Text Message Wills

According to research by unbiased.co.uk, in 2016, 59% of UK adults did not have a Will.

Nowadays, with technology taking over, the majority of the population does everything on their phones or tablets, people can be forgiven for leaving instructions over what happens to their assets when they die.

What people may not realise, is that in the UK, this is not a legal and binding Will.

Recently, there has been some press regarding an Australian Court accepting an unsent text message as a binding Will.

The message was found in the drafts section of the deceased’s mobile phone, leaving “all that I have” to his brother and nephew, this was compiled shortly before he took his own life.

Although his widow contested the decision (as the text was never sent), it contained the phrase “my Will”. The court ruled that this phrase showed the deceased’s intention.

With an appreciation for modern times, the English Law Commission is currently consulting over the legalities regarding Wills; video Wills may be on the horizon!

As it stands however, the old rules apply.

Capacity

You must be of sound mind and capable of making decisions when you sign your Will. You must also be under no external influences to be compiling your Will.

Intention

You must intend to distribute all or part of your estate. There are particular expressions that must be used eg. “I leave the residue of my estate to X”.

Subscription

The Will must be signed by the Will maker. This ensures it is clear the Will reflects your wishes.

Document storage is also an added security measure.

The Will should also be witnessed by two independent people.

Without all these requirements, your Will won’t be valid and may cause unnecessary stress and heartache to your loved ones upon your death.

For more information regarding Will Writing, Lasting Powers of Attorney, and Document Storage, contact LCS NOW on 0345 017 8250 and let us help you, to help yourself.

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Have You Appointed Guardians?

We often hear from younger people that they will make a Will once they have children. Yet, so many people with children have not actually made a Will. According to Will Aid, this is the case with 57% of parents.

Although most younger people don’t believe they have the assets to create a Will, many do not realise that a Will is more than just dividing assets after your death.

If you have children under the age of 18, it is vital that you appoint trusted Guardians within your Will to look after your children under 18 should you and your partner both die. Otherwise, the Courts will decide what happens to your children, running the risk of them entering care.

It is important for you to discuss everything with potential Guardians, as they may decide the responsibility is one they don’t wish to bear.

One worry may be that they don’t have the finances available. This may be overcome by leaving Trusts written into your Will for your children, but ensuring your Trustees have the authority to apply for funds from the Trust fund prior to your children reaching 18 years of age.

Trustees may also be responsible for your entire estate, thus ensuring that directions are set for the financial upbringing of your children, this would ensure that your appointed guardians are not out of pocket and, that your children’s needs are met.

Guardians normally gain parental responsibility, making decisions for a child such as medical treatment and education, until they reach the age of 18.

It is also possible to appoint a substitute Guardian as a substitute in case your original Guardian is unable or unwilling to act.

Although nobody wishes to think of their death, especially when just starting your own family, it is imperative to secure your children’s future whilst you’re still able to do so.

For advice regarding Guardianship, and writing Wills, contact LCS NOW on 0345 017 8250.

To Marry Or Not To Marry

When couples meet in later life or simply choose not to get married, although living together, they may not be protected when one of them dies.

Unfortunately, cohabiting couples are not recognised in law the same way that married couples or those in a civil partnership are.

So, what legally happens to couples when one of them dies without leaving a Will?

Common law spouse

According to intestacy rules, if you die without leaving a Will, in this case, your partner will not receive anything from your estate other than anything held jointly.

Looking to the future

There are some legal benefits to marrying:

– Spouse exemption – anything left to a spouse is exempt from Inheritance Tax (IHT).
– Transferable nil rate band – you can use the first £325,000 of your spouse’s nil rate band, along with your own, providing your spouse did not use their allowance.
– Intestacy – if a Will is not left, upon your death, where there are children, your spouse is entitled to the first £250,000 of the estate and, the interest on half the residue.

Make a Will

It is vitally important for unmarried couples to make a Will specifying their wishes and how they would like their estate to be divided.

Although you may have lived together for many years and even share children, unless you have a Will, you cannot guarantee that your partner will be protected or provided for following your death.

To discuss making a Will and advice on other services regarding your estate, contact LCS NOW on 0345 017 8250.

Reduce Financial Stress

Why Consider A Trust When Making A Will?

It is important for you to have a Will in place before you die. Not having a Will can lead to numerous complications when dividing an estate and, for some families, it can be enough to tear them apart.

But it isn’t just Wills that need to be considered.

Trusts can be used as a way of passing on inheritance, under the protection of Trustees who will pass on assets to your chosen beneficiaries in accordance with the Trust.

The benefits of doing this is that you can ensure your assets are going exactly where you wish.

So, in what circumstances are trusts useful?

Blended Families

If there are children involved from previous relationships, a couple may want to ensure that such children benefit from their inheritance.

A Trust could be included to enable assets to pass to a surviving partner upon the deaths of the first to die. The trust can also further outline what happens to the assets when both have died.

In this case, assets could be split between the couple’s own children.

Remarriage

If your spouse dies, you may go on to remarry in later life.

This could mean that a Will written when both were alive to be altered, sometimes in a way that may remove inheritance from existing children.

As with the above, a Trust could be included in a couple’s Wills to ensure inheritance for the ultimate beneficiaries whilst enabling the surviving spouse to have use of the asset during their lifetime, such as with the family home.

Is the beneficiary able to manage the inheritance?

A Trust is the most common way of safeguarding assets for those unable to manage their own finances, for example, a disabled person or someone with a substance misuse or alcohol dependency problem.

Here, the Trustees would use the assets to directly benefit the beneficiary, the Trustees would use their discretion as to how and when to release the funds.

 

If You’re Unmarried

Unmarried couples do not have the same rights of inheritance as those who are married or in a civil partnership.

In marriage or civil partnerships your estate can pass directly to your spouse upon your death.
Trusts can be included to ensure that your partner is provided for, whilst also addressing the inheritance tax issues for unmarried couples.

The above are just four common reasons to include a trust in your Will, there are many other reasons and a variety of Trusts which may help individual clients.

For more information about Trusts, contact LCS on 0345 017 8250 before it’s too late.

The Presumption Of Death Act 2013

Have you ever thought how you would cope financially without your partner? Marriage brings the security of your partner’s assets passing directly to you upon their death. (Unless otherwise stated in a Will) But what happens to a loved one’s affairs if that person goes missing?

Currently, The Presumption of Death Act 2013 requires you to wait seven years, or provide proof that the person has died before you can apply for the declaration of presumed death.

Although seven years is long enough to ascertain that someone really has left their life behind them, it has been criticised as being too long for the families left dealing with the deceased’s affairs.

Furthermore, if a person has an appointed power of attorney, this becomes void as nobody has the legal authority to manage a missing person’s affairs.

As this is a very serious matter, the courts will only grant the declaration of presumed death with solid evidence, but once they have, it allows for a grant of probate, and even dissolution of marriages.

In order to apply for this, you must:

– Provide details of both the applicant, and the missing person,
– Provide details surrounding how they disappeared,
– What efforts you’ve made to find them,
– Details of their estate,
– Details of anyone else who may be interested.

You must also advertise the event in at least one newspaper local to the missing person’s last known address.

This will then be put up for a Court hearing, where the next steps will be advised. Eg. Further proof.

The decision will be made by taking into account the balance of probabilities; the civil standard of proof.

The declaration may be opposed by anyone by submitting a notice of intervention, or, if the missing person returns. In this instance, the missing person would apply for the declaration to be revoked by the High Court.

In April 2017, the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 was passed which has been designed to work alongside the current Act.

It will allow a guardian to be appointed to handle the missing person’s affairs for a renewable period of up to four years.

It also takes into account the lengthy seven year wait and, allows the applicants to apply for a Guardianship Order, this means they will only have to wait at least 90 days before they can assume control.

Although the Presumption of Death Act 2013 made way for people to eventually deal with a missing person’s affairs, the new act allows the management of this whilst waiting the seven years to finalise the estate.

How To Avoid Disagreements Ovwr Funerals

Dealing with the death of a loved one is an upsetting and deeply stressful time. Organising the funeral can only add to this, so what happens when families disagree over the arrangements?
Not everyone will have organised their own funeral before they die. Accidents can happen, and death can sometimes be quite sudden and sooner than expected. One small respite is knowing that the invoice for the funeral can often be settled directly from the estate, funds permitting.
As probate can take many months to be granted, most banks will be happy to release funds directly to funeral directors from the deceased’s bank account upon receipt of an original invoice, this may or may not include the wake.
Family members often have differing opinions and understandings as to what the deceased wanted to happen and, even conversations prior to the deceased’s death regarding the funeral and the wake can sometimes become a point of disagreement.
Not only can this add unnecessary stress, it may also divide a family. To avoid this, you have options available to you:
1. Write your wishes into your Will, it is always recommended that you discuss your wishes with your nearest and dearest, that way, your family will know exactly what want. Your Will may also give authority to your executors to spend a certain amount on your funeral and wake, thus avoiding potential arguments.
2. Organise a pre-paid funeral plan, there are many options available for you to “design” and pay for your funeral before you die. Different packages are available which are designed to suit all budgets, and will cover the very basic funeral to the most extravagant.
Having your funeral organised before you die will not only remove the stress of doing this in an already difficult time, but it will avoid family arguments, and over exuberance. It will also ensure you get the final say on your send off.
LCS can look after all your requirements regarding your Will, winding up your estate after your death and a pre-paid funeral plan. We are currently offering £100 off each Dignity Guaranteed pre-paid funeral plan.
Contact us now on 0345 017 8250 to discuss your needs and find out how we can help you and your family.

Is Your Pet Protected In Your Will?

Do you love animals? Do you know what would happen to your beloved family pet in the event of your death? Why not protect them in your Will, and ensure they’re safe and provided for once you’re gone?

The Pet Food Manufacturers Association have recently released figures that 44% of UK households have pets. Equating to 54 million pets, this means many of them may be left behind if their owner dies.

As pets have normally been in the family for a number of years, many owners assume family members will look after them after their death. This isn’t always the case.

Not everyone has the time, money, or simply wish to make the commitment pets demand, so it is imperative you discuss your plans with the people involved.

This gives them, the opportunity to think about your wishes, and allows you the option to rethink if they decline.

If a family member is unable to care for your pet, there are specific charities eg. RSPCA Home For Life Scheme, which are designed to rehome your pet and ensure they’re looked after.

According to the Administration of Estates Act 1925, pets are “personal chattels” meaning, they can be included and provided for in your Will.

No matter which option you take, you still must consider the expenses of looking after a pet over the rest of their lifetime:

Food
Vets
Medication
Grooming
Insurance
Funeral fees

In order to cover this, you may provide cash gifts specifically allocated towards their future care.

When writing your Will, it is advised not to specifically name your pet, but provide a letter of wishes to run alongside your Will detailing your wishes for their care, and information such as registered veterinary surgeries, or important medication.

Don’t forget to review your Will every few years, as if you die with an out of date Will, your wishes may never come to fruition, and any new pets you’ve acquired may not be protected.

To ensure your Will is sound, and legally adheres to your wishes, contact LCS now on 0345 017 8250 and speak to our professional advisors.

 

Nurses Protest Over Pay

As reported in the Guardian, this afternoon (Wednesday 6th September), roughly 2,000 Nursing staff are expected to launch a demonstration outside Parliament.

Their aim is to persuade them to scrap the 1% pay cap.

The demonstration has been strategically timed to fall just after the prime minister’s first questions of her parliamentary year, with members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) taking a day of leave to join the protest.

The RCN has threatened industrial action if the pay cap is not scrapped in the Autumn Budget, after revealing the seven year cap has seen pay fall by 14% real-term.

Not only this, but Theresa May has been criticised after claiming nurses are using food banks for “complex reasons”.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive of the RCN has said:

“Experienced nursing staff are leaving in droves, not because they don’t like the job, but because they can’t afford to stay while the next generation do not see their future in an undervalued profession. If the government fails to announce a change of direction in the budget, then industrial action by nursing staff immediately goes on the table.”

This demonstration mirrors the views aired back in May, where over 50,000 members of the RCN voted, and 8 in 10 stating they would strike if the cap wasn’t lifted.

The RCN also published data from YouGov that 7 in 10 voters believed the NHS was critically understaffed.

According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), there are 40,000 nursing vacancies, with 51% more nurses and midwives leaving the profession than four years ago.

This leaves healthcare without safe staffing, and the current staff struggling under the pressure of hours, and the stress of the job.

Interestingly, YouGov also published that more than half of their voters were willing to pay increased taxes to help the nursing crisis.

Either way, something must be done to save the NHS and British healthcare as we know it.

 

DIY Online And Quickie Wills

The Wills Act hasn’t changed since it became legislation in 1837 and is still used today. It is one of the oldest pieces of legislation and used because it is clear and simple.
Section 9 of the Wills Act specifies that the Will must be in writing and be signed by the Testator (person making the Will) or by someone else as directed by the Testator. The Will must show that the Testator intended for the Will to become effective and, the Will should be witnessed by two independent people in the presence of the Testator.
It is presumed by the Court that if these formalities have been adhered to, the Will was validly executed and it then confirms the intentions of the Testator.
A recent consultation by the Law Commission has looked at ‘a more modern and improved Wills Act’ to replace existing legislation. Whilst nothing is conclusive, this may include on-line and quickie Wills.
This is something that LCS has considered but have abstained from providing this service. We believe that it is important for us to ensure that our clients understand the importance of a Will and have given the matter consideration prior to proceeding.
We always check our client’s identity and spend time in finding out what is important to our client and what they are hoping to achieve for them and the people important to them.
A Will is important for ensuring that property and assets are passed in a well-defined way to avoid complications with the Probate Registry.
The potential for fraud and undue influence is minimised when we are meeting with clients to take their instructions, especially those who may have Dementia and Alzheimer disease which, according to the Office of National Statistics accounts for 11.6% of all deaths registered in 2015.
For something as important as a Will, why would you want a ‘quick job’? Surely, having a properly prepared Will, one which will ensure that all legal requirements are met as well as your wishes, is the best that you could do for your family and, don’t they deserve the best?
Contact LCS today on 0345 017 8250 to discuss how we can help you and, to hear about our amazing offers

 

 

Sea Hero Quest: The Key To Dementia?

As part of the world’s largest dementia experiment, a virtual reality game has been designed to test one of the first symptoms; the loss of the ability to navigate.

As reported on the BBC News, with the support of Alzheimer’s Research UK and funding from Deutsche Telekom, the game has been developed from an app to virtual reality. This will not only allow for greater depth of research, but help in diagnosing the disease.

The game challenges you to find your way through a complex map of waterways, islands and oceans, testing your sense of direction and collecting anonymous data as you play.

The first game found that your sense of direction declines during your twenties and, that men have a better sense of direction than women.

Although it isn’t expected that many people will play the developed game, it will still provide more information than can be collated in a laboratory setting.

Max Scott-Slade who has worked with scientists from three universities (University College London, University of East Anglia, and ETH Zurich) has said:

“It’s interesting to try to make something that’s normally quite a boring subject matter and lab based and bring it to the public and make it as fun as possible. The value for us is to create a much richer dataset, we’re capturing 15 times more data from the virtual reality version because we’re separating out where the head looks and where the boat is moving.”

The ultimate aim of the test is to highlight dementia in its earliest stages.

With 850,000 people living with the disease in the UK, most will have suffered the disease for at least a decade before symptoms present.

Currently, there are no treatments that can prevent dementia, but it has been acknowledged that an early diagnosis, before irreversible brain damage, will help future treatments take effect.

Dr David Reynolds from Alzheimer’s Research UK told the BBC:

“What we really want to be doing is identifying people with dementia 10 or 15 years earlier than we do at the moment. A game like Sea Hero Quest and understanding how we navigate will help us get to a much earlier diagnosis.”