For many people, planning for later life is a difficult task that is often avoided, but when it comes to ensuring a trouble-free future both for you and your loved ones, it’s best to take the right advice as soon as possible. The Times caught up with Peter Barrett of Wills & Lewis to talk about what you may need to consider

 

Please tell us a little about your background and your role within Wills & Lewis

I started in investment banking and money broking. The work took me all over the world
and I travelled to many cities, including Singapore and Hong Kong. Afterwards, I made a
move into the recruitment industry in London before retiring in Spain for two years. But retirement didn’t suit me. I was drawn back to London, and it was then that I became  involved in estate planning. It was when I was meeting with an estate planner to manage my own affairs that I became interested in the industry. Now, I am the director of Wills & Lewis.

What does estate planning involve?

Later-life planning includes anything from wills through to lasting Power of Attorney and Trust funds. When these worries start to settle in, it can be the source of immense stress.
Sitting down and having a chat with someone about such plans is the first step to putting their mind at ease. It is so important to organise your affairs, and yet the common statistic regarding wills is that only 30 per cent of people actually have them, and I can bet only half of those actually know where they’ve put them. It’s free to come and have a chat with us.

Aside from wills, what are some of the other main services you offer?

Anyone over 50 is recommended to organise their Lasting Powers of Attorney. These LPAs cover health and welfare and financial matters. Also, anybody running a small business should organise a Business LPA to ensure the smooth running of their company should they suffer an accident. Staff and suppliers still need paying. Using simple Trusts, we can also ensure that people don’t lose their homes to care home costs in later life. Also, we can protect their children’s inheritance from future threats such as divorce
and bankruptcy/creditors claims should a business deal go sour. In addition, we work with one of the country’s leading Pre-Paid Funeral Plan Providers. It makes a great deal of sense to leave your affairs in order and to minimise the amount of stress caused to your loved ones at one of the most difficult times of their lives.

How does an LPA work?

This is a very important legal set of documents. Basically, you appoint someone you trust  to take control of your affairs should you lose the capacity to do so. There are many built-in safeguards, and the LPAs are registered with The Office of The Public Guardian to afford protection against abuse. We like to sit down with as many members of the family as possible when preparing an LPA to avoid any misunderstandings that could arise
in the future.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions people have about estate planning?

I think the main issue is that people bury their heads in the sand about it and avoid it all,
hoping it will sort itself out. People also don’t realise that you need to change your Will when things in your life change – if you remarry, have children, or even if you have a big dispute with a family member. Also, if you get married, your current Will is instantly void, but if you divorce, your Will won’t change until you change it.

How do you keep abreast of any changes in the law affecting Estate Planning?
We work very closely with the UK’s leading Tax and Trust Corporations and undergo constant training. All of our Trust proposals are signed off by the lawyers, thus ensuring accuracy and efficiency. Our wills are prepared subject to the strict STEP code of conduct.

Do you offer set packages, or do things vary from client to client?
It’s all based around each individual client and we never push a sale. I’m happy to visit people in their homes to just have an initial chat with anyone who needs our guidance. We also always give cooling-off periods to ensure people don’t feel pressured into hasty decisions. You can’t do pressure selling in this industry, and some of the companies that advertise quick, cheap services often have an abundance of add-ons hidden in their small print.

For further information, please contact Peter Barrett Wills & Lewis Tel: 020 3865 7168
Mobile: 07504 902501 Email: info@willsandlewis.com www.willsandlewis.com