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Reduce Financial Stress

Why Consider A Trust When Making A Will?

It is important for you to have a Will in place before you die. Not having a Will can lead to numerous complications when dividing an estate and, for some families, it can be enough to tear them apart.

But it isn’t just Wills that need to be considered.

Trusts can be used as a way of passing on inheritance, under the protection of Trustees who will pass on assets to your chosen beneficiaries in accordance with the Trust.

The benefits of doing this is that you can ensure your assets are going exactly where you wish.

So, in what circumstances are trusts useful?

Blended Families

If there are children involved from previous relationships, a couple may want to ensure that such children benefit from their inheritance.

A Trust could be included to enable assets to pass to a surviving partner upon the deaths of the first to die. The trust can also further outline what happens to the assets when both have died.

In this case, assets could be split between the couple’s own children.

Remarriage

If your spouse dies, you may go on to remarry in later life.

This could mean that a Will written when both were alive to be altered, sometimes in a way that may remove inheritance from existing children.

As with the above, a Trust could be included in a couple’s Wills to ensure inheritance for the ultimate beneficiaries whilst enabling the surviving spouse to have use of the asset during their lifetime, such as with the family home.

Is the beneficiary able to manage the inheritance?

A Trust is the most common way of safeguarding assets for those unable to manage their own finances, for example, a disabled person or someone with a substance misuse or alcohol dependency problem.

Here, the Trustees would use the assets to directly benefit the beneficiary, the Trustees would use their discretion as to how and when to release the funds.

 

If You’re Unmarried

Unmarried couples do not have the same rights of inheritance as those who are married or in a civil partnership.

In marriage or civil partnerships your estate can pass directly to your spouse upon your death.
Trusts can be included to ensure that your partner is provided for, whilst also addressing the inheritance tax issues for unmarried couples.

The above are just four common reasons to include a trust in your Will, there are many other reasons and a variety of Trusts which may help individual clients.

For more information about Trusts, contact LCS on 0345 017 8250 before it’s too late.

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The Presumption Of Death Act 2013

Have you ever thought how you would cope financially without your partner? Marriage brings the security of your partner’s assets passing directly to you upon their death. (Unless otherwise stated in a Will) But what happens to a loved one’s affairs if that person goes missing?

Currently, The Presumption of Death Act 2013 requires you to wait seven years, or provide proof that the person has died before you can apply for the declaration of presumed death.

Although seven years is long enough to ascertain that someone really has left their life behind them, it has been criticised as being too long for the families left dealing with the deceased’s affairs.

Furthermore, if a person has an appointed power of attorney, this becomes void as nobody has the legal authority to manage a missing person’s affairs.

As this is a very serious matter, the courts will only grant the declaration of presumed death with solid evidence, but once they have, it allows for a grant of probate, and even dissolution of marriages.

In order to apply for this, you must:

– Provide details of both the applicant, and the missing person,
– Provide details surrounding how they disappeared,
– What efforts you’ve made to find them,
– Details of their estate,
– Details of anyone else who may be interested.

You must also advertise the event in at least one newspaper local to the missing person’s last known address.

This will then be put up for a Court hearing, where the next steps will be advised. Eg. Further proof.

The decision will be made by taking into account the balance of probabilities; the civil standard of proof.

The declaration may be opposed by anyone by submitting a notice of intervention, or, if the missing person returns. In this instance, the missing person would apply for the declaration to be revoked by the High Court.

In April 2017, the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act 2017 was passed which has been designed to work alongside the current Act.

It will allow a guardian to be appointed to handle the missing person’s affairs for a renewable period of up to four years.

It also takes into account the lengthy seven year wait and, allows the applicants to apply for a Guardianship Order, this means they will only have to wait at least 90 days before they can assume control.

Although the Presumption of Death Act 2013 made way for people to eventually deal with a missing person’s affairs, the new act allows the management of this whilst waiting the seven years to finalise the estate.

How To Avoid Disagreements Ovwr Funerals

Dealing with the death of a loved one is an upsetting and deeply stressful time. Organising the funeral can only add to this, so what happens when families disagree over the arrangements?
Not everyone will have organised their own funeral before they die. Accidents can happen, and death can sometimes be quite sudden and sooner than expected. One small respite is knowing that the invoice for the funeral can often be settled directly from the estate, funds permitting.
As probate can take many months to be granted, most banks will be happy to release funds directly to funeral directors from the deceased’s bank account upon receipt of an original invoice, this may or may not include the wake.
Family members often have differing opinions and understandings as to what the deceased wanted to happen and, even conversations prior to the deceased’s death regarding the funeral and the wake can sometimes become a point of disagreement.
Not only can this add unnecessary stress, it may also divide a family. To avoid this, you have options available to you:
1. Write your wishes into your Will, it is always recommended that you discuss your wishes with your nearest and dearest, that way, your family will know exactly what want. Your Will may also give authority to your executors to spend a certain amount on your funeral and wake, thus avoiding potential arguments.
2. Organise a pre-paid funeral plan, there are many options available for you to “design” and pay for your funeral before you die. Different packages are available which are designed to suit all budgets, and will cover the very basic funeral to the most extravagant.
Having your funeral organised before you die will not only remove the stress of doing this in an already difficult time, but it will avoid family arguments, and over exuberance. It will also ensure you get the final say on your send off.
LCS can look after all your requirements regarding your Will, winding up your estate after your death and a pre-paid funeral plan. We are currently offering £100 off each Dignity Guaranteed pre-paid funeral plan.
Contact us now on 0345 017 8250 to discuss your needs and find out how we can help you and your family.

Is Your Pet Protected In Your Will?

Do you love animals? Do you know what would happen to your beloved family pet in the event of your death? Why not protect them in your Will, and ensure they’re safe and provided for once you’re gone?

The Pet Food Manufacturers Association have recently released figures that 44% of UK households have pets. Equating to 54 million pets, this means many of them may be left behind if their owner dies.

As pets have normally been in the family for a number of years, many owners assume family members will look after them after their death. This isn’t always the case.

Not everyone has the time, money, or simply wish to make the commitment pets demand, so it is imperative you discuss your plans with the people involved.

This gives them, the opportunity to think about your wishes, and allows you the option to rethink if they decline.

If a family member is unable to care for your pet, there are specific charities eg. RSPCA Home For Life Scheme, which are designed to rehome your pet and ensure they’re looked after.

According to the Administration of Estates Act 1925, pets are “personal chattels” meaning, they can be included and provided for in your Will.

No matter which option you take, you still must consider the expenses of looking after a pet over the rest of their lifetime:

Food
Vets
Medication
Grooming
Insurance
Funeral fees

In order to cover this, you may provide cash gifts specifically allocated towards their future care.

When writing your Will, it is advised not to specifically name your pet, but provide a letter of wishes to run alongside your Will detailing your wishes for their care, and information such as registered veterinary surgeries, or important medication.

Don’t forget to review your Will every few years, as if you die with an out of date Will, your wishes may never come to fruition, and any new pets you’ve acquired may not be protected.

To ensure your Will is sound, and legally adheres to your wishes, contact LCS now on 0345 017 8250 and speak to our professional advisors.

 

Nurses Protest Over Pay

As reported in the Guardian, this afternoon (Wednesday 6th September), roughly 2,000 Nursing staff are expected to launch a demonstration outside Parliament.

Their aim is to persuade them to scrap the 1% pay cap.

The demonstration has been strategically timed to fall just after the prime minister’s first questions of her parliamentary year, with members of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) taking a day of leave to join the protest.

The RCN has threatened industrial action if the pay cap is not scrapped in the Autumn Budget, after revealing the seven year cap has seen pay fall by 14% real-term.

Not only this, but Theresa May has been criticised after claiming nurses are using food banks for “complex reasons”.

Janet Davies, Chief Executive of the RCN has said:

“Experienced nursing staff are leaving in droves, not because they don’t like the job, but because they can’t afford to stay while the next generation do not see their future in an undervalued profession. If the government fails to announce a change of direction in the budget, then industrial action by nursing staff immediately goes on the table.”

This demonstration mirrors the views aired back in May, where over 50,000 members of the RCN voted, and 8 in 10 stating they would strike if the cap wasn’t lifted.

The RCN also published data from YouGov that 7 in 10 voters believed the NHS was critically understaffed.

According to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), there are 40,000 nursing vacancies, with 51% more nurses and midwives leaving the profession than four years ago.

This leaves healthcare without safe staffing, and the current staff struggling under the pressure of hours, and the stress of the job.

Interestingly, YouGov also published that more than half of their voters were willing to pay increased taxes to help the nursing crisis.

Either way, something must be done to save the NHS and British healthcare as we know it.

 

Sea Hero Quest: The Key To Dementia?

As part of the world’s largest dementia experiment, a virtual reality game has been designed to test one of the first symptoms; the loss of the ability to navigate.

As reported on the BBC News, with the support of Alzheimer’s Research UK and funding from Deutsche Telekom, the game has been developed from an app to virtual reality. This will not only allow for greater depth of research, but help in diagnosing the disease.

The game challenges you to find your way through a complex map of waterways, islands and oceans, testing your sense of direction and collecting anonymous data as you play.

The first game found that your sense of direction declines during your twenties and, that men have a better sense of direction than women.

Although it isn’t expected that many people will play the developed game, it will still provide more information than can be collated in a laboratory setting.

Max Scott-Slade who has worked with scientists from three universities (University College London, University of East Anglia, and ETH Zurich) has said:

“It’s interesting to try to make something that’s normally quite a boring subject matter and lab based and bring it to the public and make it as fun as possible. The value for us is to create a much richer dataset, we’re capturing 15 times more data from the virtual reality version because we’re separating out where the head looks and where the boat is moving.”

The ultimate aim of the test is to highlight dementia in its earliest stages.

With 850,000 people living with the disease in the UK, most will have suffered the disease for at least a decade before symptoms present.

Currently, there are no treatments that can prevent dementia, but it has been acknowledged that an early diagnosis, before irreversible brain damage, will help future treatments take effect.

Dr David Reynolds from Alzheimer’s Research UK told the BBC:

“What we really want to be doing is identifying people with dementia 10 or 15 years earlier than we do at the moment. A game like Sea Hero Quest and understanding how we navigate will help us get to a much earlier diagnosis.”

Robots may help solve social care crisis

Are Robots The Future Of Funerals?

As reported in the Guardian, Japan is leading the way in robotic technology. Robots are used in healthcare, entertainment and as companions for those who live alone.

Now, the Japanese are introducing robots as priests for funerals. Currently, they have only been used in Buddhist funerals, with the robots being coded to chant sutras and tap drums. Robots have now been introduced at a funeral industry fair in Tokyo.

According to a survey by the Japan Consumer’s Association, the average cost of a funeral in Japan is 2.3 million yen (roughly £16,300), with additional cost for a priest. Pepper, the robotic priest, will cost just £350.

As the population of Japan is ageing and reducing, many of their Buddhist priests seek additional part time work, this means that more and more are unavailable for events such as funerals. Aside from those who can’t afford a human priest, Pepper may be used when one is unavailable. As with “normal funerals”, Pepper will be present in full robes and the ceremony can be streamed to those who are unable to attend.

Although this may be appealing to the general public, it has received criticism from religious figures, as they believe “the heart is the foundation of religion”; an aspect Pepper will be unable to replicate. Although Pepper hasn’t yet been hired, as robots are slowly taking over, will they form a permanent part of the future and, how long will it be before they’re used worldwide?

So what’s really gone wrong with Care?

As the news breaks today that 200,000 more care homes are needed by 2025 in order to care for the ageing population, we look at what really has gone wrong, and how it affects those we love.

As reported in the BBC News, this isn’t just related to care for older people, but disabled people, and children too, and some are unfortunately suffering more than others.

1. Spending has plateaued

The trend has been that year on year more money has been spent on services. This is due to a growing population, an ageing population, and those with disabilities living longer. Over the past ten years, this has levelled off and Central Government funding for councils was slashed by one third by the previous parliament.

2. Care is being prioritised

In 2015-16, 55% of council budgets was being spent on social care. With this, comes cutbacks to other local services such as leisure centres and refuse collection.

3. The NHS is filling the gap

One third of last years £24 billion budget was spent on children leaving £16 billion for adults. This was supported by a £2 billion grant from the NHS.

Last year saw the biggest grant yet from the NHS, as local authority spending was £900 million less than in 2009-10.

Simply, what happens in social care, directly impacts the NHS.

4. Councils are looking after less people

To save money, care is being rationed to older people rather than those with disabilities.

Between 2008 and 2014, care from the councils for over 65s fell by 25%.

5. Patients are being forgotten

If care isn’t provided in the community, people go to hospital.

Doctors only release those they know will receive care in the community. And if it’s still not available when they’re ready to leave, they’re left on wards.

This means new patients cannot be admitted, directly affecting A&E waiting times and increasing trolley waits.

This has almost doubled over the past five years.

6. People are making their own arrangements

As reported by Age UK, 12.5% of people in care homes now pay for themselves and 30% receive no help whatsoever.

These people still have substantial needs and are unable to dress themselves, and struggle to go to the toilet.

7. Councils are being subsidised

Companies providing the services have reported that councils are being squeezed so much, in some areas they’re working at a loss.

The U.K. Care Association calculated that the cost of helping people at home is £16.60ph, but across the UK, councils are paying on average £2 less than this. Also, the fees being paid by councils are £100 less than the true cost.

This means, those who are self funding, are paying more to make up the difference from the losses ; They’re subsidising the state.

Considering 1 in 10 people has care costs of over £100,000, we are left asking if this is fair?

8. The market is at risk

The Care Quality Commission have highlighted that this is destabilising the sector, as care companies begin to focus on areas where there are more self funders.

This could create a shortage of places in those areas, such as the South East where 54% are self funding.

Over the past six years, the number of homes operating in England has fallen by over 1500.

9. Ageing population

Currently, roughly 18% of the U.K. population is over 65. This is predicted to rise to almost 25% by 2044.

By 65, one in six people have trouble with day to day tasks. By 85, this rises to half.

10. Council tax bills are increasing

Councils have been given permission to raise council tax bills in order to pay for social care.

But it would appear this is limiting, as it is still raising less than 3% of what they plan to spend.

By 2020, the Local Government Association predicts there will still be a shortfall of over £2.5 billion.

Many have tried and failed to solve this, and our current coalition government have suggested a cap on care costs; already pushed back by 4 years.

Will we ever see a solution, or will this continue until the system crumbles and we have nothing left?

Are These The Care Homes Of The Future?

What if care homes were no longer like a home, and more like a community with shops, salons, and cinemas? This could very well be the future for British care.

As reported in the Guardian, Paul Burstow, the chairman of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)wrote a report identifying what the government, Care Quality Commision (CQC), investors and providers need to do to change the current structure of our care homes.

Whilst researching for this report, Mr Burstow travelled to the Netherlands and visited a gated village called “De Hogeweyk”. This village is designed for people with dementia.

Mr Burstow reported that nobody wore a uniform, all staff are trained in hospitality, and the village is designed to mimic an actual village with shops, bars and homes.

WCS Care (WCS) has taken this approach, and is now running 12 homes, soon to be 13. The aim here is to encourage them to lead a “normal” life; going shopping, washing up, cooking, setting the table etc.

Their newest home has six households, each with fourteen residents, and their own kitchen. Their meals are laid out in their kitchens, and they’re encouraged to make their choice themselves.

In WCS, everything is run as close to the outside world as possible. The laundrette for example has staff, and they deal with the “customers”, allowing them to do as much or as little as they wish. They also have a Doctor’s surgery, and a dentist, all with waiting rooms and receptionists.

They also believe in residents spending as much time outside as possible and have built in cycle tracks, hairdressers, and cinemas.

These homes are designed around the philosophy that everything is driven by the residents. They only do what they want to do, which ensures they continue enjoying life?

Not only have WCS seemingly improved the quality of care, they’re also overhauling the technology surrounding caring for residents. They’ve introduced overnight acoustic monitoring which monitor the sounds residents make when they sleep. This helps staff assess whether they need to assist the resident, reducing the number of nightly checks, therefore reducing the disturbance for the residents.

This monitoring also offers peace of mind for family members as their loved one is monitored constantly.

This technology has already reduced the number of falls during the night, in one home by 30% as staff can instantly hear when a resident is moving around.

Similarly, using this technology helped staff recognise residents that were struggling to sleep. To change this, instead of ushering them back to bed, they formed a club; chatting, playing games, having their hair styled etc. Over a short space of time, their body clocks adjusted and they were able to sleep.

Due to their nature of keeping the residents quality of life at the forefront of everything, WCS have already received six outstanding CQC assessments.

So can we take their model, their aspirational and innovative model, and make it a reality for the future of British care?

Opera: Can it be used in care?

A number of care homes have opened their doors to the first opera written for the care sector, as reported by the Guardian.

“Six characters in search of an opera”, written by Rachel Barnett is being performed across the South West in care homes, dementia units, day centres and hospices.

The play was commissioned by Davina’s Fund, a charity aiming to bring opera to older people who cannot experience it themselves.

Set up in memory of Camilla Vickers mother, Davina, Camilla saw the effect opera had on her dying mother:

“I could see that my mother felt better, happier, and I, as her carer, did too. It lifted her spirits hugely and there was a lightness to the house again.”

Annie Stevenson, a member of the National Activity Providers Association has commended the play:

“It should be more than bingo or one size fits all activities, and hoping that volunteers come in and do something, which might not be very good. It’s always well intentioned but often activities can be very patronising.

“Professional musicians lift the spirits of the staff as well. They bring so much energy and it’s so powerful for everyone. It’s emotional and can really touch resident’s souls and uplift them. The CQC don’t measure things like that.”

At a particular care home in Dorset (the Old Vicarage), according to the Guardian the audience were said to be enthralled, swaying and conducting with their hands.

The room, full of residents and staff alike was “singing along with smiles on their faces”.

Edna Martin, a 100 year old resident said:

“I really think everyone enjoyed themselves. I used to do a lot of singing, so anything that involves music is up my street. I really have enjoyed this afternoon. It’s been many years since I have been to the opera.”

Although the Old Vicarage proves how successful such activities can be, it is a private care home, and many may not have the resources available to replicate its success.

Jan Millward, the care home’s activity coordinator believes, “There are a lot of people up against it and only have 8p a day to do activities with.”

She’s also called for the CQC to ask more questions and demand better activity provision from homes, “It’s the only way we’re going to get change, because managers really care about their CQC ratings as it effects their bottom line.”

She goes on to say, looking around at all the smiling faces, “This is care at its best, really. The residents are all smiling and happy. That buzz will last, even those with dementia who’ll likely forget the performance, won’t lose how it made them feel.”