Wills Probate and Estate Planning

How the social care changes can affect your Will

There is lots of noise in the press at the moment about social care fees and whether a cap will be introduced.  The current information we have is that from September 2023 no one in England would pay more than £86,000 in care fees during their lifetime.

Until we know more details there is no guarantee this will be exactly the situation.  Previously only some types of care were covered by the cap and others remained the same.

If this issue is on your mind, I think it’s important to do two things:

 

  1. Take the opportunity to review your Will.

We often discuss worries and concerns with clients about care home fees.  There may be something that can be done to give you peace of mind and reduce the impact on you if you need care.

We offer free Will reviews, and our clients report that they find the reviews informative and helpful raising issues they had not given much thought to previously.

A Will made with a qualified Solicitor is not necessarily as expensive as you may think.

The service includes:

  • Personal attention from a qualified Solicitor who will apply their knowledge to your individual circumstances and often ask you to consider things you have never thought of.
  • Drafting of the Will to meet your needs and an explanation of any relevant legal issues
  • Ensuring the Will is Executed in accordance with the law. Executed basically making sure that the Will is drafted and signed correctly so that when it is needed for Probate it can be presented effectively.
  • Storage – we store your Will for free and provide copies as required.
  • In addition, like all Solicitors firms we are insured and therefore you are protected by our Professional Indemnity Insurance policy.

Don’t leave it too late. We would strongly recommend ensuring you write a Will to provide for what happens after you’ve gone.

 

  1. Get your Lasting Powers of Attorney in place.

If you lose the ability to manage your own finances, then a Lasting Power of attorney allows you to select in advance the person who will help you manage these things.

Whatever the situation you want to have some who is able to access your money safely and use it for your benefit.  You need them to be diligent, rigorous and tenacious about ensuring you get the best care when you need it funded in the right way.

Whether this is a family member or a professional it doesn’t really matter as long as someone is on your side and rooting for you.

 

We are always here to help so please call Philippa, Grace, Luke or Philip on 0161 928 3848 or email mch@mchaleandco.co.uk.

 

Lockdown baby – make a Will!

With the abundance of tasks and responsibilities that come with being a new parent, creating a Will is often the last thing on your mind. Yet, it is one of the most important things you can do to be sure of your child’s care and protection if the unthinkable happens.

A Will ensures that your wishes for your family and assets are carried out upon your death. Without a Will, inheritance laws determine who is entitled to what.

We understand that parents know what’s best for their children’s individual needs in the future, both financially and for their upbringing. Therefore, by writing a Will, you have the best possible chance of ensuring the care and protection of your child is fulfilled in accordance with your wishes.

Financially, a Will allows you to set out a plan for your child’s finances and gives you control on the trustees that will manage it. As we know, situations vary from person to person, and while the automatic Age of Inheritance of 18 may work for some, you may deem this too young. If so, obtaining a Will would allow you to create a higher age of access and regulate what you believe would benefit your child most. Likewise, insurance policies, pension schemes, and other assets that are held in trusts are not automatically passed down. However, a Will can demonstrate who you would want as beneficiaries providing guidance to the trustees.

Aside from the financial control Wills enable, it also asserts security over who you appoint as guardians. You know your child best, and by personally selecting guardians, you can make sure their needs and growth are taken care of appropriately and set out how you would like them to be raised.

Ultimately making a Will as a new parent is the greatest way you can guarantee the protection of your child’s development and growth. Deciphering the ins and outs of trustees, guardians, and an age of inheritance secures your children with the best chance of a bright future and will give you the peace of mind that everything is left under control.

If you would like to make a Will, we have several people that can assist you here at Mchale & Co. To get started, please call and ask for Philippa Wright on 0161 928 3838 or email mch@mchaleandco.co.uk.

Littlewoods Pools Empire and a Will Dispute

In today’s Times there is an article referring to the distribution of the Will from a member of the family who started the Littlewoods pools empire.  The dispute relates to the £40 million estate of the late Patricia Moores.

Sadly, it took a High Court judge to decide how the estate should be distributed.  The dispute was created by an ambiguous statement in the Will.

Now we may not all have £40 million but it seems as a society we are more inclined to challenge a validly executed Will if we are unhappy with the content.  It can be distressing for all parties involved when a Will is challenged not to mention, expensive and time consuming.

So what can you do to prevent this happening?

In the first instance I would strongly suggest you consult a qualified Solicitor who specialises in dealing with this area of Law.  In some circumstances there is nothing you can do to prevent a challenge taking place.  However, by discussing your individual circumstances with an experienced professional we can do everything possible to ensure that your wishes are in as legally robust format as possible.

In some circumstances we recommend that a Solicitor and a Doctor act as witnesses to your Will.  I suppose you would call it a “belt and braces” approach and it really depends on your personal circumstances as to whether this is the best way forward.

A Will made with a qualified Solicitor is not necessarily as expensive as you may think.

The service includes:

  • Personal attention from a qualified Solicitor who will apply their knowledge to your individual circumstances and often ask you to consider things you have never thought of.
  • Drafting of the Will to meet your needs and an explanation of any relevant legal issues.
  • Ensuring the Will is Executed in accordance with the law. Executed basically making sure that the Will is drafted and signed correctly so that when it is needed for Probate it can be presented effectively.
  • Storage – we store your Will for free and provide copies as required.
  • In addition, like all Solicitors firms we are insured and therefore you are protected by our Professional Indemnity Insurance policy.

Don’t leave it too late. We would strongly recommend ensuring you write a Will to provide for what happens after you’ve gone.  It may not be as expensive as you think and we will do our best to make the process as simple and easy as possible for you.

We are always here to help so please call Philippa, Luke, Grace or Philip on 0161 928 3848 or email mch@mchaleandco.co.uk.

Your pet and your Will

It’s not a surprise that the number of households which now own a pet has increased dramatically in the last 12 months. Over £2 million families welcomed an animal into their home during lockdown with over one third of adults under 35 now owning at least one pet.

Our pets are a big part of our lives and many of us see them as family, it is estimated that we spend over £4.6million on them every year in the UK.

It is therefore surprising how often we forget to make arrangements for them if anything was to happen to us. Just like our children and partners, we need to make sure our pets will be cared for if we are no longer around to do so ourselves.

Legally speaking a pet is not a person, in the eyes of the law our pets are seen as ‘chattels’ or possessions. It’s therefore not possible to name your pet as a beneficiary in your Will…they can’t be the heir to your fortune as much as you might want them to be. You can however (and should) make arrangements for them under your Will.

As with any other possession it is possible to leave your pet as a gift to a relative or friend who you know would be willing to care for them. Someone people are happy to just take on the pet but, as we know pets can be expensive, so if you do not want to place a financial burden on that person you can also leave them a sum of money to be used towards the upkeep and maintenance of your pet.

If appropriate the money can be left subject to the terms of trust so you can have a peace of mind that it will be used for your much-loved pet. You would need to name the beneficiaries, who would ultimately benefit from any remaining money after your pet had died, and your trustees who would look after the money and make decisions about its use. To be valid these types of trusts must be carefully drafted so it’s important that you seek appropriate legal advice if you want to incorporate this into your Will.

Alternatively, you can nominate a charity in your Will to take on the responsibility of re-homing your pet. You can’t of course legally compel them to take on your animal, but you can express a wish as guidance to your executors. Many charities have programmes in place to register your pet while you are alive, and your Will is a good place to make your friends and family aware of any arrangements you might have made.

You may also want to include a letter of wishes in addition to your Will, giving the person who will be caring for your pet all the information they need to know. The letter can cover important information such as vet details, microchip IDs, dietary requirements, and medical issues. It can also cover more personal details about the care you expect them to receive.

When speaking to any of our clients about Wills we make sure we ask the right questions so issues such as pets don’t get missed.

If you want to make a Will or review one you have already made, we have several people that can assist you here at McHale & Co to get started please call and ask for Philippa Wright on 0161 928 3848 or email at mch@mchaleandco.co.uk

You’re never too young to need a Will

It took me a long time after I qualified as a Solicitor to follow my own advice and put a Will in place and I’m sure I am not a minority among my fellow ‘millennials’. Meeting a client below 30 in my area of law is extremely rare. For most people the decision to write a Will is sparked by a significant life event; buying your first home, getting married or maybe having children. For my generation these events are happening later and later in life, if at all.

More and more of us are living with our parents for longer, are content cohabiting with our partners or building a family of furry ‘children’ instead of the more traditional kind – so when do we stop and think about what happens if?

If someone doesn’t leave a Will everything they own passes under the rules of intestacy – for someone who’s unmarried with no children the beneficiaries will be their living parents and for some people this might be fine. It is becoming more common these days though for families and circumstances to be more unique than they once were; what about stepparents, siblings, half siblings, partners, friends. What about them? What do they get? Most of us probably think they can trust their family to ‘do the right thing’ but if the shoe was on the other foot wouldn’t you much prefer to know with certainty what that ‘right thing’ was?

Wills don’t just deal with your money and property they can also deal with your personal belongings, your digital assets, your social media accounts, your funeral arrangements and even your pets.

The thought of contacting a Solicitor to discuss these things can be daunting and it isn’t nice to contemplate death especially your own in an unnatural order. What I can say about Will though is that it is best to just ‘get it done’, I’m sure it’ll be easier, quicker and cheaper than you expected and you’ll feel better for it.

At McHale we’re happy to discuss Wills and take instructions over the phone, by video call or face to face whichever is the most convenient for you. It’s always done for a fixed fee agreed upfront with no obligation, so if you think we can help please contact Philippa Wright on 0161 928 3848 or email at mch@mchaleandco.co.uk

Co-habiting couples – make sure you have a Will in place!

There are over six million unmarried couples cohabiting in the UK, a figure which has likely increased significantly since the onset of the pandemic. A recent research study has shown that more than one third of cohabiting couples were unsure about what rights they would have in the event that their partner passed away without leaving a will. Even more worryingly one in ten cohabiting couples wrongly believed that in that event they would be automatically entitled to inherit their partner’s share of any property that they lived in together.

With co-habiting become more common this misunderstanding could lead to a nasty surprise for many people.

When someone dies without leaving a Will their estate is dealt with in accordance with the rules of intestacy. Currently these rules do not provide for a co-habiting partner. If you are not married to your partner they will not receive anything on your death. Despite what many people believe being a ‘common law partner’ is not recognised in law and offers you no legal protection.

If you want to provide for your partner, whether by leaving them your property outright or perhaps just the right to live there for a period time while they make other arrangements, you need to make sure you have a valid Will in place. Often things are more complicated where partners are not married which can make it even more essential to ensure you receive detailed legal advice about your options.

Your Will does not only deal with your property but also your money in the bank and your personal belongings. If you and your partner have built a home together there could be upsetting disagreements with your family regarding who owns certain things in your home or who should receive your treasured items. If your partner relies on you to contribute to the household bills and mortgage then they could find themselves in difficulty if they don’t have access to your finances after your death.

If your partner receives nothing on your death they do have the right to make a claim against your estate but only if you have been co-habiting for more than two years. This can be a lengthy and expensive process though and could cause avoidable stress for your family and loved ones.

Don’t leave it too late. We would strongly recommend ensuring you write a Will to provide for what happens after you’ve gone.  It may not be as expensive as you think and we will do our best to make the process as simple and easy as possible for you.

If you want to make a Will or review one you have already made, we have several people that can assist you here at McHale & Co to get started please call and ask for Philippa Wright on 0161 928 3848 or email at mch@mchaleandco.co.uk

Digital Assets and your Will

When people think of the assets they might leave in a Will, digital assets are very often overlooked.

A recent survey by the Law Society found that of the 1,000 respondents, only a quarter knew what would happen to their ‘digital assets’ after they passed. A digital asset, by definition, is anything that exists in a digital format and comes with the right to use, therefore, consisting but not exclusive to your emails, photos, documents, and social media presence. It also includes copyright, patents, cryptocurrency platforms and PayPal accounts.

With technological advances on the rise, we are using our online spaces more than ever before, in turn leading to an ever-growing online presence that needs looking after once you’ve passed. For this reason, we urge those with wills to consider keeping a secure record of online passwords and details to pass on to the desired loved ones to access.

The legal advice to ensure your digital assets are present in your will prompts further discussion into the necessity of keeping your Will up to date. The Law society reported only 29% of those surveyed to have an up-to-date Will despite it being the only means by which you can be entirely sure of what happens to your assets once you are gone. In keeping your will up to date, you are rewarded with the peace of mind and legal assurance that your memories and documents are taken care of, helping your family reducing potential stress by thinking ahead.

If you want to make a Will or review one you have already made, we have several people that can assist you here at McHale & Co to get started please call and ask for Philippa Wright on 0161 928 3848 or email at mch@mchaleandco.co.uk.

We recommend that you think seriously about taking on the role of an executor. If in doubt get advice from a professional before you start taking on any of the responsibilities.

I’ve been appointed as an executor, what do I need to do?

 

It can be quite daunting to find out you’ve been appointed as an executor after a friend or relative dies. Perhaps they asked you when they were making the Will and you graciously accepted without really thinking about what it would entail or perhaps it comes as a surprise during a difficult time. For many of my clients it is a role they have never undertaken before and they often don’t know where to start.

 

We are always happy to offer a free no obligation appointment to executors to explain to them their role and responsibilities and how we can help. I always break down the administration of an estate into 4 stages;

 

Firstly, you need to ascertain the deceased assets and liabilities – what they owned and what they owed. This often involves trailing through paperwork and post and making enquiries to see what is still current. For each asset you need to obtain a ‘date of death’ valuation including for property and personal chattels.

 

The second stage is using the information from the first stage to apply for a grant of probate. This entails completing an Inheritance tax return to the HMRC and making a declaration to the Court that you will carry out the deceased wishes in accordance with the law. It will also involve paying any inheritance tax that might be due.

 

Once you have received the grant from the Court you can then proceed to stage 3, calling in the deceased’s assets and paying their debts. This is often the stage that takes the most time, all bank accounts have to be closed, chattels dealt with and if there is a property to be sold this will need to go on the market. There may also be income or capital gains tax for the estate to deal with. It is important that this stage is fully completed before moving on as executors have a personal liability for the deceased’s debts.

 

Finally, once all the money is in and all debts have been paid the fourth and final stage is to distribute the net estate in accordance with the Will. An executor is required to produce a set of estate accounts which should be shown to the beneficiaries so they can see how their inheritance has been calculated.

 

The role of an executor is one that should be taken very seriously, it can be daunting and time consuming but it is all about being organised and following the process step by step. If you have been appointed as an executor and would like to some guidance and assistance in dealing with the administration please contact us as we would be happy to help – it’s what we do.

 

We are always here to help so please call on 0161 928 3848 or email mch@mchaleandco.co.uk. We have face to face, video or telephone calls available respecting safe social distancing requirements.

Your Will and Inheritance Tax

With the beginning of any new tax year, it is the ideal time to review your Will, especially if you haven’t done so for a while.

As things stand, the current inheritance tax rate is 40% and if there is anything you can legitimately do to minimise your estate’s exposure to this this, ultimately reducing the taxman’s cut of your loved one’s inheritance, we’re sure you would want to take appropriate action.

Each person has an initial tax-free allowance on death known as the nil-rate band, which refers to the amount of your estate that will not be taxed after your death. Currently, this is set at £325,000. The good news is, this can now be supplemented by the main residence nil-rate band, which adds an additional tax-free allowance of up to £150,000 for deaths on or after 6th April 2019.

However, you won’t be surprised to know that there are conditions which must be met in order to qualify for the for this additional tax relief. These include:

  • You may only claim the allowance against a residential property which forms part of your estate and has been your residence at some point;
  • The residence must be left to one or more of your direct descendants on your death;
  • If your estate is worth more than £2million then you may not qualify for the additional allowance
  • The amount of the allowance will be staged – £150,000 for 2019/20; and £175,000 for 2020/21.

This is just a brief overview of the key components of inheritance tax. As you can see, there are lots of issues and complications to be considered to fully minimise the cost you your estate. This is where we can help.

We would always recommend regularly reviewing your Will with a qualified solicitor. They will be able to expertly guide you through the process, highlighting any potential pitfalls and how best to avoid them. We regularly see clients who have current Wills made over 10 years ago, who have complicated trust arrangements, which may not be the most cost-effective way of dealing with their affairs, under the current law.

If you have any questions around inheritance tax or wish to review your Will to ensure you are leaving the maximum possible to your loved ones, we are always here to help. Please call 0161 928 3848 or email mch@mchaleandco.co.uk to arrange.

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