Month: January 2017

Care Homes

NHS Bosses Try To Force Patients Into Care Homes.

As reported in The Times on Wednesday 25th January 2017, new restrictions on NHS funding means that thousands of seriously ill patients could be forced out of their homes.

The new policy has stated that in some areas of the UK, the Health Service will no longer pay for carers to visit patients at home if it is cheaper for them to be in a residential care home.

The criteria for inclusion is complex, however, patients who mainly require care on health grounds in contrast to age or disability, may still have their fees paid for them by the NHS.

It has been stated that nineteen Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) have said that they won’t fund care in a person’s home if it is 10% more expensive than an alternative suitable option. Seven have set higher caps with a further eleven saying that they will be restricting individual costs.

The Health Service Journal has revealed that this could affect over 13,000 people with restrictions likely to be more widespread as many CCGs have not responded.

It has been estimated that these restrictions will affect anyone receiving more than seven hours of residential care per day as this costs roughly £750 per week.

Concern has been raised over the legalities of these policies, however, it has been concluded that they may be justified on the grounds of cost. Many find this alarming as they believe decisions should be made individually based on need and not purely on cost. It is also over-ruling the guidance set by NHS England that people with terminal illnesses should be supported in their preferred place of care. Effectively, people will be denied their choice of where they die.

Call LCS now on 0345 017 8250 to discuss your Will and Care Planning for your future.

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Reduce Financial Stress

How To Reduce Financial Stress For Your Family When You Die.

Although it’s unpleasant to think about, it’s really important to manage your affairs whilst you’re still alive and able to do so. If not, you run the risk of things happening against your wishes.

Read our handy checklist below, to see how you can best prepare, ,and ensure your family are protected.

    • Discuss unpleasant issues – Although this may be upsetting, it is important to consider what might happen. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!

 

    • Keep a financial factsheet – Leave the details of bank accounts, pension, utility providers. List the provider and the product (but NO passwords). This saves your family time, and also ensures none of your savings are lost.

 

    • Inheritance Tax planning – 40% of the value of your estate may go to Inheritance Tax if assets are over £325,000 per person, or £650,000 for married couples. You should review this on a regular basis (Inheritance Tax is due to change April 2017. Click here to see our article on the changes).

 

    • Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) – Should you cease to be able to make decisions for yourself in the future, who do you trust to manage your finances? Arrange an LPA whilst you still have the ability to make decisions for yourself.

 

    • Write/review your Will – This is the most important thing you can do before you die. It’s particularly important once you’re married, have children or have assets. It helps avoid family conflict, and it ensures your partner is provided for (your partner or spouse may not automatically inherit everything).

 

    • Arrange guardians for minors – Children under the age of 18 will need to have a guardian when you die. Ensure you discuss this with your family as this is a huge commitment, and not one they are necessarily prepared to make.
    • Plan your funeral – This is usually the last things your loved ones will wish to think about, so save them the hassle and plan it for them.
      1. Note your wishes for the ceremony
      2. Organise a pre-paid funeral plan
      3. Ask for the flowers to be donated to a local organisation afterwards
      4. If you wish to have a religious ceremony, seek guidance on which rites are needed, if any
    • Remember, you can’t take assets with you – Although you may wish to provide as much as you can for your loved ones futures, ensure that you’re still living every day to the full.

 

    • Is an over-50’s plan really worth it? – Although these sound appealing, the small print states that “premiums are payable for life, and you could pay more in than is paid out on death”. Before considering any such plan, seriously consider if it’s right for you.

 

    • Make an Advance Directive – This is also referred to as a “living Will” and allows you to state your wishes towards medical treatments in the future at end of life stage, if you were unable to speak for yourself.

 

    • Make an Advance Statement – Note down how you wish to be cared for towards the end of your life. This isn’t legally binding, however is an efficient way to communicate your wishes if you’re unable to do so. This could include dietary preferences, religious beliefs, who would care for your pets etc.

 

    • Don’t forget the pets! – Pets can be left to someone in your Will. It’s best to check with your loved one first and, if you don’t have anybody, you can leave them to the RSPCA (as long as you sign up to the free Home for Life service).

 

    • Check your life insurance – Life insurance is well worth considering if you’re younger, because if you die, it will pay a fixed amount to your dependents (up to the age of 18). Unfortunately, the older you are, the more expensive life insurance will be.

 

    • Manage your debts – When you die, before your assets can be distributed, all debts must be paid off

 

    • Ensure a close friend or relative knows where your Will is kept.

 

    • Think carefully before releasing equity in your home:
      1. It may affect means tested benefits
      2. Consider downsizing
      3. Ensure the company is a member of the Equity Release Council
      4. Wait as long as you can
      5. It may work out cheaper to release the cash in multiple sums
      6. Speak to an independent mortgage broker

 

  • Don’t do this alone – Ask people for help and support if you need it.

At LCS we care about helping you to protect your loved ones after your death.

Contact us now on 0345 017 8250 to discuss which services are applicable to you, including Lasting Powers of Attorney and Will Writing, to help you plan, and give you peace of mind.

Inheritance Tax

Forthcoming Changes To Inheritance Tax.

On 6 April 2017, the new residence nil rate band allowance comes into effect. In readiness for this, do you need to review your Will?

Does this affect you?

These changes could affect you, especially if you own your own home and are married with children and/or grandchildren who will benefit from your Will.

Outline

Inheritance Tax (IHT) is a potential tax on your estate when you die. There is normally no inheritance tax to pay if the value of your net estate is below the nil rate band which is currently £325,000 per person. There would not be any IHT to pay if you left everything to your spouse, a charity, a political party or a community amateur sports club. Otherwise, IHT is normally charged at 40%. There are possible variations to this amount, such as reducing the amount of IHT to pay at 36%, providing you leave 10% of your net estate to a Charity.

Changes

The new additional nil rate band allowance starts to come into force from 06/04/2017 and is available when a residence is passed on death to a direct descendant. This is in addition to your normal nil rate band allowance (£325,000). It is being introduced in stages:

  • £100,000 for deaths in tax year 2017 to 2018
  • £125,000 for deaths in tax year 2018 to 2019
  • £150,000 for deaths in tax year 2019 to 2020
  • £175,000 for deaths in tax year 2020 to 2021

The residence nil rate band allowance will increase in line with the Consumer Prices index from 2021.

This means that by April 2020, each person would have their allowance of £325,000 and providing they own a residence there is the additional residence nil rate band allowance of £175,000, equating to an IHT allowance of £500,000 per person.

If a spouse/civil partner leaves their entire estate to their surviving spouse/civil partner, it means that on the death of the survivor, there is the potential to use £1million of IHT allowance subject to any restrictions.

What happens if I downsize during my lifetime?

If you downsize, or cease to own a home from 8 July 2015 then provided assets of an equivalent value, up to the residence nil rate band allowance are still passed to direct descendants then your estate can still benefit. Records should be kept with your Will to prove ownership of your previous property.

Limitations

Although the new nil rate band is only applicable to deaths on or after 6 April 2017, if the surviving spouse/civil partner dies on or after 6 April 2017 then they may use their own new allowance, and that of their deceased spouse/civil partner. This is called transferrable nil rate band.

In order to use the new nil rate band allowance, the asset must pass to a direct descendant i.e a child or grandchild. This can also include a step-child, adopted child, fostered child, and a child that they have guardianship over. If a property is left to a mixture of direct descendants and other relatives, then the value of the home is apportioned to work out the Inheritance Tax due.

If your net estate is worth more than £2million at the date of death, then there is a withdrawal of £1 of the main residence relief for every £2 you are over the new threshold. If your total estate is more than £2.5million, you do not get any of the new allowance.

If you do not have children, you cannot make use of the residence nil rate band allowance, i.e. gifts to say nieces and nephews.

The main residence nil rate allowance is limited to one residential property. If you have more than one property, your Executors may be able to nominate which residential property should qualify. However, if you have never resided in the property (buy-to-let) then that property will not qualify for the relief.

In order to ensure that the new increase applies to you, you may have to change certain Trusts within your Will, such as a nil rate band discretionary Trust.

Checklist

  • Review the value of your estate for Inheritance Tax purposes.
  • Review your Will or make a Will.
  • If you have a nil rate band discretionary Trust in your Will, you should review your Will.
  • Talk to LCS now to discuss your options.
  • If your estate is over the IHT allowances, call us now on 0345 017 8250 to make an appointment with one of our associate financial advisors.

Summary

Whilst this increase is welcome, it is limited to those who are direct descendants.

In order to maximise your IHT allowance, speak to LCS now on 0345 017 8250 and ensure that you leave the most that you can to your family after your death.

 

Mental Health

Don’t Let Mental Health Beat You.

One in every four people will suffer from some form of mental health issue in any given year and, in the UK, mental health problems are responsible for the largest burden of disease.

Mental health is extremely topical in media coverage at present, and affects the lives of many people and their families.

One in every four people will suffer from some form of mental health issue in any given year and, in the UK, mental health problems are responsible for the largest burden of disease. This equates to 28% compared to 16% each for cancer and heart disease.

So, why do we generally hear so little about mental health problems? Is it that mental health is still a taboo subject that people generally try to hide?

It is recognised that poor mental health can make managing money more difficult, and worrying about money can make your mental health worse.

Having someone you trust to help you can make it easier for you to manage your finances and your daily routine.

At Legal and Contract Services Ltd we recognise the importance of listening to and communicating with our clients, and working with them to try to achieve a positive outcome.

Whilst you have capacity, why not talk to us about preparing a Will which will set out your wishes whilst you are thinking clearly.

We can help you prepare Lasting Powers of Attorney so that you know you will have someone to manage your affairs should you be unable to, either through physical illness or mental health problems.

LCS employs an experienced Gerontological Nurse Specialist who is happy to meet with clients at our Head Office to discuss individual needs, or, liase with clients via email or telephone.

Call us now on 0345 017 8250 and let us help you to help yourself.

Dementia

Living Near A Main Road May Increase Your Risk Of Dementia.

It has come to light today, as reported in the Times, that living near a main road may increase your risk of Dementia.

For many years, there has been concern that air pollution may be contributing towards neurological conditions such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia. In Britain, air pollution already contributes towards the deaths of roughly 40,000 people each year by aggravating respiratory and heart conditions.

A ten year study of 6.6 million people (conducted by Canadian public health scientists) has concluded that one in ten Dementia deaths of people living within 50 metres of a busy road, was caused by fumes and noise. This declined the further away from heavy traffic they resided. This finding is the first to suggest a link between people’s proximity to traffic, and the onset of Dementia.

This finding is prolific as the British Government have currently missed EU emission targets and have been ordered to develop a new clean air strategy by Summer 2017. It is also important in highlighting the risks involved in living in areas with high traffic and cities that are contained with a high concentration of smog.

Roughly 850,000 people suffer from Dementia in the UK, and it is now classed as the leading cause of death for both genders.

At LCS we believe it is more important than ever to ensure that  your affairs are in order and consider your options regarding our services, including making a Will and preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney.

Contact us now on 0345 017 8250 to discuss how we can help you.

Don’t leave it too late!