Failing to deliver on your promises could lead to a contested Will.
The law in respect of this point is called ‘Proprietary Estoppel’ and is a question we always ask our clients because it is good practice to do so; as indeed are the many other questions and advice that form an important part of the will-writing and inheritance planning process.
You can (of course) write your own Will and you may end up doing a good job with it. Don’t forget that one day your Will will deal with everything you own one day, so in our opinion it is worth paying a little extra to get that all important advice from a specialist. The vast majority of clients tell me they are surprised about all the questions we ask. You only have to read a newspaper story like the one in the link below to understand why. Our intention is to get it right first time and encourage our clients to think carefully about their Will instructions and the consequences of their choices. We care. We keep up to date with developments and post information online to keep our clients informed because it is essential.
A will-writing meeting typically takes around two hours to complete and you will come out of the process feeling better informed and comfortable that you have done the right thing.
Whether it is to do with Wills, Lasting Power of Attorney, Family Protection Trusts, Inheritance Tax, Care home fees, Prepaid funeral plans, Probate or anything else we haven’t mentioned here, why not ask us?
If you would like our help please contact us here.
1st February 2018
Claim your Power of Attorney registration refund back now
You may (or may not) be aware that the Office of the Public Guardian have over the years kept reducing the registration fee, because they’re not supposed to make a profit from the process. They have finally settled on 82 being the full fee, representing the true cost. So if you paid more than this you can claim a refund and here’s how to do it:
The scheme enables people in England and Wales to claim back the excessive fees they paid the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) for lasting power of attorney (LPA) and enduring power of attorney (EPA) applications.
They will refund where fee payments were made between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017, and includes repeat applications and remissions, whether the power of attorney was registered or not.
You can read the full Ministry of Justice press release here.
All those eligible for a partial refund on their power of attorney fees can apply from today 01/02/2018.
Further details on the scheme are available HERE and include:
- Who can claim a refund
- How much the refund will be (typically 45-54)
- How to claim
This is by way of an online application and will take about 10 minutes. Claims can only be submitted by the person who made the power of attorney or an appointed attorney.
However, you must claim by phone instead (Telephone: 0300 456 0300 – choose option 6) if:
- the donor doesn’t have a UK bank account
- the donor has died
- you are a court-appointed deputy
You can contact the Refunds Helpline:
Telephone: 0300 456 0300 (choose option 6)
8th January 2018
Making a Will (or updating your old one) must be fairly close to the top of most of our New Year Resolution lists; even more so when there have been problems in the family over the holiday period.
I have had quite few urgent calls from clients needing help, whether it be a sudden death and what to do next, an elderly relative coming out of hospital and the family trying to deal with Social Services about care packages, and so on.
It almost seems worse over the holiday period because it is in family time.
Whilst I cant solve every problem that comes my way, Im not superman (just in case you were wondering), I can generally help put the client in touch with the right professional expertise if I am not the right person to deal with it.
Great customer service, getting advice from someone you can trust is priceless and if you can do this without getting ripped off, so much the better. This is where we are at …
If you can save time and therefore cost by simply talking to the right person first time around, it will help keep your stress levels down let alone get the issue dealt with quickly.
New Year, New Will? Contact us here.
24th November 2017
67% of complaints to the Local Government & Social Care Ombudsman about charging for care have been upheld in the last year, so what does that tell you?
Unfortunately, the postcode lottery syndrome applies and it will depend on where you live and who you get to carry out the dreaded financial means test. Not all Local Authorities are the same, although you would expect some consistency, the result is often accepted by the family of the loved one going into care on the assumption that they must know what they are talking about.
The Care Act 2014 is a minefield, navigating through the associated rules and regulations is not for the feint-hearted and it really is worth engaging a Specialist. Fortunately for you, we know who to recommend so get in touch with us if this concerns you.
Dont worry too much about what the advice is going to cost, two points on this
- first, your loved one is likely to be receiving State Benefits so just think of it as the State paying for the advice, and
- secondly the outcome could very well save you a lot of money, let alone the stress and anxiety if you tried to handle it yourself.
What is essential is that your loved one has both Lasting Power of Attorney, of course we can help you set these up without it costing you a fortune.
- Without, you as an ordinary family member will have no authority to challenge an assessment.
- With LPAs, as an Attorney you will.
This article isnt the place to go into details; there really is too much to say, we can help so please contact us here, or telephone when it suits you.
Some alarming facts to bear in mind:
- Property gifted to children can still be taken into account
- Adding children to the property deeds will make no difference
- If a Will Trust is not set up after the first death, it wont work
- Children added to bank accounts will make no difference
- Property sold and the money gifted to children will not work
- Assets gifted over 7 years ago makes no difference in a means test
- Using an Annual Gifting Allowance may not work either
- Selling assets under value to a relative will pass the burden on to whoever received it
So, are you paying the correct Care Home fees?
Please contact us for advice and help.
21st September 2017
Yes it’s true, there may well be Will-writing reforms ahead
There is going to be a public consultation on the law that backs up Wills in England & Wales. About time too you will hear all of us in the profession say. It is well overdue considering the majority of the rules come from the Wills Act 1837.
It is common knowledge that two thirds of the population do not have a Will in place and so for those folk, the law of intestacy is set to take charge of their assets and distribute them according to an archaic set of rules. The result is that too many situations end in tears and frustration for the family left behind.
The question is where will they start? So much has changed in life, it is far more complicated than ever before, living longer through medical advances, dealing with dementia and understanding a wide range of factors that can affect the capacity to write a Will and/or a Lasting Power of Attorney.
Of course we generally tend to have more assets to pass on these days, and the family dynamic has got a lot more complicated too through children from multiple relationships and ex partners alike. The underlying objectives have to be to modernize and improve on what we current have in place. It is a multi faceted problem and as such is likely to take quite some time and cost the public purse a shed load of money. It could be worth it!
More flexibility over the official signing process of a Will? Is there a more straightforward way to assess and document testamentary capacity? Avoiding the family squabbling about what is due to them and making it more robust to be able to leave your estate as you wish rather than face a contested estate? Should the age be lowered to 16 to write a Will? And how best to deal with your digital assets which may not be subject to the laws of England & Wales, the list goes on and on – food for thought as they say.6th August 2017
Make a Will with LOROS
We have again been a part of the fund raising efforts at LOROS earlier this year and are delighted to have raised the healthy sum of 550, on top of this, everyone that came to us filled in the ‘gift aid’ section which means the Government has added a further 25% gift aid on top of this… marvellous!
The scheme has been going for five years now, and those wishing to make a Will, can do so and write out a cheque to Loros, and/or include a money legacy in their Will. Bear in mind that anything more than just a simple straightforward Will would be an additional charge, however many people we see only want or need a basic Will.
Whatever your family circumstances, the important factor is to get advice. Life is complicated these days and our key strength as a business, is to get to know you well, then we can recommend the right type of Will for you. it is all about understanding your family dynamic, the value of your estate (thinking about inheritance tax…) and giving you a choice. We are quite laid back and enjoy what we do, so if this appeals to you, why not get in touch and ask us to help.
Contact us here
Hope Against Cancer is my charity for 2017 and on 16-19 September I am cycling 300+ miles with 50 other riders from Leicester – Buxton – Stockport – Sheffield – Leicester to raise 1,000 and if you would like to help me, you can donate here thank you.
16th June 2017
Yes you can get your Will done online, there are APPs about that will take you through a series of crafted questions and the answers are used to populate a simple template to produce a Will, but will you really be hAPPy with it?
What if you dont fully understand the significance of a question? Even if you have a good command of the English language, if the questions are even in the remotest of legalease it is going to cause you problems answering, and probably to just save a few quid. You cant ask an APP to check your logic, so the result will cast a shadow of doubt in your mind about its suitability.
Frankly, there is no substitute for engaging an experienced Will-writer. The scope of questioning is designed to understand you, your estate, raise awareness of inheritance tax, check your Domicile status and these are just some of the fundamentals. How is an APP going to check your last Will? Even a very basic Will should incorporate some trustee powers that will come into play if a trust is set up by your Will for minor beneficiaries, do you know what to include or exclude? I’m just scratching the surface here..
Attendance notes, checking the identity and testamentary capacity of the individual that wants the Will, who was present, how did it go, what was highlighted, the list goes on…
All I am saying is ‘buyer beware’ and please dont forget that one day your Will is going to pass on everything you own, so you do need to be confident that it will work, just saying…
If you’re now concerned having thought about it, good, I am glad to have cast some doubt.
We have an excellent local reputation and would be delighted to help you so why not contact us now? Thanks for reading by the way.
We are members of the Institute of Professional Willwriters and comply with a strict code of practice approved by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, for your peace of mind, and ours. Independent Will-writers are there for your benefit and provide an excellent personal service, a real credible alternative to the typical High Street solicitor.
5th June 2017
What are digital assets?
In this ever-growing digital age of ours we all have an ever-bigger online presence than before and access it on more and more electronic devices, these are your digital assets.
Come to think of it, you have used one of them to visit my blog today, your email address, plus, you would have used a laptop, desktop computer or smart phone.
There are countless examples of digital assets, email accounts, digital music, digital photographs and videos, social network accounts, financial accounts, and online stores. You may also have a desktop computer, laptop, tablet, smart phone, storage devices and any similar digital device to name but a few.
94% of the population have online accounts which are being used as part of everyday life, with the average person in the UK having 26 different accounts and 10 different passwords.
What happens to your digital assets?
When surveyed, 75% of people said their children wouldnt be able to access their digital assets when they died and over 50% of people said their partner wouldnt have access.
20% of bereaved families, found it too difficult to locate and deal with the digital assets and so didnt bother which means it could be lost forever. What if you were to become incapacitated? Or would like someone else to manage your finances? Would your trusted people, loved ones, deputies or attorneys be able to access your digital assets to manage your affairs?
There are potential issues that may arise without proper planning;
- Will your loved ones know what digital assets you have?
You may incur costs/subscriptions if not all digital assets are known. Or maybe you have investments you would like to be passed on? What is the worth of your digital assets?
- Will your loved ones know what to do with them?
- Do social media accounts need to be closed or memorialised, software uninstalled? Images stored?
Where should you start?
We should all make a list so that at least your family/executors actually know where to begin, of course you should not list your login and password details together. Consideration should be given to including a clause in your Will and Lasting Power of Attorney, and if you would like our help please contact us here.
Can you protect your family’s inheritance and solve your Inheritance Tax liability, that is the question?17th May 2017
Inheritance Tax and the Residence Nil Rate Band
(IHT & the RNRB)
From 6/4/17 every client will get an extra 100k allowance on top of their normal 325k NRB for IHT. A further 25k is to be added each year until Apr-20 when the RNRB will be 175k, + 325k makes the 500k promised by the Tory party policy objective. Couples with children can then get 1M but there are conditions attached.
There must be a ‘qualifying residential interest’ in the family home and it must be left to ‘lineal descendants‘ to get the RNRB. If it is put into a DT, Discretionary Trust either during lifetime or via a Will, then it will eventually be transferred to the descendants at the discretion of the Trustees, rather than by the client directly and accordingly will not qualify for the RNRB.
The available RNRB will be limited by the value of the family home, and if the total estate exceeds 2M then the RNRB is reduced on a sliding scale to the point where there is no extra allowance if the estate is above 2.7M in Apr-20. The RNRB will only be relevant to clients with a single NRB and assets above 325k but less than 2M, and for couples with assets above 650k and below 2M.
Where Mr dies and leaves everything to Mrs, she will gain his transferable NRB & RNRB. If a couple have moved to a smaller property, there are ‘downsizing provisions‘ to calculate the amount of relief that can be claimed.
Wealthy clients will now face a dilemma
They may be more concerned about keeping their assets in the bloodline and making use of either a DT, Discretionary Trust on second death to retain assets or FAPTs, Family Asset Protection Trusts during lifetime which help to avoid IHT/ each others care costs/ grant of probate costs/ children inheriting at the wrong time/ solving the childrens IHT etc. Other options are available to deal with the value of assets over the NRB and subject to IHT such as using BPR relief where given the 2 year period of investment, these assets can simply be transferred to the FAPT IHT-free thus avoiding the need to use the RNRB, or even having to wait 4 years for it to be fully implemented.
Where assets are left in trust, only an IPDI, disabled persons trust, 18-25 trust and bereaved minor trusts will qualify, conversely as already stated a DT is excluded even if the only beneficiaries of it are lineal descendants, however it is still possible to use a s144 deed of appointment out of the Trust within 2 years of the date of death to claim the RNRB. This will present some clients with a dilemma about which is their greatest enemy, protecting bloodline assets in trust or solving their IHT liability? Understanding the consequences of your options is an important step towards getting the right plans in place.
One final thought
Married couples benefit from spouse exemption on a first death scenario which defers the IHT to second death, remember that there are far less planning options available on second death to deal with the problem, meaning that planning advice needs to be taken early and implemented well in advance, there are IHT planning options that take either 7, 2 or 0 years to put in place and much depends on the type of assets held, the clients attitude to risk and motivation to solve these problems.
If you would like our help, contact us here to arrange a fact finding meeting.
21st April 2017
BREAKING NEWS INDEED
The Governments decision to change the flat-rate probate fee to a tiered system based on the value of the estate has been scrapped (could this be connected with Theresa Mays snap General Election on June 8th) following an announcement by the Ministry of Justice this morning.
The proposed fee changes would have seen the cost of applying for the Grant of Probate increase by more than 9,000% for large estates, so the question that follows has to be: Will this now come into force after June 8th?
Regardless of this announcement, we will continue to offer families good value fixed fees and an exceptional service when it comes to choosing how to deal with the administration of a loved one’s estate.
Fixed fees means just that, if you think we might be able to help, simply give us a call on Tel no. 0116 2784862 or email using the Contact Us form.