Month: January 2016

Safeguarding Your Online Assets

As technology develops, more of us are using the internet to go about our daily business. According to the Office of National Statistics, in the first quarter of 2015, 86% of adults in the UK, equating to 44.7 million, used the internet and only 11% of UK adults had never been online. Due to these changes it can become more problematic for loved ones to deal with our affairs after we have gone.

One of the simplest changes is in the storage of photographs, with digital cameras we can easily add our latest snaps straight to our computers to see them on the big screen, and then remove them from the camera to get our storage space back. This is a big change from the way that families used to spend time together going through old photographs and reminiscing, often passing on the collections through generations to keep families connected. With the escalation of digital photography, albums can be passed on electronically, for example through memory sticks or DVDs instead.

Social media hotspot Facebook now allows you to decide whether you would like your profile to be ‘Memorialised’ or simply shut down when you pass away. A memorialised account allows friends to post commemorations and share pictures in your memory. It is also possible to name a Legacy Contact, this person will be able to manage your Memorialised profile on your behalf. This person can also add a post to your site regarding memorial services and the like, if you so wish.

Regarding money, there are many ways in which the online world is taking over. We have online banking, shopping and even betting. It is important to keep track of these accounts and perhaps to keep a record of the details alongside your Will provided it is securely stored. Keeping on top of your accounts and their details not only assists with any future access for loved ones but also helps with avoiding fraudulent activity.

One of the challenges the Executor of a Will can come up against is organising the funeral. For some of us, many of our contacts are now through e-mail rather than being present in phonebooks and address lists. Keeping a record of all of your e-mail contacts can assist loved ones when informing others of any funeral arrangements.

With the very fast progression of technology it is likely that more and more will be done online in the future, take steps now to prepare for the future for your loved ones. Why not consider Legal & Contract Services Ltd. to have your Will written or renewed? We offer a free, confidential home visit, and it is only £90 for a single Will and £120 for a couple. Call us on 0345 017 8250 or visit http://www.lcslegal.co.uk.

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Being the Executor of a Will

When a loved one passes away, there is no doubt that a difficult time will follow. When you’ve been selected as an Executor of the Will it is likely to be even harder as there are many responsibilities which are now in your hands.

Being an Executor is an important role, and once the task is accepted it is yours for life. When you have begun to carry out your duties it is not possible to step down and unfortunately, when acting as an Executor, there is a lot of room for errors.

Part of the role which can be difficult is identifying debts. It is essential to look into all possibilities of money owed, for example, contacting suppliers of energy, such as gas and electricity. According to the Trustee Act of 1925, an Executor should publish the death in The Gazette and a local newspaper so as to give any creditors the chance to claim money owed. This provides two months for anybody to come forward, and after this time frame, the Executor can not be held to blame. However, if this is not done, and a creditor comes forward after the estate has been distributed, the Executor can be liable for any financial claims.

While life goes on, it is easy to lose track of things. With the increase of online statements and the decline of paperwork it is becoming increasingly harder for Executors to track down all of the deceased’s assets. Searching for unclaimed or missing assets can be an arduous task so it is useful to discuss these things with your loved one if they ask you to be their Executor while they are still around.

Taxes are a factor that are specific to each Estate. The three types of tax which are involved are Income Tax, Capital Gains Tax and Inheritance Tax. It is necessary that Income Tax is calculated on the deceased person’s income up to the date of their death. Capital Gains Tax is paid when an asset is sold and it has increased in value since the original purchase, the increase in price is the part which is taxed. Halfway through the past decade, it was estimated that less than 6% of Estates were liable to Inheritance Tax. Due to ever increasing house prices this is on the rise, more and more of us are now liable so it pays to be aware of the current threshold.

Here at Legal & Contract Services Ltd. our Executor Support Service, which we provide under the Living Wills or Ultimate Service package, deals with all aspects on behalf of the Executor. We can put together all of the necessary forms, oaths, tax returns and Land Registry matters. Please call 0345 017 8250 or visit http://bit.ly/LCSExec for more information.

Probate: A Jargon Buster

Probate and estate administration is a subject which is full of jargon, so here is a breakdown of some of the most frequently used terminology.

Administrator – If a Will has not been made, a person will be set by the court to deal with the deceased’s estate, this person will be the administrator

Assets – Any property, money and possessions, so that includes homes; land; bank accounts; cash; cars; shares; premium bonds and much more

Beneficiary – A person or organisation who is due to receive money or assets through a Will, a Trust or Intestacy

Chattels – Belongings which are owned, but are not considered assets, such as furniture, antiques, jewellery and even pets

Codicil – An official document which details any changes or updates to a Will

Crown – Also known as the government or the state

Estate – Any money, property, debts or possessions are known as your estate

Executor – The person named in a Will who will deal with the estate following the death of he who has made the Will

Grant of Probate – The executor of a Will may need to apply for a Grant of Probate in order to gain the authority to deal with the deceased’s estate

IHT – Inheritance Tax – this is a tax which is paid if a person’s estate is worth more than £325,000 when they die. Normally the executor or the administrator pays Inheritance Tax using money from the estate

Intestate/Intestacy – When a person dies with no Will or an invalid Will, they are considered to have died intestate

Legacy – Any specific amount of money or a particular item left to a person or an institution such as a charity.  This type of beneficiary is sometimes called a Legatee.

Letters of Administration – This is Legal documentation which is issued when a person dies without a Will

Probate – The legal process whereby a Will is validated by the court

Residue – When all debts and legacies are paid, the remainder of the estate is called the residue and this must be distributed

Tenancy:

Joint Tenants – Two people who own equal shares of a property, so if one passes away, the other tenant has the property entirely

Tenants in Common – Two people who own a certain share each of the property, and said share can be passed on in their Will, so the surviving tenant will not necessarily receive the deceased’s share

Testator – A person who has made a Will

Witness – Those who are not beneficiaries, nor closely related to beneficiaries of a Will may be witness to the testator signing it.  In the United Kingdom, two witness signatures are required and they must be 18 years of age or above.

 

Please do not hesitate to get in touch and for advice or information, call us on 0345 017 8250 or visit our website at http://bit.ly/legalhome.