A cautionary tale for startups

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Thirty seven year old Shannon Eastman is passionate about what she does. She is emotionally devoted almost to a fault when it comes to her work. She is driven (more so in the face of set backs,) and like many of the entrepreneurs you know, she is good at working the usual 17hour days, eating on the go and going to whatever lengths required to serve her clients even if it means sleepless nights for her.

Like most entrepreneurs Shannon is also running her business in the cloud with fist-fulls of apps, SaaS, memberships, and social media platforms to help her operate her business and serve her clients. When you’re an entrepreneur, more often that not, priority for the clients overshadows the running of your own business.

In November 2013, Shannon was about to bring her newest venture to life. She was poised to complete with a shareholder director, an investor, a rebrand to her company, Teach a Brand to Fish, and had a launch planned for Q1 2014. All of which required all hands on deck to bring a Sales & Marketing solution to life for business owners with marketing departments of one.

Shannon describes herself as the daughter of a failed businessman and credits this experience that has driven her to solve PR, marketing and sales challenges for small businesses who are doing some good in this world.  2014 was the year for it all to take off.

Take off it did, but not in the way Shannon had forecast.

Q1 2014 is a time she remembers all too well. Not for the big launch she had been planning but because her health suddenly and drastically deteriorated. By February 2014 her options were to stop everything and go directly to bed now or have a conversation about chemotherapy in 12 months time.

Shannon was diagnosed with a condition that could potentially lead to Addison Syndrom, permanent adrenal failure, which, if left untreated could result in her being on steroids for the rest of her life if she did not take immediate and drastic action.

Stress was the primary cause. Of course stress is something entrepreneurs live with and live off most days of the week. Yet in her case her body had not been able to cope.

As she explains, she had no idea  she was in such a state. She didn’t realise that her attitude towards life and work – “fall down, get up faster, harder, and this time with more to give” was literally killing her.

It was that same week in February when Shannon got her next biggest lesson from life – building a business that runs on systems versus building a business that operates by you. Without Shannon she didn’t have a business to run. She faced the uncomfortable conversations with her newly acquired shareholder, director, her investor, her staff, her clients. A situation that she later attributes to her bouts of depression she endured throughout most of 2014.

At no time in February did Shannon consider the need to organise her business affairs in such a way that she could come back 6 or 10 months later and be able to pick up where she left off.

Her business had been running predominantly using a range of scattered digital tools which she kept at her finger tips. None of which she had documented or captured in one place.  As it turned out these were crucial to her being able to bring her business back to life and another lesson she had to learn the hard way seven months later. Her entire business had been set up and stored digitally and she had – wrongly – taken it for granted that she would never forget how to access these vital tools.

After a second set of uncomfortable conversations with her partner and investor about how much longer things needed take to get going because the business was all over the place, Shannon is exploring options for moving the tools of her business into a digital vault.

Our digital footprint is not just easy to create, it’s mandatory if you’re doing business in this day and age, safe guarding it, ensuring proper access to it and valuing it for what it is worth, is a business imperative we often fail to register.

Having a robust system is something which any startup should be thinking of from day one. They need to factor in being able to operate without missing a beat if the founder is knocked out of the driving seat temporarily or otherwise.

On the upside, Shannon has pulled her business back together once again. There is no doubt for her the life lessons she learnt are something she feels every enthusiastic new entrepreneur should understand. In the frenzy and excitement of setting up a new business, always take time out for yourself, evaluate how you are feeling and be gentle on yourself, and, remember to keep an archive of all your digital assets, it makes perfect business sense.

Difference between living Wills and living Trust

Living Wills and Trust

As we come to a close on our definitions and explanations of the various Wills available, we take a closer look at the difference between a living Will and a living Trust.

Let’s take a living Trust first which may help with costs and delays of probate and assists in keeping the details of your estate private. A living Trust can be divided into either a revocable or irrevocable living Trust.

The revocable living Trust is where you can transfer your assets into the ownership of the Trust and retain control of those assets. As the trustee of your revocable living Trust you can also change or revoke the Trust at any time you want.

The irrevocable living Trust on the other hand allows you to permanently and irrevocably give away your assets during your lifetime. Obviously once you give away your assets it means you have relinquished all control and interest in them. These assets are no longer considered part of your estate.

This should not be confused with a living Will which is a legal document which prompts and supports you in making life support decisions, including organ donation. A living Will becomes effective if something happens to you making you unable to make your own decisions.  A living Will lets you approve or decline certain types of medical care in advance.

If you would like to more information relating to Wills in general please do not hesitate to contact us.

bibic focuses on the value of digital legacy

Mark Flower, Corporate and Community Fundraiser, bibic

According to Mark Flower, Corporate and Community Fundraising Officer with national children’s charity bibic, charities have been relying on legacies since the word ‘charity’ was first thought of.  Up until now however, they have never been the beneficiaries of a digital legacy before.

The partnership which bibic and Planned Departure have recently struck up makes bibic the first UK national charity to benefit from digital legacies, a venture which is bound to attract many interested parties and no doubt boost the number of supporters the charity relies on.

bibic is a national UK charity that offers practical help to families caring for children with developmental difficulties that adversely affect their learning, communication and social skills. Some of the more common conditions bibic provides support for are Autism, Down’s syndrome, Aspergers, ADHD and Dyslexia. Since its inception in 1972 it has developed a solid team of therapists who assist hundreds of families every year.

Planned Departure approached the charity late last year as they felt digital legacies could indeed be a viable way forward for bibic to gain funding. As Anand Ramdeo points out ‘ with the value of individuals’ digital assets in the UK estimated to be more than £25 billion, bequeathing some or all of these assets to a charity makes perfect sense.’

You can learn more about this offering here.

Supporting a charity in your Will

Leaving a legacy through your will

Making a Will is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Ensuring your family is provided for after you’re gone should be a priority for most of us.

But after taking care of family and friends, have you considered supporting your favourite

charity in your Will?

It’s a common myth that only the rich and famous leave money to charity when they die. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The reality is that without gifts left in Wills by people like you, many of the charities we know and support wouldn’t even exist.

While 74% of the UK population support charities, only 7% currently leave a legacy to them when making a Will.

Gifts in Wills are incredibly important to UK charities. Without this income they would have to cut services and many would simply not exist. Did you know that two out of three guide dogs and six out of ten lifeboat launches are paid for by gifts in Wills, as is over a third of Cancer Research UK’s life-saving work.

Gifts in Wills are the equivalent of almost 19 Comic Reliefs appeals each year, so if you choose to leave some money in your Will to a charity as well as your family, you could be making a huge difference to your favourite cause.

Reasons for leaving a legacy are varied. Many support a chosen charity by fundraising or donating during their lifetime, and wish to continue giving after they’ve gone. Some have a family member who has benefitted from the work of a particular charity, and others are simply inspired by a cause which shares their lifelong goals and values. Whatever the reason; by leaving money in your Will you are making a lasting contribution.

Diana Alcaraz, supporter and ambassador of the RNLI, was inspired to leave a gift in her Will to the charity because of their support for her late husband Paul:

“When I told the RNLI I had left them a gift they were immensely grateful. It has brought me closer to the charity and I have formed a strong, ongoing relationship with them.

I decided to leave a charitable legacy a long time ago and completed the process once I was sure the children had secure futures. When I told my children of my decision they happily accepted and supported my wishes and reasons. The process of leaving a charitable gift was also very easy. I simply added it when I made a new will”.

A donation can be as large or small as you like. However much you choose to leave, your gift will always have an impact. Leaving a gift in your Will is also a tax-efficient way to give.

It’s a little known fact that there is no inheritance tax payable on gifts to charities in Wills – this means you can rest assured that the whole gift will go towards the charity close to your heart.

If the 7% of the population leaving a legacy were to increase by 4%, we would generate an additional £1 billion for good causes in the UK every year – making a considerable difference that you could play a part in.

Find out more about how to leave a gift in your Will at Remember A Charity’s website.

Property Trust Will – What can happen to your property?


We kick start 2015 looking into another type of Will – the Property Trust Will.

This type of Will is designed to protect a property’s value for future generations. It ensures the property is not reduced in value by care fees and can significantly reduce potential liabilities allowing you to keep greater control on how your property is dealt with upon your death.

As with the Joint, Mutual and Mirror Wills, the Property Trust Will is mainly drawn by couples to ensure that their family homes are not sold off.

Most couples own their property as joint tenants. This means that when one of them passes away the property is passed on to their partner. If their partner goes into care, the whole of the property may be sold to pay for care fees.

This Will can sometimes be left in a ‘Discretion Trust’, in which the trustees are the legal owners of all the assets listed.

A Discretionary Trust, also often referred to as a family trust, is a legal arrangement which allows the owner of a life policy to give their policy to a trusted group of people called the trustees.  In effect this involves the settlor, the beneficiaries and the trustees.

The settlor is the person creating the trust. The beneficiaries, those that will be receiving the payment and the trustees, those that have legal ownership of the trust from the settlor.

The one who creates this policy also has a list of beneficiaries whom the assets listed are passed on to. The main benefits of a Discretion Trust is that it shows who you want the proceeds to be paid to. This is because the trust can control when the money from the life policy will be paid out.

Money paid out from the life policy is not part of the estate which helps reduce inheritance tax.

In our next blog we will focus on Living Wills and Living Trusts. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you would like more in-depth information relating to Wills.