WHO brings up your kids following your death is, like many things in life, a subject no one wants to contemplate - let alone talk about.
But what happens if you do nothing? If you and your spouse die unexpectedly, a court will decide who looks after your children. And that person may not be your first choice.
You can avoid this awful situation by appointment a guardian in your will. That person will then take parental responsibility. It should be noted that guardians can, and should, also independently nominate other guardians in their wills.
It probably goes without saying that it's best to seek the consent of a proposed guardian. We don't want any surprises, do we? And you would also want to leave a gift for your children in your will to help towards their education and upbringing.
Another good idea is a letter of wishes, which lays out specific details of how you want your children raised. It might concern after-school activities or their education or religion. But a letter of wishes is not legally binding.
It is comforting to know that, if you should die, someone you trust will love and care for your children. To appoint a guardian, contact Heritage Will Writing on 02380 879243.
I KNOW an elderly mum in her 80s who recently sat down with her eldest son and went through all her financial and legal paperwork. This included the location of her will.
Sadly, though, death can arrive at unexpected and inconvenient times, and trying to find the will of a loved one can prove frustrating, to say the least. First, search the house. If that draws a blank, try their bank or solicitor or a local will writer. It could even have been lodged at the Principal Probate Registry in London. If so, there should be a certificate amongst the deceased’s possessions.
If you do find the will, take copies without removing staples or other fastenings. Under no circumstances write on it or attach anything to it. If you only find a copy, the Probate Registry will need proof that the original will was not destroyed or revoked before the deceased’s death, which, of course, may be tricky.
If you can’t find a will, it is possible that one may not actually exist. In this case, the rules of intestacy apply. This is a subject we will cover later.
Heritage Will Writing offers a secure will-storing service. Contact us on 02380 879243 for help in applying for probate.
PEOPLE who pay for their own nursing home care may be subsidising state-funded places, new figures show.
Average weekly rates for self-payers have now reached an eye-watering £1,000, according to a report by analyst LaingBuisson. In fact, ten per cent of the existing capacity costs £1,200 or more a week.
LaingBuisson called for the Competition and Markets Authority to examine whether the higher fees paid by self-payers are a cross subsidy.
Lower fees offered by councils mean that care homes have to raise prices for self-payers. The Conservative Party’s introduction of the National Living Wage, now set at £7.50 an hour for workers aged 25 or over, has put further upward pressure on prices charged. Sadly, a number of businesses have been forced to shut because they can’t cover their costs. And this means we are facing a national shortage of places.
Be aware that you will probably have to pay for residential care yourself if you have assets of more than £23,250. But also be aware that you won’t get away with deliberate deprivation of assets, such as suddenly giving all your money away.
For further advice about planning for care home fees, contact Heritage Will Writing on 02380 879243.
INDUSTRY experts are celebrating after a layer of red tape was removed by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
As we reported in November, 2015, family doctors had been advised not to supply medical records on the basis of a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) relating only to property and finance.
GPs had been told by the CQC - the independent regulator of health and adult social care in England - that a health and welfare LPA must be produced, even if the records were required in support of a financial decision. This meant significant delays as only the Court of Protection could give authority for the records to be released.
The CQC now points out: “A property and affairs LPA attorney may need to have access to medical information occasionally, for example in order to set up health or care annuity policies on behalf of the person without capacity.” And it said this new advice would be communicated to all GPs and to Medicals Direct Group, a company that gathers medical data for insurance companies.
However, Heritage Will Writing recommends that people have both types of LPA in place. You can save £95 by setting up both together rather than singly.
Ring us now on 02380 879243.
SMALL businesses run the risk of major upheaval if one of the owners dies without carefully planning what would happen to their shares.
A survey by financial services giant Legal & General discovered that 51% of Britain’s small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) bosses have not left any instructions in their wills or made other special arrangements regarding the disposal of their shares.
It also revealed than 59% of the 800-plus SMEs questioned had no shareholders’ agreement in place and 36% of SMEs worth over £5m had no share protection insurance.
So, what can go wrong? Beneficiaries could become involved in the business, which the other shareholders may not be entirely happy about, or they may sell the shares to a third party – maybe to a competitor. Shares could be tied up in probate for a considerable time, which could paralyse the day-to- day operations if the deceased was a majority shareholder. Or surviving shareholders may be forced to buy the shares using their own money.
Make sure your shares - and your partner’s - are protected and that your company can flourish after your death by considering a life policy or share protection insurance or a shareholders' agreement.
Contact Heritage Will Writing on 02380 879243 for advice.
THE register office in the town in which the death occurred must be notified within five days unless the coroner is involved. This, of course, may not be the deceased’s own town.
It is the registrar who issues the death certificate not a doctor, who only issues a medical certificate. You will need the medical certificate and the deceased’s birth certificate and NHS card. You will be asked for the deceased’s full name, including maiden name, address and occupation, name and date of birth of the deceased’s spouse whether living or not and their occupation.
Several official copies of the death certificate should be requested as banks, building societies, etc, will all want one. Many, but not all, register offices operate a ‘Tell Us Once’ service. This enables local and central government departments to be notified of the death in one hit. This must be done within 28 days.
Contact a funeral director as soon as possible although the actual funeral will not usually go ahead until after the death certificate has been issued. As funeral costs can be reclaimed from the estate, it’s important to keep a record of all expenses and paperwork.
IT IS not just land-owning aristocrats and pop stars that have to pay inheritance tax (IHT) nowadays.
A tenth of all estates will be subject to IHT by 2019, according to the independent Office for Budget Responsibility. That means the figure will have doubled since 2013. Tax is payable at 40 percent of all your assets over a value of £325,000, which includes your home.
And just look at average house prices in the UK. It stood at £209,000 in April, 2016. I know there are major differences across the country. For example, in the North East of England it’s £121,000 and in London it’s £470,000.
So it is more important than ever to seek financial advice when preparing your will. But it’s not just you that needs to consider your options. We recommend that advisers, family members and other beneficiaries should be involved in the will-writing process.
Pension freedoms mean that some people have more cash available. And more cash means more tax. Financial advisers and will writers need to be aware of IHT and need to be discussing options with all interested parties.
Heritage Will Writing does take IHT into consideration. Give us a ring today on 02380 879243.
MORE than half a million families in the UK include children from previous relationships. That’s 11% of the total.
And this can lead to complications when it comes to estate planning. The last thing you want is conflict within your blended, or step family following your death.
But if it’s not handled properly and thoughtfully, this, I’m afraid, can happen. Most couples have no idea of the potential pitfalls until the facts are laid out before them. As an example, if your will says a percentage of your estate is to be shared equally amongst your children, your step-children will get nothing unless you have officially adopted them. It’s also worth bearing in mind that the same applies under the rules of intestacy.
Mirror wills, where husbands and wives leave everything to each other, are actually fraught with danger in blended families. If you die first, your spouse can make a new will and disinherit your children. Or if they remarry and their mirror will becomes invalid, again, your kids may be cut off.
A good will writer or financial adviser will ask the right questions and ensure that your real wishes are carried out fairly. Contact Heritage Will Writing on 02380 879243.
Change of cost for Registration Fees for Lasting Powers of Attorney
With effect from 1 April 2017, the fees for applying to register a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) has been reduced from £110 to £82.
Why the change is happening
The fee reduction has been made possible by the high number of applications OPG is processing and efficiencies which have driven down the cost of providing the service. Ministers hope that cutting fees will encourage even more people to take out LPAs, providing peace of mind for themselves and their families.
How this change affects LPA and EPA applications
LPA and EPA applications paid for from 1 April 2017 onwards will be charged £82.
For those who recently submitted an LPA or EPA application with a payment of £110 that’s paid for after 1 April 2017, the difference will be refunded to the individual who made the payment.
For more information: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/lasting-and-enduring-power-of-attorney-fees-are-changing
The start of a new year automatically comes with a need to compare it with the last one. Whether you’re looking back on your family, career or the weather in 2016, amongst these things there is one more likely to be certain than the rest: change.
Life is constantly subject to change, giving away little indication of where it’s going to take you from one day to the next. As difficult as it is to predict the future, one way to help secure yours is to check your will.
If you haven’t already written one, surely the beginning of a new year is the best time to do so?
Wills are there to provide the most accurate reflection of your final wishes. Naturally then, they should be updated each time something changes which could affect those wishes. Neglecting to do this may mean loved ones are neglected in your will.
A recent study indicated that out of those who possessed a will, over half (56%) made their will at least six years ago. Just under a third (31%) had written their will over a decade ago.
Situations change on a day to day basis, so when it comes to a period of ten years, it is almost certain that circumstances have altered in some way. Like anything else in life, wills require maintenance to be fit for purpose.
Every now and then, it’s good to make sure your will says what you want it to, so you can check and update it if necessary. The Government recommend this is done every five years, but if you’ve recently had children or grandchildren, gotten married or gotten divorced, now may be a good time to reassess your will so it takes these changes into account.
Small changes can be made using a codicil, whereas it may be more efficient for a new will to be written if more significant changes need to be made. As well as providing you with peace of mind, a will review need not be difficult with the help of Heritage Will Writing
The experts at Heritage Will Writing have been helping people write and review their wills for 15 years. To talk to a professional will writer, contact Heritage Will Writing today by calling 02380 879243 or by visiting heritagewillwriting.co.uk