Will Disputes: What If You’ve Been Left Out?

Losing a loved one is always an upsetting time. That upset is only heightened if you later discover that you have been left out of their Will, or in some way under-recognised.

There are options open to you if you wish to contest a Will, thanks to the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. The Act allows people to bring a claim against the estate in certain circumstances, when they feel that “reasonable financial provision” has not been made for them.

The courts will then evaluate where such provision has been made for you, and if not, what provision needs to be in place for you. In order to make a successful claim, you will need to demonstrate to the courts that you had a reasonable expectation of having your living costs met by the deceased.

All sorts of factors will be taken into account here, such as your financial position and needs (both now and in the future) the size of the estate and even your conduct.

There is a host of different circumstances where someone may wish to challenge a Will, for example a former spouse or a child of the deceased, or simply someone who was financially dependent on the deceased before they passed away.

There is a time limit on making a claim though – it must be issued at court within six months of the date of the grant of probate.

The court has the power to step in and revise the way that the estate has been divided – this may mean you receiving a lump sum or even the entitlement to a regular payment from the net estate of the deceased.

The issue has enjoyed a lot of press coverage in recent years, primarily down to a case where a mother left her £486,000 estate to three charities, leaving out her estranged daughter entirely.

While the daughter succeeded in challenging this, winning a six-figure settlement, that has now been overturned by the Supreme Court.

Jon O’Brien, “The 1975 Act opens up the possibility of challenging a Will if you believe you have been unfairly left out, though it is important to get legal advice first. You will also need to prove that you could rightfully have expected some sort of contribution from the deceased.”

Finance North Estate Planning Services
Cheshire Office – 0161 771 2056
Staffordshire Office 01782 963 303

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Breaking News – Bringing Wills Into The 21st Century

Writing a Will is wrongly often thought of as something only older people need to worry about. But the Law Commission has called for the age at which one can write a Will to be lowered to 16, as part of a report into ways to update inheritance laws.

It pointed out that given 16-year olds can marry, join the army or live alone, they should be allowed to outline what they wish to happen with their assets when they pass away.

This is just one of a series of changes suggested by the Law Commission, which argued that many of the laws relevant to inheritance date back to Victorian times and are “out of step with the modern world”.

Another suggested change is the introduction of electronic Wills, arguing that the Lord Chancellor should be given the power to bring them into force. The Law Commission also called for the removal of some of the formality around Will writing, by giving the courts powers to recognise a Will in cases where some of the formality rules were not followed, but the deceased had made their intentions clear, as well as an overhaul of the rules protecting those making a Will from being unduly influenced by another person.

There will now be a public consultation on the proposals until November before any final decision on law reform are made.

Here at Finance North Estate Planning Services say “Writing a Will should be simple and straightforward, but the Law Commission is absolutely right that the law is outdated and may be a reason why so many people don’t bother to write one, as around 40% of adults die each year without having written a Will. That’s unacceptable, and measures which will make it easier and more inclusive are very welcome.

“It doesn’t matter whether you’re 16 or 60, setting out exactly what you want to happen to your assets after you pass away is vitally important, and a Will is the only way to do that.”

“If anyone is interested in finding out more about writing a Will or updating their current one, they can call one of our offices below – we’d be happy to help.”

Finance North Estate Planning Services
Cheshire Office – 0161 771 2056
Staffordshire Office 01782 963 303

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How wealthy families keep their wealth.

David Cameron’s father’s will makes interesting reading.

He left a fortune of £2,740,000 from which the ex-Prime Minister received the sum of £300,000, but what is interesting is that:-

  • He appointed his children as Executors and Trustees.
  • He and his wife owned their home as Tenants in Common rather than joint owners.
  • His half of the home went into Trust rather than directly to his widow.

 

Cameron Will

 

Trusts have been instrumental in mitigating tax since the Medieval times. Trusts were initially created for the Nobility and wealthy landowners to avoid paying taxes to the Crown. Nowadays, you don’t have to be a Nobleman, or a wealthy landowner to want to take advantage of the many tax strategies Trusts can provide.

The use of Trusts ensures that assets are protected from attack from the following.

  • Care Fees
  • Divorce / Separation
  • Creditors / Bankruptcy
  • Inheritance Tax
  • Generational Inheritance Tax

We have advised many clients from all walks of life in protecting their homes and other assets, so that their children and grandchildren can maximise their inheritance, and we have now launched a fixed price package to specifically tackle the above problems at an affordable price for all home owners and from all walks of life.

Firstly you will receive a free no obligation home visit from one of our trained consultants which usually takes about 1hr where you can ask any questions and discuss the matter in more detail.

Once you have decided to proceed we will take all the necessary instructions and then commence constructing a Will each, a Flexible Family Trust each with Memorandum of Wishes and also a Deed of Severance. Within approximately 2 weeks your consultant will return with all the documents for signing.

 

PPT

On first death, the deceased’s share of the property is passed into their Flexible Family Trust via the Will. The surviving Spouse or Partner continues to live in the property and is still able to move home if they choose to do so. In the event that the survivor enters care, the survivor only owns half a share of the family home.

The beneficiaries have access to the Trust Funds but we ensure that these assets do not enter their estates and so are protected from attack by the following:

  • Marriage after Death – Placing half of the family home and other assets into a Trust on first death ensures that, should the surviving spouse or partner marry in the future, those assets cannot be taken into the marriage and removes the threat of your children being disinherited.
  • Divorce – Placing your assets into a trust ensures if your children or chosen beneficiaries are subject to a divorce then what you intended them to receive is protected from any divorce settlements.
  • Creditors – Similarly if any of your beneficiaries are subject to Creditor claims or bankruptcy then their inheritance would not be exposed to these claims.
  • Care Costs – The trust ensures that they do not add onto the beneficiaries own estates and so cannot be assessed for their care costs.
  • Further or Generational IHT – Holding the assets in the trust ensures that they do not add to the beneficiaries estates and impact on their own Inheritance Tax.

For more information, please call 0161 771 2056 or simply complete the form below
and one of our consultants will gladly answer any questions you may have.

Finance North
Estate Planning Services
Offices in Cheshire and Staffordshire

www.FinanceNorthEPS.co.uk

 

 

 

What Will Your Legacy Be?

We tend to think of a legacy as a material possession or an accumulation of wealth that we can pass down to our children or other beneficiaries when we die. Legacy has a much broader meaning and one that might cause us to pause and think more about how we live our lives rather than worry about what happens afterwards

In this sense, we’re thinking about the things we do while we are alive and the “footprint” we leave behind.

It’s easy to think this is only achievable by those who are famous or people who have contributed to society on a large scale or in a significant way. Certainly, imagine for a moment how different the world would be without the diverse legacies of Shakespeare, Florence Nightingale, Martin Luther King or more recently Steve Jobs. They made positive contributions while they were alive and whose effects have rippled through history and will continue to do so for a very long time.

Not all legacies are positive, however. The effects of Hitler and Osama Bin Laden’s lives and actions have undoubtedly been profound and negative.

That said, a legacy doesn’t have to be on such a grand scale. We are all in a position to leave a legacy of some kind. It’s not something we generally think about, but it is entwined in the choices and actions we take in day-to-day life.

For many this will simply be living a fulfilled life, loving and teaching our children to be contributing adults so that they can grow up to live rich and satisfying lives of their own. It may be through volunteering or working with those less privileged than ourselves and inspiring others to do the same. Perhaps it could be through fundraising: moving people and organisations to give their time and money to create facilities such as hospitals or schools in faraway places or to fund research to cure diseases.

Some people create a legacy by campaigning to help others when they are faced with adversity and devastating circumstances. Trevor Lakin fought for overseas victims of terrorist attacks to receive compensation from the Government. In 2012, seven years after his son was killed in an Egyptian terror attack, the law was finally changed.

Our own Mark Roberts of Finance North sadly lost his wife Elise to cancer in 2010 and decided to start an appeal for The Christie hospital in Manchester in her memory and raised the staggering amount of £1.175 million and since then has created a national cancer charity, Challenge Cancer UK, which supports those affected by cancer.

Sometimes there’s an overlap between the two different types of legacy. People who have found success in a particular field might set up bursaries or scholarships to provide an opportunity to someone who might not otherwise be in a position to follow in their footsteps.

However, we live our lives, on a large or small scale, our legacy will be judged on the things we said and did and by the people who our lives touched. Why not think about what yours will be today?

Planning and ensuring your legacy isn’t leaving a burden on your loved ones is important for us all. Make sure you have everything in place by contacting Finance North Estate Planning Services and talking to professionals who know how to manage all circumstances and ensure you have what you need to leave your prized possessions exactly how you wish.

Jon O’Brien
Trust & Estate Planning Consultant
Finance North Estate Planning Services
The Dudson Centre, Hope Street, Stoke on Trent, ST1 5DD
01782 963 303, http://www.FinanceNorthEPS.co.uk

How Can Trusts Help With Inheritance Tax Burdens?

There are few taxes more unpopular than inheritance tax. A poll by the financial website, loveMONEY last year found that an incredible 90% of Brits believe it is unfair.

However, there are a number of perfectly legitimate ways to reduce the amount of tax your estate will have to pay. One of those is making use of a Trust.

What is a Trust?

A Trust is a legal arrangement where your assets – such as property, cash or investments – are given to trustees, who will oversee them for the benefit of a third person. For example, you might want to put some savings into a Trust which your children can then benefit from at a later date.

When you place items into a Trust, they technically no longer belong to you. As a result, when it comes to working out the inheritance tax due on your estate, they aren’t included.

Instead, the assets belong to the Trust. The trustees are charged with managing those assets in the interest of the beneficiaries you have named, until some time when those beneficiaries can take control.

The many different types of Trust

Trusts come in a variety of different forms, which will suit different circumstances.

The simplest form is a Bare Trust – this basically hands over ownership of the assets to the beneficiary immediately, so long as they are over the age of 18.

Alternatively, there is an Interest in Possession Trust. This gives the beneficiary income from the assets held within the Trust, but they don’t have a right to the assets generating that income. An example of this is that you might put shares in this form of Trust which would pay an income to your partner, but your children would get ownership of the shares themselves once your partner died.

Then there is the Discretionary Trust, which is where the trustees have responsibility for deciding how the assets within the Trust are distributed. You could therefore leave assets in the Trust for your grandchildren, with your children named as the trustees. They could then determine who gets what at a later date.

Dividing your assets

Trusts are a useful way to take control of passing on your assets to your loved ones and can serve as a complement to a comprehensive Will. Without a Will in place, you have no say on who will get your assets and could put your loved ones through further heartache after your passing.

To discuss your Will and estate planning needs today, speak to Finance North Estate Planning Services 0161 771 2056.

Finance North Estate Planning Services
Offices in Cheshire & Staffordshire

The Cost Of Dying Is Increasing

The Government is introducing a new fee structure that will affect the cost of accessing an estate when someone dies.

Fees for Applications for Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration (for when someone dies intestate) will be changing and could eventually impact you and your family when you’re no longer around.

The new fees will take effect from May 2017. At the moment, the fees are set at either £155 if probate is applied for by a Solicitor or £215 if it is applied for by friends or family. There are no fees if the value of the estate is less than £5,000.

The first change is that estates below £50,000 will no longer have to pay any probate fee. This significantly increases the number of estates exempt from the fees. Unfortunately, everyone one else will see an increase, with those with the largest estates seeing fees of up to £20,000.

The fees are tiered depending on the value of the estate:

  • £50k – £300k = £300 fee
  • £300k – £500k = £1,000 fee
  • £500k – £1M = £4,000 fee
  • £1M – £1.6M = £8,000 fee
  • £1.6M – £2M = £12,000 fee
  • Above £2M = £20,000 fee

These fees are in addition to inheritance tax (IHT).

When somebody dies, the executors must apply for a Grant of Probate from the probate registry. This needs to be done to allow them to administer the estate according to the terms of the Will. These fees need to be paid up front. It may be difficult if the executor is not able to release cash from the deceased’s bank account and/or the executor is on a low wage or benefits.

Previously they may have been able to apply to get help with the fees. However, the Government is also removing probate applications from the general fees remissions scheme and financial help will no longer be available.

There are things to consider which may reduce the amount of probate needing to be paid. In particular, married couples or those in a civil partnership should consider the nature of any property ownership agreements they hold.

Another way to reduce the cost of probate is to consider setting up a Trust. This may lower the value of the estate (from a probate point of view) and drop it from a higher tier rate to a lower one.

Trust law is complex. You will need advice from a specialist to ensure you are setting one up in the most tax efficient way, so that it doesn’t end up costing you more than you hope to save.

For advice on this or any aspect of Estate Planning or Will Writing, please call Finance North Estate Planning Services on 0161 771 2056, or complete the enquiry form below for more information.

“Til Death Do You Part?

Around a third of parents are unwilling to leave an inheritance to their children or provide them with financial aid, as they are concerned that divorce may mean that money leaves the family.

This is according to research from Investec Investment & Wealth, which found that 14% of parents had little or no confidence that their children’s marriages would last a lifetime.

It is perhaps an understandable concern, with around 42% of marriages failing, according to the Office for National Statistics.

There are, however, steps you can take to ensure that your money ends up in the right hands – irrespective of how successful your child might be at finding a long-lasting partner.

Make use of your gift allowance

The research found that one in six parents are opting to give their loved ones small financial gifts to help with the cost of living, rather than large lump sums.

It’s important to remember that everyone has a £3,000 annual gift allowance, covering financial gifts you can hand over each year, free of inheritance tax. On top of that you can give away up to £250 to any number of people each year.

Skip a generation

According to the research, around 14% of parents are skipping a generation and instead looking to leave assets to their grandchildren.

Put it in trust

The study found that one in seven parents are considering putting the money into a discretionary trust, which could be a useful way to protect the money from a divorce.

With a discretionary trust, it is up to the trustees to determine how and when any potential beneficiaries may be able to access the cash. You can appoint yourself as the trustee, so that you have final say over where the money goes, or you can go for an independent trustee. What’s more, the money within the trust is classed as separate from your estate, so it’s free of Inheritance Tax.

It’s important to consider exactly how you want your assets to be divided up among your loved ones, and get those wishes down in the form of a comprehensive will. Speak to our team today at Finance North Estate Planning Services, call 0161 771 2056 or complete the form below and one of our consultants will contact you to help you get your will in place.


Finance North Estate Planning Services
Offices in Cheshire & Stoke on Trent