A Living Will, also known as an advance decision, is designed to be used during your lifetime and sets out your wishes in respect of your care and medical treatment.
By making a Living Will, you can put in writing details of what is important to you and how you would like to be treated in the event that you are unable to make or communicate your wishes at a future date.
What you can include in a Living Will
As well as medical considerations, you can record your preferences in respect of where you would like to be cared for, personal preferences for your day to day life, such as diet and religious beliefs, and who is to be consulted about your care. You should ideally also discuss this with your family and those included in your Living Will.
You cannot include any instructions about what should happen to your estate after you die; this needs to go in a separate Last Will and Testament.
What to consider in respect of medical treatment
It is possible to refuse certain treatments, such as life support and antibiotics for life-threatening infections, but you cannot refuse basic care or food and water. Similarly, you can’t nominate someone to make decisions on your behalf.
If you have a specific condition, you should discuss the possible terms of any Living Will with your medical practitioners.
A Living Will can be made at any time, to help loved ones make difficult decisions in the future, and it is not necessary to wait until you are facing illness or incapacity.
Is a Living Will legally enforceable?
If your Living Will is within the bounds of what is legal and is valid and unambiguous, it will be legally binding on medical professionals.
Health and welfare lasting power of attorney
A health and welfare lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a document appointing someone to act on your behalf in respect of similar matters. If an LPA is signed after a Living Will is made, it may invalidate the Living Will if it gives the attorney the power to make the same decisions covered in the Living Will.
It is possible to write a health and welfare LPA that doesn’t invalidate a Living Will, however this would need to be carefully drafted.
A Living Will made after a health and welfare LPA would take precedence to the LPA in respect of life-saving treatments.
By putting a Living Will in place while you are able to make important decisions for yourself can be helpful and of comfort to your loved ones in the future.
If you would like to talk to one of our lawyers about a Living Will or an LPA, call us on 01243 216900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) allows you to appoint an attorney to deal with your affairs once you are no longer capable of doing so yourself. If you do not have an LPA, then your family will have to apply for a Deputyship Order to allow someone to help you.
There are two types of LPA: one for dealing with your property and financial affairs and one for your health and welfare.
You can choose a different attorney for each LPA if you wish, and the document will not come into effect until it is registered, allowing you to execute it well before it is needed.
If you don’t have an LPA
If you become unable to manage your affairs and you have not executed an LPA, then your family will need to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order to appoint a deputy to act on your behalf.
This application can take several months to process and will need supporting evidence, such as a medical assessment.
It is also an expensive procedure, with court application and hearing fees of several hundred pounds each, medical assessment fees and, if a professional deputy is appointed, their ongoing charges. There will also be legal expenses if your family need help navigating the process.
In contrast, the cost of executing an LPA is relatively low, and the registration fee is currently £82.
Why an LPA is the best solution
As well as being a difficult, expensive and time-consuming process to appoint a deputy, it can mean that for a time no-one is able to help you with your affairs.
If you have become unable to deal with them yourself, there may be several months when your finances cannot be managed. This can be a big strain on those trying to help you, particularly if bills need to be paid or services ordered.
With regard to your health and welfare, the Court of Protection prefers not to appoint a deputy to act in respect of all of an individual’s health and welfare needs. The court will rule on single issues if agreement cannot be reached, but generally a collaborative approach is preferred, with family and healthcare professionals acting together.
Therefore if you want to choose someone to act for you in health and welfare matters, you should execute an LPA in their favour. It will not be used until and unless you become unable to make your own decisions.
If you plan in advance and execute LPAs, you also have the option of appointing more than one attorney and including back-ups in case they are unable to take on the role. You can talk things through in advance with them and explain what you would like them to do for you.
To speak to one of our expert solicitors, call legalmatters on 01243 216900 or email us at email@example.com.
When someone dies, the first £325,000 of their estate is exempt from Inheritance Tax (IHT). If they don’t use all of this allowance, it can be transferred to their spouse’s or civil partner’s estate in due course. This is known as the transferable nil rate band.
This increases the exempt amount for the partner’s estate when they die, meaning they could have a potential IHT threshold of up to £650,000.
The relevant dates
The transfer of the nil rate band can be applied for if the remaining spouse or civil partner died on or after 9 October 2007.
In respect of civil partnerships, the transferable nil rate band can be claimed only if the first partner died on or after 5 December 2005, the date that the Civil Partnership Act became law.
How much nil rate band is transferable?
Where the first spouse or partner to die leaves all of their assets to the remaining spouse or civil partner, no IHT is payable, so the entire £325,000 can be passed to the remaining spouse, subject to the deduction of any non-exempt gifts made during the previous seven years.
How to apply to transfer the nil rate band
Two forms need to be sent to HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC). The first is the standard IHT form, while the second is the application to transfer the unused allowance. There are two options for this second form.
Form IHT217 Claim to Transfer Unused Nil Rate Bank for Excepted Estates
This form should be used when the estate of the first person to die is an excepted estate, ie. IHT was not payable, for example where the estate is worth less than £325,000 or where the assets are left to charity.
Form IHT402 Claim to Transfer Unused Nil Rate Band
Where some of the £325,000 IHT allowance was used by the estate of the first spouse to die, then only the remaining balance can be transferred to benefit the second estate. Other financial information will need to be included on the form, for example gifts made within the last seven years and pension details.
Both forms need to be signed by the estate Executor or Administrator and sent to HMRC together with the main IHT form, IHT400.
A probate lawyer will be able to work out the correct figures to be included on the form, which isn’t always straightforward, for example in the case of disposal of cash or assets by the deceased prior to their death or where gifts are made to charities, which could potentially reduce IHT liability.
To speak to one of our probate specialists, call legalmatters on 01243 216900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Signing a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) document authorises someone to deal with matters on your behalf, should you become unable to do so yourself.
There are two types of LPAs, one covering property and financial affairs and one covering health and welfare.
It is possible to ask your attorney to deal with your property and financial matters while you are still capable, for example if you have limited mobility and find it difficult to get to your bank. Your health and welfare matters can only be dealt with by your attorney once you can no longer make decisions for yourself.
You can choose to sign only one type of LPA if you wish.
Who should you appoint?
You should choose someone whom you trust implicitly, as they will potentially have a great deal of say over your life and financial affairs.
Your attorney needs to be aged 18 or over and in respect of a financial and property LPA you cannot appoint anyone who has been declared bankrupt or who is subject to a debt relief order.
If you do not feel that you have a family member or close friend who can act on your behalf, it is possible to appoint a professional such as a solicitor, who will charge a fee to deal with your affairs and who will be under a duty to act in your best interests.
Once your LPA is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), your attorney will be supervised by them. This could include a visit to you or contact to ensure your attorney is acting effectively. After the first year it is likely that the supervision will be fairly minimal.
What your attorney needs to know
You should ensure that your attorney is happy to be appointed, and that they know what responsibilities this will entail. For example, they will be required to submit an annual report to the OPG explaining the reasoning behind the decisions they have made on your behalf and why they believe the decisions were in your best interests, as well as submitting financial details such as bank statements.
Give your attorney as much information up front as you can, letting them know what you will expect them to do for you and the scope of what they will be dealing with.
Let them think it through carefully and without pressure so that they can make the right decision. If they do choose to act, then discuss your wishes with them so that when the time comes, they will know how you would like them to proceed.
It is a good idea to have a second-choice attorney in place, in case your first-choice is unable or unwilling to act when you finally need them to.
If you would like to discuss appointing an attorney, call legalmatters on 01243 216900 or email us at email@example.com.
Nearly two million people are due a refund after the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) overcharged for registering a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).
An LPA gives someone the right to manage your affairs after you become incapable of doing so. You can execute an LPA in respect of your health and welfare and/or in respect of your property and financial affairs.
The Ministry of Justice has announced that the OPG overcharged those who registered an LPA between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017, and that they are entitled to a refund.
So far only 200,000 claims have been made out of 1.8 million who are qualified to do so.
Making a claim
Either a donor or an attorney can make the claim. They will need to supply the donor’s bank details, as the payment will be made to the donor. A copy of the LPA should also be included.
The claim form can be accessed via the government information page https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney-refund. In some cases, including where the donor does not have a bank account or the applicant is a court-appointed deputy, the claim will need to be made by phone by calling the helpline on 0300 456 0300, option 6. The deadline for claims is 1 February 2021.
How much will be refunded?
The amount of the refund will depend on when the LPA was registered, as fees paid differed over the time period in question.
Date Fee Paid Refund
April to Sept 2013 £54
Oct 2013 to March 2014 £34
April 2014 to March 2015 £37
April 2015 to March 2016 £38
April 2016 to March 2017 £45
A claim can be made for each LPA registered. Interest will also be paid at a rate of 0.5 percent.
Who needs an LPA?
It is advisable for everyone to take the time to make an LPA, so that in the event they become unable to manage their affairs, either through illness, injury or incapacity, their chosen attorney can step in to help.
In the absence of an LPA, application would need to be made to the court, which could be an expensive and time-consuming process. This could also mean that you might not have your first choice of attorney acting for you.
You can execute an LPA, then keep it until such time as it is needed, at which point it is registered with the OPG.
If you would like to talk to one of our expert lawyers about drawing up an LPA, call legalmatters on 01243 216900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Giving someone the power to deal with your affairs can be a good idea, but if the document isn’t drafted carefully it can lead to expensive financial and administrative problems.
A Lasting Power of Attorney is the document which gives someone the authority to deal with financial affairs on behalf of another. It is often signed by older people in anticipation of the time when they may become unable to deal with matters by themselves. It must be executed while the donor is still mentally capable of understanding the authorisation they are giving.
Problems can arise if the document isn’t carefully drafted, clearly and unambiguously setting out exactly what the donor wants the attorney to do for them. There are many decisions to be made, including the following:
How many attorneys?
More than one attorney can be appointed. The document needs to state whether they are able to act jointly and severally or just jointly. If they are only able to act jointly, then every attorney will need to be a party to each individual transaction, for example signing a cheque or authorising a financial transaction.
There is also the option to name replacement attorneys who would step in if one of the original attorneys died. Again, their role will depend on whether the original attorneys were acting jointly or jointly and severally. If the original attorneys had to act jointly, then on the death of any one of them, all of them would be forced to stand down and the replacement(s) would step in.
When can the Power of Attorney be used?
The donor can choose to allow the Power of Attorney to be used before they become incapacitated, for example, to facilitate dealing with banks where mobility is an issue. Alternatively, they may want to manage their own affairs until such time as they are mentally unable to.
The Power of Attorney can cover all financial affairs, or it can contain restrictions, for example, not permitting sale of a house or large cash gifts. It is important that any restrictions are clearly drafted, with no ambiguity.
Other Powers of Attorney
The donor may also have drawn up a personal welfare Power of Attorney to deal with health and welfare matters. If different attorneys are named on that document, financial attorneys may need to cooperate with them to find the best way forward for the donor.
Having a Power of Attorney document professionally drafted by experts is well worth the expense. If a document contains errors or is poorly worded it could end up being contested or being declared invalid. In that case, any legal action or application to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy would be expensive and could result in the donor’s affairs not being administered as they would have chosen.
If you would like to speak to a lawyer who specialises in drawing up Powers of Attorney, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
When you own a business, not using a professional lawyer to draw up your Will is almost always a mistake.
Failing to cover all your assets and not considering issues around inheritance tax, executors and trusts are two common mistakes made with a DIY Will. But even the smallest of mistakes could render a Will invalid – such as if it’s witnessed by the wrong people or number of people; if it’s not signed or dated in the right place.
Having a valid Will in place is essential if you want the final say in what happens to your business and other assets after you die.
If you die without a Will, or if it’s invalid, everything you own – including business and non-business assets – will be distributed under the laws of intestacy. Which means that you or your loved ones will have no say as to who inherits. To avoid your assets being dealt with under the rules of intestacy, your Will should detail what will happen to your business shares.
When you die, any shares or interest you own in a business become an asset of your estate. Without a Will, these shares could be sold, the company could be broken up, or it could run into trouble without the correct day-to-day management in place.
For example, you might know who you want to inherit your business after you die, but what happens if there’s a tragedy and these people don’t survive? A professional solicitor will know what questions to ask to make sure that your Will covers all situations.
Take a look at the package “Business Wealth Protection” which we’ve put together specifically for business owners. We will look at all eventualities and the Will we draft for you will include a trust and letter of wishes to ensure that inheritance tax is handled in the most cost-efficient way.
In some cases, you might already have a partnership agreement or company papers in place that set out what will happen to the business after you die. These types of contracts are usually put in place if more than one person owns a business and you want the company to continue after your death. You should also consider whether you need a business lasting power of attorney. We’ll help you decide what legal documents you need to draw up in order to carry out your wishes and best protect your business and your loved ones.
It is always important when drawing up a Will that it is done correctly, and for business owners this is more complex. We can help guide you through the process. Just speak to one of our expert team by calling legalmatters on 01243 216900 or email us at email@example.com.
There may be times in your life when you’re unable to manage your own personal affairs. Sickness, injury, old age and short-term incapacity can leave you unable to make decisions about your wellbeing.
While a daunting thought, in advance of these circumstances, you can grant legal authority to someone you trust to make a decision on your behalf.
This is done by completing a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) and it legally authorises a designated individual or individuals to take care of your personal matters for you.
Two types of LPA
You can apply for a Health and Welfare LPA or a Property and Financial Affairs LPA. Often, both are applied for together, allowing the attorney to make a decision in both areas and protect the overall wellbeing of their friend or family member.
The Health and Welfare LPA covers matters around your physical care and welfare. Your attorney may be required to make important decisions about any medical treatment you are given, your housing, your general care, and also whereabouts you are cared for. So it’s essential that you select a person you trust, and who will advocate for you when they are required to speak on your behalf.
When it comes to the Property and Financial Affairs LPA, the purpose of this agreement is to make a decision on your financial wellbeing and manage your finances day to day. This could include being responsible for your home, any financial assets, as well as your bank account and savings. It’s important to select someone who will manage your financial affairs soundly.
How to choose your Attorney?
Becoming an Attorney is a big responsibility, and it’s essential to choose someone that you trust. Whether Financial, Welfare or both, you need to be assured that they will behave with integrity, advocate for you when you are unable to, and make often difficult decisions that are in line with your values and instructions (which you can set out in your LPA). It’s worth noting that you can choose more than one Attorney and prepare a stand-in in the event that your original choice is unable to or fails to act.
What is a Certificate Provider?
A Certificate Provider is required to counter-sign your LPA. This protects potentially vulnerable people from being coerced into designating Power of Attorney to someone against their will. Typically, friends, neighbours or the medical community can provide this role. However, they are required to have known you for a minimum of two years.
How do I complete the paperwork?
It’s always smart to consult with a lawyer before you begin your LPA process. A lawyer will also ensure that your paperwork is registered with the Office of Public Guardian (OPG).
To find out more, why not download our “Free Guide to Lasting Powers of Attorney” or talk to one of our experts to learn how we can help you to create and register either or both kinds of LPA. Call us on 01243 216900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to the latest figures, from the office of National Statistics, while they are rising in popularity, fewer than 1 in 10 adults have made a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), suggesting that the majority of people are simply not prepared for later life.
An LPA is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your wishes, should you become unable to make financial or health decisions for yourself.
There are two kinds of LPA, a Property & Financial Affairs LPA and a Personal Welfare LPA. Both deal with very different matters.
However, according to the latest figures from the Office of the Public Guardian, there were only 1.4 million Financial LPAs registered in 2016, and 600,000 Health and Welfare LPAs.
People are living longer than ever before
In the UK, the number of people who reach their 85th birthday is expected to double by 2045. At the same time, the Alzheimer’s Society predicts that there will be more than two million people with Alzheimer’s by 2051.
As such, the prospect of being unable to make decisions in later life is one which more of us will have to consider. So, it is more important than ever to plan for later life.
However, while the number of LPAs is rising quickly, many people are failing to make a LPA because they are unsure about what it involves and why it is needed.
You will find some very straight-forward information from Age UK here.
The importance of later life planning
With an increasing number of seniors set to live on into their eighties and nineties, we are likely to see a corresponding rise in people who are no longer able to make decisions for themselves. And, even where people trust that their family will look after them, without any guidance this can be hugely stressful for those left to do so (and cause disagreements between those closest to them).
An LPA can go some way towards managing this problem. With an LPA, you appoint a trusted relative or friend to become an ‘attorney’ and look after your financial affairs, or make decisions about your care and medical attention when you are no longer able to do so yourself. You can also include specific instructions to help them make decisions you would approve of.
Don’t leave it too late
However, when it comes to making sure you are fully protected, planning in advance is crucial. If you put it off indefinitely then you run the risk of not being in a fit state to understand and sign an LPA.
To find out more and to protect yourself if you become unable to manage your financial affairs, and to make informed decisions about your long-term health arrangements, take a look at our Estate Protection services or speak to one of our expert team. Call us at legalmatters on 01243 216900 or email us at email@example.com.