Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Where There's A Will - The Blog Bit!

As promised in our feature on Wills and Trusts in Issue 19, my blog will now cover what happened when I went through the process of getting a will for myself and Gavin. So here goes...

It's April 12 and Gavin, virtually gripping the car dashboard with fear, notes that my driving is particularly erractic today (that's not the way he said it, mind you). Having failed to find a car parking space at Gorvin's solicitors in Stockport, I seem to have ended up in a bus lane near the town car parks. Impatient to get to our appointment promptly, I'm admittedly driving like an arse.

This tension continues as we to and fro outside the car about how long we'll be here for and what to give the Pay & Display to keep it happy. Then Gav returns to the car for something, by which time I'm hopping mad and shouting 'We'll be late, we'll be late!' like a demented white rabbit.

At least, he muses, we didn't manage to kill ourselves on the way here, despite my driving. Killing yourself on the way to sorting out your will has got to be the ultimate in irony.

The reason I'm tense, although it doesn't occur to me as I decide to skip the lift and huff my way to the sixth floor instead (it's good for us - will keep us alive longer!) is that I'm not exactly looking forward to this. The decisions we'll have to make will be difficult ones. If we both died at once, there wouldn't be the perfect answer for Bobby and Alec. The fact that I can no longer brush this under the carpet is probably playing on my mind. But decisions made by us will be better than no decisions at all.

Also, Gav and I aren't the best when faced with a professional behind a desk.  When the registrar married us, that was fine. But when buying my second hand car last year, the 'good cop/bad cop' act turned into the good cop having a go at the bad cop because she wanted the car with or without new wheels. The salesman laughed all the way to the bank.

Anyway, now we're here and the sensible decisions are about to be made. Christine Thornley, a partner at Gorvin's, has just bought a pen and paper with her. That immediately feels less daunting than sitting on the other side of a computer.

I stir my coffee as we get started. My creative brain is parked in neutral and the weak mental muscles of financial decision making are starting to warm up.

The first thing we need to tell her is roughly how much our house is worth. There's not a solid science to our judgement - nor does there need to be - it's just a case of thinking about what we paid in 2005 for it, adding a few grand for appreciation and taking off a few grand for the recession. We have a small three-bed semi and so it's not a fortune.

Next, Christine needs to note whether or not we are 'tenants in common'. If we jointly own the house (we do) then should one of us die, the property immediately falls into the other's hands. 'Tenants in common' is slightly more complicated, with one half of the house protected.

Gavin is a mortgage broker and knows about these things. For my sake, Christine puts on her virtual Mickey Mouse ears and draws a simple diagram.

This brings me to lesson number one for anyone reading this. Choose a solicitor who speaks simply and explains things clearly. The only way to do this is to find a good one by recommendation.

If they blind you with science, you'll be so bogged down by the jargon, the heftiness of an emotional subject and the tough decision making, that you'll simply let them mow all over you for an easy life. If you truly want the decisions to be yours, they have to be able to keep it simple.

If they can't keep it simple, they're probably hiding the fact that they're ripping you off. Allegedly.

PART TWO coming soon...

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Tune In To Bobby's Breakfast Show

It takes me a while to tune into Bobby FM in the morning. By the time I’m on his frequency, he is already asking whether I can upload The Way of the Exploding Stick onto his desktop. 

This is part of Bobby’s overall strategy to strike when I’m vulnerable to attack – either half-asleep, helping Alec to get dressed, or cooking something new.

At 7.30am I’m more concerned with getting Alec to hold onto his trousers as he eases his left leg into them. 

At the same time, Al finds about four other more interesting things to do. I am torn between summoning up saintly patience and grabbing kid and trousers and shoving one into the other.
“So you’ll put it on my desktop?” nags Bobby, fully aware, despite the autism, that it’s about now that I’m liable to agree to something stupid. 

Of course, I can’t say: “No, because that website is teaming with other completely inappropriate games and probably a virus or two.” I need to be diplomatic, because I really don’t need a tantrum blasting through the early morning like a runaway freight train.

“I have to have a look at websites first and see if I can find the game somewhere safer.”

You’d hope that would be the end of it. The thing with autistic kids, though, is that arguments are like gobstoppers. If you use the right technique, they can last a lifetime. 

Whilst Bobby continues to babble about the Skylanders that he needs to collect, my brain hovers over the Control + Alt + Delete setting.

But when we’re in the car, it occurs to me that there’s never going to be a better time to help him hone his conversation than when he’s talking about something he REALLY loves. 

So I do my best to crawl into his head and I ask him about magic powers, and special powers, and extra special powers, and extra extra special powers. 

He can chat about this stuff pretty articulately when he wants to. When you're on his specialist subject, you can get a very good two-way conversation. Course, it's on his terms, but you've got to start somewhere.

When I do wake up and tune in, it’s quite rewarding, as it happens. But as with anything - not to be done before I’ve had my morning coffee.