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An estimated 850,000 people have dementia in the UK according to the Alzheimer’s Society. Brain injuries or mental health problems can also affect the ability of someone making their own decisions with 17,000 younger people in the UK with dementia. By 2021 there will be over 1 million people with dementia.

It is important to put the right arrangements in place early, so that if it ever happens, we can rest assured that someone who we trust and who cares for us can make those important decisions on our behalf.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney allows an individual to appoint a person of their choice (the attorney) to look after their affairs at a time when they are no longer able to make decisions and be able to manage their affairs themselves.

There are two types of lasting power of attorney that can be created:

For Property and Affairs: – this will give the attorney the ability to make decisions on behalf of the person seeking help ( donor) concerning the payment of bills, liaising with banks and dealing with pensions, benefits and also the selling of property.

For Health and Welfare: – the attorney can make decisions on where to live day to day care which may include diet and what to wear. The attorney can also make key decisions on whether to accept or refuse life-sustaining treatment.

Why do I need one?

In the event that someone suffers from an injury, have a serious accident or be at a stage in life when their mental ability has been affected, without a lasting power of attorney in place, a relative or someone close would have to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order.

This is a very lengthy and costly process with the applicant having to provide very personal information about them, their family; their finances and their relationship with the person that they now wish to look after. The whole process can take from 12 weeks to 10 months. This may have quite an adverse effect on the finances of the person who is seeking help for a power of attorney UK. The number of people with dementia seems to vary depending where in the country they live. There is a very useful map on the Alzheimer’s website to show that certain areas do have a high concentration of sufferers. Applications for power of attorney London seems to be fewer than other counties.

At SCL Wills and Probate we understand the difficulties in dealing with the issues of mental capacity and have a committed team in place to advise our clients and to help applying for power of attorney with the Office of the Public Guardian and the Court of Protection.

Call 0203 004 8289 or contact us on info@sclwillsandprobate.co.uk for a consultation. We have offices in London Temple, Potters Bar Hertfordshire and Bedford and Luton.

Under David Cameron’s government, the Conservatives had pledge to increase the inheritance tax threshold to £1 million. But rather than a straightforward increase of the current nil rate band from £325,000 to say half a million per person, HMRC seems to have chosen a rather convoluted way of doing this as can be seen in the Finance (No.2) Act 2015. We now have in existence:

 

  • The Nil Rate Band
  • The Transferable Nil Rate Band
  • The Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB)
  • The Downsizing Allowance under Finance Bill 2016

The general idea is to provide an additional tax saving on inheritance tax for deaths that occur on or after 6th April 2017 where there is a residence in the deceased estate being left to one or more lineal descendants.

The relief is being brought in tranches by HMRC, as of April 2017 we are allowed an extra £100,000 tax free allowance under RNRB. This figure will increase by £25,000 per year until 2020 when it will hit the total amount of £175,000.

What are the criteria for claiming this relief?

 

  • There is a taper threshold that is applied before you can claim this relief. This threshold is set at £2 million for the tax years 2017 to 2021 and will increase in line with Consumer Prices Index thereafter. This means that if your estate is over £2million, you will not receive the full relief and the amount available will start to decrease by £1 for every £2 that your estate is over the £2million threshold.
  • This figure of £2million is the gross estate i.e. before any debts or exemptions have been applied and for properties and business owners living in the London area and the Home Counties, this threshold can easily be exceeded.
  • To qualify for the RNRB the estate must include a residential property before death or if there is more than one, the personal representative must choose which property to apply the relief to as it is limited to one property only. However, the deceased must have lived in the property at some stage in their lives and not necessarily be living in that property at the date of death.
  • The category of individuals who must inherit this property or as termed in the act “lineal descendants” is extremely wide. They include: children, grandchildren, and stepchildren adopted children, foster children, children where the deceased was a guardian or special guardian. The class extends further to include the spouse or civil partner of a lineal descendant as at the date of death of the deceased.
  • The Downsizing provision will mean that a deceased’s estate will still benefit the RNRB where; a previous residence was sold on or after 8th July 2015 and a cheaper property was acquired in its place. Or a previous residence was sold on or after 8th July 2015 and no residence was purchased by the deceased between then and the date of his/her death.

It is clear that this is a very complicated piece of legislation that has come into force and as such great care needs to go into the planning of an estate both in wills and moreover, have flexible provisions to adjust potential problems that may occur. Please speak to a wills and probate solicitor whether in London or the Home Counties to ensure that you receive the right advice.

Points to consider:

  • This is not an automatic relief and it has to be claimed by the personal representatives having met all criteria.
  • If the first spouse to die had assets over the £2million threshold then relief that can be applied to the second estate will start to be reduced (tapered).
  • This is very much geared up to married couples/civil partners. As unmarried couple will lose out on the ability to transfer any unused RNRB from the first to die’s RNRB similar to the rules governing the Transferable Nil Rate Band.
  • Siblings or nieces and nephews are not included as the “lineal descendants” and thus cannot claim this relief if they have inherited the deceased’s property.

Clearly, in light of the changes, this is an important time to review your wills to ensure that the provisions still fulfil your wishes and that you have maximised the allowances to benefit to your loved ones.

If you would like further information or a review of your current will please contact us on 0203 004 8269 or info@sclwillaandprobate.co.uk and one of our solicitors will be happy to help. We have Office facilities in London Temple , Potters Bar Hertfordshire, Luton and Bedford.

Please note that the above article reflects information only and should not be seen as constituting advice. SCL Wills and Probate will be happy to discuss any of the legal aspects of the RNRB but financial matters will require the advice of a professional, authorised and regulated independent financial adviser.

After the death of a loved one, the process of having to sort out the finances only increases stress levels at a difficult time. At SCL Wills and Probate, our wills and probate solicitors efficiently handles the probate process for you. We offer probate services for estates of all sizes with services that are tailor made for your specific needs, whether there is a will or not.

Our Probate Services

Every situation and estate is unique. The probate process varies depending on the size of the estate and if there is a will. Our probate lawyers in London offer probate services for applying for a Grant of Probate when there is a will or a Grant of Letters of Administration when there is no will. Our other services include assisting families in dealing with inheritance tax issues, Deed of Variation, and many other issues that may arise during the probate process.

Our wills and probate solicitors offer legal services to assist the executor of a will. If you are the executor, we can provide advice and guidance for inheritance taxes, distributing property on behalf of the deceased, and handling any applications and paperwork that may be required. We can explain the steps that must be taken and forms that must be submitted during the probate process.

We have provided probate services for everything from simple to complex estates where businesses or overseas properties are owned, estates are left to minors, and situations when the wishes of the deceased are not clear. Our solicitors are knowledgeable about laws regarding inheritance taxes and probate to ensure that all legal requirements are met.

Inheritance tax issues must be handled before you can apply for probate. You will need to complete an application and the appropriate inheritance tax form, depending on the size of the estate. When the deceased’s estate is valued at more than £325,000, inheritance tax will need to be paid on the estate prior to the Grant of Probate being approved.

You can either value the estate on your own or have a solicitor help you. In order to provide an accurate valuation of the estate, you will need to gather information about all property, investments, savings, and other possessions owned by the deceased. It is essential that you provide an accurate valuation or you may have to pay a penalty.

How Long Does Probate Take?

This is a commonly asked question at the beginning of the probate process. Normally, the grant of probate is received in about six weeks from the time of the application. For complex estates, it can take longer to apply for the Grant of Probate and receive approval. At this time, the executor will need to execute the will, which is the process of distributing the deceased’s assets to the intended recipients.

The entire probate process can take from six to nine months to complete, depending on the complexity of the estate and number and type of assets left by the deceased. Very complex estates can take even longer. We encourage you to browse through our website to learn more about our will and probate services and contact us for additional information.

During the probate process, you have the option of either applying for a Grant of Probate, also known as a Grant of Representation or using a solicitor or another person licensed to provide probate services. At SCL Wills and Probate, our wills and probate solicitors offer this service to clients in the London area and also in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire.

If you choose to apply for a grant of probate, there are a few steps that must be followed. You will need to complete a probate application form, inheritance tax form, send in your application, and swear an oath. You can either complete the application form on your own or get help from the Probate and Inheritance Tax helpline for filling out the form.

The Inheritance Tax form must be filled out with information about how much the estate is worth. The value of the estate must be worked out to determine if there is inheritance tax that must be paid on the estate. The value of the estate includes all property, investments, possessions, and any cash gifts that were made within seven years prior to the date of death.

You need to fill in the form for all estates, even if you think no tax will be owed. Be aware that sending inaccurate information on this form can result in a penalty, so make sure the information on the form is accurate. There is an inheritance tax threshold of £325,000 and taxes must be paid on estates valued at this amount or higher. There are two separate forms for estates below or above the threshold, so make sure you are using the correct form.

To ensure the information provided on the form is accurate, you will need to establish the assets and debts of the deceased. Depending on the number of properties, investments, and possessions, this can be complicated. When the estate includes property, it will need to be valued. You may be able to do this on your own, but a written valuation of the estate may be needed if the figure you provide is challenged.

What to Include with the Application

When the application is complete, you will need to send it to the local Probate Registry with a cheque for £215 for all estates valued at £5,000 or more. In addition, you must include the Inheritance Tax form, the original will and three copies, and an official copy of the death certificate. The original will is needed to show that you are authorized to act as the executor of the estate.

Once the probate office receives your application, you will be sent an oath and information about how to arrange an appointment at your local probate office or a commissioner for oaths. This oath promises that you have provided information that is true to the best of your knowledge. You may use your own probate solicitor for probate services.

Prior to HMRC accepting the valuation of the estate and granting probate, any inheritance tax that is due must be paid in advance. This can be done from the bank account of the deceased, when possible, a direct payment, or an installment plan. The probate process can be confusing, so it is a good idea to seek the advice of a wills and probate solicitor. Our probate lawyers in London and surrounding areas have helped many families and have the knowledge and experience to help you through the process.

Can a will be changed after death? This is a common question for our wills and probate solicitors in London. A Deed of Variation after probate is used when beneficiaries wish to make changes to entitlements under a will. Every situation is unique, but the process should be completed within two years of the date of death. Our wills and probate solicitors in London can provide legal advice that is specific to your situation.

Reasons for a Deed of Variation

A Deed of Variation allows a beneficiarcy to redirect his or her gift in a will to benefit another person. This is most commonly used for tax savings purposes. For example, it can prevent tax from being levied twice. If a beneficiary dies and then leaves their gift to another person, it will be subject to another inheritance tax. When the gift is redirected, the second tax is avoided.

There are reasons for filing a Deed of Variation, other than taxes. These include altering the interests under a will to benefit a person who was omitted from the original will, not given adequate provisions under the original will, or to redirect an entitlement to a child or a charity. It can also be used to amend a defect in a will or resolve any uncertainty that may exist with a will or alter the intestacy rules

Alterations made using a Deed of Variation are treated as though the changes were made by the deceased, rather than the beneficiary giving up his or her entitlement. The consent of everyone affected by the change must be given in order to use this method to change entitlements under a will. A beneficiary must be of legal age to sign the deed in order to use a Deed of Variation. When the beneficiary is a child, the consent of the court is needed to make the change.

The Legal Process

In order to use this method to change an entitlement to a preferable tax position, the Deed of Variation must meet certain conditions. It must be completed within two years of the date of death. There can be no inducements, such as cash payments given to a beneficiary, the proper tax declarations must be listed in the deed, and the destination of an asset cannot be varied more than once.

In order for the Deed of Variation to be valid, it must be signed by all beneficiaries and executors. The variation must clearly indicate all inheritance that is being varied and how they will be altered. There are other requirements for variations that are made for specific purposes. It is a good idea to get the advice of a lawyer to ensure that the Deed of Variation meets all legal requirements.

When the variation alters the recipient of stocks, shares, or marketable securities, it must contain a Stamp Duty exemption certificate. For variations that are being done for inheritance or capital gains purposes, a statement must be included that it is intended to take effect for tax purposes. When the variation changes the inheritance tax, a copy of the variation must be sent to HM Revenue & Customs. Our solicitors can advise you of all legal requirements for a Deed of Variation and prepare all necessary paperwork for you.

A will allows you to convey your wishes and ensure that your possessions are left to your intended beneficiaries. There are certain times in life and changes in situation that necessitate making or altering a will. A change in marital status is one of those times. SCL Wills and Probate offers drafting service for wills for married couples.

People often put off writing a will because they think the process will be time consuming, expensive, or because they think they are too young to worry about having a will. The process is easier and less expensive than you may realise. We offer services for drafting wills for couples at a competitive fixed price, so you shouldn’t worry about the cost.

Legal Advice for Creating Your Will

The law is frequently changing with regards to inheritance and the taxation of estates, so it is important to have your will drafted by a qualified solicitor. At SCL Wills and Probate, all work is completed by solicitors for wills and probate services that are tailor made to suit your needs and meet all current legal requirements.

When writing a will, there are tax planning methods that can be used for asset protection. For married couples, leaving everything to a spouse allows them to avoid paying inheritance tax. Our solicitors can advise you about how taxes can impact your beneficiaries and make sure to put provisions in place to make the will tax efficient and safeguard your assets for your beneficiaries.

We have wills and probate solicitors in London and the home counties to provide helpful professional advice and guide you through the process of making a will. Our solicitors will answer your questions, advise you about changes in the law, and explain the best methods to ensure that your wishes are accurately conveyed and safeguard your assets.

In addition to drafting new wills and mirror wills for couples, we offer wills review and updating service. If you have a will that was drafted before marriage or during a prior marriage, it will be no longer valid on a subsequent marriage so it should be altered to reflect your new situation and make certain that the people currently in your life receive the inheritance you intend for them. When a couple has children, the wills should again be updated to name a guardian and provide for the children.

You may be surprised at the ease of the process of writing a will. You state your wishes in a questionnaire or during an interview also you may wish to include your funeral wishes, guardianship provisions for your children, and how you intend for your possessions to be distributed to your beneficiaries. Our solicitors use this information to create a new will for you and your spouse in just a few days.

After the will is created, you will need to sign it in front of witnesses to ensure that it is legally binding. You can read more about how to make a will in the UK on our website and contact us to get started on your new will. It is important that a will is stored in a safe place to make sure that your wishes and instructions are conveyed to your loved ones. We offer secure will storage service for our clients.