30 November 2020

Three Wise Men

By Miranda Marshall, Director, Hayes + Storr.

Wisdom is a quality acquired with age. In challenging times, many people want the security of experience and steadiness. Look what has happened in the United States. There are few elder statemen in British politics to have a ‘firm hand on the tiller’ and steer a steady course. If Biden, the oldest US president at 77, is the first of my Wise Men, then The Queen, 94, must be the second. As lawyers state when drafting documents: “the masculine includes the feminine”. Her Majesty has just announced that she has no plans to retire and will honour the pledge she gave on her 21st birthday to serve her country until the end of her days. Plans for her 70th Jubilee in 2022 are already in hand. My third wise man is Captain Sir Tom Moore, aged 100, deservedly the darling of 2020, having raised a whopping £32,795,065 for the NHS.

As we all know, the pandemic means that the older end of the world’s population is particularly vulnerable now. There are intergeneration tensions developing because of the debts building up to meet the cost of Covid which will be for future generations to pay, the reduced opportunities for the young, adding to that the protective and restrictive social-distancing measures which are hardly for their benefit.

Christmas is a time for people of all ages to come together. Let us hope that will be possible in 2020. The time spent at pre-Christmas networking drinks events, coupled with clients’ pressure to have everything completed before for Christmas and the small matter of one’s own Christmas preparations will be different for me, and I am sure others, this year. We still cannot plan for Christmas, which is causing much anxiety, for those for whom the day is the highlight of their year. Will the Rule of Six apply; and, if so, what about multi-household families of seven and more? It is hardly the Christmas spirit to leave people out. Apparently, the pre-ordering of turkeys is down!

Back to my theme. If we are not all together, or if the more anxious decide to avoid large gatherings, please look out for your ‘elders’ (as the Americans call them – which has an air of gravitas and elegance about it).

Hayes + Storr is especially proud of our long-established and ground-breaking specialist department providing elderly client services. As well as legal and other advice, it has a strong pastoral care element and a focus on support to enable independent living for as long and as much as possible.

Christmas has always been a time, with New Year, for people to take stock, especially in their role as a family member. Many new Wills are made in the aftermath of the festivities for differing reasons, good and bad. Sadly, but inevitably, the divorce department always reports a peak in new instructions. New Year’s resolutions prompt activity in many other areas of law: new businesses and other ventures, moving to a new house, planning for the future.

Sadly, people often pass away in the late winter, having been determined to see Christmas, but with the long dark, dreary stretch through to Easter knocking their spirit.

It is important to look for advice from an established and trusted advisor where relationships can be formed on a long-term basis. It is akin to the family doctor of the old days.

We are all hoping that 2021 will be a better year and there is a glint of hope with the development of a vaccine. I think few of us will emerge into 2021 as quite the same person as we entered 2020.