How well are you managing your Inheritance tax (IHT) estate?

Your first task should be to know your numbers, put a value of your net estate, which in short is your total assets less liabilities. It sound straightforward but what should you include, or exclude?

Certain assets like capital in pension funds, life assurance policies that pay out in trust rather than in to your estate, or if you are a potential beneficiary of a discretionary trust should be excluded. There may be assets that you need to include in the calculation such as being a beneficiary of a life interest trust, or if you have made certain lifetime gifts during the past seven years as they will need to be added back.

You should be aware of what are chargeable assets and which may be exempt from IHT. The point here is, valuing your estate may not be as simple as you think. Get it wrong and it could cost you (or your family to be more specific) and no I am not making any of this up, it is how the rules have evolved over time.

The second task is to know what tax allowances and exemptions can be set against your estate to see if you have a chargeable estate, or not. Then you can decide how to manage your way out of the problem, this is why IHT is often labeled a voluntary tax. Do nothing about it and you are volunteering to pay it, put a strategy in place and you can manage your way out of it. Talk to us if you would like to know how to do this.

Everyone has a Nil Rate Band allowance (currently 325,000 in 2018/19) to set against their estate. There is also a Residence Nil Rate Band allowance available (currently 125,000 000 in 2018/19) and the rules around being able to claim it are far too complicated to explain here. If you are married or in a civil partnership, survivorship rules (i.e. all to the survivor) will mean there is no IHT on first death but there could be on second death. If you are an unmarried couple IHT could be payable on first death and second death, so getting married for tax purposes is a solution and is more common than you might think!

 You may have read that Inheritance Tax receipts hit a record high of 5.2bn in the last tax year. One contributor to this is where family or lay executors deal with the estate of the deceased and are either unaware or incapable of knowing how to claim the allowances or exemptions that are available. You have to claim them. Estate administration is a complicated process and when done professionally can easily pay for itself in such circumstances, and if you know where to go for a trusted reliable service where the cost is fixed and agreed upfront, you will be able to rest easy knowing that this has been dealt with in the best possible way, we can of course help.

We comply with the Institute of Professional Willwriters code of practice, and that of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners, in England and Wales.

 

Thanks for reading! As always, if you think we can help you please contact us.

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Training for ‘The Bamboozle Theatre Company’s’ 70Seventy Pyrenees Cycling challenge

The Bamboozle Theatre Company is our charity of the year 2018/19, and even though they are a local charity to me, their work message is spreading across the country and globe, even reaching as far afield as Hong Kong… so theres a strong message being taken far and wide. Creating magical multi sensory experiences to engage and include severely disabled and autistic children is what they do. My message to you then is to think about families like this in your own area, they need our help and guidance as specialists in our field.

Planning to cycle the Pyrenees is no different to helping a client plan their inheritance, it needs careful thought, doing it in advance at the right time and allowing plenty of time to think things through to achieve the right result.

The headlines then on me (if youre interested), the plan is to keep on pedaling, sounds pretty basic but theres no substitute for time on the bike. Achieving 100+ miles a week is my general target and with a regular Wednesday morning ride with the Ratae Road Club and Sunday morning with mates, both times riding out for a mandatory coffee and cake stop, the distance comes quite easily. What this doesnt help with is coping with long rides back to back and this is where Saturdays will eventually come in to begin with, then throw in the odd Friday ride and it will start to come, I wouldnt say easily but when youve done it a few times, you are pretty much there. It is amazing how resilient the body and legs are (I hope), the muscle memory takes over and removes that doubt that yes you can do it!

 Building the leg muscles is one thing, general fitness is another. You need a strong core, back, arms and hands. You can imagine being in one position on the bike for say 6 hours doing a 100 miles, the body takes quite a hammering. If youre ‘on the drops’ going down hill, on the brakes a lot keeping it under 35mph, your arms and hands take a lot of punishment. How do you train for this? Weights. Sounds boring but it is necessary in my humble opinion. All sportsmen and women regularly train with weights and you have to build yourself up over a period. Being motivated is essential, if you play at it or simply cant be bothered thinking that itll be alright, you wont be fit enough to actually enjoy the experience over the Pyrenees and thats what it is all about. Believe me when I tell you that conquering this challenge will be another life changing experience. It is fantastic. The first time was with another local charity when 70 of us cycled over 6 Alpine passes in 4 days from Geneva to Milan. It sounds break taking. In reality it’s bloody fantastic. 

 If youre a keen cyclist you will record your activities on Strava, its the law. If it isnt on Strava it never happened so of course you need a GPS unit to record your rides on, and it helps to track your mileage, times etc. to stay on course. It can get quite competitive comparing timed segments with your mates. The point is Strava will help you achieve your plan, just like getting the right advice from a specialist Will-writer and Inheritance planner.

 We were in Wales the other week, and yes it was an opportunity to put in a few miles when it didn’t rain, and boyo did it come down when it starts! Anyway, the photos below was on the good day of the week, timing is everything! Ill report again soon on my activities and share some Strava stats with you. The more you share, the harder it will be for me to even think of backing out, if you know what I mean

Sincere thanks go out to every member supporting me within the IPW, also to our partners including Kings Court Trust, Golden Charter, Taylor Rose TTKW, Solve Legal, Todays Wills & Probate and not forgetting my fellow IPW Council Members too.

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Have you promised something to anyone, and don’t intend delivering on that promise in your Will?

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.

Advice and recommendations form an important part of the will writing 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.

High court awards 1m in damages for dispute over farm inheritance case

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

 

 

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Power of Attorney – registration fee refund

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:

Email: poarefunds@justice.gsi.gov.uk

Telephone: 0300 456 0300 (choose option 6)

 

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New Year.. New Year Resolution.. New Will?

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.

What’s on your 2018 list?

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.

If you need help with your Will, setting up Lasting Power of Attorney or using Trusts to protect your familys money, then please get in touch, you wont be disappointed. Happy New Year to you all.

New Year, New Will? Contact us here.

 

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Are you paying the correct Care Home fees?

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.

  1. Without, you as an ordinary family member will have no authority to challenge an assessment.
  2. 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.

 

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Will-writing reforms ahead?

Yes it’s true, there may well be Will-writing reforms ahead

Bumpy road ahead for Wills…

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!

Some thoughts…

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.

If you would like our help with Will-writing, Lasting Power of Attorney, Family Asset Protection Trusts, Inheritance Tax, Care Home fees or Estate administration please contact us here.

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Will-writing month of May at LOROS hospice – make a Will

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 

For your information, Will Planning Solutions maintains strong links with local charities, they are Hope Against Cancer, Bamboozle Theatre Company, Alex’s Wish & LOROS 

Sponsorship request

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.

 

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Are you hAPPy about your Will ?

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.

 

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Does your Will or LPA deal with your digital assets?

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.

 

 

 

 

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