Monthly Archives: June 2020

Vulnerable relatives

The importance of the right advice when it comes to vulnerable relatives

When it comes to protecting vulnerable individuals, it is important that people obtain the right advice. There are a range of options, with tax and inheritance implications, where the right guidance can ensure vulnerable individuals are both protected and provided for.

Who might be considered a vulnerable person?

A vulnerable person can be classed as someone who:

  • Isn’t mature
  • Isn’t financially sensible
  • Lacks capacity to deal with financial affairs
  • May be good with money but has their finances ‘means tested’ for benefit purposes.

An example scenario

‘Sarah’ has learning disabilities. She used to live with her parents, but decided she wanted to live independently so moved into sheltered housing. This gave Sarah her independence but also provided her with the support and supervision she needed as and when required.

To pay for her accommodation, Sarah received benefits, Local Authority funding and Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

Sarah has a huge passion for steam engines. She lives, breathes and dreams of steam engines, and will do all she can to go and see them. This passion has seen her travel across the country on various occasions to see famous engines.

Sarah’s parents encourage this passion, and upon their death would like to leave her some money so she can continue to enjoy the thrill steam trains give her. They also want to leave money to Sarah to help maintain her and ensure she is looked after, but don’t want this inheritance to impact on the means tested benefit Sarah receives.

What options do Sarah’s parents have?

It’s only right that Sarah’s parents seek advice from a professional who could advise them of the best routes to take and why.

Some routes the parents SHOULDN’T consider include:

  • Leaving all of the money to Sarah’s brother. By not putting the money into a Trust for Sarah and leaving the responsibility on her brother to ‘see her right’ can lead to problems for Sarah. Firstly, the parents are relying on the brother’s integrity to provide for his sister. Secondly, this leaves the inheritance they left their son at risk of any issues that could affect his wealth. Such issues as divorce, creditors, being spent etc.
  • Create a Deed of Variation. This can have tax implications, but also be classed as ‘deprivation’ with regards to the care Sarah receives in sheltered housing. The Deeds of Variation would be included in the means tested benefit which could result in Sarah receiving a reduced payment – or losing this benefit altogether.

So, what should they do?

In this scenario, the best option for Sarah and her parents would be to place any inheritance into a Discretionary Trust. Ideally a Disabled Discretionary Trust, as this would protect Sarah’s means tested benefits. There are also tax advantages available to Sarah if this is the route chosen by her parents.

Services from legalmatters during Covid-19 pandemic

Here at legalmatters, we continue to do everything we possibly can to service our existing and new clients during these very difficult times.

Our ability to provide remote services makes us stand out from the crowd.  This means that you can deal with your will, power of attorney, probate, trust and tax advice etc all over the phone or by email and documents are sent to you by post.  We are also advising our clients on signature processes bearing in mind social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, the office continues to operate with minimal skeleton staff for the protection of our staff, clients and visitors, enabling us to still process physical documents for our clients.  If you do find that you need to call into the office for instance to have documents witnessed when it is otherwise difficult for you to arrange that with family and friends then do please get in touch.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert lawyers about protecting a vulnerable person after your death, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Probate changes

What changes have been made when applying for probate?

All estates of any deceased person need to go through all legal channels before the deceased’s assets can be distributed to all beneficiaries.

In England and Wales, this is referred to as the Grant of Representation and will be needed even if the deceased did not leave a Will. Any Will executor will need to apply for a Grant of Probate whilst anybody looking to administer the estate of those without a Will will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration which will enable the executor to administer the estate under intestacy rules.

During lockdown, completing the administrative process of applying for probate has changed and executors or probate professionals will need to ensure they are adhering to the new system to avoid the form being returned and the process getting delayed.

At the end of March HM Courts and Tribunals Service introduced an eight week introductory period for a new standard grant of representation application forms. The introductory deadline lapsed on May 18 and all forms will now need to comply with the changes if they are to be processed.

The main change will see older iterations using ‘statements of truth’ obsolete and any forms sent after May 18 which uses this older system, will see their forms returned.

The new forms have been designed to digitize information from the start of the process, reducing the number of errors and creating a more efficient process as the new forms can be bulk scanned.

Three grant of representation forms have been redesigned. Any executor applying for probate will now use the updated PA1P form.

Those who are administering an estate without a Will and applying for a grant of letters of administration should apply for a PA1A form.

Anyone needs to apply for a caveat will need to use the updated PA8A form.

Services from legalmatters during Covid-19 pandemic

Here at legalmatters, we continue to do everything we possibly can to service our existing and new clients during these very difficult times.

Our ability to provide remote services makes us stand out from the crowd.  This means that you can deal with your will, power of attorney, probate, trust and tax advice etc all over the phone or by email and documents are sent to you by post.  We are also advising our clients on signature processes bearing in mind social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, the office continues to operate with minimal skeleton staff for the protection of our staff, clients and visitors, enabling us to still process physical documents for our clients.  If you do find that you need to call into the office for instance to have documents witnessed when it is otherwise difficult for you to arrange that with family and friends then do please get in touch.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert Wills and Probate lawyers, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Do I need to be an executor

Do I need to be an executor?

A person is able to entrust their estate to relatives, friends or organisations – like banks or a firm of solicitors – when deciding who they would like to administer their final wishes.

A person making a Will also has the right to appoint as many executors as they feel necessary to administer their estate effectively and properly.

However, as a maximum of four people are able to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate, this figure tends to be the maximum number.

If the deceased has named more than one executor to help administer their estate, there are many positives in applying for a Grant of Probate as a unified team. This can help provide a level of equality and ensure that all voices are heard. Preventing disputes is really important to ensure an efficient and swift administration of the estate and ultimately distribution of assets to beneficiaries.

Some people may not feel comfortable with this responsibility and may not want to undertake the role. Whilst it is important to consider the deceased’s wishes, there are various routes a person can take.

 Creating a Power Reserved Letter

 Any executor named in the Will who does not want to apply for probate or who cannot practically help with the administration of an estate will need to inform the Court of this via a Notice of Power Reserved.

The power reserved letter will effectively mean that you relinquish your responsibilities and entrust the administration of the estate to the executors applying for probate but allows you the right to rekindle your responsibilities in the future.

The Grant of Probate, once issued, will name the executors who had applied but will also state that an un-named executor has the power reserved. This can be useful if the executor in question is ill or living abroad and therefore unable to deal with the administrative obligations.

Given the current situation involving Covid-19, increased levels of illness and travel restrictions, this option may be needed.

Renunciation – resigning as executor

An executor has the right to resign from the position at any point and can renounce their right to apply for probate via a Deed of Renunciation.

This process can only take place if the Will executor has not had any formal dealings in administering the estate up to the point they decide to renounce their role.

This process is usually binding. Following the submitted Deed of Renunciation to the probate registry, the executor will sever all ties with the estate.

Services from legalmatters during Covid-19 pandemic

Here at legalmatters, we continue to do everything we possibly can to service our existing and new clients during these very difficult times.

Our ability to provide remote services makes us stand out from the crowd.  This means that you can deal with your will, power of attorney, probate, trust and tax advice etc all over the phone or by email and documents are sent to you by post.  We are also advising our clients on signature processes bearing in mind social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, the office continues to operate with minimal skeleton staff for the protection of our staff, clients and visitors, enabling us to still process physical documents for our clients.  If you do find that you need to call into the office for instance to have documents witnessed when it is otherwise difficult for you to arrange that with family and friends then do please get in touch.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert Wills and Probate lawyers, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Lasting power of attorney

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document giving a person legal authority to make financial decisions or medical decisions on your behalf.

You can appoint a person to either make decisions regarding your health and welfare under a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, which will cover things like medical treatment, where you will be treated, and even whether you should receive life-saving treatment (although this will need to be expressly declared in the document).  The only time this power can be exercised is when the person granting it has lost mental capacity.

For financial decisions a person can be appointed a Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney.  Under this the attorney may have access to bank accounts, power to buy and sell property and manage any financial obligations.  This power can be appointed to begin at any time you wish, for example immediately or if you lose mental capacity.

If you wish to make a Lasting Power or Attorney (LPA) then you must be over 18 and have mental capacity.  This means that you have the ability to make a decision, from mundane ones such as what to have for lunch, to important decisions such as where to live.

For most people, this will not be a difficult thing to prove or for it to even be questioned.  However, there is a two-stage test to ensure a person is deemed to have mental capacity:

  • Does the person have an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of their mind or brain?
  • Does the impairment or disturbance mean that the person is unable to make a specific decision when they need to.

By consulting with a solicitor before making an LPA there is less chance of any problems later on, they will also be able to sign it as a certificate provider; a person that can confirm you have understood the implications of an LPA and you have not been put under any pressure to sign it.

There is no limit to the amount of people you can appoint, but issues can arise if you have many people trying to act on your behalf at once.  It is advisable however to appoint more than one in case the one person you chose to act is unable to do so for whatever reason, such as their own mental capacity, they cannot be traced when an urgent decision is needed or they die and you are no longer considered as having mental capacity.

If you appoint more than one attorney, this can be done so they act ‘jointly’, whether they have to make decisions together, or as ‘jointly and severally’ whereby they can make a decision on their own with or without the decision of the other.

You may also appoint a person to step in and act as a ‘replacement’ should another attorney be unable to act.

An LPA can help protect couples who have joint accounts that may be frozen if it becomes a concern, to a bank, that one may take control of the account if the other is deemed as having lost mental capacity.  In these cases, it can take months and costly legal proceedings to apply to the Court of Protection to become a ‘deputy’, acting as the legal representative for the mentally incapable partner.  This also means that an annual supervision fee will be payable to the Court as well as annual accounts prepared and a security bond.

LPAs can also be a very useful tool, especially to those who know they have a medical condition where they know they will be unable to make their own decisions, such as dementia.

Services from legalmatters during Covid-19 pandemic

Here at legalmatters, we continue to do everything we possibly can to service our existing and new clients during these very difficult times.

Our ability to provide remote services makes us stand out from the crowd.  This means that you can deal with your will, power of attorney, probate, trust and tax advice etc all over the phone or by email and documents are sent to you by post.  We are also advising our clients on signature processes bearing in mind social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, the office continues to operate with minimal skeleton staff for the protection of our staff, clients and visitors, enabling us to still process physical documents for our clients.  If you do find that you need to call into the office for instance to have documents witnessed when it is otherwise difficult for you to arrange that with family and friends then do please get in touch.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert Wills and Probate lawyers, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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