Adult Social Care

Are you entitled to an LPA refund?

Did you register a Lasting Power Of Attorney between April 1st 2013 and March 31st 2017?

If you did, you may be owed up to £54.

The Government has introduced a scheme where those that paid the registration fee during the above dates can apply for a partial refund as they were charged more than was needed.

According to the Ministry of Justice, this could affect 1.7million applications.

A Lasting Power Of Attorney is a document that allows you to nominate someone you trust to look after your affairs if ever you lose capacity or are unable to do so.

The two common LPAs are finance and property, and health and welfare (although LCS offers a third; Business LPA).

If you’ve registered both LPAs, you’ll be entitled to a refund of up to £108.

What has happened?

When an LPA is registered, an application fee is charged and paid to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).

During 2013 to 2017, the OPG operating costs decreased however the fee stayed the same.

With the fee only used to cover operating costs, the Government has decided to repay the difference plus 0.5% interest to those affected.

You cannot claim if you registered after April 1st 2017 as the fee was reduced on this date.

Only the donor, or the attorney can claim, and the refund will be paid to the donor.

The claim can be processed by contacting the OPG on their helpline 0300 456 0300.

There is currently no deadline, and you can also still claim even if the donor has died.

For more information regarding Powers Of Attorney, contact LCS NOW on 0345 017 8250.

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Inheritance without marriage

In today’s society, many couples chose not to marry but to live (cohabit) with their partner.

According to the Office for National Statistics, in 2014 there were 247,372 marriages in England and Wales between men and women.

This is a far cry from the 349,000 marriages thirty years ago.

They also reported that the average age of marriage was at an all-time high of 34-37 years old.

So, with this in mind, where do cohabiting couples stand when it comes to the laws surrounding inheritance?

Unfortunately without a Will, cohabiting couples are not recognised in the eyes of the law in relation to inheritance. This means that a bereaved partner is currently legally entitled to nothing.

The only exceptions to this rule are if they own their house as joint tenant (joint owners) or are to receive their partner’s life policy, where the deceased has completed a nominee form in the partners favour.

In some cases, couples have been together decades and also share children.

This is where it can get a little tricky for the remaining partner.

If the surviving partner (or anyone else) hasn’t been named in a Will (or there is no Will), under the intestacy rules, the children of the partnership are automatically first in line to receive the estate.

In order to legally inherit, the surviving partner would have to claim against their children, which can be stressful, costly and may cause a family dispute, but they may need to do this in order to obtain money or assets to live on.

Cohabiting couples also lose the benefit of not being able to use their partner’s inheritance tax allowance. Currently, married couples or those on a Civil partnership have the ability for the surviving spouse / Civil partner to use their deceased spouse / partners inheritance tax (IHT) allowance, thus saving on potential tax upon second death.

Currently, gifts between spouses are exempt from IHT, whereas for cohabiting couples, if the assets exceed £325,000, IHT is charged at 40%.

In order to ensure your partner is provided for when you die, it is vital you make a Will and name them.

Without this, there is no protection for them, and you may literally leave them homeless and with nothing.

If you love them, protect them.

Why not give the gift of LCS this valentines. Contact us on 0345 017 8250.

Do family members acting as Carers deserve a bigger inheritance?

In a society where there is an increasingly ageing population and people are struggling to pay their care fees, it comes as no surprise that family members are acting as live-in carers to their elders.

Many of these carers not only invest their time and money into making their loved one comfortable, some would argue they also invest their lives, often putting careers on hold and making sacrifices towards their own family.

But what happens when the loved one dies and it comes to the division of their assets?

Do the carers deserve a larger portion of the estate due to their lifetime of sacrifice?

Such a case was in the news last week.

Reported January 24th 2018, a 62 year old man (Timothy) had spent his life living with his parents acting as a live-in carer, whilst his two brothers left home and forged careers as Doctors in London.

When their mother passed away in 2015, she left a Will stating her estate (estimated at £1.8million) was to be divided equally between her three sons.

As Timothy acted as “primary carer for many years”, he has challenged her Will believing he is entitled to a larger portion of her estate due to his brothers taking “none of the burden”.

His brothers on the other hand believe Timothy, who is still living in her property, should leave the home so it can be sold and distributed in line with their mother’s wishes.

In court, Timothy explained that for the last eight years he was caring for his mother (a dementia sufferer), unpaid.

Although there were two other paid carers living in the property with him, he believes he had taken on equal responsibility.

Speaking to his brother, he stated:

“You are employed as a consultant and have multiple properties. You are a wealthy man. You offered no financial support and didn’t visit often enough for it to manifest any form of care. I’ve looked after her almost single handedly.

“I don’t own a house, have a pension or a steady income.

“I don’t think I should be made homeless or put into penury if it can be avoided.”

Responding, his brother highlighted that his children are entitled to their share of the estate.

Verdict

Mr Justice Carr highlighted that as he acted as a carer, there was an obvious conflict of interest between Timothy being both a beneficiary and an Executor.

Ordering Timothy’s brothers to pay their own costs of £25,000, he also ordered Timothy be removed as an Executor and replaced by a solicitor.

When delivering his verdict, he stated:

“The claim to remove Timothy as an Executor is well founded and I intend to accede to it.”

He also warned the brothers they may too have to be removed if further conflicts of interest became apparent.

Although it doesn’t appear Timothy was granted a greater share of the inheritance, it does bring about an important debate that families may need to discuss before their loved one dies.

To find out more information about care planning, LPAs or Will writing, contact LCS NOW on 0345 017 8250.

 

 

Grant Of Probate

It is a common misconception that assets are released as soon as someone dies. This generally will not happen without a document called a Grant of Probate.

 

How does it work?

When someone dies, the people responsible for managing your affairs are your Executors and named in the Will.

In the case of the deceased leaving no Will, this is called ‘Dying Intestate’. When someone dies Intestate the laws of intestacy decide how the deceased’s estate is divided. Someone must act as an administrator to undertake the role of the Executor.

The Grant of Probate is applied for through the Probate Registry and the document confirms who is eligible to deal with the deceased’s estate.

It is normal practice for this to be completed within 6 months of the date of death, leaving it longer may lead to fines from HM Revenue & Customs (The Tax man) and stress between the Executors and Beneficiaries.

Where a Will is present, Probate will be granted to the Executor(s).

In the case of no Will, it becomes a Grant or Letter of Administration, which is granted to the administrators.

 

What do you need to do?

Before the application, the Executor will find all information regarding assets at the time of death.

This process will include speaking to family, writing to banks etc. It may also be worth gaining a valuation of any properties.

This includes any assets they may also be held abroad.

This information allows the Executor or Administrator to calculate if any inheritance tax is due, this information needs to be passed onto HMRC.

The Executor then swears an oath, pays a fee, submits the original Will, and evidence that any inheritance tax due has been paid and an account of what the deceased’s estate comprised of. This is given to the Probate Registry.

In roughly eight weeks, if everything is in order, the Probate Registry will issue the Grant of Probate, allowing the release of assets.

LCS can either assist with this process or we can complete all the work for you, thus removing additional stress for your loved ones.

Prior to this, you must ensure that you have a valid Will in place that accurately reflects your wishes.

Don’t hesitate. Contact LCS NOW on 0345 017 8250 to ensure that you have put your affairs in order, before it is too late.

What’s your New Years resolution?

2018 is upon us and what better way to start the New Year than with a New Year’s Resolution to get your affairs in order.

No matter what other resolutions you may have, getting your affairs in order must be a priority and, is something that will affect your family as well as you.

Have you made a Will?

It’s vitally important that everyone has a Will before they die.

It not only ensures your estate is passed on to those you love or care about, helping to provide for them in later life, it also helps avoid conflict, family arguments, and unexpected costs.

Moreover, just because they are your family, it doesn’t mean that they will automatically inherit.

If you have made a Will, is it up to date, are your details correct, have you included everyone or have you new members of the family who need to be added to your Will.

Legally, cohabiting couples have no protection when it comes to inheritance upon death, unless they are named in your Will.

To ensure your partner is protected you must name them in your Will. Even if you have been together for a long period of time and may have children together, this affords you no benefit.

What assets do you have?

Assets aren’t just “the value of your estate”. They can be a family heirloom, a treasured piece of china inherited from a family member, a motor vehicle or any other possession.

Assets can also be “invisible money” such as pensions, death benefits from life insurance, or employment benefits that mature when you die.

Recently, there have been changes surrounding pensions, so ensure you’re up to date with the changes and the rules from your specific provider.

Check if you can leave pension benefits to a specific beneficiary (most companies allow you to assign someone) and, if you can, assign someone.

Do you have a Lasting Power of Attorney? (LPA)

Along with Wills, it is vital for everyone to have an LPA and it is important to do this whilst you still have mental capacity.

Should you lose capacity, without an LPA it becomes very hard to manage finances and make decisions on your behalf, regardless of whether you are married or have a partner.

Your loved ones would have to go through the lengthy process of applying to become your Deputy.

In the meantime, your assets may be frozen, undoubtedly causing stress for your family.

It is important to note capacity does not just mean age related issues. It relates to illness, accidents, and unexpected circumstances.

 

To gain more information on any of the matters above, or for help organising your affairs, contact LCS now on 0345 017 8250.

Attorneys And Wills

It is increasingly important to write a Will and to ensure that you have Lasting Powers of Attorney in place.

With Dementia and other illnesses of the brain increasing, it is vital that you put your affairs in order whilst you still have the mental capacity to do so. Whilst you may not succumb to such illnesses, nobody knows what the future brings, it is better to be prepared than to be caught out.

To ensure your affairs are left in the hands of someone you trust, it is imperative that you appoint trusted Executors in your Will and trusted Attorneys in your LPA whilst you still have capacity.

But where do your Attorneys stand when it comes to your Will?

Legally, your Attorney does not have to know what is in your Will, however, it is important that your Attorney is aware of your Will and your wishes surrounding it although they are not allowed to influence your Will or coerce you.

Whilst your Attorney must remain impartial, you may wish to discuss your Will with them to ensure no beneficiary loses out.

Will Access

Your Attorney does not automatically have the right of access to your Will and upon your death your Attorney’s powers cease.

Your Will remains confidential, even after your death, it is your Executors who now have an obligation to maintain your privacy. This privacy remains until after Probate has been granted when your Will becomes accessible to the public.

What If I’m Already Incapacitated?

If you are already lacking mental capacity, someone will need to obtain the legal permission to act for you. In such cases an application to the Court of Protection for someone to become your Deputy is necessary.

Should you lack mental capacity and do not have a Will in place, it is possible to have a Statutory Will which is a Court appointed Will. Prior to this timely and costly procedure, LCS would urge everyone to contact us whilst they are still fit and able. How much better to prepare and have the choices yourself rather than leave to chance and have someone else decide for you.

Although it is difficult thinking about dementia and death, it’s important for the people you leave behind to know that everything is organized to avoid conflicts and potential avoidable losses in inheritance.

It’s also important for you to understand your rights.

For more information regarding LPAs and Wills, contact LCS NOW on 0345 017 8250 and start 2018 with peace of mind, not just for you, but your family too.

Who Is Your Executor?

When considering writing a Will, what do you need to think about?

Who will benefit? What are your assets?

But who makes serious consideration about the people that will manage your estate once you die?

This is one of the most important jobs of all.

 

Who do you appoint as an Executor of your Will?

When looking at appointing your Executors, it is imperative that you appoint someone you trust to manage your affairs respectfully and to distribute your estate as per your Will.

You may appoint up to four people as your Executors and these could be family members, friends or professionals such as LCS.

Most people choose a family member, someone who is familiar with the details of your assets, it is likely you’ve spoken to them regarding your wishes.

It is advisable to appoint more than one Executor, you may appoint up to four, however, normally only one Executor will deal with gaining Probate.

Even though you may have appointed a family member or friend, at the time of your death it is likely that your Executors do not feel that they have the knowledge or ability to act alone. When this happens, LCS are here to either guide or do all of the work involved.

Will it be difficult?

Whilst winding up an estate is not generally difficult; however, it is very time consuming and the paperwork can be very daunting when you are not familiar with it.

LCS offer Probate services where we do absolutely everything or, where we are asked to assist and guide the Executors. Either way, we are professional and very efficient and have a legal department which deals predominantly with deceased estates.

This can be helpful when dealing with organisations such as HM Revenue and Customs and the Probate Registry and with preparing estate accounts and distributing the estate.

Using LCS also makes financial sense, we are cost effective and clients always know what our services will cost.

LCS offer a range of Will Writing and Probate Services, so don’t delay in contacting us on 0345 017 8250 and give your family the gift of peace of mind this Christmas.

 

Why Leave A Gift To Charity?

With Christmas being all about giving, it is important to remember those less fortunate than ourselves.

Although many use their Wills to provide for their family after they die, your Will is also the ideal place to leave a gift for a charity.

This could be a random charity, or it could be one you hold close. But either way, why not review your Will this Christmas and consider helping others.

Why leave a gift to charity?

It is no secret that many charities wouldn’t survive without gifts left in Wills.

Some people decide that their family doesn’t need the money, or may be irresponsible with it, and feel it would be better used supporting a good cause.

Others are fortunate enough to have enough money to suitably provide for their loved ones and help a charity.

Whatever your reasons, it is the only real way to ensure the good work continues.

What do I need to do?

Firstly, if it isn’t already listed, you will need to have your Will rewritten.

This is very simple to do, and preparing your Will with a company such as LCS will ensure your Will is updated legally throughout your lifetime.

Once you have decided which Charity you would like to include in your Will, LCS will ensure that the full Charity details, registered number and address are entered properly so that there is no misunderstanding as to who the Charity is.

It may also be a good idea to discuss this with your intended family beneficiaries as they may struggle to understand your wishes and your reasons for including a Charity in your Will.

Is there anything else I can do?

This year, LCS have donated to five great causes and, if you believe it may cause upset, why not donate to your preferred Charity during your lifetime.

That way, you’ll likely avoid misunderstandings with family members, they will still receive their share of your estate and, you will have ensured your own wishes are fulfilled with minimal fuss.

It doesn’t always have to be money. You could also donate food, or clothing, there are many recycling centres where you can deposit your unwanted items and some Charities will arrange to collect larger items from you.

It is so important to help others less fortunate, and at Christmas, there is no better time to share joy.

Overview of LPAs

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a document which allows someone to make decisions on your behalf should you become physically or mentally incapacitated in the future and unable act for yourself. The person / people you appoint to act for you are called Attorneys.

Nobody knows what the future holds, anything can happen and, with one in three people in the UK now developing dementia, it is important that your LPA’s are in place whilst you still have the mental capacity to make them.

One common misconception people have, is that they will have to surrender their right to make their own decisions immediately which is not true, you stay in control until you need help.

LCS offer three different types of LPA:

The Property & Financial Affairs LPA

This allows your Attorney to manage your finances, pay your bills, deal with your pensions, investments and savings, completing tax returns and sell your home.

All LPA’s must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before they can be used.

With this LPA, you can choose when your Attorney steps in. For example, if you have mental capacity but cannot physically manage your day to day finances, your Attorney can help you with this. You can opt for restricting your Attorneys so that they can only act once you have lost mental capacity. The problem with this option is that should you have an accident or prolonged illness your Attorneys will not be authorised to help you.

The Health and Welfare LPA

This allows welfare and healthcare decisions to be made on your behalf, for example, where you live, what you wear, health provisions, dentistry, as well as consenting to you undergoing surgery, being kept alive on life support systems and resuscitation. This LPA can only be used once you have lost mental capacity.

The Business Affairs LPA

This LPA allows someone to manage your business interests should you become unable to manage or lose mental capacity in the future.

It is important to appoint your LPAs whilst you still have capacity, as once you lose capacity, your assets become frozen.

If your capacity is already compromised, you will be unable to appoint someone in the “normal way”. Instead, someone will have to make an application to the Court of Protection to become your Deputy in order to make decisions for you.

This is a very long, costly and sometimes stressful process.

Avoid leaving things to chance, give yourself peace of mind this Christmas, contact LCS NOW on 0345 017 8250 and take advantage of our buy one get one half price on all LPA’s

Avoiding Will Disputes

Nowadays, with a growing trend in people not marrying, and roughly 60% of the adult population not having a Will, Will disputes are on the rise.

So what can you do to ensure this doesn’t happen, and your wishes are abided by?

1. Make A Will

This is the only way to guarantee your wishes are documented. Unfortunately, unmarried couples are not recognised in the eyes of the law. If you die without a Will, your partner may not be provided for no matter how long you’ve been together.

2. Keep Your Will Up To Date

Circumstances change, and Wills may become out of date. If you do not update your Will, it may not actually reflect your dying wishes, leaving family and close friends upset and disappointed.

It is important to update it every time something changes and don’t leave it for another day. Anything could happen!

3. Professional Advice

Sometimes, to abide by your wishes, the family circumstances may suggest a dispute. Take professional advice when writing your Will.

This may be a cost you wish to avoid, but it will be far better than the costs incurred to the family when contesting the Will.

Not only this, the professionals will not only ensure your Will reflects your wishes, but it is valid too.

In the case of a dispute, it is harder to challenge and invalidate a Will that has been prepared by a professional.

By all means, a family member is allowed to help, especially if they’re elderly or vulnerable, but without the assurance of capacity, and the professional seeing the individual alone, it can be viewed as suspicious and raise the question of undue influence.

4. Write An Accompanying Letter

Think about why you are writing your Will as you are, and record your reasons for this in a separate letter.

It is better to have inheritance discussions before death, however if this is too hard, an accompanying letter clearly explaining your reasons will reduce the stress and upset of the situation.

Sometimes, people just need to understand why, and if you aren’t there to ask, that becomes impossible.

5. Reasonable Financial Provision

No matter what, under the Inheritance Act 1975, a beneficiary could claim financial provision from your estate.

If you firmly believe a disgruntled beneficiary may do this, it may be a good idea to include financial inheritance for them.

It may end up less expensive, and you can ensure it is provisional on them not making a claim.

6. Trusts

Assets can be left in a Trust specifically designed to be left to a particular person under the protection of Trustees.

This could be the case if your child is in a difficult marriage and you don’t wish the money to be included in a divorce, or if your beneficiaries are of an age deemed to be too young to inherit.

For information regarding any of the above, contact LCS now on 0345 017 8250 and ensure you have peace of mind this Christmas.