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Boost Your Points To Get Max Value

Once you’ve got your stash of points, the challenge is to make the most of them. Spend 500 points on your shopping at the checkout and you’ll save a fiver – but spend them the right way and you really max their value.

You’ll soon get 3x value with ALL Clubcard partners – some rewards were cut on Sunday

On 15 January, Tesco announced major changes to its Clubcard Rewards* scheme, which generally gives you the biggest boost to your vouchers’ value, by letting you exchange them for tokens to spend with partners on days out, restaurants, train tickets and more.

The changes were due to be brought in immediately but after an outcry from customers (and a call from Martin), Tesco agreed to postpone the changes until Mon 11 June. This gives you time to beat the cuts – Tesco says Rewards tokens are valid for six months “unless otherwise stated”, so if you’re planning a big meal or a day out over the summer, act now.

Currently you can still swap Clubcard vouchers for Rewards tokens worth two, three or four times the value. But from 11 June they mostly move to three times the value – and while a few offers will improve, many of the best, including those from Pizza Express, Café Rouge and London Zoo, are getting worse. Tesco has a full list of deals that are changing to three times the value. (A few which have a non-monetary value, eg, Avios points, aren’t changing.)

Even after the changes, this is still a good way to spend your points. 

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LPA Or Advanced Decision?

Before we die, it’s imperative that we not only write a Will, but organise a Lasting Power Of Attorney to make decisions for us if ever we cannot.

Some people, particularly those with certain religious beliefs, may also chose to put in place something called an Advanced Decision (or a Living Will).

Below we review the differences between both, and whether both are actually necessary.

Advanced Decision

This is a document that is designed to enable you to refuse certain medical treatments and interventions if you no longer have the capacity to do so.

It is not able to be used to deny basic care or request any illegal practices.

Examples of the care it can refuse are life sustaining treatments such as life support machines.

When preparing the Advanced Decision, they must be clear, specific, and ensure certain formalities are met. It must also be made under the advice of GPS and Solicitors.

Health And Welfare LPA

This a document where you can appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf related to your health and welfare, if ever you lost the capacity to do so.

The decisions include the treatments you receive, where you live, and visiting rights. 

If stated when preparing the document, it can also include life sustaining treatments.

The LPA must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, and must also be made under the guidance of a Solicitor.

You can also leave instructions for your Attorneys with this document.

So what about both?

If you only wish to emphasise which treatments you’d refuse, you need an Advanced Decision.

If you wish to appoint people to make decisions relating to your health and welfare, an LPA may be the best document for you.

If you wish to do both, ensure they don’t contradict one another and the order they’re put in place is important too.

An LPA specifying decisions regarding life sustaining treatments will override an earlier placed Advanced Decision, and vice versa.

Of course, it’s your decision whether you organise any of these documents, and perhaps it helps to consider what you would do, and who you would trust if ever these decisions needed to be made and you couldn’t.

For any advice and help regarding LPAs and Advanced Decisions, contact LCS NOW on 0345 017 8250.

Can Your Family Access Your Cloud?

Today we live in an age where technology has advanced so much, we are using it to run our daily lives.

The majority of us are never too far away from a smartphone or tablet, on which is stored sensitive data that we use for social media, paying bills, and contacting loved ones or friends.

For those of us that are part of the Apple generation, this information is stored electronically in something called “The Cloud”.

As Apple users know, once you sign into your product, you are logged into your personal account. 

Every photo you upload, every app you download, and all your music, plus much more, is then automatically stored in your Cloud.

Your information can then quickly be recalled from your device, or by logging into your cloud account from another computer.

Your Apple product also prompts you to create a unique passcode (or on more recent products a fingerprint Touch ID and facial recognition) providing security for your device.

When we die, what happens to the information that is stored electronically?

This has become a problem in recent years as families are left unable to access phones and tablets as they’re locked with the registered user’s specific fingerprint.

So how can this be resolved?

It has been reported that some families are using the deceased’s thumb/fingers to unlock their device, and although morbid, it suggests people are not preparing the necessary admin (passwords etc) that later provides the headaches when they die.

It is worth knowing that different companies have different policies and procedures, however most are willing to release information if you adhere to them.

For example, Facebook allows you to specify a legacy contact that will look after your account on your passing, and Apple themselves allow you access information upon receipt of a death certificate (which can be sent electronically).

Although it is advised to keep passwords and usernames confidential, it is also good practice to keep a copy of them with your Will so your Executor can access them easily.

You can also register and keep such information with secure companies who will release the data to your named recipients on receipt of a death certificate. One thing to consider here is what would happen if the company were to dissolve.

There is no time like the present to begin arranging these measures as technology will only continue to advance and it will likely become harder and harder for loved ones to access data in the future.

If you require any information or advice on Wills, and how to prepare for your death, contact LCS NOW on 0345 017 8250.

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.

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.