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My Health Scare - and why I'm so glad I made an Estate Plan

My family and clients are safe come what may

My Health Scare - and why I’m so glad I made an Estate Plan

My New Year was overshadowed by a major health scare – but my estate plan assured me that, whatever might happen, my clients and loved ones are protected

Whenever I begin working with a new client, I sit down with them for an in-depth consultation, where I find out as much as possible about them, share some initial recommendations with them, and answer all their questions in full. Because my service usually involves taking care of my clients’ important documents over the course of many years, I’m often asked a very important question:

“What happens to my estate plan if something happens to you?”

I’ve taken sensible steps in my own estate plan to safeguard the interests of my clients if something were to happen to me.

In my Will, I have appointed three executors with legal skills, who have the knowledge to take over the care of my clients if I were to lose my life. They are two good friends of mine who are fellow solicitors, along with my middle son, who has followed me into the legal profession.

I have also made a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs, appointing the same people to the role of Business Attorney, so that they would have the authority to use their legal skills to look after my clients if I were to become seriously ill and lose the ability to perform my professional duties.

And, given the scary experience I had this New Year, I’m so very glad I took those steps.

This is what happened to me.

On 29th December, I opened a letter that made my heart plummet to my feet. Having recently turned 50, I had been invited several weeks previously to undergo my first mammogram, something our NHS provides every three years to women of my age group. I’d undergone the screening and thought nothing of it, but this letter stopped me in my tracks.

They’d found something that required further investigation, and within a few short days I was to undergo a series of further tests.

And so it was that, first thing on 3rd January, instead of sitting at my desk for the first working day of 2017, I found myself dazed and afraid in a waiting room at the Clatterbridge Centre for Oncology, along with my equally worried husband and a roomful of other women and their spouses who’d had similar news.

A kind and efficient nurse performed a second mammogram, having told me that the area of concern was located on my right. I caught a glimpse of the mammography image, and was alarmed to see a clearly defined pebble-like blot on the screen.

A doctor then briskly performed an ultrasound scan and immediately told me that, although it looked innocent to her, a biopsy was going to be needed. I initially assumed a biopsy would involve coming back on another day for some sort of operation, but was quickly put right. A swift procedure there and then under local anaesthetic harvested the necessary cells, and before I knew it I was back in the car on my way home, head spinning, having been told to expect the results in ten days.

And what an emotional ten days that was, not just for me but for those close to me.

The odd thing about being in that position is that your rational mind and your emotions tell you two different things. My head was telling me that it was probably benign, and even if it wasn’t, they’d caught it early. So, the rational part of me knew I was unlikely to be in real danger. And yet I was often ambushed by my emotions and preoccupied with what-ifs.

Four days after the visit to Clatterbridge, I flew out on a long-planned skiing holiday. It’s amazing how strapping a pair of planks to your feet and getting yourself down a steep hill in one piece takes your mind off things! But I knew the results would be waiting for me on my return, so of course the journey home the following weekend was a nervous one.

As soon as I got through the front door, I scooped up the waiting NHS envelope off the mat and tore it open with shaking hands. And there I found the words I'd been hoping for: “no evidence of breast cancer”! The relief, gratitude and simple joy of being alive were overwhelming.

What I’m grateful for.

A couple of days have passed and I've had a chance to look back and reflect, and of course I’m immensely grateful to have received the all-clear .

In a way, I’m grateful for this scary experience, because it’s reminded me how precious my life is, as are the people in it, my friends and family and the clients I look after.

I’m so glad that mammography is provided as a matter of routine.  I hadn't the slightest inkling that the abnormality was present until it was revealed by the screening. What if it hadn’t been benign? What if I hadn’t had screening? I shudder at the thought. We are so lucky to have our NHS.

And of course I’m glad that, even though I’m nowhere near “old”, I've made my estate plan, and it protects my clients and my family, because these are the people I care about and am responsible for.

How my family and I are protected.

As well as the measures I have taken to protect my clients’ interests, I have taken steps to protect myself and my family.

My Will is a Family Trust Will, mainly because we are a stepfamily. I have three grown-up sons, the two youngest I made myself, and the eldest a bonus I was blessed with when I married his Dad. My Family Trust Will gives my husband security for the rest of his life if I go first, whilst guaranteeing my three boys’ inheritance for when we’ve both gone.

I have made a Living Will because I have strong views about what end-of-life care I would and wouldn’t want if I were too sick to speak up for myself.

And I have made a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare, appointing my husband and sons to make important personal decisions on my behalf if sickness takes away my ability to decide for myself.

Those safeguards were a source of reassurance during my scary couple of weeks, and they give me confidence that my family and clients will be safe if ever something like this were to happen again.

For more help and advice about protecting yourself, your family, and even your clients and business, just give me a call on 0151 601 5399 or fill in the contact form below.

"We decided to seek advice about estate planning because we wanted to understand how to efficiently protect our assets and pass them safely to our children and grandchildren. We also wanted to put as much help in place for our family as possible, so as to make things as easy as possible for them when the time comes. We liked Gina’s patient and diligent manner in answering our questions and guiding us to the right solutions. Gina explained everything to us with great clarity, making concepts we were unfamiliar with accessible and clear. We particularly liked the fact that Gina came to see us in our own home without our having to make a special request; this is just the way she works. It was so much easier for us to relax and talk freely in the comfort and privacy of our home. Having put the right estate plan in place we feel that we have ticked a big box. This was something we knew we had to get round to. Now it is done and sorted and we don't have to worry about it anymore. We have also gained a clear understanding of the measures that have been put in place and why they are important. "

Matt & Betty R

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