Legal Services

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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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.

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!