Austin Lafferty discusses Scottish wills on The Martin Lewis Money Show
Following his debut on ITV’s The Martin Lewis Money Show earlier this year, our founder Austin Lafferty, was again invited to appear on last night’s show (21 November 2023).
The show focussed on the ‘three Ds’ (death, divorce and dementia), which Martin himself commented could be a rather unpleasant but very necessary watch. The show covered how to protect yourself, your loved ones, and your assets, if you were to lose your faculties or when you die. Wills, inheritance, and power of attorney (PoA) were the main talking points of the programme.
As you’re likely aware, Scottish law is completely separate from that of England and Wales on matters of wills and inheritance, so Austin was invited to the studio to specifically answer questions about Scots law. He was joined by fellow guest Melinda Giles, a partner at Giles Wilson, who covered the same issues from an England and Wales perspective.
The first issue Austin dealt with was from Linda who had contacted the programme to say that when she lost her brother six years ago, he had no will in place and it cost over £35,000 in lawyer fees to get his estate sorted out.
Whilst not knowing the individual circumstances of the situation, Austin commented that this was a gigantic amount and that he suspected that there may have been problems in the brother’s living estate that were not sorted out before his death. This may have included problems with title deeds or investment structures and because no one looked at the issues while he was still alive, it became a more complicated problem after he passed away.
Had the brother had a will in place, it would have been a lot cheaper to deal with his estate after he died.
Power of Attorney
Next up was Bill, who is also based in Scotland.
He is PoA for a parent with dementia. He is hoping to arrange Christmas presents for children and grandchildren but is terrified of getting into trouble by spending his parent’s money. He asked what would be deemed acceptable.
Austin said any spending needs to be reasonable and in line with what the adult would have spent if they were still compos mentis. As long as the gifts are what would be considered ‘normal’ and not given to avoid tax, or to try to cover up care costs or assessments etc. then it would be absolutely okay to purchase these gifts.
For others in this situation, Austin suggested taking advice from other family members, letting others know what you are planning, and keeping a record of everything you spend, is the best way forward.
The Scottish government has produced a code of conduct for those with continuing PoA and it is available via the Office of Public Guardian.
Elizabeth then asked, ‘What if you’re single, childless with no family? Who gets your house in Scotland?’
Austin said parents and siblings would normally be in line to inherit assets in this situation and if there is no such immediate family, then the assets would go to cousins, nephews, nieces etc. - perhaps a branch of the family with whom the deceased has not been in contact with for many years!
After that, if no relatives can be tracked down at all, the estate would go to the government. Cue - a large intake of breath from the studio audience.
Organising your assets with a will is the only way to prevent this from occurring. Martin suggested that if you really don’t wish to leave your assets to friends and family, then leaving it to a charity would be a sensible option.
If you would like to watch Austin’s appearance for yourself, you can find the episode on ITVX: The Martin Lewis Money Show Live, Series 13 Episode 4.
If the programme has raised any questions about your own will, inheritance or power of attorney, contact us today to speak to an expert solicitor.