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.

Factoring Dependants Into Your Will

Perhaps one of the first things to think about when planning or revising your Will is who your dependants are. Who relies on you financially or for care? These are significant considerations you will need to think about

Obviously, this could include a spouse, civil partner or co-habiting partner, along with any children you may have. This isn’t limited to your natural children; you may have adopted or step-children you will need to consider. It may also include anyone you have been caring for or looking after financially, such as elderly relatives or a child with a disability.

If you and your partner are not married or in a civil partnership, it is vital that you have a Will to protect them should you die. If you don’t then the proceeds from your estate will pass to your children or to other relatives if you have no children. If there are no relatives, your estate will pass to the Crown.  Under the Inheritance Act 1975 your partner may be able to make an application for some of your assets, but this will take time and money.

If you and your partner die before your children are 18 years old, they will need a guardian to take responsibility for them.

You may also consider setting up a Trust to cater for the financial costs of being a guardian, by leaving a property for any children in the Trust until they are older. Usually a guardian will be one of the trustees, but it’s advisable to appoint someone separate as well to help the guardians and ensure there is no conflict of interest.

More thought also needs to go into providing for a child with disabilities. If you have more than one child, it is natural to want to provide for them equally. That said, sharing the proceeds of your estate equally between your children may not be in the disabled child’s best interests.

If you plan to leave a lump sum to each child, you need to assess whether or not the disabled child has the capability to make decisions for themselves. If they don’t have capacity to deal with their financial affairs, a deputy may need to be appointed. This is likely to eat into some of the funds of their inheritance.

You will also need to consider whether any inheritance left to a disabled child will affect their entitlement to means tested benefits. If it does, their inheritance may have unintended consequences that leave them worse off financially rather than better.

Again, setting up a Trust to provide an income for the disabled child is often a sensible approach to take.

There are different types of Trusts to consider and Trust law is complex. A good Solicitor, Estate Planner or Will Writing Professional will be able to advise you on this and all aspects of providing for your dependants in the way that you want.

“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


VIP R.I.P.

It’s been a grim year for everybody but the Grim Reaper. As we bid farewell to 2016, we ask why it’s been such a bumper year for celebrity deaths…

 “Why are so many celebrities dying in 2016?” asked the Daily Mirror, whilst people on Twitter expressed that their tolerance was subsiding, “Enough, 2016!”

 Other users of the site posted pictures under the tag line “Me at the beginning of 2016 versus me at the end of 2016” – the first an upbeat image of a character such as Kermit the Frog and the second showing the same figure beaten down by life; a bedraggled mess.

So why has 2016 been such a good year for the Grim Reaper when it comes to celebrities?

Experts have come up with a few reasons. Thanks to the proliferation of media over the past few decades, there are more stars around these days, for one. In the early part of the 20th Century, before television, the only celebrities were film stars. Social media also plays a role. As well as creating new stars, it also means that we hear about celebrity deaths far faster than in the past in addition to providing everyone with a platform to publicly share their grief. Then, there’s the fact that many of those who died in 2016 were baby boomers – people aged between 52 and 70. With so many born into that generation, it makes sense that lots of them went on to become famous.

One numerological theory is that 2016’s bad luck is due to its digits adding up to nine, the number commonly associated with completion and endings.

What is incontrovertible, however, is that 2016 was the year that reminded us that death is inevitable, regardless of how rich and famous they are. It also reminded us of the importance of writing a will. Whilst Alan Rickman left £100,000 to charity, David Bowie similarly planned sensibly, setting out 20 pages of instructions on how his estate should be divided. This included his wish to have his ashes scattered on Bali after a Buddhist ceremony. On the other hand, Prince died intestate, with drama ensuing over his £300m estate as various people claimed to be his blood relatives.

Although more famous faces will stay the course this year, January 2017 is still a good month to reflect on our own mortality and get our estates in order – even if they aren’t of A-list proportions.

Here at Finance North Estate Planning Services we are here to help you write your Will and we offer all our clients a red carpet service, so give us a call now on 0161 771 2056 or complete the enquiry form below.

Finance North Estate Planning Services
0161 771 2056

The Pitfall of Gifting Assets

It’s no secret that there is a care crisis in the UK.

In order to deliver social care, the Government is being forced to consider increasing council tax to help cover the costs. However, the cost facing the individual, should they require care, could be very high too.

If you have savings and assets worth more than £23,250 in England and Northern Ireland (rising to £24,000 in Wales or £26,250 in Scotland), or a weekly income high enough to cover care fees, then you will not be eligible for local authority funding. In other words, you’ll have to pay for your own care.

In order to reduce their care liabilities, older people may therefore look to giving away their assets to loved ones. However, where gifting is concerned, there are strict rules which must be followed.

  • Deliberate deprivation

It’s not easy to hide the fact that you may have tried to give your property away to your children or grandchildren. Local authorities will carry out a financial assessment, looking not only at your current assets, but also those that you have previously owned.

If they believe you have given away assets intentionally, in order to qualify for funding from the local authority, they may find that you have indulged in ‘deliberate deprivation’. This may include selling assets for less than their true value, as well as giving them away.

  • What makes it deliberate?

To determine whether the disposal of assets was deliberate, the local authority will look at a number of things. These include:
– What your apparent motive was,
– The timing of the gift (i.e. the time between you realising you need care and when       you disposed of the asset),
– The amount of assets involved.

For example, they are less likely to investigate you if you give away £500 than if you are handing over £50,000.

If it is found that you have deliberately deprived yourself of those assets, even if you no longer own them, their value may be considered in the financial assessment. If the local authority does fund someone’s care costs, and later discover that the individual deliberately deprived themselves of assets, they can pursue that asset transferee in order to recover some of those care costs.

It’s not just during your life that you need to carefully plan how to hand your assets over to your loved ones. It is also vital to put together a plan for what happens after you die. This means ensuring you have a professional will in place. With important issues such as these, it pays to work with those who really know what they are doing. We can help.

For more information with protecting your assets during your lifetime and after your death call Finance North Estate Planning Services on 0161 771 2056, or enter your details in the enquiry form below.

Finance North Estate Planning Services
0161 771 2056