SWW Conference 2018 A Success
The SWW conference wound up the final day following a vibrant and energetic two day event. The main foyer bustled with businesses, exhibitors and contributors in the early hours of Monday morning; highlighting the innovative developments that are taking place in the Wills and probate sector.
By the time Neil McGinity was ready to open the speaker contributions by explaining the work that Certainty have been doing and their extensive developments in the ten years they have been operating, the crowds were ready for a range of expert speakers.
The audiences were far from disappointed as they were treated in the content delivered over the course of the conference. From Gemma Hopper’s interesting look at Statutory Wills and Property and Financial Affairs Court Applications to Beth Clarke’s passionate discussion on Charitable Giving through Legacies; there was definitely something for all specialisms and interests.
Gemma Hopper, Court of Protection solicitor specialising in complex contentious matters, said: “I had a fantastic two days at the Society of Will Writers conference. I gave a talk yesterday on Court of Protection applications with lots of keen questions from the members!”
The additional talk on Living Wills by Robynne Casswell, Toby Harris’ taxation advice to small and medium-sized law firms and Stephen Lawson’s vitally important talk on dealing with Problem Wills, Difficult Files and Larke v Nugus Letters, at least one of which many estate planners may encounter at some point in their careers, ensured that the event offered practical and invaluable advice to those in attendance.
Stephen Lawson, Partner at FDR Law and Head of Civil Justice, said: “I had never attended the SWW conference before – and was impressed by the energy, knowledge and enthusiasm of the delegates – they held all the speakers to account and asked lots of insightful questions. The conference was attended by all the relevant stakeholders and it was great to see them supporting the event. I hope I get asked back next year”.
Robynne Casswell, Direcroe of Legal Services at Town & Country Law, said: “My talk was about Advance Decisions to Refuse Treatment (ADRT). These have previously been known as Living Wills or Advance Directives. Since the Mental Capacity Act 2005 came into force on 1st October 2007, the use of Advance Decisions has reduced due to the introduction of the Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney. Despite the fact we may not come across Advance Decisions on a regular basis, by having the knowledge on how they work and what they can do will empower us to be able to advise our clients and answer their questions with more proficiency”.
Toby Harris, Tax Consultant, said: “I am concerned that the Chancellor of the Exchequer, either the one we have or his successor, will have to raise tax to cover the shortfall triggered by Brexit; and that the ‘average’ client of SWW members might be just the kind of person to suffer as a result. Apart from that, many young people were upset by the result of the Referendum. That might provoke them into voting at the next General Election. That could change things. Moderately wealthy families need to take action now to protect their savings.
“We currently have several reliefs from Inheritance Tax, of which the most interesting are business relief and agricultural relief. The reliefs can be at 100% or at 50%. With minimal legislative effort these rates could be changed, with dramatic effect. So my advice to those clients of SWW was ‘use it or lose it’. Make gifts while you still can. Use the common reliefs – annual, normal out of income, etc – and get value down the generations before the rules change. I also examined the way that the burden of Capital Gains Tax can be postponed and mitigated by using holdover relief – for as long as it lasts.
“Additionally, I examined ‘asset protection trusts’. I am concerned that some of them may not work, and suggested that this might become the next mis-selling scandal. There are simpler solutions to help save the family home from early sale to cover care fees.”
With momentum in full swing, it was refreshing to see the second day flourish with the same exuberance and enthusiasm as day one.
Siobhan Rattigan, lead tutor for the College of Will Writing, provided a well-attended morning workshop by highlighting some practical considerations with Will drafting. The Co-op used their time to explain the new partnership with the SWW and plans for members in the future.
Siobhan Rattigan, lead Tutor for the College of Will Writing, commented: “As part of my role at the Society of Will Writers I am often asked to comment on the content of a Will, sometimes by a layman who has had drafted elsewhere and is unsure about its effect, so I often see similar mistakes being made. My talk covered practical drafting considerations and how to avoid making easy mistakes, with the main focus being on avoiding ambiguous language and understanding the rules of construction that apply to wills. I feel this is important to the sector as the drafters goal should be to make sure that the wills they are producing accurately reflect the testator’s intention as they should be clear without any room for dispute or need for court intervention.”
Greame McAusland provided a gripping talk concerning ethics and regulation within the Funeral Planning Industry, speculating as to why this could be crucial in the future following government regulation.
Robert Newman’s workshop offered advice on how to develop a Will Writing business. The talk emphasised how simple cheap technology, that the Practitioners were already familiar with, present huge opportunities to spend more time working on the business and not in the business, thereby allowing the owners to move towards the lifestyle they first dreamed of when they set out on the entrepreneurial path.
As the final content exhibitors packed away their backdrops, stands and pull-up banners, the crowds departed having successfully networked and improved their industry knowledge. The SWW brand will be ecstatic with their ability to host such a knowledgeable and professional event and should expect even greater capacity this time next year.
Why are conferences so important to the Wills and probate sector? Were you in attendance? What did you get out of the event?