When you lose someone you love it is always a difficult time. Having to deal with the paperwork involved in administering an estate after a death – and when you’re grieving – can be extremely upsetting.
That’s why at legalmatters we will always try to make the process as pain-free as possible for you – and why we’re always delighted to hear from a client when we’ve helped a family or an individual through such a stressful time. So thank you Jane for your kind words.
“Thank you and Megan, and all in the office staff for making my journey – sorting my dad’s estate through yourself and legalmatters – a professional, reassuring and stress free time. It’s been a pleasure and I would highly recommend you to friends.”
There are an estimated 51 million pets in the UK, but only a small proportion of them are mentioned in their owner’s Will.
In England and Wales, pets are considered to be the property of their owners and as such, can be left to someone in a Will.
The RSPCA estimate that there are 12 million pet-owning households in the UK, with 26 percent of us owning a dog and 18 percent a cat.
What happens to your pet when you die
If you haven’t made specific mention of your pet in your Will, then he or she will pass to the person receiving your personal possessions. This could mean that your pet ends up with someone who doesn’t want them or who is unable to care for them.
Planning for your pet after your death
Ideally you should think about who you want to care for your pet at the same time that you make your Will.
Talk to the person you have chosen and make sure that they are completely happy to take on the animal, bird or reptile. Then make sure that your wishes are clearly communicated in your Will and also to your friends and family.
How to look after your pet in your Will
If you’ve found someone to take care of your pet, name them in your Will and specify which pet they are to receive or, if they are agreeable, you can include any future pet.
You can also leave them money to cover vets bills and other expenses. This can be by way of a cash gift, contingent upon them accepting the pet, or by way of a trust. Leaving the money to them in trust, with them as trustee, means they can avoid losing any state benefits they may be receiving, which might be in jeopardy if they were to receive a lump sum of cash. You can specify what is to happen to the remainder of any trust money once your pet dies.
Consider leaving a ‘letter of wishes’ alongside your Will, setting out how you would like your pet to be cared for. While this will not be legally binding, it will help the person taking on the pet to know what your wishes are.
How animal charities can help
Some charities offer a pre-need registration service. You can contact them to discuss how you would like them to help your pet after your death.
The RSPCA, Blue Cross and Cats Protection are charities which take in pets without owners. If you do make arrangements with a charity, make sure this is specified in your Will so that your executor knows exactly what your wishes are.
To speak to someone about writing your Will, call one of our specialist team at legalmatters, on 01243 216900 or email us at email@example.com.
Charities are worried about the impact the new “stealth death tax” could have on legacy giving.
The Government is facing condemnation after its plans to hike the cost of applying for probate were revealed. Under the proposals, some grieving relatives would need to pay death taxes of up to £6,000 to secure legal control over a deceased’s estate.
But in addition to families, charities could also feel the impact. In fact, according to The Institute of Legacy Management (ILM), charities will lose out by more than £10 million per year under the proposals.
In response, the Government has been asked to reconsider its stance. Speaking about this issue, the Chief Executive officer of ILM, said that it was deeply concerned by the proposed rise in probate fees.
At present, the current cost of securing probate is £215, or £155 for families who use a solicitor. However, if the Government gets its way, this cost could soar to £6,000 from April next year. This could have a devastating impact on those charities who are reliant on legacy gifts and significantly reduce their income.
At a time where many charities are struggling to meet increasing demand for their services, this could have a considerable impact on many groups across the UK.
The proposals have also come under fire for being a “stealth tax”. This is because the current fees cover the average costs of making a grant of probate, but the new fee structure is hugely disproportionate.
Is it a new tax?
Introducing a new tax requires new legislation. But the Government is using its existing powers to force the change rather than passing a new law. If passed, the new tax will side-step the long-established exemptions and reliefs of the inheritance tax regime, including the charity exemption.
With concerns that this stealth tax will be shouldered – in part at least by charities – the impact on the sector is expected to be significant. So much so that millions of much-needed funds could go to the Government, rather than being used to fund vital services.
The Government has responded by stating that the cost to the charity sector is “not expected to be substantial”.
To find out how to maximise any legacy you want to leave to a charity, speak to one of our expert team by calling 01243 216900 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’re taking a walk around Chichester to raise money for free legal advice services…
On 12th September 2018, our legalmatters and Legal Workflow team – including Lucy Thomas, Martin Langan, Andy Saych, Lindsay Dobson, Sarah Reed, Terry Walsh, Lauren Bain, Mel Bloomfield and Gus (the cockapoo) – will be taking part in a sponsored walk to raise funds for The Citizens Advice services in South and West Sussex and Havant.
Please sponsor us now to help us meet our target amount.
We head off from The Fountain, South Street in Chichester at 5.30pm for a 10k circular walk, which funnily enough ends up back at the pub. No doubt we’ll be doing a bit of nibbling and much munching of chips as we compare blisters and funny stories while we recover our strength and before we wend our way homewards.
Between now and then I have no doubt there will be some training walks – between pubs I expect. These will be led by Gus, our very own Chief Welfare officer, acting trainer and motivator (pictured) who’ll be sharing some doggy pep talks, leading from the front and always nosing about in pockets for treats.
We do take charity giving seriously though at legalmatters, and every year we take part in various fund-raising and partnership activities to raise both awareness of charitable giving and funds through sponsorship.
In October 2017 alone, we helped to raise about £57,900 of future income from legacies for the Guide Dogs.
It’s not all altruistic – you might not be aware that a charitable legacy in your Will can help reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax your estate is liable for. Look at these posts for more information – and do talk to us about your own Will.
See what legacy giving can do for your tax bill – read our post.
And if you like a little light-hearted banter and want to get an idea of what that all means at celebrity level, take a look at our blog here following rumours in the press after Sir Bruce Forsyth’s death:
You can see just some of the reasons why other celebrities are planning charitable legacies in this post.
More about the Chichester Legal Walk: Across South and West Sussex and Havant there are areas of high poverty and need, and many vulnerable people. Access to legal advice helps those people to get out of poverty and distress. The Chichester Walk raises much needed funds for advice agencies who support vulnerable people in our community and help them access justice.
Legalmatters are proud to have joined Cancer Research UK’s Free Will Service.
The Free Will Service helps people aged over 55 to write or update their Will free of charge. It also gives guidance for people considering leaving a legacy gift to Cancer Research UK. The service is now being provided at legalmatters where trained solicitors will be able to offer support to people living in the UK and assist with drafting a Will.
Cancer Research UK receives no government funding for its research and relies heavily on the generosity of people leaving gifts in their Wills. Over a third of its research into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer is funded through supporters leaving a legacy to the charity.
A legacy gift can be anything someone wishes to leave in their Will. Traditionally this is money, but it could be anything that has a monetary value like an estate or specific item. Anything that is left to Cancer Research UK can be marked to be ring-fenced for research into a specific cancer type or research within a local area.
Lucy Thomas, Legal Services Director at legalmatters, says: “Another bonus to doing this, besides simply helping a good cause, is that legacy giving can also reduce your inheritance tax bill. Take a look at our blog “What can legacy giving do for your tax bill” to find out more, or give us a call on on 01243 216900 for expert advice on amending or drafting your Will.”
Clare Moore, Director of Legacies at Cancer Research UK, explained: “We all reach a stage at some point in our lives where we start to look ahead and consider what will happen to our financial affairs in the future, when we may no longer be around.
“At Cancer Research UK, we work with a number of local solicitors, including legalmatters, to offer the Free Will Service to anyone aged 55 or over, helping individuals to make an all-important first Will or update an existing one.
“One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in their lives. The generous gifts left by people in their Wills are so important as they help us continue the work that we do to beat cancer sooner. Without the money we receive from gifts, the progress we make through research would be a far slower.
“We are always so grateful to anyone who leaves a gift in their Will to Cancer Research UK – legacy gifts help us find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.”
Cancer survival in the UK has doubled since the early 1970s and Cancer Research UK’s work has been at the heart of that progress. Every step taken by its doctors, nurses and scientists relies on donations from the public and the kindness of supporters who choose to leave a gift in their Will.
The Free Will Service has been running successfully for over 20 years across a network of solicitors in the UK. Anyone who wishes to use the service is asked to consider leaving a legacy gift to Cancer Research UK but under no obligation to do so.
Legalmatters looks forward to offering the Free Will Service to help the people in the UK and working with Cancer Research UK to help beat cancer sooner.
For more information about leaving a legacy gift and Cancer Research UK’s free Will service, visit www.cruk.org/freewillservice or call legalmatters on 01243 261900.
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 email@example.com for further details.
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