lasting powers of attorney

Registration Fees for Lasting Powers of Attorney are Reducing.

All Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) must be registered before they can be used. This process is carried out at the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) and until recently, this cost £110 per LPA.

It has now been announced that as of 1st April 2017, the cost to register your LPA will now be £82 making a saving of £28!

Despite the registration service becoming more efficient, Ministers are hoping that reducing the fees will encourage more people to take out an LPA, protecting themselves and their future.

For those who have recently submitted an application which is to be paid after 1st April, the difference in price will be refunded and Solicitors have been instructed to return the difference to the person who paid the original fee.

LCS are currently offering a fantastic special offer of 2 for 1 on all LPAs which now makes this too good to miss.

To arrange your appointment, contact LCS now on 0345 017 8250 for peace of mind for you and your family.

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Part One: The good news is, we’re all living longer!

How do you feel when you think of old age? Do you see your parents and worry how they will cope as they get older?

With more people enjoying a healthier lifestyle and living into their 80s, not only has life expectancy increased, but the worry of how to pay for care.

Arranging care for members of your closest family can often feel overwhelming. It often succeeds a major traumatic life event and knowing where to begin, can be difficult. People are individuals and their needs are different, so there is no set way to organising care. It is important that the services you choose are flexible and able to adapt to their changing needs. The wisest starting point is assessing their needs at that time and reviewing them regularly. We’ve used the Telegraph Money’s “Guide to Long and Short Term Care” to help you decide. LCS employs an experienced Nurse specialist who can discuss care planning needs with you.

What types of care are available?

Residential Care

These Care Homes offer accommodation, food and personal care. This is suitable for those finding it hard coping at home, and who need more around the clock attention than a carer or family member could provide. Not all these Care Homes will provide specialist help for those suffering from Dementia or other health problems.

Nursing Care

This can be given at someone’s home, or in a Nursing Home. A Nursing Home is similar to a Residential Care Home in what it provides, however qualified Nurses will also be on duty 24 hours per day.

Respite or Short-Stay Care

This is normally taken to give carers a break. The stays are usually four week periods, but may sometimes be less. It is also offered to people recovering from illness or an operation before they return to their own home.

Dementia Care

Dementia, or Dementia related conditions, are the most common reason people require Nursing care. A Nursing Home will usually offer specialist Dementia care.

Specialist Care and Learning Disabilities

Some Care Homes offer specialist care for conditions such as Parkinson’s or Huntington’s and there are also specialist units for people with learning difficulties and who may require more supervision than care.

Palliative Care

These settings are better known as Hospices and specialise in end of life care of those with chronic conditions. Palliative care focuses on controlling pain and symptoms, and looks to improve your quality of life. This often involves a plan being agreed between the individual, their family and the carers.

Taking the First Step

The decision to arrange care for a loved one is never easy. Many people worry about them leaving the family home and the effect this may have on them overall. It’s important to remember that there is a good reason why you are researching additional care. You may be worrying about their safety, whether their home is secure, or whether they are eating and sleeping properly.

With the correct help and care, not only will your loved one’s quality of life increase, but the stress on the family will reduce, allowing you to spend quality time with your relative.

If you’re seriously concerned about your loved one’s mental or physical wellbeing, you can chat to their GP. Bear in mind that although the GP may not be able to discuss your relative specifically due to confidentiality, they will explain the options available and give you detials of your local authority’s adult social services department.

If you’re able, or know you will be, paying most of the fees yourself, you can go directly to Care Homes which is a quicker way to arrange the care. This allows you more freedom to choose. If you’re unsure whether you’re eligible for help with care fees, the local authority can carry out a financial assessment and advise on any help available.

Choosing a Care Home

When choosing a Care Home, it is important to do your research and not be afraid to ask questions about what care and specialist services they provide. Most Care Homes are happy for you to arrange a visit and include a walk around with the opportunity for you to ask any questions you and your family may have.

Think about:

  • Location
  • First impressions
  • Accommodation
  • Grounds, garden and communal spaces
  • Staff
  • Medical care
  • Activities

Call LCS now on 0345 017 8250 to discuss your care planning needs with an experienced Gerontological Nurse Practitioner.

Fruit and Veg

Eat 10 Fruit and Veg a Day: The Secret To A Longer Life.

“An apple a day keeps the Doctor away.” How many times do you remember your parents telling you this?

It has come to light today, that the “five a day” we’ve grown up believing to be healthy, isn’t enough.

Based on findings from 95 studies, researchers are proposing that we need 800g (ten portions) of fruit and vegetables per day to dramatically decrease the risk of disease. Increasing our daily intake to this amoung may reduce your chance of having a stroke by a third and reduce the risk of heart disease by roughly 25%. It has also been suggested that it can delay the onset of heart disease and cancer which, overall, would equate to saving 8 million premature deaths worldwide.

The results found that although eating five portions per day reduced risk, the greatest benefit came from eating ten portions in comparison to those who ate none.

The team also found that to protect against heart disease and stroke, eating foods such as apples, pears, citrus fruit, salad, green leafy vegetables and cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, Kale, cauliflower and Brussel sprouts showed the greatest benefits.

To reduce your risk of cancer, you’re advised to eat a variety of different types and colours of vegetables.

Whilst nutritionists are warning that informing people to eat more portions could potentially add pressure and create “unrealistic expectations”, the study did suggest that even small intakes reduced the associated risks somewhat.

New coins

Are You Ready For The Change Coming In For The £1 Coin?

This is the new 12 sided £1 coin which is due to come into circulation at the end of March 2017.

New £1 coin

The old £1 coin (pictured below) will still be in circulation until October 2017.

old £1 coin

If you are one of our clients who saves £1 coins in a jar or tin for Christmas or other special occasions, please take your old coins to a bank before they go out of circulation to exchange them for the new coins.

Call LCS NOW on 0345 017 8250 to use your old coins to pay for some of our SPECIAL OFFERS.

“Exercise Is Good For You” .. Or Is It?

Can you remember your parents encouraging you to participate in sport? How many of you chose the school football or rugby team? Startling information has arisen that may make you think twice about encouraging your children to do the same.

Reports out this week show new evidence that repeatedly heading a ball may be linked to long-term brain damage. Although small, the study of six players (5 professional, one serious amateur) found that they all developed Dementia in their 60s, some linked to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).

CTE is a degenerative brain disease, commonly found in athletes who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. It is well known that CTE is found in ex-boxers and upon post mortem, it was found that four of the footballer’s brains had similar changes.

The evidence is slightly tarred however, as the brains did also show signs of Alzheimer’s disease and blood vessel changes.

This comes as a slight blow to the future of British team sport as it studys findings from 2013 that there may be a link between repetitive head injuries and long-term problems in rugby.

There have been two key findings surrounding rugby:

  1. In younger players, repetitive concussions impact negatively on the way the brain functions. This is directly related to the regulation of blood flow in the brain.
  2. Looking at retired International players, it is believed that repetitive concussions impair the way the players remember and formulate ideas.

It has been concluded, that repetitive concussions accelerate brain ageing and increase the risks of Dementia.

Although these findings are scary, and potentially an inevitability for some sportsmen and women already competing, all hope is not lost. It could be argued that a football is now significantly lighter and made from synthetic materials, so the risk is reduced somewhat.

Governing bodies have come a long way in regulating the rules and practices surrounding contact sports and, with more research and improvements in technology, safety and player’s welfare is paramount.

It is never too soon to organise your Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). LCS offers three types of LPA so contact us now on 0345 017 8250 to appoint yours.

Don’t leave anything to chance.

BE SAFE, BE SURE, CALL LCS TODAY.

Give the gift of LCS this Valentines

Give The Gift Of LCS This Valentines!

2016 will be remembered for many things, but one that seems prolific is the number of high profile deaths it encountered.

Although each shocked the world in equal magnitude, one that haunts is the death of music legend Prince. It turns out, Prince died intestate; he never wrote a Will.

So why does this matter?

Already, family disputes and potential taxation issues are looking to eat into most of Prince’s estate. Had he written a Will, it would be clear as to whom he wanted to benefit from his estate. Forward Inheritance Tax planning could have alleviated some of the tax liability and he could have helped some of the humanitarian causes that he had supported during his lifetime.

Sadly, Prince is not in the minority. Far too many people leave it too late, either through simply not bothering, or considering that their estate would automatically go to their spouse or partner. This is not always the case.

Although the laws were amended, unmarried couples are still not legally recognised, and as a result, if you do not have a Will, there is a high risk they won’t inherit anything. For them to automatically inherit, they must be named in your Will, otherwise they have just six months from the date of death to file a claim to the Courts, and this is then left to the Courts to decide upon.

In Prince’s case, the family disputes will require lawyers. This in turn will eat up a huge amount of money, and the taxman will need to take what is due in tax.

If you own anything or have children, you must make a Will. Failure to do so could leave your loved ones unprovided for, and children without Guardians.

We live in an ever-changing society, so make it your Valentines gift to your loved one and make a Will, or review your old Will to ensure it is still up to date and it truly reflects your wishes.

Give the gift of LCS this Valentines and call us now on 0345 017 8250 to make a Will appointment.

Robots may help solve social care crisis

Robots May Help Solve Social Care Crisis.

A fleet of personal robots may be the solution to alleviating pressure on care homes and hospitals.

According to BBC News, academics have reported that robots able to understand aspects of culture and with good bedside manner may help solve the care issue in Britain.

A team is working on robots that will offer support to those in care by helping with tasks such as administering medication, feeding and offering company.

Researchers will assist in building the robots, known as “Pepper Robots”, that can be programmed to complement the person they are assigned to.

Professor Irena Papadopoulos has stated that they “aren’t looking to replace human support, but enhance and complement existing care.”

These culturally sensitive robots are already being used across homes in Japan and the manufacturer, Softbank Robotics, are hoping that the funding provided by the EU and Japanese Government will enable a three-year turnaround.

It is hoped that the robots will help their users to use smart appliances, improving their communication with family and friends. They will also be programmed to communicate as a human would, through speech and gestures, and be designed to recognise symptoms that their elderly user is unwell.

Advinia Healthcare’s executive chairman, Dr Sanjeev Kanoria believes that “robots can support care workers by helping reduce errors in medication and assist them with advanced technology thus helping residents live safer, more independent lives in care and at home.”

Contact LCS on 0345 017 8250 to begin your Care Planning today.

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.

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.