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Season 2 #6 Karen O'Neill

This is the first in a mini series of episodes where I will explore the question of 'who will look after you when you get old' from a childfree perspective. I am starting with the legal side and am talking to solicitor Karen O'Neill about the things childfree people (and actually everyone) needs to know about and have in place for later life. We focus on wills and enduring power of attorney.

Episode Transcript:

Margaret O Connor 0:10 Welcome to season two of the Are Kids For Me podcast. I will continue to speak to people in a range of different circumstances about their personal and professional experience of answering this question. Thank you so much for your positive feedback on season one, and I really hope you find these episodes useful. This is the first of a series of episodes where I explore the question who will look after me when I get old from a child free perspective. I'm starting from the legal side to see what are the things child free people need to know about and have in place for later life. My guest today is Karen O'Neill, a graduate of National University of Ireland, Galway. She opened her own legal boutique practice in 2002, in Malahide Co. Dublin. Karen has a general practice with an emphasis on family law, enduring powers of attorney, wills, and conveyancing. We discussed the importance of having a will to decide what happens your possessions after you die. And the role of enduring powers of attorney in case you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself when you're still alive. These are heavy topics, but Karen explains them in a very accessible way, and shows how they are ways to be proactive and still have a choice in what happens to you even in difficult circumstances. So hi, Karen, and thank you so much for agreeing to talk to me today. I really appreciate it. Karen O Neill 1:28 No problem at all. Thanks for inviting me. Margaret O Connor 1:30 So we're on to the serious, but very important topic of I suppose, who's going to look after us when we get old, and the legal implications of that. So I think as you know, from speaking to me, I don't know, and a lot of people, the guests that I've spoken to so far, maybe aren't too clear so you're very, hopefully going to maybe fill in some of the legal stuff, which I suppose would apply to everybody. And then maybe there might be some other bits that would apply to people who are childfree, so yeah.. Karen O Neill 2:02 Well, I mean, the law applies to everybody, whether you have children or not have children. And sometimes you will hear people saying to other people who don't have children, what's going to happen when you're old, you're sick, or you're ill. And that really shouldn't be the reasons why you would consider doing, you know, the legal protections. But it is often said to people who don't have children, you know, what are you going to do as if your children were.. are solely on this earth to look after you, you know, they may or may not. But so I would say to anybody over the age of 18, in particular if they're going to buy a property, think, well, what is going to happen when I die. We all would like to think we're going to live forever but obviously, we don't, and also what is going to happen if, for instance, I'm in a road traffic accident, and I lose my mental capacity, or I have a heart attack, or I have dementia, who's going to look after me. And I listened to your previous podcasts before, where you were talking to a married couple, and the husband, you know, said, Oh, my wife will look after me and vice versa. But what came to my mind when I heard that was, what happens if your wife has pre deceased your or your your spouse, or they don't have the mental capacity. So that's really will be my concerns for anybody over the age of 18. Whether they have children, don't have children, whether they're single, in a couple married, separated, divorced, you know, we do all have to think of getting our affairs in order. It sounds a bit like Miss Marple but (laughter), these are the things we have to think about. So Margaret, what I was going to do is perhaps talk about doing a will first if that suits you. So a will.. we've an Irish expression that if I do a will, it means I'm bringing death upon myself, and, you know, or why do I need to see a solicitor? Sure, can't I write up my wishes on the back of an envelope and isn't that hunky dory. And the reality is, it's not. A lot of clients would have come into me with pre drafted wills from Easons. Easons used to sell them a number of years ago. Unfortunately, you know, if a lay person is doing that, oftentimes they don't tick the boxes for it to be legal. So I would say to anybody go to the solicitor if possible. Now, if you are over the age of 18, you can make a will. If you decide I don't want to make a will, then the state will step in, and the Succession Act will dictate what happens to your estate. So it's important that you would set out your own wishes, including funeral arrangements. My advice is it's your final hurrah. So you know, you should put in exactly what you would like to happen. So as I said, the single person, married person, it doesn't matter, do a will. If you are going to do will, the first thing to do is to think about who would be your executors. And their role is to follow your directions in your will. You can pick anybody you want to be an executor, I would suggest you don't pick a person who's living abroad, it just causes complications. And I appreciate that oftentimes, it's difficult, if you don't have family members in Ireland. You don't have to pick a family member though, it can be a friend, it can be somebody you trust. And it's like the series that was on television before 'Friends', oftentimes, your friends are closer to you and know you better than your family. So that's the role of the executor is to carry out your wishes, pay off any bills that you have outstanding, and make sure all the bequests are given. You should pick two executors, you only need one. But the reason you would choose two is if at the time of your death, your original executor has pre deceased you, well then you're in difficulties, or if at the time of your death, the one executor has lost his or her mental capacity, you're in difficulties. So normally, I would recommend you choose two executors and you'd ask them in advance, do you want to be an executor. It is a bit of a poison chalice. It's not brownie points, I don't think they'd be queuing up to become an executor. And that's why I've always suggest you'd ask them in advance, okay. They don't get paid for it unless you leave them something in the will for it. So it is an onerous task. So again, I would suggest that you don't choose a parent, because a parent is obviously going be older than you and it's highly likeable, likely that they'll be gone before you. So that's the executors. The next thing to think of then is, we'll work on the basis that we don't have children. So if you don't have children, what are you going to do with your assets? And a lot of people will say, oh, sure, I have no assets, I have nothing to leave. But if you think about it, you do, you may have a car, you may have your personal items, like jewelry, golf clubs, that kind of stuff. If you do have a house, who you're going to give it to? If you have a couple who don't have any children, the norm would be you would say I'm leaving everything to my spouse. But in the event that my spouse pre deceases me or dies with me, who are you going to leave your assets to? And that's really important for a couple whether they're married, or together in a partnership, who don't have a family as in children to leave or to. And so they need to think about, you know, will they leave to brothers or sisters? Or will they leave it to nieces and nephews? Or will they leave, you know, certain bequest to friends, or indeed to charities? And I would suggest that, while they're thinking that they look at the tax implications as well. And I'm not going to advise you on the tax implications, I'm not a tax expert, but they should look at you know, if I decide I love my friend, I have no children. That's fantastic, it's a lovely gesture but your friend will have tax implications. It's.. that that friend is treated as a stranger in law, and they will end up having to perhaps sell assets in order to pay the tax bill. So it's important to think about that. Another thing to think about is, what if you have a pet? Margaret O Connor 8:35 Oh yes.. Karen O Neill 8:36 I have dogs myself, and a lot of people come into me, clients who come in to me, and, you know, they're either widowed or they have no children, they were single, etc. And they have their favorite cat, dog, whatever, you do have to make allowances for that. What I've seen is that people will nominate somebody to look after whatever pet they have at the date of their death. And then they will leave a certain proportion of funds in order to look after that animal. And they might indeed they might give them a small amount. Again, don't forget there is tax implications, that might leave them some type of funding in order to look after that pet. So I really do think that's really important, because a lot of people, especially in COVID, have, you know, got animals, they've more dogs, etc. Who's going to look after the dog or the cat, and how is that dog or cat going to be paid for you know? So that's really important. The other thing to think about then again, right across the board is your funeral arrangements. Margaret O Connor 9:40 I didn't know that went in or that it could go in the will. Karen O Neill 9:43 I actually think it should. And the reason is, as I said at the beginning, it's it's like your last hurrah. Now, listen, at your age, Margaret, you're not thinking about these things. Believe you me when you're older, or you suddenly have been advised that you have a terminal illness, your funeral becomes one of the most important things. And so I would have had clients coming in to me who unfortunately have been given a bad medical diagnosis and they're down to, literally, I want a funeral funeral in a Catholic church or a particular church. I don't want hymns.. a song, I want you know.. right down to I don't want any celebration after the funeral, or I want a party.. they will put in, and I think this is important if you want to be cremated, that's fine, perfect put it in. But I will always say think about where do you want your ashes to go? So I've had clients into me, and maybe their partner or spouse has pre deceased. And I would say, where are the ashes? And you sometimes I'll say, Gosh, is he in the attic? Did we put them under the bed? You know, it's really important (laughter). It really is important. No, I know, in fairness, if you are a fervent Catholic Church follower, I know that they recently they they didn't want ashes been scattered everywhere. They wanted them to be in consecrated grounds. And that's fine. But a lot of people who come into me, I won't say where exactly, but they want them on beaches, they want them in their favorite garden, they want them, there's one lady, in fact, I'm her executor. And when she dies, I have to bring some ashes to New York, and I have to bring some ashes to London. I that's all I'm saying, you decide where you want your your ashes to go. And so my concern for people who don't do wills is that if they don't do a will, and specifically say what they want to happen to their assets, they, you know, the state dictates. I have a client who died, she was a single lady, very successful, unfortunately, she never left a will. And now her elderly father is going to get the full estate, he doesn't necessarily want it. That's what the law dictates if you don't leave a will, who's next in line? And in her case, it's an elderly parent. So I really do think it's important to consider it. It's not an expensive procedure to do. Again, I think people think it's very expensive. It's not an expensive procedure to do. But it does necessitate a lot of thinking. And I'm talking now just about clients who do not have children. It's a total different..there's more to think about if you have children, but we're working on the basis that there aren't children there. Margaret O Connor 12:32 that is all really interesting, because like you say, they're all things that you probably want to have a say and like even thinking about the funeral, like, again, it's so personal. Yeah, I suppose it's if you can have a say in it, it sounds like a good thing.. Karen O Neill 12:47 It is though Margaret, I think it's a really adult thing to do. And so we think (laughter) no but it's true. And so somebody in their 20s, or 30s, would think, oh a will, that's something my parents should do. And they forget, they should be doing it themselves. So anytime I have a first time buyer coming in, we will say in their 20s or early 30s. And they're single, they look at me in horror, when I say we should do will, you know, and obviously a will will, obviously a will changes if you're single, and then you get married, that will becomes void and a new will would be done for you know a couple. And clearly, if we were talking about children, you would obviously change your will again, so a will really follows you throughout life. So whenever there's a major change in your life, you should think, oh, should I amend my will to reflect this. If you won the lotto, for instance, clearly, you would, you know, go reconsider your will and get intense tax advice, etc. But it is really important that everybody should do will. Margaret O Connor 13:45 I think even some of the words are quite off putting, like, I wouldn't regard myself as having an estate (laughter) but I do have three cats so I need to figure that out! Karen O Neill 13:55 But your estate Margaret really is like, say your jewelry, if you have a sister or a niece, and you want to leave, you know, you might have thought I love.. like my sister has her eye on my ring. I you know, one ring, you know, (laughter) she, she frequently refers to it.. Well, you know Karen, whenever you go, I'd like that. So it's really, really important. It could be you know, mementos like somebody's favorite book, it could be a small painting. You know, oftentimes people do come in to me and say Karen, I don't have any jewelry. And they're sitting in front of me with a nice necklace on or earrings. I really think it is a lovely gesture as well to give to your friends. You know, you know, like close friends can be closer than family, and I think it's kind of a nice idea. I would say to anybody, don't leave it there and not put it in and think oh, sure listen, I'll be dead, I don't care. You know, you just leave a mess behind you. So it is important. And it isn't that scary, really it's painless. You know, it's not like going to the dentist. And so that's really wills.. have you any questions Margaret? No I think that's really, really straightforward. So would you need to have thought through a lot of that before you go to a solicitor? Or or could they help you maybe Well normally, you know , in order to do a will, it necessitates two visits to a solicitor, so you go in the first time, most people coming in, wouldn't have an idea. They know they should do a will, but they don't really know, what should I put in? What should I consider? So the first consultation is normally going through ideas, what would you like to put in? What were you thinking? Again, maybe talk about the tax implications, if, for instance, you don't have any children and your parents are dead, you know, and you want to leave it to friends, for instance, or talk by charities. So normally, the person then would think about it, they would normally email maybe in between the first and second consultation, and then they'd come back in the next time, we normally would have a draft will drafted, and we would go through it. And if they're happy, they would sign it there and then. There is an onus on the solicitor to move fairly quickly from taking instructions to actually finalizing the will. So oftentimes, people say gosh, you know, Karen, you're constantly tracking me on this, but deliberately so. Because if you come in there is an onus on us to follow it through. Because obviously, if you leave it, it's not done. Margaret O Connor 16:20 And you know just on the funeral arrangements, like I'm wondering how anyone would know they're in your will, like, do you need to tell somebody like? Karen O Neill 16:28 Yes. So when you ask a family member or a friend, will they be the executor? And they say yes, then the norm would be, at least I would advise my clients, would you say to your executor, your solicitor holds your original and you have a copy. Sometimes I will give the original to a client if they have a fireproof box or safe at home. But usually the original will is left with with the solicitor. So I oftentimes would receive a phone call from an executor saying that the client has died. And all they want to know is what are the funeral arrangements? You know, the other thing about doing a will is, if I gave you a copy of your will, I would say to leave it in a safe place, advise your executor that there is a copy back in your house and with your copy of the will, set out on a sheet of paper that can be amended at any time..these are where all my bank accounts are. These are where my title deeds are. These are where my life policies are, shares, etc. And the reason, I don't as a solicitor, I don't need to know all your personal details. But you can leave that with your copy of the will. And as life changes, you might close a bank account, you might you know, cash a policy, you just put a line through it and keep changing it. But that's really important. It saves the executors having to get the solicitor to write to every bank in the area saying do you have you know, a bank account for Margaret? No, it's just kind of part of the process. Margaret O Connor 17:59 Really god, I imagine that would all be really complicated now with like GDPR and passwords.. Karen O Neill 18:05 You should write down your passwords though. But again, don't forget non one is seeing that until you die. And so once you die, then your executor can say to the solicitor, these were all the bank accounts that we're aware Margaret holds. Now I'm talking about a solicitor with the executor.. But we'll say it's a solicitor, they will then write to the bank with a certified copy of the death certificate, saying Margaret unfortunately died after talking to Karen (laughter). And we are seeking a Statement of Account as of the date of death and the bank is obliged to give it so GDPR doesn't come into it if you have your death certificate. Margaret O Connor 18:45 Okay. Alright. Okay. So yeah, I suppose I see. I see what you're saying. It does make life much easier. like.. Karen O Neill 18:49 Oh for sure. Yeah. Margaret O Connor 18:51 Okay. And easier on everybody. Because that's an awful lot of stuff to try and sort out. Karen O Neill 18:56 Well do you know what if you are in the main, if you are an executor, who is slightly older and maybe retired, you've all the time the world to do it, you know that this is obviously pre COVID. In COVID times that can't be jumping onto the Dart or buses going to the probate office. It's certainly changed after COVID. But if you have all the time in the world, you could do it yourself for sure. The only thing I would say to an executor is beware of the beneficiaries. Because beneficiaries come out of the woodwork. They will say, Johnny, why aren't you getting on with doing that probate? You know, we need the funds that we think are coming to us so that there is a lot of pressure on the executor or indeed the solicitor for the estate because beneficiaries.. once they get over the mourning period..they are like when are we getting our bequest? So you have to bear that in mind if you're an executor. You have to deal with the beneficiaries, you know, and there are always different family dynamics. Margaret O Connor 19:52 Yeah. Okay, fascinating (laughter) Karen O Neill 19:56 Your eyes have slightly glazed over Margaret, but that's okay (laughter). Margaret O Connor 20:00 I'm processing processing (laughter). It's really, really interesting. I've already learned a huge amount. So that's really helpful, thanks Karen. Karen O Neill 20:10 So the next thing to think about is that's dealing with somebody when they're dead. And a lot of people think, well, there you go, I have all my affairs in order. You know, when I'm dead, that's what's going to happen. But, and we're hearing more and more of it now, what happens again, you're married, no children, you're single, you're divorced, whatever, and there's no family members there really other than maybe elderly, elderly, parents, or siblings. What happens if I am knocked down by a bus, I'm still healthy, as in.. mentally I'm still not mentally, I'm not mentally alert, but I'm still alive. Yeah, who's going to look after me? Now, a lot of clients will say, well, I have my loving wife, I have my loving husband, I have my loving boyfriend, I have my loving parents. The difficulty is that as loving as they may be, they cannot access any of your bank accounts, they cannot access your property to rent it out so there's an income there to look after you. And it's really, really difficult, it does cause a lot of problems. Sometimes I would have clients come in to me, and they have early signs of dementia, and they could even be in their 50s. You know, it's not an older person's illness as such. And when the doctor says gets get your affairs in order, he or she's really saying you're going to live with it but you're not necessarily going to have the mental capacity to look after your affairs. And so therefore, we're talking about an enduring power of attorney. Enduring power of attorney, in simple terms, while you still have your mental capacity, you are saying in the event that I lose my mental capacity for any of the reasons I've set out, I'm going to appoint either your wife, your husband, Johnny, down the road, your neighbor, whoever you really, really trust, I'm going to appoint them as my attorney. So when people hear the word attorney, they think of solicitor or barrister, it's not it's actually once again, we're back to the friend scenario. It is somebody who knows you well, who you trust, who you're going to give the discretion and say, in the event of any of these awful things happening, you're going to step in and look after me and my affairs. And it's an onerous task, for sure. And again, you have to ask the person will they do what so it is important. So it's when you have all your mental capacity that you can go in and organize this. When you come in to see a solicitor, the solicitor themselves are forming an opinion as to whether you actually have the mental capacity there and then to do it. And also what's required is an assessment by a doctor. So Margaret, I will take you as an example so you decide after listening to me, gosh, I better go do that. You go see your solicitor, he or she's, will chat away, like I am to you now, but they're forming an opinion, do you have the mental capacity to give instructions and understand this, and then your doctor and it has to be a close time period, your doctor will also be required to give a medical certificate saying at this moment in time, Margaret has the mental capacity to understand the whole process and to give instructions. So again, the reason I was saying about husbands and wives and I'm thinking of your earlier podcast, the wife say for instance, in that scenario, the husband says well sure my wife will look after me, but if his bank accounts are in his sole name, or the house is in his sole name, she can't access them. So it's Yeah, so as much as they love each other...They actually, if everything is in his sole name, for instance, she can't access any of it, unless, unless she has power of attorney. And so going back to the actual process, once you're assessed by your solicitor and your doctor, you then say, I'd like to appoint your spouse, for instance, or your friend or your partner to be my attorney. And you can restrict what they can do. So you can give them full discretion, or you can say they are allowed to do the following and only the following, which may be to put me into rehab for a certain period of time, you know, you might if you're an older person you might say these are the nursing homes I don't want to go to you know, they will be specified. And then this is important as well, the notice is given then to two family members that we will say for arguments sake.. like in March of 2021, Margaret has appointed Joe Bloggs as our attorney and we're just giving you notice all of it. And that's kind of a form of protection. Your family members can't object unless there are very valid grounds. You know, unless somebody was we'll say, had been convicted previously for mismanaging funds, etc. And then what happens then it just sits there and nothing happens until you get a phone call from a family member saying Margaret, unfortunately, I'm picking you Margaret sorry, Margaret, unfortunately, has had a stroke. And she is now out in rehab. But you know, we need to be able to look after her. And then there's a whole separate process then trying to get the wards of court office to get an order to allow your attorney to access your bank accounts and your property. So say, for instance, you had a head head injury, your attorney can go through the whole process, and then you recover, it becomes void, and you go back to looking after yourself again. So it's, it's it's there as a safety net. But it's not permanent, it can be taken away at any stage after you've recovered. If you recover. So again, it is important for for people to consider that and more and more people, because I suppose in particular, dementia is so prevalent at the moment. More and more people are saying all Karen, can I do an enduring power of attorney as well? Margaret O Connor 25:59 Yeah, so is that something you should do just anyway. So even if you're not worried specifically.. Karen O Neill 26:04 Oh for sure absolutely. You know, in fairness most people coming in, if they do a will, they will then do an enduring power of attorney. It's more how would I say.. it's a longer process than doing a will. And it's a little bit more detailed, because if it is required, it is bringing.. lodging papers to the wards a court office, which is a high court, it actually goes for the High Court. So it's very important that you get it right. But it's I see it as a as a safety net, it sits there in the background. And then if needs be, then you're going to register it. And ironically, I have three at the moment that, you know, come out of the woods that these people, unfortunately, they've become ill, and we need to register the enduring power of attorney. So it is important. And I would say that to anybody, again, maybe not to an 18 year old, but certainly a little bit older, I would definitely say consider it. Absolutely. Because again, I'm not saying the families won't look after you, of course they will, or your partner, or your husband. The difficulty is though, that if everything's in your sole name, they can't access them. Margaret O Connor 27:13 Yeah, yeah. Right. Okay. And so again, I suppose it's about trying to maintain as much control or or choice as you can even in challenging situations. Yeah, Karen O Neill 27:23 Yeah. And I would say, I would say, do these, say the will and enduring power when you still have your full health. And it's not you're not under pressure, you haven't been given a bad diagnosis of early dementia, for instance, it's, you have a window of opportunity to do it. And sometimes that window closes. So sometimes, by the time the family or the person wants to do it, the window has actually closed. So recently, I had two clients, a husband and wife, they have no children, they have no family other than themselves. And their neighbor became concerned for them and brought them up to meet with me. Lovely people, both of them, I was a bit concerned that they didn't seem to understand the process. We had a lovely conversation, but not really on the on the issue. And I spoke to their doctor, and he said the window's closed. That means now that there's no enduring power of attorney in place, they have no family. So potentially, if anything was to happen, either one of them, don't forget, neither of them really have the mental capacity, they probably would end up coming Ward's of the state. Okay, that's not a nice process. Margaret O Connor 28:37 Okay so somebody else entireties is making the decisions for them? Karen O Neill 28:41 Yeah, yeah, yeah. You literally will be looked after by the state, they will be making the decisions for you. And again, they mightn't necessarily be the decisions that you want you know, so again, that window for those two people closed and in fairness to the very good neighbor, who was concerned to, you know, did try to commence matters, but unfortunately, the window was closed. So that's why I was saying, even though both these items, wills and enduring powers of attorney, sound boring, and a drag and sure listen why do I have to do it? The reality is, though, that they're vital, they really are vital. I would say the enduring power of attorney is more vital, actually than nearly a will, because you're going to be alive at the time. You know, you just don't and you will have an awareness etc. You just don't have the mental capacity to look after yourself, outside of whatever health organization you're in, and you don't have the mental capacity to look after your finances. It does cause difficulties. Margaret O Connor 29:43 I'm struck just as you're talking..I suppose you're talking about you know people choosing to be childfree and generally putting a lot of thought and effort into that and I suppose, you know, being a bit independent or liking to do things a bit differently, but I imagine losing control of all those aspects would be very difficult. Karen O Neill 30:00 Now you may not know you've lost it that depends on what the illness is. I mean, if you have a serious brain injury from a road traffic accident, you might have no awareness of this. And, unfortunately, your family is really stuck them. You know, and I will say this for clients who have children, adult children, you know, so I know the topic is, you know, for people who don't have children, but even if you have children, if you don't do this, Margaret O Connor 30:28 Yeah, the responsibility would fall to them then.. Karen O Neill 30:30 Exactly. But again, I mean, you know, so you're probably better to do the enduring power of attorney while you have all your your faculties and while you are healthy. And it's just an idea out there but you're covered. You know, as I said, we can't mostly rely on our partners, if everything is in your sole name. Margaret O Connor 30:48 Yeah. And does it matter..well so I think you've mentioned whether you're married or not, you're still able to do these things? Karen O Neill 30:54 Oh, absolutely. So this is for, in fact, most of the enduring powers of attorney I do are for single people. So they've either you know, been married, and the marriage is over, or their widows or widowers or they have never married. It's if you are by yourself for whatever reason, and and even if you have children, you have to do the enduring power of attorney, I would suggest you how to do an enduring power of attorney. And lots of people will choose their friends. The friends that they've known for 30 or 25 years, who know them better than the sister down the country. Yeah. The other situation that arises sometimes is that clients don't necessary want their family knowing everything they do. So if you're single for whatever reason, you mightn't necessarily want the sister who you haven't seen in years knowing that you're doing this, but we have to pick a family member. They don't they can't influence it but we have to advise it you know, we have to tell the family member you're doing it. Margaret O Connor 31:50 Hhmm..ok again, really interesting...I'm thinking god I have a lot to do! (laughter). Karen O Neill 31:58 Yeah I know busy homework afterwards. But genuinely they're the main two things really about wills and enduring power of attorney. Margaret O Connor 32:06 Brilliant. And would you have any advice on how people would go about choosing a solicitor? Karen O Neill 32:12 Well, again, I mean, most of my my work is from referrals. So you know, I know people say oh, you know we're all tech savvy now and we sure, just the equivalent of the Golden pages but it's online. I think a lot of people who look say for a solicitor through referrals However, if you're a certain age bracket you might have no one solicitors. Um, I think the days of going to your parents solicitors are over, you know, in the sense of oh, that's a family solicitor, it's not really.. so again, obviously, if you look up the websites, you might maybe the solicitor doesn't do enduring powers of attorney. So really, it depends on what you're looking for. If you're looking for a solicitor who does enduring power of attorney and you don't know anybody, and you look up, I don't know you, Google enduring powers of attorney solicitors, you will find solicitors who do it..again, though, its ease of access as well. So again, might be well gosh, you know what, Mary Jane solicitors down the road, you know, she opens late on a Thursday evening, I can go in and do that. And now that we're in COVID times, a lot of work can be done online. But eventually you do have to see your solicitor obviously. So yeah, that's really how the work it comes to solicitors really is usually referrals or you are specializing in an area and it's on your website. Margaret O Connor 33:35 Okay, so even just knowing those terms is really important because I didn't.. Karen O Neill 33:38 And like yeah, and fees for wills and for enduring powers of attorney are much of a muchness right across the board. You know, and I always say this, you know, pay peanuts, you get monkeys. And I (laughter( it's true though, you know, so what I would say is these are really important aspects of your life you know, doing wills are really important. And in fairness across the board usually the fee is the same right across the board. So it's not a case of shopping around us to on the fee level. I think it should be shopping around you know do I have confidence in that person, does he or she know what they're doing do, not necessarily do I like them but sometimes you know do I gel with that person because these are personal matters you're dealing with either wills, everything you do with a solicitor is very personal.. Margaret O Connor 34:20 Yeah. Do you think there's much awareness? Because I know I got to know you through a referral of somebody else I interviewed but is there much awareness in kind of in with solicitors maybe you know, there are child free people or people who are aging with their children, is that something you deal with a lot or not? Karen O Neill 34:40 You never know, when somebody comes into you as a client, it depends on what they are coming in to talk to you about and you can't, I mean, one of the questions that you ask like when doing will or the enduring powers of attorney, do you have any children? Obviously, our role is not to say, well, why don't you or was that a valid choice, do you know what I mean..So, you know, that's really a matter for the person to say. But yeah, I think it there's huge awareness amongst solicitors as the necessity to do wills and the necessity of doing enduring powers of attorney. But is are they targeting it at people who don't have children? Not necessarily. Not necessarily, you know, and even if you had children, if your children go abroad permanently, they probably move to Australia. They mightn't necessarily be the person available and readily available to do any of this. You know, so really, children, not children. It really needs to be done anyway. Margaret O Connor 35:36 Yeah. Okay. So it's very practical approach to the situation (laughter) Karen O Neill 35:40 Exactly, very black and white. Yeah, yeah, definitely, you know, yeah. And I would say to anybody coming in to be upfront and honest with your solicitor, you know, there's nothing you could possibly say to your solicitor that's going to horrify them. I think I might have mentioned you before, I've had two cases where clients have come in and they said they had no children. And then we have a child that pops out of the woodwork. So you know, and there was maybe embarrassment that that's, you know, that I don't know you know, they fell out with that child because they were had addiction problems or something along those lines. So I would say to anyone coming into a solicitor, there's nothing you would possibly say that would shock anybody, there really isn't and everything you say to solicitors, is private and confidential. Margaret O Connor 36:23 Alright, okay. Okay. Karen O Neill 36:24 So it can't, we can't go outside the office. Margaret O Connor 36:27 Okay. Fantastic. Okay. Well, that's all really really useful information. And I'm sure there's probably other things, but there the main thing, say for people that just don't know where to start. There are things to get in place? Karen O Neill 36:42 Oh I think so. Yeah, I mean, everything else really it's not.. your marital status or whether you have children or not isn't really relevant, but these are probably the most relevant scenarios. Margaret O Connor 36:54 Yeah, no, that's brilliant (laughter) So homework homework to be done!. Karen O Neill 36:59 But now Margaret, you're going to fly off and start going to your local solicitor and say, I really must do a will and I must do an enduring power of attorney. Margaret O Connor 37:07 Yeah, absolutely. And it is, as I said to you before, I didn't know, it's hard when you don't know what you don't know. So now.. Karen O Neill 37:15 Well this is it, Yeah. Yeah. As I said, we, those two items that we've discussed, we say well they are for an older person, or when I grow up, or when I'm an adult, and we forget that actually, you know, the clock is ticking and we are all of those things ourselves, you know, and in particular if you have pets, you know, that's a biggie. Margaret O Connor

Yes, absolutely. Okay, lovely. Okay, thank you so much.

Karen O Neill

Not at all. I'm sorry now if I totally bored you Margaret. Margaret O Connor 37:40 No not at all, it is really fascinating, honestly, really, really fascinating. Thank you so much. I really appreciate. Thanks very much to my guests for taking part and to you for listening. I would love to hear your feedback and any suggestions for other topics you would like to see covered in this series. I would also love to build a community of like minded people, so please follow the Are Kids For Me pages on Facebook and Instagram, if you want to find out more on this topic. I look forward to hearing from you and watch out for new episodes coming soon. Transcribed by

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