In this twist on A Christmas Carol, Senior Solicitor and Director Mark Jones explains the importance of reviewing your legal affairs.
Ebenezer Scrooge shuffled across the Market Place. The first flakes of snow were fluttering down from the darkening Ripon sky. It was Christmas Eve.
The festive lights were twinkling in the windows of Wetherspoons as happy revellers enjoyed the Christmas atmosphere. ‘What fools,’ Scrooge mumbled. ‘All that expense and hassle over just one day. Christmas humbug! Anyway, my Christmas will be just fine so long as I get the “Economics by Kwasi Kwarteng” book I’ve asked for.’
He continued on and felt a pang of guilt as he caught the reflection of the Christmas lights in the sign on the wall of the sparkling new Market Place office of Newtons Solicitors. He had been meaning to call to see them all year to sort out his Will. ‘No time for that,’ he thought. ‘I’ve been far too busy making lots of money from my new business recycling old Jubilee bunting into 30p carrier bags. Why bother anyway? I am going to be rich, rich, rich!’
He walked on towards his home and an early night.
Scrooge woke with a start. There was a strange light in his room. Surely it couldn’t be morning already? He looked at his clock and saw that it was 1.00 am. Squinting, he made out a figure at the end of his bed with a strange, grinning face and inappropriate, old fashioned clothes. ‘Is it Jacob Rees-Mogg?’ he asked in a startled voice.
‘Not quite!’ the figure replied. ‘Come with me’. The figure took Scrooge’s hand and to his astonishment he found that he was flying. He closed his eyes tightly and when he dared to open them he found himself looking down into the office of HM Revenue and Customs. Scrooge could see and hear the people in the office but they did not seem to have noticed him.
‘Foolish old Mr Scrooge!’ laughed one of them. ‘He’s completely forgotten to use his annual inheritance tax allowance again! He’s not taken the opportunity to rearrange his assets to reduce his income tax bill and he has not even begun to think about the inheritance tax exemption for regular gifts out of income. HMRC will be able to afford another fantastic Christmas party with all the tax that silly old Scrooge has wasted!’
Scrooge closed his eyes and cried out, ‘No!’
When he opened them again, he saw that it was 2.00am. He heard a voice in the dark. ‘I am the ghost of past disappointments and disasters still to come’. ‘Oh my God’, cried Scrooge. ‘Are you Leeds United?’
‘Guess again,’ said the ghost as it took Scrooge’s hand.
Scrooge found himself looking down into a room at Harrogate District Hospital. His wife was talking to a doctor. ‘I am afraid that there is absolutely no doubt at all,’ the doctor was saying. ‘Mr Scrooge has completely lost capacity. He is making no sense at all. He was even trying to tell me that he knows a car park in Leeds city centre that’s reasonably priced after 6.00pm! Of course, everything would have been much easier’, he continued, ‘If only Mr Scrooge had made a Lasting Power of Attorney. If he had one you would have been able to deal with his affairs quite easily now. Because he did not plan ahead you will have to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as his Deputy. Everything is going to be a little tricky for a while as the application goes through and there will be all the expense too, both now and in the years to come with the annual fees’.
‘Argh!’ cried Scrooge as he closed his eyes again.
He was woken again by another voice at 3.00am. ‘I am the ghost of ….’
‘Yes, I get the picture!’ snapped Scrooge. ‘Where now?’
Scrooge found himself looking down into the offices of Newtons Solicitors. Mrs Scrooge was talking to a solicitor. She was dressed in black and crying and Scrooge shuddered as he noticed the green certificate on the table. ‘Ebenezer Scrooge. Date of death: 24 December 2035’.
‘But Ebenezer always said that he didn’t need to bother with a Will’, sobbed Mrs Scrooge. ‘He said that I would take everything anyway as his wife.’
‘I am afraid it’s not quite that straightforward’ explained the solicitor. ‘Where there’s no Will, the surviving spouse only takes the first part of an estate. Over a certain figure other relatives are entitled to a share. I am afraid you might even have to sell the house to pay them off and Mr Scrooge has created a considerable tax bill’.
Scrooge closed his eyes and began to cry.
He was awoken again by the Cathedral bells. It was light. He jumped out of bed and rushed to the window. Ripon was clothed in a blanket of fresh snow. It was Christmas Day.
‘My God,’ exclaimed Scrooge, ‘it was all a dream! It’s not too late!’ He pulled on some clothes and rushed downstairs, grabbing his coat and passing his startled wife.
‘Merry Christmas, Ebenezer!’ she called.
‘No time for that!’ replied Scrooge. ‘I know just what I’ve got to do! I am off to Newtons to sort out my affairs!’
‘Don’t be silly,’ his wife replied. “Newtons’ customer care might be exceptional but even they don’t open on Christmas Day!’
Don’t be like Scrooge
Make muddled affairs a thing of the past. Give yourself a Christmas present and many secure Christmases in the future by contacting Newtons Solicitors today.