Category Archives: Wills

What happens to your social media accounts when you die?

At present, the UK has over 38 million active social media users. The popularity boom for social media across all ages means it has become an integral part of our lives, whether intentional or not. Social media is also fast becoming a significant way to remember loved ones when they pass…

Facebook
Facebook allows you to appoint a ‘Legacy Contact’ who will look after your account when you die. The Legacy Contact section can be found by clicking the arrow at the top right, then going to Settings, General, Manage Account and finally selecting Legacy Contact.
Your chosen legacy contact will be able to pin posts on your timeline, update your profile picture, request to have your account removed and respond to friend requests. However, they won’t be able to post anything, remove / add friends, change past posts on your timeline or view your inbox messages.

When choosing your legacy contact, you also have the option to allow them to download a copy of what you shared on Facebook. This includes timeline posts, shared posts, videos and the About section, but it doesn’t include your messages.

Once you’ve chosen your legacy contact, Facebook will notify once a year to check whether or not you still want that person as your legacy contact. If you don’t want to choose a legacy contact, then your family can request to have your account deleted instead.

In the event of your passing, your Facebook account can be memorialised. The word ‘Remembering’ will appear just before your name to signify that your account has been memorialised. No one will be able to login to this account, but people may still post on your timeline from their own accounts to write tributes and share posts.

Twitter
At present, there isn’t a memorialisation option for Twitter accounts, although your friends and family can request to have your account removed. Once your loved ones have submitted a privacy form requesting the deactivation of your account, Twitter will send a confirmation email with further instructions.

Instagram
Instagram also offers the option to memorialise a loved one’s account. Your friends and family can also request the removal of your Instagram account providing they have proof of your passing such as your death certificate or proof that they’re your lawful representative.
Once memorialised, your account can’t be changed – this includes followers, likes, tags, posts and comments. Your posts are only visible to your chosen audience. For example, if your profile was set to private then it will remain private.

Should you include social media details in your Will?
In conclusion, you’re very much in control as to what happens to your social media accounts when you die – you just need to make preparations in advance.

It can be upsetting for loved ones to see your social accounts after you’ve gone. That’s why it’s always a good idea to leave certain details in your Will such as links to your social media accounts and other online entities.

For guidance on including social media account details in your Will please give us a call on 01243 216900 or e-mail us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

When did you last update your Will?

Over half of people have not updated their Will. That’s according to a recent online poll. The survey found that while people have started to recognise the importance of Wills when it comes to establishing their final wishes, the majority are still unaware of the need to review them.

However, life can change quickly, so it is recommended that you review your Will after any significant life event, or every five years.

When do you need to update your Will?

The poll shows that people are largely unaware of the impact legislative and domestic changes can have on the distribution of their estate.

For example, even where a Will already exists, most people don’t know that getting married automatically invalidates it.

Here are just some of the instances when you should check your Will:

  • The birth of a child or grandchild
  • When buying a home (or other property)
  • When getting married
  • If you inherit any money or property
  • If you get a divorce
  • If you remarry
  • If you sell a home (or other property)
  • If you start a second family
  • If you need care and assistance.

Each of these circumstances will have an impact on your Will and some could even nullify it. Likewise, increases (or decreases) in wealth also require a Will review as it is crucial to ensure it reflects your current financial situation. That’s why, even if everything else stays the same, it is important to review your Will at least once every five years.

Regulatory amendments, such as inheritance tax changes, should also prompt a review to make sure you are taking advantage of all available exemptions and allowances.

Updating your Will is easy

Efficient and regular planning will give both you and your family peace of mind, and minimise the amount of inheritance tax due. By speaking to one of our expert team and taking the time to update your Will, you can help to ensure that your wealth is passed on in-line with your wishes.

We can provide all the guidance you need to update your Will so that it accurately reflects your wishes. Call us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Successful succession…

Thinking about the future and what will happen to your family after you die, is not exactly a fun thing to do.

However, if you want the wealth that you have built up to continue on through your children and grandchildren’s generations, then it’s important to take a proactive approach.

So how do you ensure a successful wealth succession? Here are a handful of simple steps that are worth bearing in mind.

Initially, it’s worth discussing with your family how you see the wealth being used in the future – essentially, what is its purpose? Is it simply there to provide them with a comfortable lifestyle or do you have other grand hopes and aspirations?

Ensuring that the distribution of your assets is fair is another key factor. That doesn’t necessarily mean splitting them equally – this may not be desirable nor convenient.

Being open with those who will inherit on how you see the assets changing hands, and why, will likely help quash any potential resentment.

It’s important to get your family prepared for how they will handle that wealth too. If this represents a big change for them, there is a greater chance of the wealth being squandered.

So give them the opportunity to at least see how you manage those assets, if not giving them the chance to do so themselves in a controlled environment. With this level of preparation behind them, they will be better equipped to ensure the wealth continues on through future generations.

Finally, be on your guard for future risks. From economic crises to changes to the tax infrastructure, there are plenty of as-yet unknown dangers which could diminish that wealth.

Protecting against them will often involve the use of advisers, so get your loved ones used to working with them in advance of any actual succession.

Nobody likes to think about dying or how our families will cope after we have gone. But it is important to make sure they are prepared to handle the wealth left to them, in order to ensure it lasts throughout further generations, and that means talking openly about it.

Of course, the best way to ensure that your assets are divided precisely to your wishes is to write a comprehensive Will. Speak to one of the team here at legalmatters to make sure that your Will reflects your wishes. Call us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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A right royal birth…

Unless you have managed to avoid all forms of media – both social and otherwise – this week, it can’t have escaped your attention that the newest addition to the House of Windsor has arrived.

The son of the future king of England was born, with exceptionally patriotic timing, on St George’s day. What a gloriously poetic and symbiotic meeting of all things English. Only Hugh Grant Morris dancing to God Save The Queen could have made the event more of a celebration of the Empire.

Within hours, both parents appeared at the door of the Lindo Wing looking impossibly flawless and presenting their gorgeous squishy bundle to the world’s expectant press. Catherine exchanged surgical stirrups for sling backs in less time than it takes the average mama to savour her buttery NHS toast and post natal cup of tea. Whilst undoubtedly proud, healthy and happy, not a single person would blame the Duchess if she were to scrape her hair back in a top knot, chuck on some comfy pjs and settle down with her newborn, a box set and a family size packet of Hob Nobs as soon as the doors of Kensington Palace closed behind her.

The Duke and Duchess are now officially outnumbered and life will be all the busier, noisier, messier and more filled with love as a result.

Any life changing event, especially the arrival of a new addition, is an excellent opportunity to consider your current legal arrangements. Future generations can even be catered for, without having to specifically name them within your estate planning documents. Which is handy when it takes a little while to decide on a moniker (although ‘Prince Gus’ certainly has a majestic ring to it if the Cambridges’ are looking for some suggestions).

Legalmatters are always available to review any existing documents in place or advise on new arrangements, to ensure that your family are considered and looked after in your lifetime planning and in your Will. Call us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

What are the benefits of GDPR for consumers?

Data protection has become a huge concern in recent years, and now more than ever, customers are worried about how their data is being used and by whom.

This is where the new General Data Protection Regulation comes in, introduced in the hope that this new level of transparency will lead to customers putting more trust into organisations and having the confidence to share more of their data.

Although many businesses will find initial compliance with the GDPR technically challenging the new regulations are beneficial to both consumers and businesses in the long run.

How will the new regulation benefit customers?

The purpose of the GDPR is for customers to ultimately become more confident in the knowledge that their data is being stored safely and in line with legal standards. For example: the GDPR outlines that data is to be deleted if: it was unlawfully obtained; an individual no longer wants their data to be retained, providing there are no legitimate reasons for keeping it. This will be known as ‘right to be forgotten’.

With cybercrime GDPR requires data processors and collectors to be more vigilant about safeguarding personal data against loss, theft and unauthorized access. Another benefit to note is the ‘new mandatory data breach notification rule’. This means that if a breach occurs, it must be reported to its supervisory authority within 72 hours. And if it is likely to pose a high privacy risk for individuals, they must also be informed.

Another essential element is ‘data protection by design and by default’, meaning that safeguards will be built into most products and services, and privacy-friendly default settings will be soon be the norm. Now, companies will have to supply consent forms that are plainly worded and transparent. This means that you must explicitly agree before you are subscribed to anything.

Under the GDPR, customers will also have the ‘right to rectify mistakes’. This means they will be entitled to have their personal information corrected if it’s inaccurate or incomplete. This could be vital if, for example, a financial institution input the wrong information concerning your credit history.

Here at legalmatters we are already preparing for GDPR. Your data, including your Will and associated documents, will always be held securely. We’re also inviting clients and interested parties to subscribe to legalchatters, our news, views and update service direct to your mailbox. Or Follow us on FaceBook.

For help with writing your Will, please give us a call at legalmatters on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk for further details.

Bitcoins – are they properly covered in your Will?

Digital currency such as bitcoins are relatively new. However, they still form part of your estate when you die. They’re classed as “digital assets” similar to frequent flyer points or gaming credits. They might have dipped in value recently, but they are still worth money so you want to make sure they’re included in your will.

There are two key things to consider about this digital legacy.

The first thing relates to bitcoins being properly defined in your Will. If you already have a Will in place, you should check this. If they’re not covered, then you need to make an amendment. If you’re writing a new Will, then a professional Will-writer will be able to advise you on this from the start.

The other important factor to consider is how your beneficiaries are going to access your bitcoins. Passing on digital currency is more complex than passing on money stored in a traditional way such as a bank or savings account.

Bitcoins are stored in an encrypted electronic wallet which can be accessed only by an electronic key or password. Unlike banks and building societies, cryptocurrencies do not store names and addresses against the electronic wallets, so aside from the electronic key there is no way to identify who a wallet belongs to.

It’s vital then to make sure that you keep a secure copy of the key for your executors. Without it, it will be virtually impossible for them to access the wallet and the money will be lost.

You could consider entrusting the key with a secure storage service, in a safety deposit box or with your executor or a trusted family member. The main thing here is that it needs to be someone you trust as you are handing them access to your money.

For help with this or any aspect of Will writing, please give us a call at legalmatters on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk for further details.

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Could you be a royal legacy?

Most of us at some point have probably wondered about our family history. Sure, you may know about your grandparents’ roots and perhaps even a generation or two before that, but where does your family line start?

What sort of riches or scandal have your ancestors seen? It’s because of this curiosity about our family histories that shows like ‘Who Do You Think You Are?’ have become so popular, as have websites helping you to trace your family tree.

So could you have royal blood? According to a study from researchers at the University of California and the London School of Economics, your last name could be a good indicator of whether you are one of the top 1%.

The study looked at unique surnames among the richest – names like Atthill, Bunduck, Balfour, Bramston, Cheslyn, and Conyngham – and found that when it comes to social mobility, moving in and out of the upper classes takes centuries, not just generations.

In fact, on average upper-class families took between 300 and 450 years before their descendants dropped into the middle classes.

Fascinatingly, of the people who died between 1999 and 2012, if they had one of the 181 rare surnames of wealthy families in the mid-19th century, they were generally three times wealthier than the rest.

Whether you come from generations of wealth or are completely self-made, it is vital that you take steps early on to ensure that you pass it on to your family members as seamlessly as possible.

That may mean considering your likely inheritance tax liabilities, but you will also need to write a Will.

After all, writing a Will is the best possible tool at your disposal to ensure that your assets are divided precisely as you wish after you pass away. If you don’t, you may be exposing your family to unnecessary heartache at an already difficult time.

For help and advice on writing your Will, get in touch with us at legalmatters by calling us on 01243 216900 or emailing us at info@legalmatters.co.uk for further details.

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What can legacy giving do for your tax bill?

Who are you going to leave money to in your Will? Your spouse or partner is probably first in line, any children or extended members of the family may pop up here and there too.

But what about charity?

Thousands of people every year choose to leave a gift to charity in their Will, whether it’s a fixed amount, a fixed percentage of their estate or even just what’s left after other gifts have been handed out to their surviving loved ones.

It doesn’t have to be a charity that you’ve been particularly involved with during your life either – you can leave money to any registered charity.

There’s another bonus to doing this, besides simply helping a good cause. Legacy giving – where you leave money to a charity – can also reduce your inheritance tax bill.

With inheritance tax, you – or rather your estate – is charged a rate of 40% on every £1 that the estate is valued above the nil rate threshold, which currently stands at £325,000 (though couples essentially enjoy a £650,000 threshold).

However, when you leave money to charity, it won’t count towards the value of the rest of your estate, giving you the opportunity to reduce the value of your estate below that threshold, ensuring no further tax is payable.

Even if your estate is still valued about the threshold, charitable giving can help reduce your tax bill. If you leave 10% of your net estate to charity, then the inheritance tax charged on the remainder of your estate falls from 40% to 36%, a reduction which could see the estate save thousands of pounds in tax.

Many of us regularly give to charitable causes while we’re alive. To do so after your death will not only help support good causes with some of your estate, but for your beneficiaries there are tax benefits that can come with it. Obviously, you should discuss this carefully with your loved ones and your will writer when drafting your Will.

It’s important for you to be clear when drawing up legal documents. Legalmatters can help, we’re always happy to discuss your needs or answer your questions. Call us today on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk for further details.

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Do you need a living Will?

A living Will (or an advance decision as it is also known) allows you to make a decision about refusing medical treatment in the future. It means that if you are ever in a position where you cannot communicate your wishes, medical staff know what they are. This can even include a decision not to receive certain life-sustaining treatment.

An advance decision is a legally binding document. However, if your family or medical staff are unaware you have prepared one, then your wishes may not be honoured.

This was the case for Brenda Grant. Brenda suffered a stroke in 2012 and although she had prepared an advance decision stating that she did not want certain treatments, she was fed artificially for two years.

In this case the hospital was in possession of the advance decision but had misplaced it.

Whilst Brenda had informed her doctor of her decision, she had not told her family, so it was only when her doctor flagged it up two years later that her wishes were finally respected.

If she had chosen to prepare a lasting power of attorney (LPA) instead, this situation could have been avoided.

An LPA for health and welfare covers a wide range of issues relating to the care of an individual if they don’t have the capacity to make decisions for themselves.

Though it is a legal document just like the living Will, it must be lodged with the Office of the Public Guardian in order for it to be recognised. This ensures that it will be recorded on a national and searchable register. One or more attorneys (normally family members) must be appointed to make the decisions, so in the event of you not being able to make them yourself, there is less risk that your wishes will not be known.

An attorney must make decisions that are in the best interest of the donor (the person who the LPA relates to). The donor can detail what their preferences are and list any instructions for specific circumstances.

Whilst it is possible to have both a living Will and an LPA for health and welfare set up, the latter will take precedence should a conflict arise.

At legalmatters we’re always happy to discuss our clients’ needs and to answer their questions. Call us today on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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The unspoken word: how to talk about making a Will…

There are many difficult emotions to deal with when someone dies. It can be made even more challenging if the details of the Will come as a surprise to loved ones left behind.

If an adult child or relation doesn’t inherit what they expected, they can see it as a sign that they weren’t loved or that others were loved more. Those sorts of hurts can run deep and cause anguish for years to come, sometimes leading to a Will being contested.

However, by simply talking about your Will in advance, all of this confusion and heartache can be avoided.

Of course, it can be a tricky discussion to have. Many people don’t like to contemplate their death and family relationships can be tricky at the best of times. However, by openly talking about your estate as well as how you’d like it to be distributed, you’ll be able to reduce the risk of problems emerging later down the line.

Here are our tips on how to go about it:

  1. Mention to your family in advance that you would like to discuss their inheritance.
  2. Talk to your family, individually and as a group.
  3. Prepare an outline of what you intend to do although be receptive to other’s views and consider changing your plans if someone has a better idea.
  4. Explain your goals – you may wish to leave some of your money to charity for example or put some aside for your grandchildren’s education. Explain why these matters are important to you.
  5. In general, it is best to treat your children equally. However, if one child has a special need or disability, and you feel it is your duty to leave more to them, ensure that your reasoning is made clear.
  6. Discuss your sentimental possessions and how you think that they should be distributed. Emotions can run high over these regardless of their value so take time to find out who would like what and try to reach a unanimous agreement.
  7. Be calm and tactful. Discussions such as these can be rewarding if children begin to reminisce over why an object is sentimental to them. However, they can also be tense and emotional so do take this into account.
  8. If you feel that this type of meeting may become argumentative, consider having a neutral party attend. This could be a respected family friend or a professional adviser such as your lawyer or accountant, particularly if they are going to be executor of the will as well.

Ultimately, what goes into your Will is personal, but a conversation about it now could save a lot of anguish at the probate stage.

If you are thinking about planning a Will, or would like to change an existing one, give us a call at legalmatters on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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