Inheritance tax, Lasting Power of Attorney, Uncategorized, Wills

Getting your house in order for the future – whatever that brings

When you die, you’re dead and you’ve got nothing to worry about (unless you believe in heaven and hell) – right? Either way, what about the people or organisations you want to benefit from your estate? Whether you believe in life after death or not, it is better to get organised now. This will be a weight off your mind because you know that after you die, the people who matter to you won’t miss out or find themselves in a complicated situation that you could have saved them from. It can also reassure your significant others if they know they will be doing what you would have wanted, and it can help avoid disagreements and claims against your estate after you’re gone.

And never mind dying, what if you become mentally incapable and can’t deal with your own affairs? Who will sort things out for you then?

So here are some top tips to get your affairs straight for starters:

  • Review and update your Will regularly to ensure changing family needs will be appropriately dealt with on your death.

 

  • Make a Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs to ensure your assets can be managed without delay in the event of a loss of mental capacity (or if you are physically unable to manage) and encourage other family members to do the same.

 

  • Make a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare so your attorneys can advise doctors on resuscitation and life sustaining treatment, and health and social care professionals on how you want to be cared for.

 

  • Make the most of available lifetime giving allowances to help your family and friends, and minimise inheritance tax on your death.

 

  • Check the title deeds of your home and other properties you own and deal with any irregularities in ownership.

 

  • Prepare a detailed list of personal belongings and put in writing who you want to receive them on your death to prevent arguments.

 

  • Keep a private note of any passwords and usernames required for managing your assets online with your Will and Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs.

 

For more advice on any of these courses of action, the Morrish Elderly Client team are here to help.

Call Kiranjeet or Christina at our Pudsey office on 0333 3449606.

Call Monika or Tom at our Yeadon office on 0333 3449609.

 

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Uncategorized

What is the Court of Protection?

The Court of Protection (CoP) appoints people to make decisions for those who lack capacity to make decisions for themselves and resolves disputes about decisions for such people.

If the person who lacks capacity has not made a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) or an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) and they have lost capacity, it is likely that someone will need to apply to the CoP to be appointed as Deputy for that person.

The CoP is responsible for:

  • deciding whether someone has the mental capacity to make a particular decision for themselves
  • appointing deputies to make ongoing decisions for people who lack mental capacity
  • giving people permission to make one-off decisions on behalf of someone else who lacks mental capacity
  • handling urgent or emergency applications where a decision must be made on behalf of someone else without delay
  • making decisions about a lasting power of attorney or enduring power of attorney and considering any objections to their registration
  • considering applications to make statutory wills or gifts
  • making decisions about when someone can be deprived of their liberty under the Mental Capacity Act

Who can apply to be a Deputy?

You can apply to be a deputy if you’re 18 or over. Deputies are usually close relatives or friends of the person who needs help making decisions.

If you want to become a property and affairs deputy, you need to have the skills to make financial decisions for someone else.

The court can appoint 2 or more deputies for the same person.

The court will tell you how to make decisions if you’re not the only deputy. It will be either:

  • Jointly, which means all the deputies have to agree on the decision
  • Jointly and Severally, which means deputies can make decisions on their own or with other deputies

How to apply to become Deputy

You will need to complete an application form together with supplementary forms to apply to become deputy. As part of the process you must also tell family members/friends of the person who lacks capacity that you are applying to the CoP.

You will also have to tell the person you’re applying to be a deputy for.

Fees

You must pay a fee to apply to be a deputy.

You must also pay:

  • a supervision fee every year after you’ve been appointed
  • a ‘security bond’ – if you’re appointed as a property and affairs deputy

When you apply you must pay a £400 application fee. You need to pay the application fee twice if you’re applying to become both types of deputy.

When you have been appointed as deputy, you must pay an annual supervision fee depending on what level of supervision your deputyship needs.

The Office of the Public Guardian will tell you how and when to pay your assessment and supervision fees.

You can apply for an exemption or reduction of the fee if the person you’re a deputy for gets certain benefits or has an income below £12,000.

When you have applied

The Court of Protection will review your application and make a decision after you have told the other people involved that you have applied – provided your application was complete and no one objected.

You’ll be sent a ‘court order’ telling you what you can and can’t do as a deputy. You can start acting on behalf of the person:

  • as soon as you’re appointed – if you’re a personal welfare deputy
  • when you pay a security bond – if you’re a property and affairs deputy

What can we do to help?

Applying to the Court of Protection to become a deputy for somebody can be a very daunting process. The Private Client team at Morrish Solicitors can help by applying to the Court of Protection on your behalf.

If you require any further information in relation to the above, or if you need some assistance with the process, please do get in touch by calling 033 3344 9606 or email info@morrishsolicitors.com.

Uncategorized

Planning for your Digital Assets/Estate

What are digital assets?

Digital assets include e-mail accounts, online banking, online investments, social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter etc.), online purchasing/selling accounts (e-Bay, Amazon etc.), data stored on Pc’s, tablets, laptops, mobile phones  and blogs just to name a few.

Digital assets tend to have little value but some may have significant value or sentimental value.

What would happen to these assets when we die?

Much of the information stored on computers, hard drives and online accounts are user name and password protected. Unless prior arrangements are made, family members or your Executors/Administrators may not be able to access these which leave the information unobtainable.

Practical steps to put in place

Planning for your digital estate is similar to planning for other assets.

  • You need to make create a comprehensive inventory of your digital assets. Make a list of your user names, passwords and security questions for each digital asset.
  • Make a Will – your Executors are empowered by the Court to administer and realise all assets including your digital assets.
  • Safely store these details with your Will or in a safe place so that your Executors have access to this information on your death.
  • Maintain and update the information on a regular basis.
  • Provide instructions for what you want to happen to your digital assets i.e. if you want it to continue, someone to take it over or should it be closed down.

Don’t Delay

It may take some time for you to get the relevant information together. If you don’t do this, your family will not know where to start and could miss something valuable. The more you do now to put things in order, the easier it will be for your family on your death.

Inheritance tax, Uncategorized

Residence Nil Rate Bands

It seems that Residence Nil Rate Bands are here to stay.  Complicated as they are, they provide for an increase in the Nil Rate Band against Inheritance Tax (IHT) for people who have had a property in which they have resided and who leave it to their “direct descendants”.

Putting it simply, the Nil Rate Band is a tax free amount that is available to all individuals before IHT is calculated.  The current Nil Rate Band is £325,000, and after that IHT is charged at 40% of the estate above that figure (subject to various reliefs and exemptions).  The main exemption is when an estate is left to a spouse and the spouse’s inheritance is free of IHT.

The Nil Rate Band is increased by the “Residence Nil Rate Band” (RNRB) in cases where the person dies leaving a property in which they have lived and the property passes to “direct descendants”.

It is not necessary that the deceased was living in the property at the date of death.  There are transitional provisions for properties sold by the deceased after July 2015 and before death.

The definition of “direct descendants” is quite wide, and specifically includes step children.  However, the RNRB is not available to individuals who leave their estate to nephews and nieces, for example.

The RNRB is currently £100,000 for deaths on or after 6th April 2017.  This is going to rise to £175,000 for deaths on or after 6th April 2020.

What does this mean for a “typical” couple who have a house and are leaving their estate to the children of either or both of them? 

The Nil Rate Band is £325,000 per person.

The additional RNRB is now an extra £100,000 increasing to £175,000.

Hence effectively each individual could then achieve a £500,000 threshold before IHT is payable.

Due to the availability of transferable Nil Rate Bands (which have been around since 2007) then it is quite possible that between a couple who are married or in a civil partnership (or for the survivor of such a union) the IHT threshold will be £1,000,000.

In a complicated way (and biased towards individuals with “children” – in the widest possible definition of the word) the IHT threshold has increased quite significantly.  The legislation is, however, quite complex and is worth looking at closely when dealing with the estate of someone whose estate may or may not be liable for IHT.

Specialist advice can be obtained from Tom Morrish at Morrish Solicitors, telephone 033 3344 9609, email tom.morrish@morrishsolicitors.com.

Lasting Power of Attorney, Power of Attorney, Uncategorized

Lasting Powers of Attorney – helpful or not?

Denzil Lush, former Senior Judge of the Court of Protection, warned the public recently that he believed Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) may leave elderly people open to abuse.

An LPA is a powerful legal document that allows a person to appoint trusted individuals to make important decisions about care and finances on their behalf, in the event of a loss of mental capacity through an accident or illness such as dementia.

In the foreword to a new book on the subject, Mr Lush raised concerns about the “lack of transparency” in how appointed attorneys manage older people’s finances.

However, we in the Morrish Solicitors elderly client team, think LPAs are effective safeguards when created responsibly and national organisation Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) agrees:

“Senior Judge Lush’s comments have given rise to fears that LPAs are a direct avenue for financial abuse. However, his comments must be put into context, as his 20-year career at the Court of Protection will have presented him with the very worst cases of financial abuse.

“An LPA can be a positive and effective legal tool, which ensures your wishes are respected should you ever lose capacity. Senior Judge Lush’s comments should highlight the clear need for professional advice when considering powerful legal documents of this nature.”

Top tips on drafting a lasting power of attorney

SFE is an independent, national organisation of over 1,500 lawyers, such as solicitors, barristers and chartered legal executives, who provide specialist legal advice for older and vulnerable people, their families and carers. SFE has been campaigning to ensure essential checks and controls are conducted when making an LPA. Here are their top tips to ensure your LPA is effective, legally robust and safe:

Plan early – While you have capacity, it’s vital that you get your affairs in order and choose the best people to manage your affairs, in case of an accident or illness. You can’t appoint an attorney once you lose capacity.

Choose carefully – Think carefully who you want to appoint as your attorney and have an open conversation with them so they understand your wishes and what their responsibilities will include. Consider appointing more than one person as your attorney so they can share the responsibility.

Consider appointing a professional – A family member might not always be the best person to act as your attorney. Instead, you can appoint a professional such as a solicitor. They can act as a neutral third party and make unbiased decisions that are in your best interests. Bear in mind this usually involves a cost.

Think about different circumstances – Consider how you would like your attorney to manage your property and financial affairs in different situations. For example, are you happy for your property to be sold to pay for your care costs?

Address the difficult questions – Your attorney might have to make difficult decisions about your health and welfare. If you have specific wishes around your care plans, medical treatment, or end of life wishes, make sure you discuss this with them and make your choices clear in your document.

Seek professional advice – Shop-bought and online LPA kits may be suitable for those with very straightforward financial situations or with considerable legal experience, but for most people, seeking professional legal advice is the best way of ensuring that an LPA is what they want.

Keep your plans current – Make sure you keep your LPA updated if your circumstances change. Your choices around the people you want to be responsible for your finances and wellbeing may change, such as following a marriage or divorce, when children reach adulthood, or if parents pass away.

Tom Morrish and Monika Volsing of the elderly client team here at Morrish are both fully accredited members of Solicitors for the Elderly. They and their colleagues would be happy to discuss LPAs with you – contact us on 0333 3449609.

Lasting Power of Attorney, Uncategorized

The Importance of Instructing a Solicitor or Professional when Preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a powerful and important legal document.  By making a Lasting Power of Attorney you are setting up an arrangement which will potentially give someone authority to deal with everything you own and your personal care at a time when you will be at your most vulnerable.

The benefits of using a solicitor/professional are as follows:

  1. A dedicated professional whose expertise are those of drafting Lasting Powers of Attorney. They will look after you throughout the whole process.
  1. They will prepare all documentation for you and explain all options that can be taken.
  1. They will deal with the registration process with the Office of the Public Guardian.
  1. They will agree a fixed price up front with no hidden charges.
  1. They will act as your certificate provider so that no third party is required.

There are many errors that can be made when preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney but by using a solicitor/professional who specialises in Lasting Powers of Attorney, these errors are less likely to occur.

Some common errors are:

  1. When appointing more than one Attorney and you appoint those Attorneys jointly, if one Attorney predeceases the Donor or is unable to act for any reason, then the other Attorney cannot act alone. Therefore, the Lasting Power of Attorney becomes void.  This would result in a new Lasting Power of Attorney having to be made.
  1. There is a strict order of signing the Lasting Power of Attorney which must be maintained. First must be part A, then part B and finally part C.  If these are signed and dated in the incorrect order the Lasting Power of Attorney would be rejected at registration with the Office of the Public Guardian.
  1. Any mistakes made on the Lasting Power of Attorney must be crossed through, written again and initialled by the person completing that particular section and witnesses if appropriate. If the mistakes are not initialled again, the Lasting Power of Attorney could again be rejected at registration.

These errors are just to name a few but there are many more that could cause a Lasting Power of Attorney to be rejected when registering.

In some cases, the Donor may require use of the Lasting Power of Attorney quite urgently.  Registration is currently taking 2-3 months, however, if the Lasting Powers of Attorney is rejected at registration this can hold things up considerably.

Therefore, it is beneficial to instruct a Solicitor/Professional to prepare a Lasting Power of Attorney. Please contact our Elderly Client Department for more information on:

Pudsey – 0033 3344 9606

Yeadon – 033 3344 9609

or email info@morrishsolicitors.com

 

Inherit, Inheritance tax, Uncategorized

No Inheritance Tax on estates worth up to £1 million? Not quite!

George Osborne announced the introduction of an additional Inheritance Tax (IHT) Nil Rate Band (NRB) for a person’s main residence in the Summer 2015 Budget. This was good news for with wealth tied up in their family home. The existing NRB of £325,000 per person or £650,000 per couple, on which 40% IHT is not paid, will remain the same. But from 2017/18, an additional Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) of £100,000 per person will be introduced, which will increase to: £125,000 in 2018/19; £150,000 in 2019/20; and £175,000 in 2020/21. In 2020/21, this means a house worth £1 million could be passed on tax free. But tax planning is still important, as there are a number of drawbacks you have to avoid in order to make sure you are eligible for the full amount.

Drawback 1 = you need to be married

Spouses* can inherit their other half’s share of an estate tax free so the NRB does not need to be used up. This means the deceased’s £325,000 NRB can transfer to the survivor, who will then have an IHT allowance of £650,000 when they die. The RNRB can also be passed on to the survivor so in 2020/21, this will equal £1 million. Unmarried couples do not have the right to pass on NRBs to each other.

Drawback 2 = only your children can benefit

Spouses who do not have children will miss out on the RNRB. The property must be passed to lineal descendants, such as children (including adopted/foster/stepchildren, children under a guardianship, and their direct descendants) and grandchildren, but not nieces and nephews.

Drawback 3 = the £1 million allowance does not apply now

The allowance will be phased in over the next five years so the £1 million will actually only apply in 2020/21.Drawback 4 = keep your wealth in your home

If you have a large investment portfolio and no house, you cannot benefit from the additional allowance, only the £325,000 NRB. But if your total estate is over £2 million, the RNRB will be tapered away. An estate with a net value of more than £2 million will see the band withdrawn at a rate of £1 for every £2 over the threshold.

Other points to consider

Trusts

The RNRB may be lost where, for example, the property is placed into a discretionary Will trust for the benefit of the children or grandchildren.

Downsizing

The family home does not need to be owned at death to qualify. This helps those who may have downsized or sold their property to move into residential care or a relative’s home. The RNRB will still be available provided that:

  • The property disposed of was owned by the individual and it would have qualified for the RNRB had they retained it;
  • The replacement property and/or assets form part of the estate and pass to descendants;
  • Downsizing or disposal of the property has to take place after 8 July 2015. But there is no time limit on the period between disposal and death.

Multiple residences

Only one residential property will qualify. It will be down to the personal representatives of the estate to nominate which one should qualify if there is more than one. A property which was never the deceased’s residence, e.g. a buy-to-let, cannot be nominated.

*For ease, spouse will refer to civil partner as well.