Monthly Archives: May 2017

What Are You Paying For When Writing A Will?

Money is tight for many of us today, with the economy far from stable. As a result, we all look to save money wherever we can, whether that’s cutting our food bill, changing the Sky package or moving energy provider.

Wills are one area where some will look to make savings, perhaps by going the DIY route with the Will packs you can purchase in places like WHSmith.

However, doing so can be a costly mistake.

An invalid Will

The problem with the DIY approach is that it is very easy to make a mistake. This can be very difficult to correct, while if certain conditions are not met, the Will itself may actually be invalid.

This can cause significant delays that not only cause heartache for your family, but also costs them money. According to research from the Co-op, poorly drafted or ineffective Wills are responsible for a prolonged probate for up to 38,000 families a year. This could result in up to 10% of the estate being wiped out in unnecessary legal fees.

What do I get from a professional Will writer?

If you employ a professional Will writer to do the job for you, you will skip these troubles.

Generally the Will writer will make an appointment to come to your home to discuss your circumstances face-to-face. This will cover your assets and who you want them to go to if you pass away, as well as things like who will be the executor of your Will. This is the person or persons who will collect together your assets, pay any debts and tax you owe and then oversee the distribution of your assets to your loved ones.

The Will writer can guide you on some of the decisions you need to make based on their own experience and then will go away and draft it for you.

Some may also have storage options for you, so that you know your Will is kept in a safe and secure place.

I don’t know what it will cost

Currently, it is not always easy to compare what it will cost to have your Will written by one professional compared to another. That is changing though, with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) pushing for legal firms in particular to be more transparent about their charges, for example by publishing hourly rates.

Do bear in mind though that these changes will not cover all professional Will writers, only legal firms, as it is an unregulated profession. There are many high quality professionals who specialise in Will writing and can provide a dedicated service as a sole practitioner. In these instances, it is always useful to seek referrals from friends or family, read reviews and contact for individual quotes.

We know the value of using a professional to write a Will; it offers real peace of mind, knowing that it has been done properly and your wishes will be carried out. However, we know that it can be difficult for some people to establish just what it will cost. We are always happy to discuss our services and what we charge. Call us today on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

How Can Trusts Help With Inheritance Tax Burdens?

There are few taxes more unpopular than inheritance tax. A poll by the financial website, loveMONEY last year found that an incredible 90% of Brits believe it is unfair.

However, there are a number of perfectly legitimate ways to reduce the amount of tax your estate will have to pay. One of those is making use of a Trust.

What is a Trust?

A Trust is a legal arrangement where your assets – such as property, cash or investments – are given to trustees, who will oversee them for the benefit of a third person. For example, you might want to put some savings into a Trust which your children can then benefit from at a later date.

When you place items into a Trust, they technically no longer belong to you. As a result, when it comes to working out the inheritance tax due on your estate, they aren’t included.

Instead, the assets belong to the Trust. The trustees are charged with managing those assets in the interest of the beneficiaries you have named, until some time when those beneficiaries can take control.

The many different types of Trust

Trusts come in a variety of different forms, which will suit different circumstances.

The simplest form is a Bare Trust – this basically hands over ownership of the assets to the beneficiary immediately, so long as they are over the age of 18.

Alternatively, there is an Interest in Possession Trust. This gives the beneficiary income from the assets held within the Trust, but they don’t have a right to the assets generating that income. An example of this is that you might put shares in this form of Trust which would pay an income to your partner, but your children would get ownership of the shares themselves once your partner died.

Then there is the Discretionary Trust, which is where the trustees have responsibility for deciding how the assets within the Trust are distributed. You could therefore leave assets in the Trust for your grandchildren, with your children named as the trustees. They could then determine who gets what at a later date.

Dividing your assets

Trusts are a useful way to take control of passing on your assets to your loved ones and can serve as a complement to a comprehensive Will. Without a Will in place, you have no say on who will get your assets and could put your loved ones through further heartache after your passing.

To discuss your Will and estate planning needs today, call us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

Is One Lasting Power Of Attorney Enough?

How we look after older people requiring care is at the top of the national agenda at the moment, as the Government grapples with the care funding crisis.

More people than ever before need care in their old age, with dementia a growing problem. According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are now 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia, and that’s only set to grow.

With so many people reaching the stage where they can no longer make decisions for themselves, an increasingly useful option is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). An LPA is where you appoint someone as your ‘attorney’ to make decisions on your behalf, should you reach the stage where you can no longer do so.

The different types of LPA

There are two main types of LPA. The first is the LPA for financial decisions. This will cover things like buying and selling property, paying the mortgage, investing money and arranging repairs for your property.

There is also an LPA which covers health and care decisions. This allows your attorney to make decisions about things like where you should live and your medical care.

You can set up separate LPAs to cover these two areas, or a single LPA to cover them both if you wish.

Is one LPA enough?

Choosing a person to be your attorney can be difficult. You need to find someone who you trust to always act in your best interests, but who can also be relied upon to deal with the responsibility and administration that comes with the role.

Generally, people will choose a loved one, like their spouse or child. However, you can also appoint a professional, like a solicitor.

In fact, you can select more than one attorney – a main one, and a replacement. The replacement attorney can step in and make decisions for you if the original attorney is unable. As an example, you might name your partner as your attorney and your child as the replacement. This way, should your partner end up in a position where they are no longer able to make decisions on your behalf, perhaps because of their own health issues, your child can take over the responsibility.

With dementia such a significant problem across the UK, it is essential to put plans in place on how to deal with it should you develop issues. That should extend beyond an LPA and include a comprehensive Will. By putting a Will in place, can guarantee that your assets are divided exactly as you wish.

“If you’re unsure about what you need to do and whether you should be appointing an LPA, please call us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

What Extras Could You Be Leaving Behind?

As well as setting out what happens to your most prized possessions when you die, a Will also deals with the things you’d be quite happy to see the back of.

Although you probably don’t want to think about it, the majority of us will be left with debts when we pass away. A recent report has indicated that 25% of retirees will have debts totalling £24,000 – the highest recorded level in seven years.

Research body, Prudential stated that being burdened with debt into retirement had once again become a notable problem, with the figure growing by 20% since last year. As uncertainty in the economy grows, it is likely this trend will only continue.

With first-time buyers turning to their parents for help and retirement earnings falling, the promise of receiving a steady income in old age has weakened. As living costs rise and inflation grows, more money is bound to be flowing out of your account than was perhaps planned.

Getting into debt is certainly not something you would plan on doing, but it’s important to make plans in case you do.

It might not be at the top of your priority list, but ensuring any outstanding debts are included in your Will can make the process much simpler for your loved ones. Searching for creditors and hunting for insurance documents is only likely to increase their stress levels at a time which will already be fraught with emotion.

Having a Will consolidates all of your wishes in one place, reducing complications for your family and providing you with peace of mind.

Talking about your estate plans is essential, even if it might seem daunting. Speaking to one of our professionals at legalmatters can help put your mind at ease and we can advise you on how to make plans for the future.

We are highly experienced in Will writing and can help guide you through the process. Call us today on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

What Will Your Legacy Be?

We tend to think of a legacy as a material possession or an accumulation of wealth that we can pass down to our children or other beneficiaries when we die. Legacy has a much broader meaning and one that might cause us to pause and think more about how we live our lives rather than worry about what happens afterwards.

In this sense, we’re thinking about the things we do while we are alive and the “footprint” we leave behind.

It’s easy to think this is only achievable by those who are famous or people who have contributed to society on a large scale or in a significant way. Certainly, imagine for a moment how different the world would be without the diverse legacies of Shakespeare, Florence Nightingale, Martin Luther King or more recently Steve Jobs. They made positive contributions while they were alive and whose effects have rippled through history and will continue to do so for a very long time.

Not all legacies are positive, however. The effects of Hitler and Osama Bin Laden’s lives and actions have undoubtedly been profound and negative.

That said, a legacy doesn’t have to be on such a grand scale. We are all in a position to leave a legacy of some kind. It’s not something we generally think about, but it is entwined in the choices and actions we take in day-to-day life.

For many this will simply be living a fulfilled life, loving and teaching our children to be contributing adults so that they can grow up to live rich and satisfying lives of their own. It may be through volunteering or working with those less privileged than ourselves and inspiring others to do the same. Perhaps it could be through fundraising: moving people and organisations to give their time and money to create facilities such as hospitals or schools in faraway places or to fund research to cure diseases.

Some people create a legacy by campaigning to help others when they are faced with adversity and devastating circumstances. Trevor Lakin fought for overseas victims of terrorist attacks to receive compensation from the Government. In 2012, seven years after his son was killed in an Egyptian terror attack, the law was finally changed.

Sometimes there’s an overlap between the two different types of legacy. People who have found success in a particular field might set up bursaries or scholarships to provide an opportunity to someone who might not otherwise be in a position to follow in their footsteps.

However we live our lives, on a large or small scale, our legacy will be judged on the things we said and did and by the people who our lives touched. Why not think about what yours will be today?

Planning and ensuring your legacy isn’t leaving a burden on your loved ones is important for us all. Make sure you have everything in place by contacting legalmatters and talking to a professional who knows how to manage all circumstances and ensure you have what you need to leave your prized possessions exactly how you wish.

Call us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.