Want some peace of mind? – make or review your Will

This article featured in our February 2020 newsletter.

January’s the month of resolutions – and most of the resolutions we’ve made have been left well behind as we move into February with the rest of the year stretching out in front of us. Isn’t it amazing how resolutions are usually very personal? I’m going to lose 2 stones in weight. I am going to go to the gym at least 3 times a week. I’m going to stop eating sweets. I’m giving up drinking alcohol in January. Whatever the resolution, they’re designed to make you feel better in the long run. The only problem is, you need to keep focusing on them over and over again until they become habits – and that’s more difficult than most people realise!

So, how about a resolution that’ll give you some piece of mind? Something you can do once and then relax for a few years. Then, if circumstances change, do it again and then relax once more knowing everything’s in place.

We’re talking here about making or reviewing your Will. It’s something we encourage all our clients to do, no matter their age. It’s the only way you can make sure those you love inherit your estate.

There’s no mystery about making your Will. You tell us what you want done with your estate and we express those wishes in your Will.

First of all, decide who you want to deal with the administration of your estate. It might be your spouse, partner, child, friend or a professional. That person is called your executor.

If you have any specific items or sums of money you’d like to leave to individuals, charities or other organisations, we list them separately for you.

You can decide what to do about your house and other important assets you own.

We will discuss your wishes for your children should you pass away before they reach the age of majority.

We’ll also discuss how you wish your remains to be disposed of and any other special wishes you may have.

We take care of all the technicalities to make sure your Will is completely valid.  Once you’re happy with its terms, you can then sign it and it becomes effective from that date.

If there’s one resolution you can easily keep in 2020 it’s to make or review your Will and give yourself peace of mind. Contact us now and make an appointment and we’ll take it from there.

A Power of Attorney – isn’t that just for old people?

this article featured in our February 2020 newsletter

Frank was only 35 when he made a Power of Attorney. He only did it because his wife, Janette had nagged him for months about it. She’s read somewhere that if you couldn’t look after your own affairs, if you had granted a Power of Attorney, someone you trusted would be able to look after your affairs for you.

Deep down, Frank thought is was a lot of nonsense and that a Power of Attorney was only for an old person who were on the edge of dementia. However, he gave in to Janette’s nagging and went ahead and had one prepared anyway. Of course, Janette had one prepared too!

The Powers of Attorney were combined welfare and financial Powers of Attorney.  They were registered with the Office of the Public Guardian in Scotland. Their lawyer gave Frank and Janette copies to keep for reference.

Frank was a successful self-employed builder. He had ten full-time employees and his business was growing year on year.

On the night of his fortieth birthday, Frank and Janette were out celebrating with some friends. They left the restaurant close to midnight when their taxi arrived to take them home. It was a cold night and it was getting a little bit icy. About a mile from home, the taxi driver slowed down to take a right turn when a car shot out from the road they were turning into and smashed into the back of the taxi just at the rear passenger door where Frank was sitting. Even though he was wearing his seat belt, Frank was thrown backwards and his head smashed against the side of the taxi. He didn’t remember anything else for quite some time.

Janette escaped relatively unscathed from the collision and whilst being very angry with the other driver realised very quickly that Frank had sustained a very serious head injury. He was unresponsive and there was blood coming from his ears and nose. Someone had clearly called 999 and the emergency services were on the scene very quickly. Frank was rushed to hospital and went straight into theatre. The surgeons repaired the damage Frank had sustained as best they could and put him into an induced coma to keep him stable. He was in the coma for six weeks. Whilst he was in a very bad way, the doctors were confident that he would recover, but to what extent was still unknown.

Whilst Frank was in hospital, life went on with Janette. She very quickly realised just how much Frank had to do every day to run his business – taking calls from and meeting with customers, arranging the workload, dealing with the accounts and financial side of the business. Janette discussed the position with the employees, most of whom had been with Frank for quite some time and decided she would run the business during Frank’s recovery. She arranged a meeting with the bank to discuss the position. They explained to her that as Frank was a sole trader and whilst they sympathised with her, they couldn’t actually discuss anything with her because they didn’t have any authority to do so. Janette then explained that Frank had granted a Power of Attorney in her favour a number of years previously and she’d asked her lawyer to send it on to the bank. She then arranged another meeting for the following week.

When she met with the bank the next week, they couldn’t have been more helpful. Whilst they’d been sympathetic at the previous meeting, they couldn’t discuss any of Frank’s accounts. On this visit it was very different – it was as if they were discussing the accounts and financial affairs with Frank himself – you see, a Power of Attorney gives your attorney the power to step into your shoes and act just as you would act.

Janette had to deal with a number of financial, employment and other business issues whilst Frank was in hospital and because Frank had granted a Power of Attorney in her favour, she could do so with ease.

Many months later, Frank made a full recovery and resumed the running of the business from Janette.

Frank said “I always thought the Power of Attorney was a complete waste of time and only something that old people would think about. Thank goodness Janette harped on and on about it. I shudder to think what kind of mess we’d have been in if Janette hadn’t persuaded me to grant that Power of Attorney. If you ask me now what I think about it, I’d encourage everyone to have one – irrespective of age”

Jeanette was understandably relieved that Frank had made a full recovery. When asked what made her go on and one about Frank granting a Power of Attorney, she said “I’d read somewhere that you can grant a Power of Attorney and still go on making your own decisions and get on with your life without it interfering with anything you wanted to do – but that if something happened, if you had one, someone you trusted could look after everything for you. It was kind of like an insurance policy. Thank goodness Frank listened to me – for once”!

As you can see from this story, a Power of Attorney isn’t just for older people. You can grant one and it only comes into play if you can no longer look after your own affairs and should that happen, you’ll thank your lucky stars you made one!

If you would like to discuss a Power of Attorney, please get in touch.

Two new Directors for Wallace Quinn

Margaret McMillan

Wallace Quinn are delighted to announce the promotion of two key members of staff.

Margaret McMillan has been promoted to ‘Director of Business Development and Marketing’ and Associate Solicitor Amy Ieropolous also becomes a Director.

Margaret has been with Wallace Quinn for nearly twenty-five years, starting off as our in-house Estate Agency Manager before moving to business development five years ago.  Amy joined Wallace Quinn two years ago from her own practice to help open our Livingston office and develop our new-build conveyancing department.

Wallace Quinn Managing Director John Quinn says,

‘I’m delighted to announce these two key promotions within our firm.  Amy joined Wallace Quinn two years ago to head up our new Livingston office and has quickly developed the relationships and partnerships needed to ensure Wallace Quinn continues to build a strong presence in the East of Scotland. Margaret has been a vital part of our business for over twenty years and her relationships with Scotland’s key building firms have been a huge part in our recent growth.  Amy and Margaret’s promotions are both a recognition of what they have achieved so far and a huge boost to our prospects for the future.  My congratulations to them both’. 

 

Amy Ieropoulos

Amy Ieropoulos

New Year, New House – tips for getting your property ready for selling

For eighteen months now, Wallace Quinn and Keys Estate Agents have teamed up to offer an enhanced Estate Agency and Conveyancing service.  Keys extensive knowledge of the Glasgow property market and their great team of Estate Agents, together with Wallace Quinn’s knowledgeable conveyancing solicitors mean our clients a level of service and efficiency that our competitors struggle to match.  We’re currently running a promotion where there are no up-front costs to bring your property to market.  We caught up with Keys’ Pam McLeman to ask for her top tips on getting your property ready to take to market

Decorate in neutral colours

A fresh coat of paint can make a big difference but try to keep things light and neutral.  One of the things most of us like to do when we move into a new home is decorate to our tastes and it is easiest to change from light, neutral colours.  However – really question whether you need to redecorate.

If you are thinking of selling, get in touch with us and we’ll arrange an Estate Agent to come and value your home and give our thoughts on what is needed and what isn’t.

Tend to the front garden

If you’ve got one, the front garden is the first thing people see as they approach your property.  Cut the grass and do a bit of weeding.  If you’re throwing things out ahead of a move, cover any rubbish with a tarpaulin.

front doorDeal with your front door

If you’ve got a PVC door, scrub it clean.  If you’ve got a wooden door, paint it.  If your front door doesn’t look well maintained, then you’ll have potential buyers wondering what else might not have been maintained and they’ll look around with the wrong mindset.

Great Lighting 

Good lighting can make small spaces look bigger, particularly hallways.  Think about where lights are positioned, make sure all the bulbs are working and ensure the lights are turned on before you let people through the door.

Check your windows

Unless you’ve got an amazing view, after a while we stop looking out of windows and just appreciate the light that comes into the house. That can mean you don’t notice when the windows need a clean as much as your visitors do.

fridge magnetsDeclutter

The more potential buyers spend looking at your things, the less time they imagine what they could do with the space.  Make it as easy as possible for people to think creatively.

Tidy

Tidy and clean every room as if you are getting ready for a visit from the Queen!

Hide unusual items that will compete for attention

If you’ve got a Rembrandt on the wall or a Ferrari in the driveway, people will want to ask you questions about them and you’ll want to answer them.  When potential buyers are talking about their options after seeing lots of properties, make sure yours is remembered as ‘the one with the amazing ceilings’ rather than the ‘one with the really cool classic car but I can’t recall how many bedrooms it had’.

DogTake the Dog for a walk

No matter how much YOU know your Schnauzer is a big softy that only wants a cuddle, people who have never been to your house don’t! If possible, arrange for somebody to take the dog for a walk during a property showing.  If not, keep the dog in a different room until you’ve asked potential guests if they are comfortable for Yoda to come out and say hello.

Put expensive and sentimental items out of harm’s way

Visitors don’t know the layout of your house as well as you do, and if they accidently knock over your favourite vase you’ll feel bad and so will they.

No Up Front Costs

If you instruct us to sell your home in February, there are no up-front costs – which means you don’t pay anything until your property sells. That’s less risk for you, so get in touch and get your property on the market and you onto the next chapter in your life or your buy to let business.

Meet the Team – Margaret McMillan

In this month’s ‘meet the staff’ profile, we catch up with our Business Development and Marketing Director Margaret McMillan.  Margaret has been with Wallace Quinn for almost twenty five years; before her current role, Margaret headed up our in-house Estate Agency.

How did you get into Estate Agency?

I had a good relationship with the solicitor I used in my personal life and even convinced him to give my sister a job.  I was convinced I wanted to go into social work and so took a short-term job with the firm until I found out more.  when I was ready to apply for jobs, I went to my solicitor/boss for a reference he suggested I stay and develop their Estate Agency.  I did that, but I also developed my skills and I think I was the first person in Scotland to get an SVQ in Estate Agency.  I did that for five years and then the job came up at Wallace Quinn just at the point where I was looking for a new challenge.  I came in for an interview and really liked the atmosphere and the culture of what was then a much younger firm!  I came in to grow the Estate Agency at Wallace Quinn and here I am nearly twenty-five years later.

You’re moved from Estate Agency to Business Development – why?

The Estate Agency business model has changed a lot in the last twenty-five years, particularly with people now doing much of their house hunting digitally.  The digital world means there are more online estate agents looking for business and that all means that while it appears easier and more accessible to anybody looking to sell their house, the process of matching buyers and sellers has become more complicated.  At Wallace Quinn we’ve always delivered a high standard of customer service and to ensure we continue to do that, last year we teamed up with Glasgow based Keys Estate Agency to offer an enhanced service to both our clients. Now Pam and her amazing team at Keys handle the Estate Agency marketing for both firms while Wallace Quinn handle all of the conveyancing.  That has given me more time to concentrate on business development.

What does the ‘business development’ part of your job involve?

I develop business!  A big area of growth for Wallace Quinn in recent years has been in new-build conveyancing.  If you buy a house in a new estate, you need to appoint a solicitor to deal with the builder’s solicitor to complete the purchase, which is the process known as conveyancing.   We find that if we take the time to understand how builders work and the culture that underpins their company, we can offer our clients a faster, better service, which means the conveyancing process completes quickly and efficiently.  Keeping any relationship working well takes time and effort and a big part of my job is ensuring we do that with the many leading Scottish builders we work with.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I love the variety in my day, where any two days are rarely the same.

What’s the most unusual thing that’s happened to you in your job?

In one of my first jobs as an Estate Agent, before I started at Wallace Quinn, somebody had moved out of a house and I had to secure it, so went there with a couple of maintenance men. We checked everything and just before we left, I pulled a door shut hard and a spider dropped from above and landed on me.  Not an everyday spider, but something I assume had escaped from a tank. The maintenance men screamed and jumped back, which I think scared the spider and it bit me.  I brushed it off my clothes but it was like that scene from ‘Home Alone’ as one of the guys continued to scream and jumped on it with his big boots while the other hit it with a copy of the Yellow Pages.  Sadly, the spider died.  My adrenaline was rushing and my heart was racing which I thought was normal after being bitten by a big spider, but by the time I got back to the office my leg was hurting and nobody believed me when I said what had happened. Well, until the maintenance guys pulled the dead spider from a bag.  Then everybody started screaming and I had to go to the doctors where they gave me an injection of something and I started to feel better.

Hang on, what?  Are you pulling my leg?

I would never do that.

Hmmm.  What do you do to relax?

I find doing nothing quite stressful, so I’m always on the go doing something.  I’ve got a professional sewing machine at home and I’m always making cushions, or curtains, or pelmets for curtains, or something.  I like wallpapering.  Basically, I like most aspects of interior design.  If I’m not helping to sell properties, I’m usually dreaming up ways to improve the look of them!

What’s your secret to success?

Always listen to the other person and always aspire to be cheerful at work.  That isn’t always easy, but if you can do it, it makes the day more enjoyable and easier.  Try to be optimistic and resist the urge to be pessimistic!  See challenges not problems, never give up and keep going for as long as possible.

Scottish Government announce new “First Home Fund” to help first-time buyers

The Scottish Government has announced a new scheme to help first-time buyers with a deposit for a new home.  The “First Home Fund” will contribute up to £25,000 towards the cost of buying a property through a ‘shared equity scheme’.

Applications are being accepted now, with a total of £150 million expected to help around 6000 people until around March 2021.

The key elements of this new scheme are:

  • The scheme will be open to all first-time buyers in Scotland.  A first-time buyer is anyone who does not own, or has previously owned, a property in Scotland or anywhere else in the world
  • Unlike the ‘Help to Buy Scheme’ the First Home Fund can be used to by either new-build or second hand properties
  • Buyers will still need to have a deposit of around 5% of the purchase price
  • There is no price cap on the property to be purchased
  • Buyers will need to take out a mortgage for a minimum of 25% of the purchase price.  The mortgage must be a capital and interest repayment mortgage
  • This is a ‘shared equity scheme’.  It means you split the cost of purchasing the property with the Scottish Government. You will fund your share through a deposit and a mortgage, with the remaining share being provided by the Scottish Government.
  • In a shared equity scheme, you will own the property and only have to pay the government’s investment back when you sell the property.  There are no monthly payments and no interest charged on the government’s investment.
  • You can choose to pay off the government’s equity share before the property is sold.

As an example, if your deposit and mortgage pays for 85% of your home’s value when you buy, the Scottish Government will hold a 15% share.  This means that when you sell, you will recive 85% of the final sale price and the Scottish Government will receive 15%.

If you would like further information on the ‘First Home Fund’, or any of the other shared equity schemes on offer, please click on the links in the article or use the ‘contact us’ section of our website if you would like to speak to a Wallace Quinn advisor if you are about to buy a property and looking to instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf.

As of December 2019, there are three other shared equity schemes being run by the Scottish Government which are not affected by the ‘First Home Fund’.

The First Home Fund cannot be used in conjunction with any of these schemes, however Help to Buy ISA or LISA funds can be used towards the deposit.

Both OMSE and NSSE are available through the Low Cost Initiative for First Time Buyers (Lift).

Note:  Whilst we are always confident in the information contained in our web content, this is a developing story on a new government scheme, so you should not take any action or decisions based on this article without first speaking with one of our solicitors!