What Happens If My Attorney Dies?
Real-Life Case Study:
As told by Linda Cummins, Head of Wills & Probate at GWlegal
A couple in their 60s came to see me a few years ago. Mr and Mrs Smith* appointed our firm as their solicitors to make their Wills and set up LPAs (Lasting Power of Attorneys), as part of basic estate planning that everybody should do. The Smiths had no children and had taken out an equity release mortgage to help fund their retirement and all the plans they had made for their future together.
Typically, the pair appointed each other as attorney and their solicitor, in this instance - me, as their replacement attorney, if either one passed away or was unable to act because, for instance, they had lost mental capacity.
Very sadly, Mr Smith passed away after a short and unexpected illness. Mrs Smith had also lost her remaining close family members in recent months and, of course, was devastated. She spent many sleepless nights worrying about the ‘what ifs’ and ‘hows’, if she lost her own capacity. Mrs Smith also worried about the finer details of what would happen when she passed away.
What Was My Advice?
I invited her to come in and talk through her concerns. Mrs Smith said she felt silly because, with no family left, she felt her concerns were really only of importance to her.
However, having discussed the practicalities in detail with us, Mrs Smith said she felt so much better (and could finally sleep again at night!). She left the meeting in a much more positive state of mind, with an immediate contact plan in the case of emergency and told us practical information such as where her important documents, keys and key codes and her personal and private items etc. were kept at home. She had passed on my and the firms contact details to her close friend and GP.
As a wills, probate and estate planning solicitor, this is a very heart-warming example of how I am able to help clients feel reassured that their affairs are in order and that their personal matters and what is important them, will be dealt with professionally and sensitively.
No wish is ever ‘silly’
As a professional attorney, it is important to keep in regular contact with the donor. Here ,Mrs Smith knows that she can get in touch with me with concerns or queries she has regarding these matters. I am a person Mrs Smith can trust and confide in.
Mr and Mrs Smith’s case goes to show just how important it is to have your affairs in order, especially with regards to a LPA. Without any family, Mrs Smith’s wishes would probably not have been known let alone upheld, should she lose capacity to make decisions for herself.
You can read our article on the importance of instructing a Lasting Power of Attorney here
I would urge anyone over the age of 18 to get in touch with a Wills & Probate professional. Your future and ultimately that of your eventual beneficiaries depends on it.
*Names changed to protect privacy
Linda is an expert in all things wills, probate, estate planning, lasting power of attorney and court of protection. She has more than 25 years’ overall legal experience, is a qualified Solicitor of 17 years and a qualified Trust and Estate Practitioner of 15 years. She is also a member of STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) and is qualified to teach adult learners under the City & Guilds 7307 Certificate. She has been with GW, in total, for over 15 years.
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Content correct at time of publication.