Revisiting why you need a Will in today’s rapidly changing business environment

My name is Kevin Karue, CEO and co-founder of Lifeium Ltd, a legal technology company in the UK. I am a lawyer by profession, and until March 2020 was involved in day to day legal practice. I am experienced in the following areas of law: public law (judicial reviews), immigration and human rights. In the past, I have also worked on commercial and Intellectual Property (IP) matters. I qualified as a Barrister in 2013 and subsequently trained to qualify as a Solicitor. I am a technology enthusiast and believe that the legal industry can benefit greatly from the widespread adoption of innovative Apps that bring on the benefits of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and automation. In April 2020, I took up a new challenge to lead Lifeium, as we worked to launch our first legaltech product. We have developed an innovative Will creation App and Digital Legal Operations Platform (Dashboard/Platform) targeted for law firms and businesses involved in estate and inheritance planning. But more on that a little later, first, I want to reflect on why what we do is important and how we can all benefit from a simple step that most people have not taken.

We can all agree that having a budget is a key element of good financial planning. Did you know that 60 million people in the UK do not have a basic document that is absolutely crucial to their financial future? As of the latest survey by Which (2019), 60 million people in the UK are at risk of dying without a Will. As an African from Kenya, in my culture and I suspect in many cultures worldwide, death is a taboo subject that is not discussed as we would rather not confront our morbidity as humans. It is something that happens to us all and so it is prudent that we prepare for it, because after all, it also happens to those we leave behind and affects them greatly. To secure the financial future of your family and dependants, you need to have a valid Will, stating your wishes and instructions on how your estate should be divided and administered. This makes sure for example your mortgage and house for the family are catered for and go to the right person.

Without a Will, the intestacy rules -as set out in the Inheritance and Trustees’ Power Act- apply and your estate shall be divided up according to standard rules which determine who inherits what based on family connections. The intestacy rules do not take into account the closeness of your relationships, or who is most in need. You might want to leave a treasured gift to your best friend. The only way to do this is to give it as a specific gift in your Will naming your best friend as the beneficiary.

The more crucial point and key reason to have a Will is that it serves to avoid inheritance tax which can be up to 40% of the value of the estate due to be inherited (net of the allowable allowance before tax is applied). If you own a home and other valuable property, your estate can easily exceed the allowable deductible (nil rate band) allowance of £325,000 (spouses can usually have upto £650,000 subject to certain rules) thus exposing your estate to the tax man who can take upto 40%. Give to Caesar what he is owed but no more!There is no reason why anyone of us would wilfully plan for our dependants to lose 40% of a much deserved and likely needed inheritance. I would like to make sure that my wife and kids are protected, and I believe everyone does too. I recommend that everyone who does not have a Will should get a professionally prepared Will, drafted by a lawyer or an accredited Will writer. Most firms start charging from about £150, which is a modest fee that pales in comparison to the hundreds of thousands of pounds that our beneficiaries could lose due to the application of inheritance tax. To reference a famous quote “…in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes…” and so even with a Will, eventually, HMRC gets its tax, most of which is derived from the tax applied when we buy and sell goods and services using inherited funds, as well as when assets are traded/sold.

Back to why Lifeium is the partner of choice for law firms and estate/inheritance planning businesses.

Our driving ethos at Lifeium is to deliver seamless and innovative technology solutions for the legal industry. The goal is to improve the interaction between clients and lawyers, and to deliver efficiency and cost savings for both parties. At Lifeium, we have developed a pioneering and innovative Will creation App and Digital Legal Operations Platform (Client Management Portal/Dashboard), that simplifies the Will creation process delivering more control to you as a client. Your lawyer benefits too as we have implemented powerful software tools to automate a majority of admin related tasks that take up your lawyer’s time. Once you generate your Will on our app, the draft Will is delivered directly to your lawyer ready for editing as he/she has all your personal details and instructions. Your lawyer can get straight into it and at your next meeting, you can get right to the legal advice that you need to set up your estate appropriately. A few value-added features include automated identity checks within the Lifeium App, so your lawyer may not need to ask for physical proof of ID as we’ve gone ahead and helped you securely confirm your identity (subject to successful verification).

Using our App, from start to finish, it should take you about 15 minutes and in that time we have securely gathered and stored your personal details, recorded your wishes as to how your estate should be administered, created your Will and sent it to your lawyer. As a bonus, we facilitate faster on-boarding with e-signing of client care letters, checked your identity, processed payment and synchronised your chosen appointment time and date with your lawyer’s diary. Our aim is to deliver seamless Will creation and administration of estates. A huge credit goes to the entire Lifeium team including our development partners, for working hard to deliver our product. As we launch this into the market, our vision is to be partner of choice for law firms looking to improve client experience and engagement. We have many exciting ideas and shall be steadily rolling out new products. We invite you to like and follow us on all social media platforms to hear first about the new legaltech products that we shall be launching in the near future.

Our technology is Smart.Simple.Secure.

Visit our website at www.lifeium.co or follow us on LinkedIn for more details of our product. You can get in touch here [email protected] for any enquiries. For a demo of the Lifeium App and to sign up for a free trial of our product click here.

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