About Heather Warnock

Heather joined Mitchells Roberton in March 2013 as a Financial Guardian Administrator. Although Heather is working as a Paralegal she does have a Law Degree having graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University in 2011 and thereafter completing her Diploma in Legal Practice at Strathclyde University in 2012. The qualifications needed for the post of Financial Guardian Administrator are an aptitude for administration, common sense and empathy for those suffering from mental illness in its various manifestations . Heather has these qualities in abundance, being a volunteer befriender with the Glasgow Association of Mental Health. Despite only recently finishing her Law Degree Heather is a part time tutor in the Law Department at Glasgow Caledonia University. Heather who is originally from Northern Ireland loves going home to visit her family whenever she can. She enjoys live comedy and the theatre. She is also an excellent cook and expert baker…. most welcome skills for our office.

Care for the Elderly

People are certainly living longer. The number of people in Scotland, according to the National Records of Scotland in September 2016, living for more than a century has increased over the last ten years. In 2005 there were 900 centenarians in Scotland, an increase of 67% from the 540 in 2005. The number of men aged 90 to 99 increased from 6360 to 11,300 between 2005 and 2015, an increase of 78%. The number of females aged 90 to 99 increased from 21,630 to 27,590 during the same period, an increase of 28%.

Caring for the elderly is therefore now a situation facing millions of people who need help managing elderly relatives’ affairs and assistance to make plans for their own old age.

We can offer a wide range of advice and are specialists in these areas.

  • Putting a Power of Attorney in place before you may become unable to manage your own affairs
  • Making a Will
  • Setting up trusts
  • Inheritance tax planning
  • Financial planning
  • Making arrangements to pay for help and care home fees
  • Obtaining Guardianship Orders
  • Administration of Guardianships

Our private client team are here to help and are very knowledgeable in dealing with such matters applying sensitivity as well as legal expertise. Find out more at http://www.mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Milestone Moments for Writing a Will

Throughout most of the world, disposal of an estate has been a matter of social custom. According to Plutarch, one of the best known Greek biographers and essayist, the written will was invented by Solon, an Athenian politician and lawmaker born in 638BC and was originally a device intended solely for men without an heir.

So much has changed of course but at present, will writing campaign group Will Aid indicate that only around half of the adults in the UK have made a will. By asking a cross section of people with a will what caused them to make one, Will Aid discovered  that one of the commonest reasons was hitting a significant birthday. 20% of those interviewed said landmark birthdays such as turning 30, 40 or 50 were one of  the primary reasons for making their first will. There are indeed other milestone moments that prompt writing a will such as getting married, having a child or buying your first property.

In reality though it does not matter how old you are or whatever your circumstances, having a professionally drawn up will in place is the best way to ensure your wishes are met after your death as you should never assume that your assets will automatically pass to the people closest to you.

Key reasons for making a will include:

  • Reassurance: A will is the best way to help ensure your savings and possessions go to the people and causes that you care about.
  • Avoiding disputes. Disputes over assets can arise among family members. By leaving a will you remove any doubt about how you want your estate dealt with.
  • Looking after your children. A will allows you to appoint legal guardians for your children.
  • Your funeral: Your will can be a way to let people know whether you would prefer to be buried or cremated, and the type of funeral service and music you would like.

There have been a number of notable wills through time. The Nobel Prizes were established by Alfred Nobel’s will.  The longest known legal will is that of Englishwoman Frederica Evelyn Stilwell Cook. It was 1066 pages and had to be bound in four volumes. The shortest known legal wills are those of Bimla Rishi of Delhi, India “all to son” and Karl Tausch of Hesse ,Germany “all to wife” both containing only two words in the language they were written in (Hindi and Czech respectively). While your own will may not make the headlines it still is extremely important to have one.

For advice on writing or updating your will please contact Heather Warnock on 0141 552 3422 or by email on heather@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Government Urged To Remove VAT On Charitable Wills

Charity Consortium, Remember a Charity, has urged the UK Government to exempt VAT from the cost of writing a Will containing a charitable bequest.

The consortium predicts a VAT exemption on charitable wills would double the number of people leaving a gift to charity, generating a further £800m for the voluntary sector.

Rob Cope, Remember a Charity director, said “While this change would come at a relatively low cost to government, this could make a huge difference to charities, giving solicitors and will- writers cause to highlight the option and benefits of legacy giving with all clients.”

“We need to ensure that legacy giving is not just something reserved for the wealthiest in society; that it is something we are all given the opportunity to do.”

Legacy giving is a vital source of funds for charities and accounts for £2.5 billion of charitable income each year. Backing the recommendation is The Charity Finance Group, its head of policy and engagement, Andrew O’Brien said: “Legacies are a growing and important way that the public supports good causes. It is critical that we make giving as easy and effective as possible.”

Also supporting the move is the Institute of Fundraising, with its head of public affairs Mike Smith adding “This small change in the cost of writing a will could make a massive difference in the number of people who decide to leave a gift to charity.”

“The Government has been really supportive of efforts to increase legacy giving, and we are encouraging them to back this small reduction in tax to help raise millions for good causes.”

For expert advice on writing or updating a will then please contact Heather Warnock on hw@mitchells-roberton.co.uk or by phoning 0141 552 3422.

New Residence Nil Rate Band

From April 2017 a new IHT- free allowance has being  introduced. It is to be known as the residence  nil rate band (RNRB) and will apply if you leave your residence to your  “direct descendants”.

The objective of the policy according to the Government is to “reduce the burden of IHT for most families by making it easier to pass on the family home to direct descendants without a tax charge.”

For some years now the nil rate band has been fixed at £325,000 and it looks like it will remain set at this amount for the next few years. At the moment IHT is charged at 40% on the value of a deceased person’s estate which exceeds the nil rate band. Where spouses or civil partners leave their estates to each other the nil rate band can be transferred giving a maximum of £650,000 IHT free.The RNRB when introduced can also be transferred between spouses and civil partners.

If you would like more information or to find out whether you should consider revising your Will to benefit from this new allowance, please contact me Heather Warnock  at heather@mitchells-roberton.co.uk or by telephoning 0141 552 3422.

Give Green a Chance

It is estimated that around 750 million plastic bags are used every year in Scotland. For a while now some supermarkets like M&S , Aldi and Lidl have been charging  their customers for plastic bags  whilst others such as Asda,  Morrisons and Sainsburys  have not.

But as from October 2014 the Scottish Government has confirmed it will introduce a 5p levy on all plastic bags. The reasoning behind this is to reduce bag use and raise £5m for good causes each year.

Mr Lochhead the Environment Secretary said “Carrier bags are a highly visible aspect of litter and we are taking decisive action to decrease their number.  By reducing the amount being carelessly discarded we can cut litter and its impact on our environment and economy.” He further stated that “A small charge should also encourage us all to stop and think about what we discard and what we can re-use.”

The CBI, however, have expressed their concern, a spokesman claiming “Modest economic growth coupled with a continuing shift to internet shopping is making conditions challenging for the high street which is already feeling the ill-effects of the Scottish government’s £95 million retail rates surcharge and its £36m rates levy on empty shops and other premises. This is going to cause costly red tape when in fact by voluntary means carrier bag use has fallen by 40%”.

But I am for this levy.  Plastic bags are not biodegradable. They clog waterways, spoil the landscape and end up in landfills where they may take hundreds of years to break down into even smaller particles that continue to pollute the soil and water.

Plastic bags also pose a serious danger to birds and marine animals who often mistake them for food. Thousands die each year after swallowing or choking on discarded bags.

Finally producing plastic bags requires millions of gallons of petroleum that could be used for transportation or heating.

All our staff at Mitchells Roberton are given a reusable shopping bag when they start with us so we are already giving green a chance.

‘Miss Julie’ at The Citizens

On Friday night I was lucky enough to attend the opening night of Miss Julie at the Citizens Theatre. A few weeks ago my fiancé and I received a programme of the upcoming plays at the Citizens and my fiancé immediately picked out Miss Julie as a drama he was very keen to see. I think he was initially drawn to the fact that the role of Miss Julie was played by Louise Brealey who plays Molly in the BBC1 drama Sherlock.

Miss Julie, written by August Strindberg in 1888, is a play about the daughter of a wealthy mill owner and her interactions with her father’s servant (Jean) and the servant’s fiancée (Christine).

While Miss Julie’s father is away, the workers at his mill are on strike. Miss Julie has decided to go to a dance that has been organised by the striking workers. Jean, described as the mill owner’s favourite servant, has recently got engaged to the overworked cook, Christine. While Jean recounts the events of his evening to Christine it is impossible not to notice the number of times that Miss Julie’s name crops into the conversation.

The chemistry between Jean and Miss Julie is evident from the moment she appears unannounced in the servants’ quarters requesting Jean accompany her back to the party for a dance. An exhausted Christine cannot compete with the energy of Miss Julie, and soon falls asleep. Meanwhile, Jean and Miss Julie continue to drink and chat back in the servants’ quarters after the workers at the party turn on their boss’s daughter. There is a strange sense of unease as the balance of power shifts between the two characters. First Jean has the upper hand with his tales of Miss Julie’s unpopularity amongst the staff. Then Miss Julie has the power, putting Jean back in his place, reminding him of his status in the world.

After things between Jean and Miss Julie go a bit further, we see them struggle to plan what to do next: stay and face the music or hightail it out of there. Without spoiling the ending for anyone who has not seen the play, things come to a very shocking and dramatic end.

Yet again it was great to spend a night at the Citizens Theatre and to see another packed house.

Miss Julie is currently playing at The Citizens Theatre, Glasgow. For more info please visit here http://citz.co.uk/whatson/info/miss_julie/

‘True West’ at The Citizens

True West is a play about two estranged brothers. Austin, the younger brother, is a smartly dressed Hollywood screenwriter trying to make his way in the world. Lee, the dishevelled older brother, is a thief who has spent time living in the desert looking for their father.

The two brothers are reunited for the first time in some years in their mother’s home: she has gone to Alaska on holiday and left Austin house-sitting. Austin is working hard on a new screenplay for which he has arranged a meeting with a producer named Saul. Austin’s concentration is disturbed by this domineering older brother’s continual questioning. There is an uneasy atmosphere in the kitchen as Lee’s menacing line of questioning on the subject of the security at their mother’s house and surrounding properties appears to suggest that he plans to burgle the neighbours’ houses.

In order to get Lee to leave the house, Austin reluctantly lends him his car keys. This allows Austin to meet with the producer without his brother being present. However, before the end of the meeting, Lee reappears in the kitchen with what seems to be a stolen TV. Much to Austin’s horror, Saul and Lee appear to hit it off and have soon arranged a golf date for the next day. Things turn from bad to worse for Austin when we learn that, whilst the producer has indicated that he likes his screenplay, it is indeed an idea by Lee which he is particularly keen on. It is suggested that Austin and Lee should work together to produce the screenplay based on Lee’s idea.

The whole play takes place in the mother’s kitchen/dining room, a large well kept room with late 1970s/early 1980’s decor. Between scenes the curtain comes to a close horizontally, as opposed to vertically, almost making the stage appear as a movie set behind a Hollywood movie screen clapper.

The brothers eventually agree to work together to produce the screenplay. As the second half progresses, every time the curtain opens we see the kitchen fall into deeper disarray as the brothers get drunker and drunker both appearing deeply unhappy with the course of events in the play. As the play draws to an end, we see the two brothers stand face to face as the lights fade and the curtain closes.

 True West is currently playing at The Citizens Theatre, Glasgow. For more info please visit here http://citz.co.uk/whatson/info/true_west/

Spare A Thought For Our Older Generation

“The wise mind mourns less for what age takes away than what it leaves behind”

At the moment I work as a Financial Guardian Administrator within the firm. I deal with people, mostly elderly people, who have lost capacity and need a Guardian to look after their affairs. Yesterday was World Mental Health Day 2013, a day observed across the world to raise awareness about mental illness and its effects on people. The theme for 2013 is Mental Health and Older Adults:  it made me stop and think about what we as a society are in fact doing to manage the increasing issue (please note I do not use the word problem) of a growing elderly population. There is no doubt that in developed countries people are living longer, which encompasses more years at work, more years of an active retirement and a growing number of people in their 80s and 90s.  Today it is estimated that there are 800 million people over the age of 60, all with an increased life expectancy and soon there certainly will be more older people on the planet than any other age group.

Our general attitude towards old people in Britain is not always laudable .Ageist sentiments of assuming older people are boring, weak, “past their sell by date” are not only discriminatory but isolate older adults, preventing them from contributing to society .The fairly frequent national scandals revealing the abuse and neglect suffered by many older adults living in institutions is a disgrace.  So often it seems we let down the people who need us the most ,those who have raised us fought for our rights and our futures.

Of course there are huge health concerns for older adults. The World Health Organisation has estimated that by 2030 over 65 million people will be living with dementia, suffering a deterioration of memory, thinking and the ability to perform everyday activities. Another major mental illness facing the older generation is depression. Unfortunately as we age we are more likely to experience suffering from sad things such as bereavement, isolation, disability and long term health conditions which may in turn place people at risk of mental disorders. The Mental Health Foundation estimates that 10-16% of elderly people in the community have depression, rising to some 40% of older people in residential care.

But if we’re fortunate, we too will grow old and it is now that ageing should be one of our concerns. It is at the present moment that we need to ensure there is funding so that research can be carried out into dementia and to seek effective ways of treating the condition. In fact on the BBC News last night UK researchers have , for the first time, used a chemical to prevent the death of brain tissue in a neurodegenerative disease.  Professor Roger Morris from Kings College London has commented “ This finding, I suspect, will be judged by history as a turning point in the search for medicines to control and prevent Alzheimer’s disease.” We have to fight ageism to promote active and healthy ageing. We should invest in better care so that old people can stay in their own homes for longer and then when an elderly adult moves to a residential nursing home we need to ensure the excellence of their care. We need to make sure that “Old age hath yet his honour and his toil.”

‘Crime and Punishment’ at The Citizens

As we took our seats on Thursday evening for Crime and Punishment, a play based on Dostoyevsky ‘s novel of the same name, there was already much activity on the stage. The ten actors, who took on various roles throughout the play, were already there: chatting, smoking cigarettes and drinking vodka. The scenery was minimal and the large stage was exposed right to the brickwork at the back.

As the play began, a light blanket of smoke covered the stage floor creating a sinister atmosphere. The central character, Raskolnikov or Rodya, is a penniless former student who has become more and more isolated from the rest of society: he has dropped out of university and spends his time closeted away in his small rented apartment. We see him wrestling with the idea of murdering an unscrupulous pawnbroker who preys on the poor and vulnerable in society by charging extortionate interest rates. The pawnbroker’s deviousness presents Raskolnikov with a potential justification for the perpetration of the crime as he expresses his belief that he could put her ill-gotten gains to much more honourable use.

After receiving a sign propelling him to commit the crime, Raskolnikov makes his way to the pawnbroker’s house, believing that her sister will be out for some time and that they will not be disturbed. He follows the pawnbroker through a curtain to her office and it is here that he commits the murder. The ominous atmosphere at this point was exacerbated by the atmospheric music and the red ‘blood’ dramatically splattered across the curtain. Unfortunately, Raskolnikov’s plan begins to fall apart when the pawnbroker’s sister returns unexpectedly. He is faced with little choice but to kill her too.

Following the murders, we see Raskolnikov’s descent into further mental torment. He comes under the radar of Porfiry Petrovich, the lead detective investigating the murders. Petrovich is Raskolnikov’s main antagonist, questioning him and attempting to lure him into confessing to his crimes. The interaction between the two is captivating as the pair engage in a cat and mouse game of wits.

For me, an absolute highlight of the evening was to watch the way in which the actors slipped seamlessly between roles, with those not involved in a particular scene watching on from the outskirts of the stage, voyeurs of the unfolding drama. This was a highly enjoyable play and I would definitely recommend that you go and find out for yourself how the plot unravels!


Book Review – And The Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

Our managing Partner, Morag Inglis, had chosen History of the World in Ten and a Half Chapters by Julian Barnes as our latest Book Club book. However, with the summer holidays being in full swing we haven’t been able to fix a date for a discussion of that particular work.

So, in the meantime, being an enormous fan of both the Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, I was delighted when one of my friends gave me the latest novel by Khaled Hosseini  And The Mountains Echoed. When you have enjoyed an author’s previous works so much, you always hope that you will not be disappointed by their latest publication. Not only was I not disappointed, I was enthralled. I loved it. I started reading on a Tuesday evening around 6.00pm and read all night, finishing at 8.13 am the next morning. I could not put the book down.

“You want a story and I will tell you one” Hosseini begins. It is 1952 in Afghanistan and a father permanently exhausted by the business of survival tells a bedtime tale to his two children, Abdullah and Pari. It is a narrative about a demon that draws a father into making a terrible pact. The father can gift to his favourite son a better life but only by giving the child away and never seeing him again.

Indeed, this is what Saboor, the poor Afghan father telling the story, is about to do himself. He gives his three year old daughter Pari, who has an unusually strong bond with her brother Abdullah, to a wealthy man in Kabul. This act, like a pebble thrown into a pool of water, creates ripples; not just one, but countless ripples. The reader could be forgiven at the outset for expecting a tale of a brother and sister who were forced to separate and how they ultimately were reunited by a unified sense of loss and yearning for each other, but the novel is much more multi-layered than that.

In fact the reader is taken on a journey which paints a subtle, complex and conflicted picture of Afghanistan. The themes of Afghanistan’s relationship with the wider world, the traumas suffered by those who remain living there and what happens to those who leave and then come back to rediscover their country are explored. There is nostalgia for the old Afghanistan which has become hardened by its clashes with Western freedoms and shattered by modern wars.

For me though it is the characters that held me spellbound. The story of Abdullah and Pari is a perfect spring board for tales about people surrounding the siblings. At first you may think the other characters are assumed merely as foils but they become gripping and captivating as the reader follows their own destinations. An uncle’s suggestion and father’s decision produce a storyline that spans generations of families, history and continents creating a complex novel about bonds and the making of difficult and incorrect choices and their long lasting consequences.

The writing flows beautifully and I was beguiled from start to finish.  And the Mountains Echoed is larger in scope than either of Hosseini’s previous novels, dealing with many more intricate issues. I enjoyed the journey of the novel. As Hosseini said, “A story is like a moving train no matter where you hop onboard you are bound to reach your destination sooner or later.” Very true, but from the start of the narrative I had no idea of the route being taken to reach the end and I did not know my heart would soar and break so many times along the way.