Author: Legal & Contract Services Ltd

Legal and Contract Services Ltd was founded in 1990 by our Managing Director Tim Clegg. Originally LCS provided small claims support and business advice to small businesses. It became evident that there was a demand for Estate Planning services and the business moved from Farnborough, Hampshire to Exeter in Devon. This is where the company became incorporated on 13th January 2003. The business is registered number 04635553 at Companies House. LCS has grown steadily over the years and the Registered Office, which is also our Head Office, is at: 1A Millennium Building, Unit 5, Dawlish Business Park, Dawlish, Devon, EX7 0NH Our increasing client base is in excess of 35,000 and covers most counties from Cornwall to Tyne and Wear. The core business specialises in Wills, Trusts, Lasting Powers of Attorney, Asset Protection, Funeral Plans and Estate Administration. In addition, we provide Document Drafting services to IFA's, Accountants, Will Writers and Estate Planning professionals. The latest service to be introduced to LCS is a Private Client Small Claims advisory service which can support anyone with a small claim or needing advice on a particular problem. LCS employs 20 staff, with the Legal Department being managed by Sue Gould who is a Chartered Legal Executive specialising in the administration of deceased estates. The Operations Department is headed by Rosemary Clegg our Operations Director. The company is a corporate Member of the Institute of Paralegals and we carry £5 million Professional Indemnity Insurance, with our final dispute resolution being provided by the Legal Ombudsman. Most of our Continued Professional Development is provided by Central Law Training to ensure our staff are always up to date with changes and updates to the services we provide. LCS considers it can deliver a better, more cost effective range of services than any Solicitor anywhere.

Why You Need A Will

According to lexology.com, roughly 60% of the adult population don’t have a Will.

With the figures suggesting this is the norm, there may be consequences for your loved ones if you die intestate.

So why do people run the risk?

One of the main reasons people decide not to write a Will, is that they believe they have nothing to leave. 

Although this may be true in the number of assets, one of your main assets is likely to be property, and therefore a life insurance policy.

This policy means that any outstanding mortgage will be paid off upon the owners death leaving a considerable asset.

Other overlooked assets appear to be shareholdings, pensions and death in service benefits. 

Quite a lot for someone who has nothing!

The second misconception is that people believe their partner will receive everything when they die.

If you are married, or hold the assets jointly (and can prove it) then yes, this is the case. However, savings accounts, ISAs and anything that may be brought into a relationship are normally only held in one name; the deceased’s.

What are the intestacy rules?

Where the deceased leaves a spouse AND children/grandchildren:

  • The spouse/partner receives all personal chattels,
  • The spouse/partner receives £250,000 free of Inheritance Tax (IHT). If the estate is worth less than this, they receive everything,
  • The rest of the estate is split in half and divided between the spouse and the children/grandchildren.

Where the deceased leaves a spouse and no children/grandchildren:

  • The spouse/partner inherits everything.

If the deceased does not have a spouse the estate passes to blood relatives in this order:

  • The children/grandchildren,
  • The deceased’s parents,
  • The deceased siblings,
  • The deceased’s half siblings,
  • The deceased’s grandparents,
  • The deceased’s aunties and uncles,
  • The deceased’s half aunties and uncles.

If there are no blood relatives, the estate passes to the Crown.

It is also worth mentioning that unmarried couples have no rights to the estate unless specifically mentioned in the Will.

Dying without a Will can understandably cause family disputes and arguments as the intestacy rules can make things quite complicated.

If you need any help or guidance regarding Wills contact LCS NOW on 0345 017 8250.

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Who Owns Your Body?

When it comes to organising a funeral, there are many people who may make a claim to the rights of your body; the person who paid, next of kin, the person signing the cremation form, or the coroner.

And how do you decide between them?

According to lexology.com, 25% of all deaths in the UK lead to family disputes and arguments over the deceased’s final resting place.

Out of these disputes, nearly 50% peaked whilst the funeral was in motion.

So when this happens, who actually has the right over your body? Below are a few starting points:

Nobody owns a body.

The main consideration is the first point that nobody owns a body (legally “no property in a corpse”). It cannot be gifted in a Will, bought or sold. However it may be donated for scientific research.

Being unable to dispose of the body via a Will has been up for debate under the Human Rights Act 1998 in relation to respecting family life so this may change in the future.

Possession of the body falls with the person whose duty it is to dispose of it.

The right to this possession starts at the time of death. It is commonly considered that this be next of kin, spouse or partner, or close family, however this isn’t always the case:

  • A hospital has rights to detain a body if it is said to be infectious,
  • The coroner has first rights to temporary possession of a body to determine cause of death,
  • In the case of no Will, it is the person who has priority of intestacy,
  • In the case of a minor, the parents have a duty to organise a funeral.

In the case of cremation, the ashes must be passed onto the person who originally brought the body.

This is usually the Executor of the Will. 

Unfortunately this area is hazy in the eyes of the law, and it is constantly debated whether ashes are actually contained under the first point, and cannot be owned.

As there is no legal definition of ashes, this may be left to the crematorium to decide.

The saving grace here, is that there are preventative measures in place to avoid a body being cremated without the close family’s knowledge.

As with most family matters, these disputes usually cannot simply be resolved by considering the above points. Some cases result in a Court ruling, and some end in a family divide.

Act now and take out a Dignity Funeral Plan to relieve the stress and arguments that could arise regarding your funeral. This is easy and, with the flexible payment terms it makes it very cost effective. 

For advice on Wills, Probate, and funeral plans, contact LCS NOW on 0345 017 8250.

Deadline to return old paper £10 notes fast approaching

At least £2.1bn worth of old £10 notes need to be spent or exchanged before they cease to be legal tender, the Bank of England says.
The deadline to spend or exchange old £10 notes – featuring naturalist Charles Darwin – is 1 March.
To exchange an old tenner, people can either post the notes to the Bank of England, or visit the Bank in person in the City of London.
The Bank will exchange all old £10 notes indefinitely.
The Bank says people can also try to exchange paper tenners at their local bank or post office.
However they are not legally required to accept old notes after the deadline.

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.

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.