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When should I draw up Lasting Powers of Attorney?

  |  in Lasting Powers of AttorneyNo Comments

The simple, yet crucial, answer is that they must be drawn up whilst the donor (the person having them drawn up) still has mental capacity.

Human nature being as it is many people defer taking any action at all. They either believe that the loss of mental capacity will never happen to them or they think they will be able to assess the ‘right’ time to make provision. Sadly many judge wrongly and then panic regarding their severely limited options.

If the donor still retains capacity, yet is likely to require their Attorneys to act in the foreseeable future, then Lasting Powers should be drawn up and immediately registered with the Office of Public Guardian. The second stage of this process is currently taking around four months to complete.

In the unfortunate circumstance where capacity has been lost, either through progressive mental decline or a sudden incident, the family can apply to the Court of Protection to acquire Attorney status however this is likely to take months, cost thousands of pounds and comes with no guarantee of success. It is a distressing situation which can very often be avoided with a little forward thinking.

We insure our homes and cars, why not ourselves (and our families) through Lasting Powers of Attorney and indeed Wills?

The clear message is that Lasting Powers should be set up when we are fit and well, don’t wait until later years when it all becomes something of a lottery. Contact Castle Wills today and let us help give you, and your family, peace of mind.

Why should I make a Will?

  |  in Will WritingNo Comments

There’s a 100% chance you will die, and with a Will one way or another.

The choice is whether you make it yourself (about 30% of the population ‘get around to it’) or let the government give you one via the intestacy rules!

The former allows you to make all kinds of decisions involving the people you wish to benefit and to act on your behalf. The latter gives authority for ‘outsiders’ to distribute your estate in a prescribed method, and to be paid for their services from your estate.

There are many reasons why you should make a Will. Three good ones are:

- Not getting on with one’s own family,

- Changes in one’s circumstances,

- Living with a partner.

Where families have fallen out they often don’t want certain members to benefit from their estate, yet this is exactly what can happen without drafting a Will. This is especially likely where children, parents or brothers & sisters are involved.

Typical changes in circumstances which should trigger thoughts of creating a Will are:  marriage, starting a family, separation or divorce. An old Will should also be updated when it no longer meets current needs, on average about every five years.

Many living with a partner seem to simply presume they will ultimately benefit from the estate. These wishes need to be built into a Will otherwise intestacy rules may see most of the assets distributed among the blood relatives and the partner left without.

Contact Castle Wills today to help protect your loved ones.

Why should parents write a Will?

  |  in Will WritingNo Comments

The results from a recent poll by the HSBC show that two thirds of parents questioned don’t have a Will in place.

As usual apathy is given as the reason by most who admit to “not getting around to it”. Around 25% state they intend to write one “when they are older”, with another 11% admitting that it had “never occurred to them”.

The single most important reason why parents need to write a Will is Guardianship.

By drafting a Will parents appoint Guardians of their choice who will look after their children, should it become necessary, until they reach the age of eighteen.

Many people don’t appreciate the implications of not having these arrangements in place, simply believing that the family will automatically take over as guardians. They might well be horrified to learn that Social Services can step in and make alternative plans for their children.

As the report concludes “the fact that such large numbers of households are not planning ahead is leaving families exposed to unforeseen events.”

Contact us today, we can help you keep decision-making within the family rather than risk leaving it to strangers.

What are the Inheritance Tax implications of transferring property before death?

  |  in Inheritance TaxNo Comments

The Basics

  1. Inheritance tax (IHT) is a tax charge based on the value of a person’s estate at the time of death. This can include the home, properties, shares and bank balances for example.
  2. Certain transfers made out of a person’s estate during a person’s lifetime are also subject to IHT at the time the transfer is made. For example, if you gift any personal property into a discretionary trust.
  3. Certain transfers of property can become chargeable to IHT if made within 7 years of death. These are called Potentially Exempt Transfers. For example, if you gift a sum of money or a property to a son or daughter.
  4. There are a wide range of exemptions which apply both on death and to lifetime transfers, such as Business Property Relief and Annual Exemptions.
  5. Assets held abroad by non-UK domiciled individuals are excluded property and as such are not subject to IHT.

Spouses and wills

  1. Transfers between spouses or civil partners (the term “spouse” effectively means the same as “civil partner” now) are exempt from IHT on the proviso that both partners are UK domiciled.
  2. If the transferee is non-UK domiciled only the first £55,000 is exempt.
  3. Any nil rate band is transferable between spouses on the death of the first (subject to domicile).

Do you and your spouse have up to date wills?

  1. Are your wills regularly updated?
  2. Have your wills been updated since the rules changed to permit the transfer of unused spouse nil rate bands?
  3. Your old will may provide and refer to nil rate discretionary trusts as these were very common in wills that were prepared just a few short years ago. Given the rule changes these may not be suitable now.

Action

Contact us to discuss your current will to ensure that it is suitable for your current circumstances.

Will I Have To Sell My Home To Pay For Care Home Fees?

  |  in Care FeesNo Comments

(Answer: probably not if you take action now)

According to a recent YouGov poll almost half of middle-aged couples fear they will need to sell their home if they need to go into long term care, it is reported by the This is Money.co.uk financial website.

In addition, almost 40% of those aged over 55 admit they won’t be able to meet the cost of care without selling up, law firm Dickinson Dees says. If this is representative across Britain it means that two million middle-aged Britons would have to sell up to pay Care Home fees.

Each year 130,000 older people start requiring long term care, most having to pay around £30,000 per year out of their own pockets, since anyone with total assets (including their property) exceeding £23,250 has to fully contribute.

With around 18m owner-occupied houses in the UK, selling up is one of the most common ways used to free up sufficient funds to meet the costs, though the family wealth is likely to drain away at an alarming rate.

There is, however, a solution suitable for most people. A Family Asset Protection Trust allows the main residence to be placed into a Trust and, with defined criteria met, it will be retained for the benefit of the family.

Contact Castle Wills today to learn how you can secure your family’s future.

What is the True Cost of Long Term Care?

  |  in Care FeesNo Comments

The Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) have recently reported that 4 out of 5 people do not know the cost of long term care, and more worryingly a staggering 50% believe it is provided free of charge by the Local Authority.

The report titled “Who Cares” graphically demonstrates that, on the whole, the public are unaware of the true cost of long term care and the need to make provision for these costs.

Pensioners currently, on average, have an income of £10k per annum, with annual care fees around £26k. Under the current system it is quite possible that someone in care can spend 90% of their assets, including their home, paying for the cost of care.

For many people, concerned about losing their home to pay for care, we can help them by placing their property into a Trust, which they control. Subject to criteria being met the Local Authority does not then have access to the home, which can be retained by the family.

If you, or anyone in your family, are concerned about Care Home fees then please contact us immediately.

What are the benefits of making a Will?

  |  in Will WritingNo Comments

If someone dies without making a Will, they are said to die intestate. Many people assume, quite wrongly, that all their property will automatically pass to their spouse/partner.  This is not the case and it can be as painful as it sounds for their loved ones who may suffer financial hardship and distress when they least need it.

The benefits of making a Will include: -

  • Making the legal process in dealing with their affairs easier and much less painful at a time when their loved ones will need all the help that they can get.
  • They can name the beneficiaries (including charities and friends if they so wish) and they will know with certainty who will inherit from their life’s efforts.
  • They can appoint guardians of their choice who would look after their children, if necessary, until they reach the age of eighteen.
  • They can nominate executors of their choice to deal with their affairs.
  • They can distribute their assets in such a way that any Inheritance Tax is mitigated or even removed altogether.
  • They can protect the family home against long-term care costs.
  • Their family will have clear directions on how to deal with their affairs and may not need to employ (and pay) professionals.
  • They can make specific or monetary gifts and express any wishes regarding medical donations or funeral arrangements.

There are many types of Wills, all designed to accommodate a person’s specific needs.

Wills – Single and Mirror

These are simple Wills where a single person or a couple leaves their estate absolutely to the named beneficiaries. In the case of a couple, this is generally to their spouse/partner and then down to their children, if there are any.

Protective Property Trust Wills

By placing the family home in a Will Trust, the risk of the home being sold to pay for long-term care costs should one of them have to go into residential care can be minimised, thus protecting at least half the value of the property for the beneficiaries.  This type of Will is particularly appropriate for elderly parents or relatives and protects the family home. It can also be used to protect an inheritance for children from a previous marriage or if a surviving partner were to re-marry.

Will Overturned Due To Incorrect Signing

  |  in Latest NewsNo Comments

It has recently been reported that the daughter of a pensioner, who left the majority of his £870,000 estate to his three sons, has won a legal battle to declare the Will invalid.

Evidence came to light that the two witnesses to the document were not both present at the same time to see the testator sign. As a result the estate will now be shared equally between the six children.
(Mail on line & others Sept 2011)

Castle Wills always explain the signing procedure, and its importance, thoroughly to clients. We also include a guide with the Will and check for errors when returned to us. In addition we are happy to attend signings without charge.

Duties of an Executor

  |  in Will WritingNo Comments

You may find yourself responsible for dealing with someone’s estate if they have chosen you as the Executor or joint Executor in their Will.

Your role is one of trust and responsibility, as you are being asked to act as a personal representative to administer the estate of the person in accordance with the terms of their Will after their death.

Examples of some of the tasks of an Executor:

Read More

How Does Divorce Affect A Will?

  |  in Will WritingNo Comments

I was divorced recently, but how do I ensure that my ex-spouse does not receive anything under my Will?

Divorce automatically revokes gifts to a former spouse and removes that person as an Executor if he or she was so appointed, unless the Will provided otherwise. However, if the scheme of distribution in your Will contemplates gifts to your ex-spouse, the chances are that other changes will be appropriate as a consequence and you should therefore not rely on the revocation rule. Furthermore, unless you make a new Will, your Executor will be obliged to notify your ex-spouse that an application for probate has been submitted to the court, and your former spouse may participate in the proceedings if he or she wishes. They may argue that your Will indicates an intention that they should receive bequests under the Will notwithstanding the divorce.

  • Castle Wills

    Based in Nottingham, Castle Wills are a Will Writing Company that operates across the whole of the East Midlands. We provide a range of other services including Powers of Attorney, Property Protection and Probate.
  • Contact Us

    Castle Wills
    H5 Ash Tree Court
    Nottingham
    NG8 6PY

    Tel: 0115 721 0955

    Email: info@castlewills.co.uk