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say “Writing a Will should be simple and straightforward, but the Law Commission is absolutely right that the law is outdated and may be a reason why so many people don’t bother to write one, as around 40% of adults die each year without having written a Will.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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Reasons for a Property Protection Trust

A Property Protection Trust is designed to help and protect your property from creditors including an assessment for long term care fees.

Our Property Protection Trust will ensure that your estate is kept intact by protecting your share of your home (or other property, if required) or the value in it.

We do this by firstly changing Joint ownership of the property to Tenants in Common usually each owning 50% this then enables you to “Will” your share to your chosen beneficiary via your Family Trust.

By leaving your share of the property in a Trust with a life interest to your partner/spouse you safeguard your assets from being lost should your partner re-marry, or be diluted if that partnership ends in divorce. It also protects the trust property from bankruptcy and care costs in later life for the surviving partner.

Importantly the Trust also protects the interests of the survivor, allowing them to live in the property until their death, (or, if required, until they cohabit or remarries.) If the survivor then goes on to remarry, they cannot leave the whole of the property to their new spouse, as a portion is already owned by the Trustees on behalf of the chosen beneficiaries. The survivor can also move house if they so wish, using the whole of the proceeds towards another property, or raise capital by purchasing a smaller property, a greater proportion of which will then be owned by the Trustees.

  • Typical Example

On first death, the Deceased’s share of the property is passed into their Trust via the Will. The surviving spouse/ 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 a half share of a house

 

PPT1

  • Benefits

Care
Holding the assets in the Trust ensures that they do not add onto the Beneficiaries’ own estates and so cannot be assessed for their Care costs.

Marriage After Death
Placing half of the family home and other assets into a Trust on first death ensures that, should the surviving spouse/partner marry in the future, those assets cannot
be taken into the marriage and removes the threat of your own children being disinherited. The survivor is still able to use the assets in the Trust.

Creditors or Bankruptcy
Similarly, if any of your Beneficiaries are subject to Creditor Claims/Bankruptcy then their inheritance would not be exposed to these claims.

Divorce
Placing the assets into Trust ensures that, if your children/ chosen Beneficiaries are subject to Divorce proceedings then what you intended them to receive is protected from any Divorce settlements.

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

Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB)
Our trusts ensure that if there are lineal descendants as beneficiaries, the trust will still qualify for the RNRB.

Remember that making a basic double Will
only guarantees what happens on 1st death

 

Without the correct planning, some or all of your children’s or grandchildren’s  inheritance could be lost. However, with a few simple strategies we can protect you and your family from needless expense and worry.

Consider the Facts…

  • Everyone should have a Will, but 2 out of 3 people have not yet made a Will and those that have, may not have the correct Will in place
  • Many of the population lose their homes and / or savings to pay for care.
  • A large proportion of any inheritance is lost in future divorce settlements, to creditors or bankruptcy and unnecessary taxation.

Peace of mind is just a phone call away! Call us today on 0161 771 2056 or enter your details below…

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

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This page contains only general planning advice and is not to be construed as advice for any specific personal planning. Each strategy recommended is based on individual circumstances.

 

MAKING PLANS TODAY FOR TOMORROW

Why risk everything you’ve worked for?

Most good chess players rely on having a strong strategy in place to increase their chances of beating their opponent and winning the tournament. In life, the same rules apply and those who take the time to plan ahead succeed. All your hard earned assets could be lost if you don’t make the time today to put some simple planning in place.

Wills – Many people put off making a Will for a variety of reasons, but the harsh truth is that you can put off making a Will until it’s too late, causing all kinds of problems for the people you leave behind and end up giving some, or all of your inheritance, to the wrong people or even the State!

Trusts – Using Trusts are an important part of any estate planning strategy and not only for the very wealthy if you want to protect your hard earned assets after you are gone, for future generations against attack from, Remarriage, Divorce, Bankruptcy, Long Term Care and Inheritance Tax.

Lasting Powers of Attorney – Managing your own affairs can be difficult later in life, or you could become seriously ill or even have an accident. Who would look after your financial affairs then? Who would make decisions for you regarding your medical treatment, living arrangements or care? Creating Lasting Powers of Attorney in advance, ensures that if the worst were to happen both your financial affairs and personal welfare are in safe hands.

Funeral Plans – Free your loved ones from the financial and emotional burdens of paying for and organising your Funeral after you are gone. Act now to ensure that your wishes are carried out exactly as you would want, and also freeze the cost of your funeral at todays prices.

Probate – Many people choose relatives or close friends as their Executors but this can be a difficult and time consuming job, at a time when they may not feel up to the task. Appointing a professional Executor in your Will ensures that your estate is dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible. Fixed costs at the outset, along with a dedicated team of sympathetic and expert case handlers on hand ensures that the entire process is stress free.

Prepare for the game ahead with us and ensure that you and your loved ones are protected, for more information please call us on 0161 771 2056 or email us at help@FinanceNorthEPS.co.uk, or simply enter your details below and one of our consultants will contact you.

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

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Making Sense of Wills – The Jargon

When it comes to sorting out a Will, there’s an awful lot of jargon to try to make sense of. Here are some of the most common terms you’ll come across, and what they really mean.

  • Assets: These are the valuable items you own and cover your possessions, property, cash, etc.
  • Attestation: This is the signing and witnessing of a will.
  • Beneficiary: This is a person or organisation to whom you leave something in your Will.
  • Bequest: This is the term for a gift that you have left to someone in your Will. There are several different kinds, for example a specific bequest is a particular named item, such as a piece of furniture or jewellery.
  • Capital Gains Tax: Changing a solely owned property to Tenantsin Common is a transfer of equity from the sole owner. Technically they are gifting an asset which could give rise to Capital Gains Tax (CGT). However their is a releif against CGT if the property is the main residence. Additionally CGT is not applicable for transfers between spouses.
  • Codicil: This is a document that can be used to change a Will which has already been written.
  • Crown: This is essentially the Government and it is where your money will go if you die without writing a Will.
  • Estate: This is the total of your assets minus the value of any liabilities you owe.
  • Executor: When you write a Will, you need to name an executor. This is the person who is responsible for ensuring your wishes are carried out.
  • Family Interest in Possession Trust: This is for a married couple with an estate value in excess of two “Nil Rate Bands” and benefits from “Spousal Exemption”.
  • Family Probate Preservation Plus Trust: This is used where you wish to pass all or part of your main residence to be controlled and managed by Trustees whilst you are still alive. This requires a Conveyance transferring the asset to the Trustees.
  • Family Probate Trust: This is a discretionary trust with the main feature being that the Settlor can also be a potential beneficiary.
  • Family Trust: To protect the inheritance from various threats rather than the Will directing the assets absolutely to the beneficiaries it is best to direct these assets via a Family Trust. this is a Discretionary Trust where the Trustees decide who and by how much the beneficiaries benefit.
  • Guardian: A person who is responsible for children until they reach the age of 18.
  • Inheritance Tax: This is a tax which is paid on the portion of your estate which is above the nil-rate threshold. Currently, this stands at £325,000 for individuals, though you can now pass on a further £100,000 (rising to £175,000 by 2020) if you are leaving your primary residence to family.
  • Intestate: This is when someone dies without leaving a Will.
  • Legacy: This is another word for a gift or bequest left in your Will.
  • Mirror Will: As a couple it is very common that the content of each individual’s Will mirrors the other.
  • Probate: This proves the Will is valid and gives the executor the authority to administer the estate.
  • Residue: This is the word for what is left of your estate after debts, taxes and certain bequests have been handed out to beneficiaries.
  • Severance of Tenancy: Most couples own their property as “Joint Tenants” which means that on death of one of them, the property passes to the survivor automatically. It will not pass according to your Will. This is similar to how most joint bank accounts and other jointly owned assets are held. By severing the tenancy of a joint property, it is declared that the owners in fact each own a proportion of the property which their wills can direct accordingly on their death. The ownership of the property when this is done is called “Tenants in Common”.
  • Testator: This is the name for the person who has made a Will
  • Trust: You can set up a trust to administer some of your assets after you die.
  • Trustees: These are the people that manage a trust.
  • Witness: A Will must be signed in the presence of two witnesses, who also need to sign the Will.

If you need to speak to a qualified professional about writing a Will or if you have a Will already and not sure if it’s achieving what you need it to, please contact Finance North Estate Planning Services today, on 01782 963 303 or email help@FinanceNorthEPS.co.uk.

Finance North Estate Planning Services
Offices in Cheshire and Staffordshsire
Home Visits Available Day Time and Evening

3 Mistakes That Make A Will Invalid

Writing a Will is an extremely important thing to do, as it gives you certainty over exactly what happens with your assets after you pass away. It’s also just as crucial that the Will you write is valid – otherwise your wishes will not be carried out.

What are the common mistakes that you must avoid in order to make a valid Will?

  • Signing the Will

It is a requirement that you sign your Will and this has to be done in front of witnesses. You can even get someone to sign the Will on your behalf, so long as you are in the room and it’s signed at your direction. This applies for people who are blind, illiterate or who may be too unwell to sign the Will themselves. If the Will is signed on your behalf, then it must contain a clause clarifying that you understood the contents before you signed.

If you have a serious illness or have been diagnosed with dementia, then you need to have ‘testamentary capacity’ – essentially, the mental capacity to make a Will. For this you will need a medical practitioner’s statement at the time the Will is signed.

  • Witnesses must be present

A Will also needs to be signed by two witnesses who need to be present when you sign the document.

They cannot sign the Will at a later date, or else the Will may be invalid.

  • Witnesses cannot be beneficiaries

The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries of the Will – nor can their spouse or civil partner. If anything is left to the witnesses, they will lose entitlement to whatever you had planned to leave them.

The executor of the Will can be a witness, so long as they are not also a beneficiary.

Here at Finance North Estate Planning Services we have drafted many many Wills, and are very knowledgably on how to avoid the common pitfalls. If you’re interested in writing a Will or are looking to update your current one, speak to the team on 01782 963 303 or email help@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