Sep 18 17

Are You In The 5% Prepared For The Future?

Roger Wastnedge

Whenever we spot a new wrinkle or grey hair, we often pause for a moment and consider how the years are rolling by. Most of us at some point will also worry about how our health might deteriorate in our later years.

In a recent study by Irwin Mitchell, 75% of respondents said they worried about getting older and 70% were specifically concerned about developing dementia. Surprisingly, despite these worries, only 5% had made plans to deal with such an eventuality.

When someone develops an illness such as dementia, or is involved in an accident that takes away their capacity to make decisions for themselves, someone else needs to make decisions for them. But nobody has the automatic right to do so. Neither your partner nor your children nor your closest friends and relatives can, unless you have specifically given them permission in advance in the form of a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

There are two types of LPA; one for Property & Financial Affairs, and the other covers Health & Welfare. They are both equally important and you should consider putting both in place to cover all eventualities.

An LPA can only be made while you have the mental capacity to do so. If you lose capacity to make your own decisions and there is no LPA in place, your loved ones will need to apply to the Court of Protection to appoint a deputy to make your decisions for you. They can apply to be appointed as your deputy, but it will be the court that makes this decision rather than you.

It costs £82 to register an LPA with the Office of the Public Guardian.

On the other hand, the costs for setting up a deputy via the Court of Protection are more expensive. The application fee is £400 for each type of deputyship: health/welfare and property/financial affairs. An appeal, if required, is another £400 and if the court decides a hearing is required, that’s a further £500. In addition, there is an assessment fee of £100 for new deputies and an annual supervision fee.

No-one likes to consider what may befall them in the future. It’s a much easier job to plan for though if done in advance. The financial and emotional cost for your family to deal with it after the event can be significant. Perhaps most importantly of all, LPAs allow the individual concerned to document their wishes around what happens to them at a later date and decide who will make those decisions on their behalf. Would you prefer decisions about your finances and welfare to be taken by a professional who is unknown to you and your family, or by someone who knows and loves you and has your best interests at heart?

For help preparing an LPA, please call Roger on 0151 559 0695 or email via the Contact Form on this page.

Apr 5 17

Cap Rising Funeral Costs

Roger Wastnedge

Over recent years’ funerals have outgrown inflation and become very expensive, with the average cost of a basic service reaching £3,600 (SafeHands 2016). In 2004 the average cost of a funeral was £1,920 whereas now it is £3,693 – a whopping 92% increase.

Sadly, this means traditional funeral budgeting may no longer be sufficient to cover the cost and as a result many people are opting for a prepaid funeral.

Contemplating the future, Wills and Funerals

A pre-paid funeral plan not only freezes the cost of a funeral at today’s prices but it makes it easier on your loved ones should you pass away suddenly. It also allows you to have your say as to whether you want to be buried or cremated, and the details of your funeral which may be important to you.

Each of your wishes can be discussed and finalised with a funeral director, who will deliver a service that matches your requests. You can pay upfront or in instalments. One benefit of this arrangement is that you cover the total cost of the funeral director’s fees and services, however expensive a funeral has become when you pass away.

Choosing a pre-paid funeral plan is one of the most effective ways to protect your loved ones from rising costs – call us today and we can talk you through the options or make an appointment to come and see you.

Mar 29 17

Probate Fraud – Money, Misuse and Manipulation

Roger Wastnedge

In a situation as sensitive as probate, committing fraud may seem almost incomprehensible. This does not however, mean that it does not occur, with some individuals abandoning any consideration for the bereaved and committing fraud in regards to the assets of the deceased.

By taking advantage of the dead or someone who is close to passing, the fraudster may help themselves to assets, personal possessions or money that was never meant for them. Therefore, it is essential that probate is dealt with in the most effective way.

Probate can often be manipulated by many, resulting in greater opportunity for fraud.

Examples of such fraud include:

– Coercion while the deceased was still alive
– Removal of assets
– Misuse of executor power

Probate fraud has been less common in the past, with an estimated annual cost of around £50 million. With the current believed cost of probate fraud reaching around £150 million per year, it is likely the previous total was significantly underestimated. This is according to the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), who also said that around 50% of solicitors questioned stated they had encountered fraudulent cases within the last year.

Why is this fraud becoming more common?

A report by STEP said ‘it is just too easy.’ Although the beneficiaries benefit from an estate, UK law states they are not able to view the accounts. This is down to the executor. They have a duty to answer any questions, but could easily keep beneficiaries’ in the dark.

Increasing amounts of probate fraud are also taking place online. An email may be sent from an imposter claiming to be a solicitor regarding a substantial sum they may be entitled to as a beneficiary. Before any further information is released however, the fraudster will request funds to cover any tax or other costs. Whilst some of these emails may be easily detected as scams, others are more refined, with false documents even being attached. As technology develops and methods used by fraudsters become more sophisticated, the likelihood of falling victim to a scam only increases.

Avoid the scams

It is important to act preventively, as well as being aware of what to be on the look-out for, such as:

– Large transfers of money or property
– Disappearance of valuable items
– Sudden alteration of a will not long before death

It is important to consider these occurrences with great care and get a professional opinion if you have any serious suspicions. Ideally, preventive measures are a more effective means of avoiding the fraud in the first place.

Use a professional – seek out those with proven credibility and competence in dealing with probate cases. They will have sufficient knowledge to handle the deceased’s estate capably. For instance take advantage of the Society of Will Writers Trust Corporation who specialise in probate work, and who offer flexible arrangements to suit you all at a very reasonable rate.

Make a will – intestacy (dying without a will) can lead to complications much greater than fraud so this step is vital. Stating clearly who executors and beneficiaries are, prevents relatives from sorting out the often complex matter between themselves. Call me on 0151 559 0695 or email at roger@borderwills.co.uk for further professional advice.

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Jan 18 17

Old Heads on Young Shoulders

Roger Wastnedge

Thinking about Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPAs) is not just something older people need to do – everyone should write one, in my opinion

Let’s be honest, writing a will and an LPA isn’t top of anyone’s to do list – it isn’t even at the bottom. But it’s important, not just so that someone will have your best interests at heart should you fall ill or be in an accident, but also so thT your loved ones know who should be making the big decisions if you’re not able to. If you’ve lost your mental capacity, it’s too late and your loved ones may struggle to gain control of your affairs.

It’s a grim truth that accidents can happen at any age, which is why putting together an LPA is something young people should consider, as well as old, including the four in ten Britons who feel they’re too young and healthy to need an LPA, identified in recent research by SAGA.

So what is an LPA?

It’s a way of giving legal authority to someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf should you lack the mental capacity to make them yourself. That could be a temporary loss of mental capacity – or permanent.

There are two types of LPA – one for health and care decisions and the other for financial. Under the former, your chosen attorney can make decisions about your medical care and where you live, whilst under the latter the choices will be around buying and selling property as well as paying bills. They have to be set up individually and registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, at a cost of £110 each. If only one is relevant, then only set up one – for young people the health and care decisions of an LPA is possibly more relevant in case of sudden illness or accident; however that will also depend on your particular financial arrangements.

You can find all the information you need as well as the LPA forms to download at www.gov.uk. However, lots of people use solicitors and will writers to help navigate them as they are legally binding documents and certain wishes may have to be drafted carefully – for example, you may want to limit what your attorneys can do, which isn’t uncommon.

Here we have been helping people write LPAs since we started in 2012. Call us now on 0151 559 0695 for advice to ensure that, should you become incapacitated, your life is in the good hands of people you love and trust.

Jan 16 17

The Danger of Mirror Wills

Roger Wastnedge

Around 40% of marriages in the UK are second (or even third) unions, which creates a lot of step-families – and occasionally, chaos among the kids when their parent and step-parent die. Mirror wills – where two people set down the same wishes for their legacy – are relatively common among couples but can split step-families in two, as Stuart Herd, an accountant from Essex, discovered.

Shortly before his father died, Stuart Herd, 64, had a conversation with him about his will. Mr Herd told his son that he was leaving his estate to his second wife, who he’d married nine years earlier, and that when she died the couple’s assets would be split between Stuart and his wife’s son. The pair had prepared mirror wills, he said.

Mr Herd Senior died in 1997 and afterwards Mr Herd claims he stayed in contact with his stepmother. So he was shocked to discover, when she died in 2012, that she’d changed her will four years earlier – cutting him out and leaving everything to her son and his family.

To me, my father was very clear in what he wanted,” Mr Herd says. “He worked really hard to build that up – my inheritance was around £150,000 – and losing it feels like you’ve been mugged. She changed it in 2008 and she lived those four years as if nothing had happened.”

Stuart Herd wrote to his stepbrother’s family outlining his position but got nowhere. So he’s launched a petition calling for increased protection for beneficiaries under mirror wills following the first death.

In the petition Mr Herd is calling for two changes to the law around mirror wills: first, a formal warning to anyone who writes a mirror will that their wishes may not be respected should they die first. He also called for the introduction of new legislation, stating that if the beneficiary of a mirror will is disinherited, they should receive a formal written notice for it to have effect. That, he says, is so the person who is being written out of the will has the opportunity to challenge it.

Currently the only recourse is for affected people to apply to the courts to challenge the will; a divisive and potentially financially ruinous course of action.

Just a couple of months ago Paul Daniel’s son branded his stepmother Debbie McGee a ‘false witch’, alleging that she’d cut him out of his father’s inheritance. Paul, who died of an inoperable tumour aged 77, left his whole estate to Debbie. But, Paul Daniels Junior, claimed: ‘She promised that she would look after me and my brothers. But the only person she has looked after is herself.’

What really hurts Stuart Herd, though, is the fact he feels his Dad’s last wishes have been disrespected.

My late father was a very trusting person and would never have expected my late step mother to betray his wishes by disinheriting his only son and granddaughter in favour of her own family,” he says. “I know for a fact, if my late step mother had died first he would have respected her wishes without question.”

Of course there are advantages to leaving mirror wills. However, as Stuart Herd’s case shows, there are pitfalls too. If you want to chat through the pros and cons of mirror wills, please contact us on 0151 559 0695 or at roger@borderwills.co.uk and we can help you write a will that protects your loved ones in the future.

Jan 14 17

Benevolent or Barking Bequests

Roger Wastnedge

Famously, in Shakespeare’s will, he left his ‘second-best bed’ to his wife Anne and here at Border Wills we can help you set down your legacy too. Take inspiration from the quirkiest instructions ever left in wills – one thing they all prove is that writing a will doesn’t have to be deadly serious.

Chemist Fredric Baur patented the design of the Pringles tube in the 1960s, and requested in his will that some of his ashes be buried in one of his iconic inventions. Baur’s children honoured his request.

Famous contortionist and escapologist Harry Houdini left instructions that his wife Bess should hold a séance every year to see whether he appeared from beyond the grave. He wrote a note detailing the message he’d communicate from the other side. Bess faithfully held a séance every Halloween – the anniversary of his death in 1926 – for ten years.

The longest known will was made by Mrs Frederica Cook who died in 1925 – it was 95,940 words and four volumes in length. The shortest known will was made by a man who simply wrote ‘all for mother’.

People in Portugal got lucky – 70 people in Lisbon, to be precise – when their names were randomly selected from the phone directory by aristocrat Luis Carlos de Noronha Cabral da Camara. They were to become beneficiaries to his estate, which consisted of a 12-room apartment in central Lisbon, a house in the north of Portugal, a car and 25,000 euros. ‘Every day you hear of pranks people play,’ one of the shocked and initially suspicious benefactors told a Portuguese newspaper in 2007 when Luis Carlos had died and she’d received a phone call about her inheritance.

Forget leaving it all to the local cats’ home – Jonathan Jackson of Ohio, went one further when he drew up his will in the late 19th Century, bequeathing money for the creation of a ‘cat house’ in which the feline residents were to have their own sleeping quarters, dining hall, conversation room and auditorium where they could listen to the accordion. ‘It is man’s duty as lord of animals to watch over and protect the lesser and feebler,’ he stated.

US comedian and actor, Jack Benny, left a rather lovely legacy to his wife Mary after he died in 1974 – every day, for the rest of her life, the florist would deliver one long-stemmed, red rose to her door.

Wiltshire man, Stephen Cuthbert’s will, written in 2002 requested that, if possible, his body was to be transported to the crematorium in the back of a Cortina estate. In addition to this, ‘a piss-up is to be held at a venue to be decided by my trustees and to be funded entirely by my estate’.

When Albert Orton from Coventry died in 1888, he left his wife the sum of one farthing – because of ‘the treatment I have received at her hands’, according to his will, that included calling him a ‘rotten old pig’ when he broke wind in her presence, even though he was ill at the time.

Whether your bequests are barking or benevolent, we at Border Wills are your local will writing experts. Give us a call on 0151 559 0695 or email us on roger@borderwills.co.uk for a chat about writing a will.

Sep 13 16

Power of Attorney Essential if you have Drawdown Pension

Roger Wastnedge

If you have a draw-down pension – that is a pension pot that you draw from as opposed to an annuity – then it is essential that you consider setting up a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). The point about a draw-down pension is that it requires ongoing management until you die. For most people who are now retired it is likely that at some point they will be in a position where they are unable to do so on either a temporary or permanent basis. This means that, without the appointment of an attorney, they will be unable to instruct their adviser on making any alterations to their draw-down arrangements, with potentially devastating impact on the financial situation of themselves and their family.

There are two types of LPA, a Health and Welfare, and a Property and Financial Affairs. You can find out more by clicking through here. However you can only set one up whilst you have the mental capacity to do so. The alternative is for your relatives to apply to the Court of Protection for the appointment of a Deputy to manage your affairs; not only is this a slow process that could leave your family in financial difficulty in the meantime, or mean your investments lose significant value because your advisers were unable to manage them, but it is also much more expensive than making an LPA. Typically it could cost you (since the fees will eventually be drawn from your assets) upward of £2000, with ongoing costs on an annual basis. Clearly it is much better to sort this out now whilst you can select who you want to act as your attorney, rather than leaving it to others to do.

For more information contact me using the form, or call me on 0151 559 0695. Whatever you do, don’t delay.

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Sep 7 16

Back to School

Roger Wastnedge

Whether you are sending your pride and joy to school for the first time this September, or they’re into their second, third or fourth year, most parents feel a flutter of apprehension when letting go of their hand on the first day.

Doing everything to protect your child comes naturally. From planning a safe route for your kids to get to or from school and ensuring they know the green cross code to protecting them from bullying.

Protection comes in many shapes and forms. At this time of year, once they are safely in school, now is the time to make sure they are protected should something happen to you.

24,000 children a year experience the death of a parent according to charity Winston’s Wish. Did you know that if both of a child’s parents die and there’s no valid will and therefore no appointed guardian, children could be put in foster care until the courts decide who they should live with?

Added to which, most of us don’t live in the nuclear family of the past which adds additional complications.

Making a will allows you to

  • Decide who will take care of your children should something happen to you
  • Make it known how, and where, your children should be educated
  • Ensure that there won’t be any family disputes or court battles over who takes care of your children
  • Plus, any other wishes you have from what they eat to what they should receive as pocket money….

As parents, we all want the best for our children, and this is probably one of the easiest ways of protecting them. Making a will also costs less than you may think. Contact Roger Wastnedge using the form on this page, or call me on 0151 559 0695 to find out more.

Sep 1 16

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney and why do I need one?

Roger Wastnedge

It is a sad fact that 225,000 people in Britain develop dementia every year according to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA’s) were introduced in 2007 as a replacement for Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA’s) as a result of the enactment of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.

The function of an LPA is to allow for a donor – the person making it, to choose trusted people known as attorneys, to make decisions on the donor’s behalf and protects those who do not have the physical or mental capacity to make decisions for themselves. All LPA’s are dealt with and legally enforced by the Office of the Public Guardian.

There are two types of LPA that currently exist, the first of which is a ‘Health and Welfare’ LPA. This type of LPA can only be used in situations where the donor does not have the mental capacity – the ability to make decisions for themselves and cannot be invoked otherwise. There is some flexibility as to the extent of the powers the LPA can grant – the appointed attorneys can only make specific decisions if you outline it to be so, for example making judgements such as daily routine and diet, right through to moving into supported care or agreeing to lifesaving medical treatment.

As well as the Health and Welfare LPA, there is the ‘Property and Financial Affairs’ LPA, which as the name suggests links directly to the personal property and money of the donor, and what the attorney can do with it. A Property and Financial Affairs LPA can be used immediately upon registration, there is no requirement for the lack of mental capacity. Many people opt to make both types of LPA, though there is no necessity to do so, you can opt to make or the other.

Preventative measures do exist to make sure attorneys only ever act within the donor’s interests, and that they must follow instructions regarding any specific decisions.

I can provide you with advice on the creation and registration of an LPA to include these preventative measures. Contact us today on 0151 559 0695, or use the contact form below.

Talk to Roger Wastnedge of Border Wills of Merseyside if you feel you or a loved one may need to appoint an LPA.

Aug 8 16

Fast-track your Lasting Power of Attorney before it’s too late

Roger Wastnedge

Sir Jackie Stewart announced in June that his wife Lady Helen Stewart is suffering from dementia

The world champion Formula One driver explained that his wife of 55 years now requires around the clock care. Lady Helen, 75, was diagnosed with dementia 2 years ago, but this is the first time the racing driver has spoken about the changes he has seen in his wife.

Whilst he believes it is too late to help Lady Helen, he has launched a charity named Race Against Dementia to seek a cure for dementia sufferers in the future.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society 225,000 Britons each year are diagnosed with the condition.

It further highlights the need for people to have LPAs (Lasting Powers of Attorney) in place.

There are two types of LPA that currently exist, the first of which is a ‘Health and Welfare’ LPA. This type of LPA can only be used in situations where the donor does not have the mental capacity – the ability to make decisions for themselves and cannot be invoked otherwise. There is some flexibility as to the extent of the powers the LPA can grant – the appointed attorneys can only make specific decisions if you outline it to be so, for example making judgements such as daily routine and diet, right through to moving into supported care or agreeing to lifesaving medical treatment.

As well as the Health and Welfare LPA, there is the ‘Property and Financial Affairs’ LPA, which as the name suggests links directly to the personal property and money of the donor, and what the attorney can do with it. A Property and Financial Affairs LPA can be used immediately upon registration, there is no requirement for the lack of mental capacity.

Many people opt to make both types of LPA, though there is no necessity to do so, you can opt to only make one or the other.

If mental capacity is lost prior to making a Lasting Power of attorney it can cost thousands of pounds through the Court of Protection with fees starting from £400, plus legal fees, insurance and supervision fees. It is cheaper and more straight-forward to do so whilst you are able.

To appoint an LPA please contact me using the form below.