Monthly Archives: March 2019

Is there a time limit for claiming a share of an inheritance?

If you believe you are entitled to something from someone’s Will, you may be able to make a claim, but beware of the time limits.

If a relative dies and you have not inherited what you feel you have a right to, you may be able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the Act).

It may be that you believe you were left less than you are entitled to, that you have been left nothing or that because there is no Will you have not been made a beneficiary.

If you can show that you are entitled to ‘reasonable financial provision’ then you can ask the court to grant you a share of the estate.

How long do you have to make a claim?

The Act has a strict time limit for making a claim of six months from the date of the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration.

In very exceptional circumstances this may be extended to allow a late claim, but as a rule you must stick to the six month deadline.

Who is entitled to claim?

A spouse or civil partner may make a claim under the Act as well as a former spouse or civil partner where they have not remarried, a person living in the same household as the deceased for at least two years prior to the date of death, a child of the deceased, anyone who was treated as a child of the family such as stepchildren and anyone who was being financially maintained by the deceased.

What will the court consider?

The court will look at the applicant’s financial resources and needs as well as their future needs. This could include whether they are employed, able to work, whether they have a dependent family or are a carer.

The physical and mental capacity of the applicant will be considered at along with the obligations the deceased may have had to them.

The financial resources and needs of the beneficiaries under the Will is also taken into account together with the size of the estate.

Other factors such as the applicant’s behaviour towards the deceased will also carry weight.

The court will not simply ignore the wishes of the deceased, so it is important to put together as persuasive a case as possible.

It is also essential not to miss the six-month deadline for making the claim.

If you would like to speak to our expert probate team, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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joint bank account

Implications of using a joint bank account instead of a Lasting Power of Attorney

A recent survey has revealed that a staggering number of people have granted relatives informal access to their bank accounts.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a formal document by which an individual can give one or more people access to their financial affairs and the power to spend money on their behalf.

It is relatively simple to set up and register, but it seems that many older people are choosing to give others informal access to their bank accounts instead.

A recent survey carried out by the Co-operative Society found that a quarter of over-45 year olds have been given access to the bank account of someone other than their spouse.

While this may seem like an easy solution to allow people to help out older relatives, the truth of the matter is that there are serious implications for all involved.

Why granting informal access to a bank account should be avoided.

Firstly, there is no protection for the owner of the bank account. The access will not be supervised in any way and it may become increasingly hard for the person granting the access to keep a check on their finances.

It offers great scope for abuse by the person to whom the access is granted. While they may start out with good intentions, the temptation to misappropriate funds might be hard to resist.

If the person owning the bank account dies, the administration of their estate may be delayed as investigations are made into any improper use of funds by the person with access.

There is also room for suspicion by other relatives if there has been no supervision over years of informal access.

The advantages of using a Lasting Power of Attorney.

By using a formal document to give someone official access to your financial affairs, everything is kept above board and visible.

There is far less scope for abuse as the document is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) once it is put into use and the OPG will supervise the attorney’s activities.

If the OPG suspects that the best interests of the person granting the LPA are not being observed, they have the power to investigate. They can remove the attorney and appoint a replacement if they find any impropriety.

How to set up a Lasting Power of Attorney

An LPA can be completed before it is needed and then kept until the time that you decide you need an attorney to help with your affairs, when it will be officially registered.

To speak to one of our expert team about setting up an LPA, call us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Partner's assets

A quarter of people don’t have details of their partner’s assets…

Research carried out by Direct Line Group has found that 25% of people who are married or co-habiting don’t know where their partner’s money is.

This could cause problems in the event that someone dies. If the extent and whereabouts of their assets isn’t known, the administration of their estate could be delayed for a long period of time while searches and enquiries are made. In the worst case scenario, money could simply be lost.

32% of those questioned did not have any details of their partner’s workplace pension and 28% had not shared details of their savings account.

Women share fewer details than men and were found to be five times more likely to keep secret savings.

A study by GoCompare found that on average secret savings amounted to just over £10,000, with a fifth having more than £25,000.

What happens when details of assets aren’t shared

An estimated £2 billion exists in unclaimed bank accounts, with many billions more believed to be in lost pensions, life assurance policies and other investments such as shares.

If assets can’t easily be located after death, there is a risk they will be lost. Executors will need to conduct searches to try and locate what they can, but unless there is a clear list of all holdings, some may well be missed.

How to ensure assets can be located after death

If you don’t want to give your partner details of your financial affairs you can draw up a list of your assets to be placed with your Will and stored by your solicitor at their offices.

This should include the names and account numbers of your holdings and you should aim to regularly update the list.

If you have bank or building society accounts that aren’t used, then remember to check them from time to time. Banks may archive the account after a number of years if you don’t respond to enquiries by them and an unattended account may fall prey to hackers.

As banks and building societies merge or are taken over, it is easy for accounts to be forgotten. Old pension accounts can also be overlooked as people move on to new jobs.

Make an inventory of your financial affairs and ensure that you are in control of your money and aware of its location.

Check that your Will is up to date and reflects your wishes. Let those close to you know where your Will is stored or keep a letter from your solicitor confirming that they have the Will with your personal papers.

To find out how we can help, call one of our experts at legalmatters. Call us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Cutting someone out of your Will

Disinheritance: how to cut someone out of your Will…

Disinheritance isn’t a decision taken lightly. If you intend not to leave your estate to your children or dependents, it’s essential to act now to draft a will that leaves no room for dispute.

How are estates usually divided up?

The usual division of a person’s estate is that assets would be shared between a spouse, children and other direct relations. The rise in blended families is creating a lot of grey areas in this area.

Consideration should be given to former spouses and step-children, who may be compelled, and legally permitted to challenge any exclusion.

What’s the legal standpoint?

The law is pretty clear that excluded dependants have a right to claim. The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 states that a spouse, former spouse, child or any other dependant can apply to the courts to intervene if they believe their loved one’s estate doesn’t make reasonable provision for them. Factors affecting court decisions include the current financial position of the person appealing and the impact on other beneficiaries.

How to ensure your disinheritance isn’t challenged?

Family relationships are complex. If you’ve decided disinheritance is right for you, there are ways to protect your legacy from a future challenge.

For blended families, consider what’s right and fair. Think about obligations to children from previous relationships, your former partner but also your current family set-up and any people who depend on you financially there.

Ensure your solicitor keeps attendance and discussion notes throughout your meetings. And, document your reasons for cutting your child out of your Will, evidencing that you have considered them but made the active choice to disinherit them. Your solicitor will keep these records, to be cited in the event of a claim on the estate.

A doctor’s assessment and signatory may be worth considering, if the person writing the Will lacks capacity to make decisions. For example, if there are mental health issues, the person is elderly or medicated, the Will could be challenged.

Many people choose to provide a token gesture to a family member they’re disinheriting, drafting legal agreements that prevent or deter them from making a claim. Others prefer to set up trusts.

However, the courts do have the power to call these funds back into your estate if they suspect nefarious reasons for doing so. Specialist legal advice is required in such circumstances.

To ensure your Will is respected, call one of our specialist team at legalmatters, on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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