Pat and Mally

A stitch in time to safeguard Pat’s legacy

There are many occasions in life where a chance decision can make the difference between a positive outcome and a negative one.

Sadly, too many families lose out on potentially tens of thousands of pounds because they don’t have the knowledge to plan their finances the way they should. This can result in their loved ones facing a huge inheritance tax bill when they’re gone, or, perhaps even worse, not receiving what they wanted them to have at all.

Fortunately, that wasn’t the case for the Dawson family, based in Hull. Retired GP Pat had the presence of mind to seek proper financial advice and make sure her affairs were in order back in 2007, when she was in her 80s. Had she not done that, the consequences would have been dire in more ways than one, as her daughter – also called Pat – and son-in-law, Mally, explained.

“Phil’s now been advising us since then and we’ve relied on him to sort everything out for us and have total confidence that he’ll do things right,” explained Pat (daughter).

“It all started when mum started saying to me that she had a pot of money and needed to see a financial advisor. I didn’t really take any notice at first. Then, next thing, she asked me to go down to her house at a certain time one day and, when I got there, Phil was there too. She’d been introduced to him by a friend and had arranged for him to look after her finances.

“I remember my mum getting out a grey box during that first meeting, which turned out to be full of policy after policy she’d saved into over her lifetime. Mum didn’t have a lot of interest in financial matters and needed a little help interpreting some of the documents.  Phil went through it all and got everything in order, and it turned out she’d saved up a reasonable amount of money over the years.

“Phil helped mum make sure it was invested properly to grow. Not only that but, without Phil’s help, we could have ended up paying too much in inheritance tax when she eventually passed it on to us and the family, because her assets weren’t organised as they should have been.

“Mum was quite content just living on her state pension and her NHS pension, and it never occurred to her to touch her savings.”

Thanks to Phil, this was all taken care of when mum Pat sadly died in June 2020, at the ripe old age of 97.

“The most valuable thing was the relief of knowing that everything was in order, which was enormous” explained Pat, “all I had to concentrate on was coming to terms with having lost my mum.”

And this was especially poignant because Pat and husband Mally, a driving instructor, had cared for her mum around the clock at home since 2013, as her health deteriorated and she latterly succumbed to dementia.

“We moved in with mum in the end as she needed to be cared for day and night,” added Pat, “and we wanted to do that for her, as a family. We all worked together and took it in turns to be there with her. While it was quite demanding doing that, it was how we wanted it and we found the reserves somehow – and that’s another reason why it was good not to have to worry about financial arrangements.”

‘Powers of Attorney a godsend’

Yet there was another, even more important, reason for this family to feel a sense of relief – because Phil had also advised the younger Pat to sort out lasting powers of attorney for both ‘health and welfare’ and ‘property and financial affairs’.

“How we would have managed without those when my mum started to suffer from dementia doesn’t bear thinking about,” she continued.

“The illness made her mind revert back to pre-decimalisation times, so I had to take care of day-to-day finances like paying the bills, and I’d have been absolutely stuck trying to do that without this arrangement in place.

“When it came to mum’s wellbeing, it also meant that we as carers could make decisions on her behalf, that were in her best interests. A friend of mine didn’t have one and hers was a very different experience, where medics wouldn’t even share a family member’s health information with her for data protection reasons – it was just awful, and I found it utterly shocking.”

By contrast, even though a round-the-clock caring role like the one Pat and Mally took on can be hugely challenging, they had the peace of mind of knowing they could concentrate on doing their best for her mum when she needed them most.

Pat added: “I feel quite proud that our family was able to handle things in our own way. We’ve had other bereavements in the family, too, over the past 18 months, so it’s been hard, but we’re so grateful to Phil for taking unnecessary stress away from us during such a difficult time – and now we can focus on enjoying every minute with our two sons, daughter and five grandchildren – knowing that we’ve been able to protect and plan for their financial futures, too.”

Securing their legacy

Because Phil’s hard work has also helped secure mum Pat’s legacy for her and her family to come, by ensuring it has been invested for growth and planned ahead in the right way, including ensuring that the family are paying their fair share of inheritance tax, and no more.

“Phil’s foresight helped to make sure our family benefited as much as possible from the savings the elder Pat had worked so hard to put by during her lifetime,” added Mally.

“Aside from the inheritance we received from my mum, we’ve always been careful with money; only spent what we needed to and put money aside since our first day in work,” added Pat.

“We feel very fortunate and are really grateful that my mum left us a nest egg, and we’re determined to be careful with it, because it represents a whole lifetime and we want it to last several lifetimes more.”

Pat has been retired from her job as a clinical data manager since becoming a full-time carer for her mum in 2017, while Mally is only semi-retired from his own driving instructing business, because he enjoys it so much.

“I’m fortunate in that I’ve built my business up on recommendation, and a lot of people – the latest generations of people I helped to pass their tests years ago – are relying on me to get them through, including my eldest grandchild! I also really enjoy what I do and get a real sense of pride from it.”

And at least the couple know that their retirement funds are in safe hands, and will enable them to take a foot off the pedal and live the life-after-work they want, when they’re both ready.

“Whenever we’re thinking of doing something, such as taking funds out of our pension pot for a particular expense, we ask Phil first and he always advises us what to do for best and then sorts it all for us. It’s like having our own, go-to man because we know he’s on-hand whenever we need him,” adds Mally.

“He keeps an eye on all our pension savings and makes sure that they’re all in the right place and working as hard as possible for us.

“I can’t really describe how much that peace of mind, of knowing our financial futures are mapped out, means to us.”

And the journey started with finding someone they could trust.

“Years ago, I remember my mum saying ‘I’d love to go to a financial advisor, but I don’t trust anyone to look after my money, then she was lucky to find Phil through a friend,” concluded Pat. I think a lot of people are like that, they are understandably worried about other people handling their money and messing things up. That’s why I think maybe people don’t go to financial advisors as much as they ought to.

“Finances are a bit of a mystery to a lot of people and, when you start talking about pensions and investments, they start to get understandably quite frightened because they don’t really understand it all well enough.”

And of course, in these days of the pension freedoms, it’s more important than ever that people do seek out the right advice before making a move.

“Phil advised us how to structure our pensions, to make sure they worked for us, in ways that we wouldn’t have had the knowledge or confidence to do ourselves,”added Mally.

“I really cannot speak highly enough of him – both as a person and as a professional, he’s just outstanding. He’s always prepared make time for us when we need him and give us good, sensible answers. If we call and he’s on the phone, he’ll drop us a text and let us know when we can expect him to get back in touch – all very personal, down-to-earth and informal.

“He’ll also patiently explain anything we don’t understand until we get it, without being patronising, which is really important because we’re not financial experts, we’re ordinary working people.”

Phil added: “There are so many things to think about, when it comes to legacy planning, and I think the Dawsons have encountered almost all of them during the time I’ve supported them.

“I’m always so glad when people have the foresight to get help in ensuring their affairs are sorted out in good time, and, thankfully, this was the case with this family – who I was particularly glad to help given the kindness they showed in caring for one another when it mattered most.”

If you’re inspired by Pat and Mally’s experience and could do with an informal, friendly chat about your financial options, contact us via (01482) 860700 or

“Phil’s foresight helped to make sure our family benefited as much as possible from the savings the elder Pat had worked so hard to put by during her lifetime,” added Mally.

The challenge

Retired GP Pat had saved all her life into various investment policies that had grown in value over time. Her lifestyle was relatively modest and she was content to live on her State and NHS pensions, and wasn’t particularly savvy about financial matters. All the documents relating to her savings were tucked away in a box in a cupboard, and she didn’t even really know what she had, let alone what to do with it all. Little did she know she was sitting on considerable savings and these, coupled with the value of her home, had pushed her into a potentially expensive inheritance tax bracket whereas, with proper insight, this could be effectively planned to prevent her family facing a huge bill when she passed away, and ensure as much as possible of her hard-earned savings went to them. Pat also needed to ensure she handed over decision-making powers for her finances and wellbeing, to her family, in good time and while she was still considered to be of sound enough mind to do so.

The solution

Fortunately, Pat had the foresight to contact Phil, who painstakingly sifted through the contents of her little grey box, totted up all the savings she had amassed and then ensured that they were properly invested to keep them safe and ensure they continue to grow. He also organised all of Pat’s assets mitigate any eventual inheritance tax bill, which could otherwise have been very substantial. Phil also arranged for Pat to set up Powers of Attorney for her health and welfare and property and financial affairs – which proved priceless when she developed dementia a few years later, in her early 90s. Her case is a perfect example of how, whenever we start working with any new customer, we take a thorough look at all aspects of their finances, and what their goals are, and make sure all their assets and affairs – from their savings to pensions, legacy planning and necessary legal provisions, are all in place to first of all help them achieve the future they want, and then ensure anything they leave behind goes where it should.

The results

The vast majority of the savings Pat had worked hard to build up over her lifetime, went to her daughter, also called Pat, and son-in-law Mally – and future generations of their family – a fitting result, given they had worked tirelessly to care for her in her later years. Having the Powers of Attorney in place also meant that daughter Pat and Mally were able to make day-to-day financial and health decisions without conflict or stress, enabling them to give the elder Pat their full attention when she needed it most.

“Phil’s now been advising us since then and we’ve relied on him to sort everything out for us and have total confidence that he’ll do things right.”