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
Dementia is a growing problem in the UK. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are currently 850,000 people with dementia, and that number is set to reach one million by 2025.
At some point, many people with dementia will reach the stage where they are unable to make decisions for themselves. As a result, it is incredibly important that somebody is nominated to have lasting power of attorney (LPA).
An LPA allows that person - known legally as your ‘attorney’ - to make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer in a position to make them yourself. There are two types of LPA - a property and finances LPA and a health and care LPA. You don’t have to make both at the same time.
Choosing the right person to act on your behalf can be very difficult, so it pays to take your time and not rush the decision. They will have to be over 18, and if making financial and property decisions, cannot have been declared bankrupt.
You will need to appoint someone that you trust, who you believe knows you well and will act in your best interests. You also need to find someone who is reliable, and who has the necessary skills to take on the responsibility. There is little point picking someone who knows you well, but who will be unreliable in meeting their obligations. Your attorney needs to be someone that you can always rely on.
Most people pick a family member, such as their partner or child, but you can appoint a professional, such as a solicitor if you prefer. Bear in mind that they may charge for their time.
You should also consider picking a replacement attorney. This is the person you wish to make decisions on your behalf should the first attorney no longer be able to or is unwilling to carry out the role. So, if you pick your partner for example, you may choose to select someone younger such as one of your children as the replacement attorney.
Contact Heritage Will Writing today by calling 02380 879243 or by visiting heritagewillwriting.co.uk.
It’s no secret that there is a care crisis in the UK. In order to deliver social care, the Government is being forced to consider increasing council tax to help cover the costs. However, the cost facing the individual, should they require care, could be very high too.
If you have savings and assets worth more than £23,250 in England and Northern Ireland (rising to £24,000 in Wales or £26,250 in Scotland), or a weekly income high enough to cover care fees, then you will not be eligible for local authority funding. In other words, you’ll have to pay for your own care.
In order to reduce their care liabilities, older people may therefore look to giving away their assets to loved ones. However, where gifting is concerned, there are strict rules which must be followed.
It’s not easy to hide the fact that you may have tried to give your property away to your children or grandchildren. Local authorities will carry out a financial assessment, looking not only at your current assets, but also those that you have previously owned.
If they believe you have given away assets intentionally, in order to qualify for funding from the local authority, they may find that you have indulged in ‘deliberate deprivation’. This may include selling assets for less than their true value, as well as giving them away.
What makes it deliberate?
To determine whether the disposal of assets was deliberate, the local authority will look at a number of things. These include:
- what your apparent motive was
- the timing of the gift (i.e. the time between you realising you need care and when you disposed of the asset)
- the amount of assets involved.
For example, they are less likely to investigate you if you give away £500 than if you are handing over £50,000.
If it is found that you have deliberately deprived yourself of those assets, even if you no longer own them, their value may be considered in the financial assessment. If the local authority does fund someone’s care costs, and later discover that the individual deliberately deprived themselves of assets, they can pursue that asset transferee in order to recover some of those care costs.
It’s not just during your life that you need to carefully plan how to hand your assets over to your loved ones. It is also vital to put together a plan for what happens after you die. This means ensuring you have a professional will in place. With important issues such as these, it pays to work with those who really know what they are doing. We can help. Contact Heritage Will Writing today on 02380 879243 or visit www.heritagewillwriting.co.uk
Having a poorly written will is often as bad as having no will at all, but what are the risks of doing it yourself when it comes to writing down your last wishes?
Spend five minutes online and you’ll see how easy and cheap it is to purchase a will making kit; Amazon sells them from as little as £3.99 and WHSmith from £9.99. But whilst these kits may appear to offer a simpler and quicker way to write a will, there are dangers. Badly written DIY wills and the resulting probate problems impact an estimated 38,000 families a year.
So what are the most common mistakes people make when writing their own wills? Misspelling names is one, as is failing to get the will properly witnessed and to sign it correctly. These things are seemingly small but, when the time comes for the will to fulfil its duty, they cannot easily be rectified. Another danger is that people don’t do their research before they fill in ‘off the shelf’ wills. Changes made later to a will are only valid if signed and witnessed.
That’s why, when it comes to will writing, Citizens Advice recommends using a professional in all but the most straightforward of situations (a childless man who wants to leave everything to his wife, for example). The organisation’s website states: “Sorting out misunderstandings after your death may result in considerable legal costs, which will reduce the amount of money in the estate.”
Having a will written by a professional can start from as little as £95 for a single Will, so is it really worth risking the consequences of your estate, just to make a little saving?
The experts at Heritage Will Writing have been helping people in Hampshire write their wills for 15 years. If you’d like to chat to one of the professional will writers at Heritage Will Writing, call today on 02380 879243 or by visiting heritagewillwriting.co.uk.
Writing a will probably isn’t top of anyone’s list of New Year’s Resolutions – who wants to start 2017 with such a grim project?
Indeed, according to a 2011 poll in the US, 60% of Americans would rather undergo root canal treatment, do their taxes or abstain from sex for a month than set down their final wishes. However, a US psychologist has suggested that we’re all lying to ourselves by procrastinating over writing our wills; instead, sitting down and planning our estates could empower us...
Considering death is one of the few certainties of life, why do so many of us put off writing a will? Apparently, it’s all to do with the very human instinct to deceive ourselves. In doing so, we avoid uncomfortable realities – a coping mechanism that Dr. Cortney S. Warren, a psychologist at the University of Nevada, covers in her book Lies We Tell Ourselves: The Psychology of Self-Deception.
“Humans are masters of self-deception,’ Dr Warren writes. ‘We don’t like to think of ourselves as liars; it hurts us too much to admit. So we lie to ourselves about that, too. As a clinical psychologist, I am frequently confronted with the fact that we all lie to ourselves. I believe that it is our biggest obstacle to living a fulfilling life.”
According to Warren, avoiding writing a will is a good example of us lying to ourselves. By the very act of writing one, we are acknowledging something we find very difficult to face; our own mortality.
In an article for Psychology Today however, Warren does highlight the feeling of empowerment which writing a will provides us with. “The main reason to write a will is to give yourself a voice,” she says. “It is actually a wonderful gift to those you love to have a will in place so that they can celebrate your life after you die—not become engrossed in legal battles over your stuff.”
Maybe it’s time to rethink your New Year’s Resolutions list for 2017 – and add writing a will to the top of it. To stick to resolutions, psychologists advise breaking goals into small steps.
Take the first one today by speaking to your local will writing experts at Heritage Will Writing where the cost of writing a will starts at as little as £95 for a single Will. For more information, and to start 2017 with a little of the self-empowerment which writing a will can bring, call Heritage Will Writing today on 02380 879243 or by visiting heritagewillwriting.co.uk.