Confessions of a benefits manager: Candid joins a webinar on will writing

Confessions of a benefits manager

One of the things I most like about our voluntary benefits platform is the education that comes with it. Every month one of our providers runs a webinar on their specialism. As well as providing information, these webinars remind employees of all the benefits we offer, increasing enrolment and improving engagement with the platform in general.

This month’s webinar is an introduction from Boring and Stutter, our will writing advisors. I will admit it is not top of the list of ‘fun’ voluntary benefits we promote, nor does it have a very high take-up, but it certainly helps to tick the box for the employee lifecycle. It just shows how dull my own life has become, as I have signed up to join the talk myself.

The first problem is the link comes in Zoom rather than Teams. Our system does not always load Zoom links, it is probably some setting on my laptop but there is no time to fix it. I manage to connect to the meeting via the web instead. As it is, I have missed the introduction. I make a note to ask our vendor if they can use Teams in future as it is not the best experience for our employees.

Presentation style

In classic presentation style, the talk starts with the why; why write a will? The presenter, Victor, cites several circumstances where dying intestate would be unfavourable; even more unfavourable than just dying that is. None of those cases apply to me, but still there is a menacing bullet at the end of the slide: everyone’s circumstances are different, and you should always seek advice. It is not every day I think about death, and I am not particularly enjoying thinking about it now.  Really, I do not know what came over me in signing up for this.

Victor the Voice of Doom goes on to talk more about the firm Boring and Stutter. He says many people assume they should go to a lawyer for advice on wills, but not all lawyers are expert in this field. Hmm, I am pretty sure any law firm offering will writing advice would have relevant experience, so that seems a pretty weak argument. I agree lawyers fees are likely to be higher than a specialist firm like Boring and Stutter.

Victor goes on to caution against firms offering free advice as it is likely to be a overview designed to entice people in so they can make a sales pitch. Isn’t that exactly what this webinar is, I cannot help asking myself. However, he does suggest that free wills offered by charities may be good value, but only if you are sure that you plan to leave the majority to that given charity. While there is no obligation, charities only do free wills to encourage posthumous donations. It is a dark world I am beginning to realise.

Finally, we get into some actual information on wills. Victor talks a lot about married couples and mirrored wills. He keeps using his own family as an example which disturbs me. I do not want to know about his family life; I want to know more about wills. Despite listening intently – rather surprisingly – I do not learn anything I do not know already. The Voice of Doom moves on to trusts. Victor hints darkly at complexity and the need for specialist advice. He would, wouldn’t he? It doesn’t apply to me, so I find myself multi-tasking and glancing at my emails.

Power of attorney

Much to my annoyance I miss the beginning on power of attorney. I never thought I would hear myself say that sentence even to myself. A friend of mine has just had multiple POAs (power of attorneys or is it powers of attorneys?) done for her whole family and this has given me some kind of weird FOMO. Basically, I have POAFOMO.

I get the gist that there are two types of power of attorney, one financial and one health related. I have missed the slide on benefits of the financial one. I think I know what it covers but then I don’t know what I don’t know. I make a note to ask for the slides. Luckily, I do get to see the benefits of the health-related slide, which is scary enough to give me sleepless nights. I do not want the state deciding when to switch off the life support machine for me or my family. But then, who would I grant such powers to? I have a friend who would turn it off to save the electricity. My family might pack me into a care home for all the wrong reasons. I would want someone to make decisions as I would. It all needs more thought. However, I do not want to think about being incapacitated any more. No wonder so many people put off these decisions until it is too late.

Later, Boring and Stutter responds to my request for the slides, not with slides but with a link to the video. It takes a lot of scrolling to get to the slide I missed. I wonder why it does not just send the slides. I realise it does not want to give out any information without the accompanying sales patter.

I start to prepare an email to the vendor asking it to move to Teams. I also start asking it to tone down the sales pitch. However, eventually I realise it is one of those things it is not worth making a fuss about. If the company does not feel it is getting something for its time, it will just stop providing the webinars altogether. Scratch the surface of our benefits offering and you see it is all about someone making money out of someone else.

It is still on my list to sort out my legal affairs, but I really do not want to go to Boring and Stutter. I hope other employees do not come away feeling like that.

Next time…Candid has problems getting invoices paid