Wednesday, 4 November 2015

10 Things You Didn't Know About Wills

It’s not just about giving your stuff away.

Time to write a Will1) 35 Million People in England and Wales don’t have a valid up to date will – It’s not just you.

2) Anyone over the age of 18 can make a Will – You are not too young

3) 4250 people die each week in the UK without a valid will – Don’t be one of them.

4) Your Will is the only way to appoint legal guardians for your children – Don’t make social 
services choose who they live with.

5) If you are not married then a valid Will is the only way that your partner can inherit from you – there is no such thing as common law husband and wife.

6) A valid will lets you choose who looks after your affairs when you die – without one the Government sets the rules.

7) You can look after your pets in your Will – make sure they are comfortable and cared for.

8) You can express your funeral wishes in your will – Hawaiian Shirts all round?

9) A will must be in Writing – No Videos, DVD’s or Tapes

10) Your Will is great for Tax Planning and can protect your assets too.  

It’s time to make yours call us and book a FREE HOME VISIT today 0800 612 4594 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Is the D Word the new C Word?

When I grew up the C word was something that you never mentioned, a word so dreadful that it was never mentioned. But over the years and through research and changes in society the C word became something that we are no longer afraid to talk about and recently we have reached the stage where more than 50 % people survive a cancer diagnosis.

These days C has been overtaken by D and a diagnosis of dementia is almost universally feared. At Will and Probate Services we have taken the decision to help and support those in our community who are living with dementia by offering everyone the opportunity to become a Dementia Friend by attending an Alzheimer’s Society Information session.

A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it's like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action - anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend. From helping someone to find the right bus to spreading the word about dementia on social media, every action counts.

If you are interested in becoming a Dementia Friend and joining a national initiative that will help people living with dementia feel included in their communities, then call us on 01778 382723, check our website or like our Will and Probate Services page on Facebook to find out about our upcoming information sessions and book you place.

Friday, 18 September 2015

Have I got a Million Pounds tax allowance?

The recent Budget introduced a new main residence allowance for Inheritance Tax (IHT)  which is due to start from April 2017.
Main Residence Relief
This led to some misleading headlines and many clients thinking that they had a £1 million Inheritance Tax Allowance – sadly, as with many things the Government announces, that’s not quite the truth.

The government's proposal is to introduce a main residence nil rate band that can be used in addition to your regular Nil Rate Band of £325,000. It only applies to your main residence at your death (although there is already a consultation in place to deal with people who may have downsized) and only then if you are passing it to a direct descendant. So if you are not a homeowner but have significant other assets the scheme probably won’t benefit you.

Key points
·         The new allowance will be an addition to the existing nil rate band will be phased in from 2017 with an allowance of £100,000 from April of that year rising to the full £175,000 by April of 2020.
·         The inheritors must be your children, step-children, or their descendants. Adopted and foster children also qualify.
·         Wealthier families will not benefit as the allowance is reduced if the net estate is over £2 million. The reduction is £1 for every £2 that the estate exceeds £2 million. So if an individual had a net estate of £2.5 million they would not benefit.

So what qualifies as your main residence?

Put simply it is your interest in a home that has been lived in as your main residence. If you have more than one residence then your executors or personal representatives can elect which one is to qualify.

Will it Happen?
The government seems committed to pushing this through and it is reasonable to assume that an additional allowance will come into place, but many commentators seem to think that the new allowance as suggested will be too complex to administer.

It has even led to suggestions that the elderly may upsize as the get older to make the most of inheritance tax allowances rather than the more traditional downsizing that we see as people age.

If you would like to know more about the changes that have been proposed, or about inheritance tax planning in general get in touch 01778 382723 or see our website 

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Difficult Conversations 4. We all die. How do you want to do it?

This month’s conversation is probably the most difficult - How you want your end-of-life care handled? -  It tends to stop us in our tracks. Discussing death makes nobody comfortable, and as a result, we avoid the discussion entirely.
How will you die
We all die - you should make a plan.

You probably know someone who says that they want to be taken to Switzerland where assisted suicide is legal. It is even a hot topic in parliament at the moment, it may even be a family member. But what you don’t know is if they are serious or not – they might be but the conversation is a serious one and not one for the pub.

So make time for our fourth difficult conversation and be brave, tell your nearest and dearest what you want and what you have done to facilitate what you want.

When you have had the difficult conversation give us a call and we will make sure that you have the foundation stones in place to ensure that your death is a good death and what you want happens. We will help you with
  • ·         An up to date Will
  • ·         Valid Lasting Powers of Attorney
  • ·         An Advance Directive that sets out your medical treatment wishes

  • ·         A Funeral Plan that’s tailored for you.

Will & Probate Services – 01778 382723 –

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Home in the Sun - Review your Wills Today.

Home in the Sun - What happens when you die?

Holiday Home
Protect Your Home in the Sun
If like me you have a home in the sun, mine’s in Spain, you might well have made a Will that deals with what happens to that property if you die.

If you have then as of yesterday you need to review it and probably update it. The reason is that the 
Brussels IV regulations on cross border inheritance came into force on 17th August 2015.

If you haven’t then you need to do one today, call us on 01778 382723 and we will discuss what you need to do.

So what difference does Brussels IV make to me?

Previously a property in an EU state was subject to the Inheritance Tax and Heirship rules of the country that it was situated in, a French property subject to French inheritance law, an Italian property subject to Italian law etc. This potentially restricted the people you could pass your assets to and could lead you to pay inheritance tax at different points and rates to that you would pay in the UK.

As of yesterday, 17th August 2015, this has changed and you can now elect to have your estate treated as if it was situated in the country of your nationality, this will make a difference to how your estate is administered after your death, it will affect your tax planning and could make a difference to who will inherit your property.

In short if you have a European property, be it a holiday home or somewhere you have retired to permanently you need to review your will.

Call us 01778 382723 to discuss or click to visit our website

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Difficult Conversations we all need to have - Can Mum and Dad Live With Us

3. Would you let your mother in law move in?
Mum and Son in Law
Can Mum Live Here?

Families are complex things, and their needs are constantly changing and adapting however there is one undeniable fact every member of the family is getting older and as our parents age, it’s likely that they will need more help.

In most families, one child (often the youngest sibling) steps up to the plate and becomes the primary carer. So this difficult conversation starts with the question - Is that going to be you or your spouse?

If it is then you need to instigate a conversation with your spouse, your siblings, and of course your parents. You should consider are you all up for the inevitable challenges and strains that will arise? Do the rest of the family buy in to the changes that are suggested, the costs that may be associated, the potential for changes to what they may inherit? What alternatives are there, what are the costs and implications?

Once the family are on the same page and everyone is agreed you need to make sure that you have the right paperwork in place, to back it up – an amended Will, Lasting Powers of Attorney, if a property is involved you may well need a deed of trust. 

This difficult conversation involves the whole family and is important because it will save arguments and heartache later down the line.

If you need help and advice on a parent moving in call us on 01778 382723 and make an appointment today. 

Friday, 10 April 2015

I Give My Pension to ..... ?

Ladies in a sports car
Blow your pension on one of these?
The new pension rules that came into force in April of this year have hit the headlines with scare stories of pensioners blowing their pension funds on Lamborghinis and Ferraris, but the truth is the new pension freedoms offer a huge opportunity for most people.

Before the new rules came into force most people were forced into buying an annuity with their pension fund, which would die with them, or facing a punitive tax bill if they hadn't ‘crystallized’ their fund before they died.

The good news is that behind the headlines there is now an opportunity to pass your pension on to future generations of your family. You can also use your pension fund for inheritance tax planning, potentially saving thousands in tax when you die.

This all means that it is time to review your Will and make provisions to pass your pension to your family. For most people their pension fund can be the second largest asset that they own after their home, so good quality professional advice is critically important.

To review your Wills, and the way in which your pension funds will pass down your family call us today 01778 382723 to make your appointment. 

Friday, 13 March 2015

Difficult Conversations we all need to have - How Much Am I Worth If I Die

2. What is everything and is it enough?

Empty WalletWe all have pensions, insurances, bank accounts, ISA’s and many more places where money is kept. We also have commitments that need to be met.  Our second difficult conversation focuses on what we are worth if we die and whether it will meet the commitments that you leave to your survivors.

The starting point is your pension – do you have one or several from various jobs down the years, do they pay out a lump sum on death or a survivor’s pension and if they  do who do they pay it to. Once you know the answers you will be on the way to knowing if your income will allow your family to live comfortably.

Next are your insurance policies – will they pay off specific debts (your mortgage for instance) or will they create an income or lump sum for investment. The answers are important not just for the standard of living but for tax planning purposes.

Your bank accounts and investments, are they joint – if they are it is likely that they will pass automatically to the survivor, if not they will be frozen through the probate process – will you family survive without access to your funds for several months.

For advice on resolving these and many more questions about making or updating your Wills, protecting your family and your standard of living call us on 01778 382723. Or take a look at our website

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

How £72,000 becomes £152,000 - The truth about Care Costs

The BBC have published an online calculator which gives a real insight into the truth behind the Governments £72,000 care cost cap.

cost of care
The Calculator, which can be found here allows people who might have upcoming care needs to calculate the real costs including the 'Hotel' fees that would be incurred in reaching the £72,000 cap.

I tried the calculator for myself earlier in the day and found that in reaching the £72,000 care cap I would have spent £152,000 from my own pocket before the state started to help.

The calculator is a real eye opener and it highlights the need for professional advice and planning for potential future care.

If you need to know more, call us on 01778 382723 or see our website and we will arrange an appointment with one of our advisors.   

Friday, 23 January 2015

Difficult Conversations we all need to have - the first in a series of articles highlighting the discussions you need to have with your family.

Where are the papers
Is it always the Wife's Job?
It's easy to ignore certain difficult subjects by simply not making time to discuss them. But the truth is, there are some discussions you need to have with your partner or your family because life has a nasty habit of throwing you a curve ball from time to time -
1. Where is everything?

It sounds simple doesn't it but the chances are, one or both of you can't answer that question about the important paperwork of your life. In most relationships, one partner takes responsibility for paying the bills and keeping the records (this is often ‘the Wife’) whilst the other (commonly known as ‘the Husband’) is in the dark. But both of you need to know where your important document are stored. This includes your Wills, bank and building society account numbers, details of savings and investments, share certificates, the V5 documents for your vehicles, your property deeds, pension details (including frozen pensions), tax returns, mortgage details, and insurance policies. What about the cloud? Many of us will have e-bay, PayPal, online casino and online bank accounts (among many others) – where are the passwords and key code devices. Who are your advisors, your accountant, your estate planning company, your financial advisor. You can download our ‘What I have and where it is’ form from our website - It will help you to make great start. But once it is done, don’t forget to update it.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Man Flu – How something simple can cause everything to grind to a halt.

I had a great Christmas, but 2015 started on a bit of a downer when on New Year’s Day I was struck by the man flu - No big drama, but enough to confine me to bed for a few days.

man fluBut it got me thinking, my planned flying start to the new business year was stalled and when added to an extended holiday my business had not been trading properly for three weeks. Already there were a few bills that had gone a couple of days overdue and some jobs that should have been completed that weren’t. But the real thought that was plaguing me was not the short term issues that the man flu had caused it was -

What if I was properly Ill, unable to work for a period of weeks or even months? Like most small businesses my firm needs me, to sign contracts, to pay bills, to talk to the bank and my suppliers. It struck me that without me my staff don’t have much authority to deal with the outside world.

Business Lasting Power of Attorney
Small Business LPA
So this morning I put in place something that I have been meaning to do for a long time. A business Lasting Power of Attorney which will enable my staff to make decisions and operate the business if I am unable to.

If you run a small business you probably need to put a Business LPA in place. You almost certainly need to review your Will as well to ensure that the business can continue if you die. If you want to know more give us a call – Will & Probate Services 01778 382723