Where there's a Will... 

The issue of Will-Planning is one which seems to crop up repeatedly over the years, and is a continual source of angst and challenge for IFAs who have high standards for their clients.  It would be true to say that the ValidPath team have repeatedly returned to this subject, in search of the kind of solution which is (a) workable and (b) results in our clients having relevant, well-crafted Wills.

After all, the subject is one of those 'checklist items' in our modular FactFinds, and it certainly has a significant impact on delivering our clients' objectives, especially when there are estate-planning priorities.

However, what seems initially to be an entirely desirable aspect of the client's planning of his affairs, may well be undermined by a range of factors which we encounter in practice:
  • client inertia and the failure to plan (at the next annual review meeting, you ask "So, did you get your Will sorted out, in the end?" - and brace yourself for the almost inevitable response);
  • superstition ("If I have my Will drawn up, this means that I will instantaneously walk under a bus");
  • the Disinterested Solicitor - you seek to refer your clients to him, but he's pricey, he uses outdated legal documents and, frankly, he has bigger fish to fry.  In the end, you lose the will to live (pardon the pun);
  • limitations to your own expertise - as you have (probably) not trained as a Will-Planner;
  • limitations to your own admin systems - how often can you chase both client and solicitor in order to determine whether something - anything - is happening?  Few of us feel comfortable in the role of Professional Bully, although in my lifetime I've met one or two individuals who were gifted in that area.
In an ideal world, you'll find that energetic, proactive lawyer, who is as keen to accept introductions from you, as he is to send his clients to see you.  Now that's the holy grail - form a couple of relationships like that, and you're made for life.  We have Member Firms who have developed this model very successfully - as well as those who have simply had enough of beating their heads against unyielding walls.  Given the kinds of mental and practical obstacles associated with having the Will drawn up, surely there is a better way of doing the job?

Well, we're working on it.  Don't get me wrong:  I don't think that anything replaces that constructive, two-way professional relationship with an excellent local solicitor - but the mounting evidence is that this is the exception, not the norm.  At ValidPath, we're therefore looking carefully at a brand new online system, which uses only the latest, updated legal wordings, which allows your clients to spec up their own Wills via your website, and have them checked remotely by a legal team.  It's highly affordable, can be used to generate an additional revenue stream for IFAs - or you can discount the price for your clients so that you can offer the service as part of your package.  For those of us who don't have that magic local relationship, this really is an exciting alternative.  Even if you have already achieved nirvana, there is a pragmatic argument in favour of being able to offer a second-string solution for those clients who do everything online, and where the probability of them darkening the door of a solicitor is vanishingly small.

A badly crafted Will, or one which has not been updated, is the kind of thing which can undermine all the good work you are doing in other areas - so it does pay to give the matter some attention.  We think that this is an important point of focus.

If you'd like to find out more, please get in touch and when we have things finalised, we'll let you know.
Kevin Moss, 19/03/2014