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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Can you protect your family’s inheritance and solve your Inheritance Tax liability, that is the question?

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.

 

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BREAKING NEWS – Proposed probate fee increases scrapped

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.

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Are you happy with the Trustees of your Will Trust?

Do you still trust your Trustees?

A lot of us have Wills that contain trust clauses these days to help protect the familys assets, usually on a first death scenario when half the family home goes into Trust. These trust work well but do not forget that you will have appointed trustees to be in charge of that share, possibly many years ago. So are you still happy with the trustees you chose?

There is a double edged meaning to this question that you should consider carefully, let me explain.

First

the straightforward point here is that you may have simply fallen out with who you originally chose. If you survive your partner/spouse, and are the life tenant of the deceaseds share of the house, do you really want to face conflict with the estranged or out of favour Trustees? Are you really going to agree? It could well be time to update your Will!

Secondly

If you are both the life tenant and a Trustee of the deceaseds share of the house, you could have a problem later on in life because you may well be seen to have the power to directly or indirectly influence the asset(s) in the Trust. If you are unfortunate enough to have to go into care, it could be seen that you have access to the trust assets, and that would not be good news for very obvious reasons. Current thinking recommends you keep it simple and only benefit from the life tenancy, let others that you trust be the trustees of the half share held in the Will trust, but choose wisely and keep your eye on the ball.

 The moral is to

Regularly review your Will, we come across plenty that should have been changed a long time ago. We offer free Will updates to our clients that use our safe and secure document storage facility. You will be hard pressed to find a better place to put your Wills, and all other important documents.

We are happy to help, contact us here.

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The cost of dying goes through the roof

New Probate fees from 1st May 2017

It has taken a year for the Governments consultation process to approve an increase in the costs of obtaining a Grant of Probate. The relatively cheap fixed fee is out in favour of a new-tiered fee system based on the value of the deceaseds estate, so :

  • at less than 50.000   –   No probate fee
  • at 50,000-300,000   –   300 probate fee
  • at 300,000-500,000   –   1,000 probate fee
  • at 500,000-1m   –  4,000 probate fee
  • at 1m-1.6m   –   8,000 probate fee
  • at 1.6m-2m   –   12,000 probate fee
  • at more than 2m   –   20,000 probate fee

Will Planning Solutions ‘fixed fee’ probate service

There has been a lot of strong opposition to the plans but it has made no difference.

Probate (or Estate Administration by its common name)

is rarely straightforward and not for the feint-hearted. If you would like help following the death of someone close, simply get in touch and we will help guide you through, contact us here.

 

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Inheritance Tax for Landlords

What can you do about Inheritance Tax if you are a landlord?

One thing landlords often overlook in building up their portfolio is Inheritance Tax. Every year approximately 4 billion is paid in inheritance tax and a large chunk of that comes from property.

Solve your Inheritance Tax liability…

 
Inheritance Tax is probably the most unfair tax there is as it is effectively double taxation, taxing assets that have already been taxed during a persons lifetime at 40% on death. 
 
There are some reliefs and exemptions against Inheritance Tax, however unfortunately, but perhaps not unsurprisingly, none of them apply to rental properties.
 
Can anything be done about it? In short yes, in most cases it is possible to restructure your property portfolio to protect it for your children from Inheritance Tax, perhaps using a company, a trust, or a partnership. Sensible Inheritance Tax planning is essential to enable you to pass on your hard earned property portfolio to your children without them having to sell properties simply to pay off the tax man.
 
We work with a specialist firm of chartered tax advisers who would be delighted to meet with you on a no obligations basis if you would like to explore your options further. To find out more please contact Rob Abell at Will Planning Solutions Ltd. on T 0116 2784862, or contact us here.
 
 
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