capacity without a Power of Attorney in place, an application to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship order will be needed, which is much more costly and lengthy process. Also you cannot update or make a Will once you have lost capacity unless an application is made to the Court for there to be a Statutory Will made on your behalf. You do not have any say in what that Will contains and again can be a very costly and emotionally fraught process.
Planning now, with the support of your loved ones and sound legal advice, means that whatever happens in the future, you’ll be able to ensure your wishes for your finances, affairs and well-being will be met.
“Leeds Building Society is an excellent partner for us because we share the same values that focus on providing a high quality service for clients. This is also an important agreement for Irwin Mitchell because it demonstrates how the Society recognises the service that we can offer members and their families at a difficult time in their lives when many need support and expert guidance.
“Irwin Mitchell has a huge amount of experience in this area, especially with complicated cases, that few law firms can match. Sorting out the financial affairs of a loved when they have died can be a daunting prospect for people and dealing with an estate when acting as an executor or administrator can be complicated, time consuming and stressful. Disputes are possible, the tax paperwork can be complex and executors are often unaware of their responsibilities.
“Obtaining a Grant of Probate, or Confirmation in Scotland, is a legal requirement before a deceased person’s estate can be settled and divided among beneficiaries. Administering an estate can often take months – and sometimes years if the estate is complex. The work will be done during a period of emotional turmoil and executors can also be financially liable for any mistakes they make. Many people simply do not know what they have to do and that is why the services of experienced estates and probate solicitors can prove so valuable.”
“The proposed changes, whilst increasing the inheritance tax allowance for some, are complex. It is vital that people now regularly review the wills they have in place to ensure that their wishes will be met and that they benefit from this increase relief. It is particularly important to review Wills if those earlier Wills contain trusts.
“Keeping a will up-to-date is absolutely vital to ensure that it meets your needs and your hopes for your loved ones.
“We would urge anyone who is yet to consider the impact of these changes to speak to legal experts as soon as possible to ensure that their will is fit for purpose.”
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