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No one likes to think about what will happen after they’re gone, but after working hard all your life, it’s important to plan for the future of your estate. By organising your affairs for both during your lifetime and after your death, you can ensure that your assets are passed down to your family and loved ones in the most efficient way possible.

One aspect of estate planning is inheritance tax (IHT) which is the focus of this article. No matter the size of your estate it is important to obtain expert inheritance Tax Planning advice, to secure your family’s financial future and ensure your hard-earned money, property and assets are distributed in accordance with your wishes as well as ensuring that, if Inheritance Tax is due, the least amount is paid.

Starting to plan early means that you will have a much more effective plan in place and will allow you to minimise the impact of potentially having to pay IHT. Planning early also allows you to put your estate planning strategy into place to ensure you have enough money to live the lifestyle you want, as well as deal with any unexpected situations that may arise along the road.

You can read about the other components of estate planning and why planning itself is so important in our article – Estate Planning – Why is it so important?

What is Inheritance Tax?

Inheritance tax (IHT) is a tax payable to HMRC in relation to your Estate on your death. It is normally paid by the executors of your estate and is paid to HMRC prior to the estate being distributed to any of your heirs.

You are only liable to pay inheritance tax if your estate’s value is above the current IHT threshold of £325,000. You do not pay IHT on the first £325,000 you leave to others.

This is also known as the nil rate band and the amount above it (the majority of the time) will be liable for inheritance tax at the standard rate of 40% on your death.

However, if you leave 10% or more of your estate’s value to charity, it does lower the inheritance tax rate for the remaining portion over the threshold to 36% from the standard 40%.

Your estate is also entitled to the Residence Nil Rate Band if you leave your property to your descendants (i.e. children and/or grandchildren).

More information on how IHT works can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/inheritance-tax.

First Steps

Before you start thinking about how much inheritance tax you may be required to pay, you really need to establish the value of your estate. This will enable you to determine if there is an inheritance tax liability and if tax planning is required.

In order to establish the size of your estate you need to include any properties you own, business assets, bank accounts, shares and investments and life insurance policies, as well as personal belongings of value such as jewellery and vehicles.

You can find out more about valuing an estate in our article – Do I need to value an estate when someone dies?

Other things to include are the value of any cash gifts you may have made in the last 7 years, as these may be taken off your personal inheritance tax free allowance if you do not live for 7 years after giving this money away. In simple terms any gifts given more than 7 years before your death will not be liable (unless you continue to benefit from them), any gifts given in the 7 years prior to your passing will count towards you allowance.

Do I Have to Pay Tax on My Inheritance?

There are certain circumstances when you would be exempt from paying Inheritance tax, even when your assets are valued at over the threshold. These are:

It’s important to understand that only the inheritance designated for your spouse/civil partner, annual tax-free gifts or for charity is exempt from inheritance tax; it doesn’t render the entirety of your estate tax-free.

How Do I Pay Less Inheritance Tax?

If you are someone who will be charged Inheritance Tax on your estate, inheritance tax planning in your lifetime could very well reduce your tax liability and enable you to pass more of your assets on to your family and loved ones.

By planning in advance and by utilising the available exceptions and allowances, it is possible to reduce or even eliminate the need to pay IHT, some things to consider are:

Having a Will

The most important document you should have in place is a valid Will and you should ensure that you review it regularly, so it can be updated as and when needed. Not only is your Will important as it allows you to ensure that you leave your assets to your chosen beneficiaries, it also allows you to avoid potential inheritance tax liabilities under intestacy rules.  Intestacy rules are used to distribute an estate when someone has died leaving no valid Will.

If you need aid in putting together a will, our expert trusts and estate solicitors have years of experience in drafting comprehensive wills for our clients.

Giving to charity

As previously mentioned, it may be worth considering giving 10% of your net estate to charity in order to reduce the IHT rate from 40% to 36%.

For further analysis on how this can benefit you or a love one, read our article which delves further into the topic – Inheritance Tax Incentive for Charitable Legacies

Leaving your main residence

Gifting to a spouse or civil partner is completely exempt from IHT.  It is also possible to further reduce the amount that is taxable if you leave your home to your ‘direct descendants’.  This includes children (be they biological, step, adopted or fostered) or grandchildren, but does not include nieces,  nephews or cousins.

By doing this you not only benefit from the £325,000 basic IHT allowance that everyone is allowed, you can also take advantage of the ‘Residence Nil Rate Band’ or ‘Main Residence Band’, which is an additional allowance of £175,000 and which means IHT may not be due on the first £500,000 of your estate (£325,000 + £175,000), depending on who you leave the property to.

However, there are some points to be aware of that will affect this:

Reduce the size of your estate in your lifetime: Tax-Free Gifts

Reducing the size of your estate in your lifetime is a good way to reduce your IHT liability and there are multiple ways of doing this, through the use of Tax-Free Gifts.

A gift must be a genuine unconditional gift that you will not gain from in any way, so it must be given without the desire to receive something in return or the requirement that it will be repaid.

Annual Tax Exemption – Every Tax year, you can give away up to a total amount of £3,000, as this does not form part of your estate and so is therefore not subject to IHT.  If you decide not to use the full annual exemption amount,  anything you do not use can be carried forward by one tax year.

When you are giving gifts out of capital you need to be mindful that if you pass away less than 7 years after distributing the gift, it can become subject to tax. If you have used all of your annual exception allowance, the tax percentage differs depending on the length of time since your passing.

Amount of time between the gift and death Tax percentage applied
1 to 2 years Standard rate of 40%
3 to 4 years 32%
4 to 5 years 24%
5 to 6 years 16%
6 to 7 years 8%
7 years or more 0%

 

Small Gifts Allowance – This allowance allows you to give up to £250 per person each tax year.  These gifts do not count towards the Annual Tax exemption amount of £3,000, however, you cannot combine gifts on the same person, which means if you have already gifted someone your Annual Tax exemption, they cannot then also be gifted £250.

Wedding Gifts – if someone you know, either a family member or friend, is getting married or entering a civil partnership, then you can gift them cash tax-free.

Depending on the person you are giving the money to, the amount differs:

Wedding gifts can be combined with the £3,000 annual tax exemption amount (which means they can be used on the same person) but not with the £250 small gifts allowance.

More information on exactly what constitutes a gift can be found by visiting: https://www.gov.uk/inheritance-tax/gifts

Reduce the size of your estate in your lifetime: Payments from Income

Give money freely from your income – IHT is a tax on your assets.  Your regular income (such as your earnings or pension/s) are not classed as assets and so you can regularly give money away tax-free from this. This is only allowed if it is not deemed as detrimental to your lifestyle.

Fund a loved one’s living costs –  You are allowed to contribute to your child’s living costs and tuition fees at university. There are no caps on how much you can provide and the amount can be  Such combined with your £3,000 annual exemption (meaning it can be used on the same person) but again it is not allowed to be used with the £250 small gift allowance.  It can be given tax-free as long as the money comes from your own regular income and doesn’t affect your lifestyle

Life Insurance 

Depending on your situation, another common method for reducing the cost of IHT is to take out a life insurance policy, with the policy being held in Trust. This means that if you die the policy pays out straight away and can be distributed to your beneficiaries without being classed as part of your estate.  If this is a route you consider, it is important to be aware that the premiums for the policy need to be kept up in order for the policy to pay out and depending on your age and health, these can be quite high.

Professional advice and guidance

Getting the right professional advice is vital when looking at Inheritance Tax and Estate Planning.  You will need both advice from your solicitor, as well as your financial Advisor to ensure the best plan is put in place and the best vehicles are implemented to achieve your desired outcome.

Inheritance Tax Solicitors Near Me – Talk to Tollers

If you think you fall above the Nil rate band and would like to discuss Estate and Inheritance Tax planning… Talk to Tollers on 01602 258558, our experienced Trusts and Estate specialists are on hand to guide you through the process.

Anyone can become a victim of financial abuse and while it is more common that the individuals who experience this type of abuse are partners or ex-partners, it is not solely limited to intimate relationships. Financial abuse can also happen between friends, family members and those providing care to the vulnerable.

In the caring environment, the victim can be elderly, vulnerable or someone who relies emotionally or financially on their abuser.

The risk of financial abuse is on the rise due to many reasons including:

The Office of National Statistics reported in 2020 that in England approximately 1.5 million older adults experienced some form of financial abuse.

The statutory definition of financial abuse, set out in the Care Act 2014, defines abuse as that which includes having money or other property stolen, being defrauded, and being put under pressure in relation to money or other property, or having money or property misused.

Legal Measures

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 (‘the MCA’) was introduced to protect individuals who may lack the mental capacity to make their own decisions. The MCA provides a legal framework and serves to promote and safeguard decision-making.

If an individual has assets that need to be protected and they lack the capacity to manage those assets, it is possible to make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed as that person’s deputy. The deputy would be able to safeguard the individual’s financial affairs and involve third parties to seek to recover any money that may have been misappropriated.

One way to safeguard yourself from financial abuse is to appoint someone you trust as your attorney to manage your financial affairs and, crucially, to enable your attorney to step in at a time of emergency, to take immediate action to support and safeguard your affairs.

A Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Powers of Attorney enables you to appoint another person to assist in decisions surrounding your financial affairs (a separate form can also be used for health decisions). These documents can be adapted to provide further safeguards, for example, requiring the attorney to send bank statements to a trusted third party (e.g. an accountant or solicitor) who can oversee transactions.

Who should be your attorney?

Age UK conducted a report in 2015 which detailed that the most reported perpetrator of financial abuse in the UK was ‘family’ with 50% of cases done by ‘adult children’ (sons and daughters).  Therefore, choosing the right person to act as your attorney is of vital importance since you are, effectively, giving your chosen attorney full access to all of your finances.

Clearly, your attorney should be someone you trust, but when thinking of who to appoint as your attorney, consider the following factors:

Safeguarding against Financial Abuse

In such a technological age, where contactless payments have taken over the use of cash, and face-to-face banking has been replaced by Internet banking, the opportunity to be caught by scammers and to become a victim of financial abuse has become increasingly prevalent.

To safeguard yourself from such financial abuse, there are some practical things to consider:

Reporting Financial abuse

Sometimes regardless of how much you try and protect against financial abuse, it still occurs. If you are concerned that someone may be the victim of financial abuse you should raise a safeguarding concern with your local authority. This is because The Care Act 2014 confirms that there is a duty for local authorities to promote individual well-being and this includes ‘protection from abuse and neglect’. Raising a safeguarding concern can be done on either the local council’s website or by calling the Adult Social Services team and discussing your concerns over the phone.

Safeguarding is raising the alarm when an elderly or vulnerable person is experiencing a form of abuse or neglect. The enquiry is normally led by a social worker, but it may include other agencies if the allegations are serious. There may be times when immediate action is needed for example if there has been criminal activity. Therefore, the local authority will also have a duty to speak with third parties such as the police, the NHS, GPs or a care provider, if required.

Talk to Tollers

Our Elderly and Vulnerable Client Unit (EVCU) team has a proven track record when it comes to recovering assets lost to financial abuse for our vulnerable clients.

To find out more about protecting against financial abuse… Talk to Tollers on 01604 258 858 or email EVCU@tollers.co.uk.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is the process of deciding how an individual’s assets will be managed and distributed when they either become incapacitated or pass away.

Dealing with the loss of a loved one can be a challenging time for those left behind, so ensuring that the right processes have been put in place, whilst you are alive, can help your loved ones manage your estate should you become incapacitated or once you have gone.

Just some of the things to consider when putting your estate plan together are:

How can Estate Planning benefit you?

Protection for beneficiaries

Having a clear plan of action in place allows you to outline who you would like your beneficiaries to be. It also allows you to state how you wish to transfer your assets to your beneficiaries, meaning that you can, if done correctly, pass assets over in a tax-efficient manner.

Without estate planning in place, it could be left to the court to decide what happens to your assets and who benefits from them, which may go against what you would have liked, as well as be a time consuming and expensive process.

Protection of young children

Knowing you have estate planning in place gives you peace of mind should you have young children as it allows you to name who you would like to become their legal guardians. It also allows you to outline how you wish your child be cared for, should you or your partner pass away before your children turn 18.

Importantly, estate planning can also prove particularly helpful in creating unique plans tailored to any specific needs your child may have relating to their health, education and general wellbeing.

Without estate planning in place these decisions could be left to the court to decide.

Reduce Inheritance Tax burden

The estate planning process can protect your wealth while you are still alive and after you pass away.

Estate planning can ensure that you protect your assets against the impact of Inheritance tax and can help you to minimise the amount of tax that would be payable by your estate when you die.

It allows you look at how to pass on certain aspects of your estate and assets whilst still alive and decide on the most tax efficient methods for distributing your estate when you die, to ensure your beneficiaries receive the greatest benefits.

There are many different ways to do this including; gifts, leaving a legacy to charity, establishing Trusts, adding to a pension or even spending your wealth now.

Help loved ones avoid disputes

Family life is often not straightforward and can sometimes involve disagreements. Estate planning can help you minimise potential disagreements between family members, as it clearly sets out how you would like your estate managed when you pass away or are incapacitated.

When estate planning you will designate Executors who will administer your estate and facilitate your wishes once you are gone. Just some of the things your executors are responsible for are:

Having appointed executors should alleviate family tensions and conflicts and hopefully avoid any legal action, as your executors will ensure everyone is aware of exactly what they are entitled to and who will benefit from your estate.

Talk to Tollers

These are just some of the benefits of estate planning, each plan is tailored to the individual and their estate and may encompass other elements. This is why it is important that when putting your plan in place you seek out the best possible professional and legal advice.

For further advice and guidance on Estate Planning and how to put this important set of documents in place…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 and our experienced Trusts and Estates team will happily assist.

find out more here on Estate Planning.

The Statutory Legacy has increased for a Spouse when a person passes away without a Will.

When a person passes away without a valid Will in place, their estate passes in accordance with what is called the “Intestacy Rules”.  Many people would assume that when they pass away if they have a surviving spouse or civil partner, then their estate would automatically pass to them, however, this is not the case.

The “Statutory Legacy” is the specific sum given to the surviving spouse or civil partner of a deceased person, who has died without a valid Will in place, and has children.  From the 26th of July 2023 after a review took place, the amount of Statutory Legacy received under the Intestacy Rules increased from £270,000 to £322,000.

This therefore means that if the deceased has a spouse or civil partner and has children, then the first £322,000 of the deceased’s estate passes to the surviving spouse or civil partner, along with the personal possessions, and then half of the residuary estate (the remainder of the estate minus deductions).  The remainder of the residuary estate is then shared equally between the children of the deceased.

This law doesn’t apply to those who are cohabiting together, or living as common law spouses, regardless of the time together.  For the rules to apply, you must be married or in a civil partnership on the date the first partner passes away.  There may also be inheritance tax implications if your entire estate doesn’t pass to your spouse or civil partner, as the spouse exemption cannot be claimed.  It is also important for those with blended family arrangements to ensure the beneficiaries of your choice inherit from your estate.  For example, if your estate is below the £322,000 Statutory Legacy, then without a valid Will in place, only your spouse would inherit from your estate and your children would not.  This may not be your wish if the spouse is not the parent of your children.

Therefore, to ensure that your estate passes where you wish and that your family and beneficiaries are protected, we strongly advise drawing up a Will.

For further advice and guidance on Statutory legacy and how to put this important document in place…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 and our experienced Trusts and Estates team will happily assist.

find out more here on making a Will…

We would all like to imagine that we will always be capable of managing our affairs, but what happens if through mental or physical impairment we cannot?  Planning ahead is essential and Lasting Power of Attorney (LPAs) are a vital part of the process.

The Trusts and Estates team at Tollers is experienced in assisting and guiding our clients through the process of making an LPA to ensure their wishes are respected.

Here they answer some common questions concerning Lasting Powers of Attorney:

Q: What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A: A Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’) is a document appointing a person (an ‘Attorney’) to manage the affairs of another person (the ‘Donor’) and can continue to have effect  even when the Donor has lost mental capacity.

Q: Are there different types of LPA?

A: Yes – there are two different types of LPA:

Lasting Power of Attorney for finance and property:

The Property and Financial Affairs LPA usually relates to dealings in respect of the Donor’s house, bank accounts shares etc.  It can remain in effect if the person it relates to loses mental capacity at a later date.

If someone owns a business or has an interest in a business they can also make an LPA to appoint a suitable person to make decisions concerning their business interests when they are unavailable or lack mental capacity.

Lasting Power of Attorney for health and care:

The Health and Welfare LPA relates to decisions such as where the Donor lives, life-sustaining treatment, medical decisions, medication and social care.

Q: When can an individual make an LPA?

A: If someone has mental capacity they can make an LPA at any time.  If they lack mental capacity then someone else cannot make an LPA on their behalf instead, an application would need to be made to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order.

Q: Can an LPA be used as soon as it has been signed?

A: No.  An LPA must be registered at the Office of the Public Guardian (the government body that administers LPAs) before it can be used.  An application would normally be made when all parties have signed.

Q: Are there safeguards?

A: The advantage of an LPA is that the Donor chooses the people to manage their affairs (the Attorneys).  The Donor can also include within the LPA binding instructions or non-binding advice for their Attorneys.  There is also provision for family members to be notified that the LPA is being registered.

Q: Can the Donor still manage their own affairs?

A: If an LPA is in place the Donor can still manage their own affairs provided the Donor has mental capacity.  If the Donor loses mental capacity the appointed Attorneys will then take over the management of the Donors affairs.

Q: What happens if the Donor dies?

A: If the Donor dies the LPA automatically comes to an end.  The Attorney should send the original LPA and the death certificate to the Office of the Public Guardian as soon as possible.

For further advice and guidance on how to put these important documents in place…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 and our experienced Trusts and Estates team will happily assist.

More information can be found here.

As a Business Owner, Director or Partner it is important to ensure that you have a Business Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) in place that protects your interests should you become incapacitated in any way.

If you do become incapacitated either through illness or you lose the ability to make decisions, a Business LPA will allow you to appoint a legal representative who can assist with your business dealings and ensure business continuity even if you are unable to work or are absent from the business for any reason.

A Business LPA protects your business from being exposed to risk and it can cover all manner of situations.

Have you ever thought about who would pay salaries, deal with bills, sign cheques, approve and deal with many of the day-to-day activities that you, as a senior member of staff, deal with and take for granted should you be unavailable to do so?

Most Businesses have a Continuity Plan in place that covers essential requirements should something happen that would prevent the business from operating.  These might include provisions in terms of computer systems, telephony, networking, and off-site backup, as well as more general areas such as flood, fire and even epidemic.  Each business has its own unique continuity plan, but they all have the same goal to ensure the least amount of disruption and ensure the business can continue to operate with the minimum of disruption.

As part of a Business’s Continuity, they may also make provision for what would happen if one of the key decision makers was incapacitated, but this is not always the case.

How would your business continue to function should you be incapacitated in any way?  Is this covered in your continuity plan, articles of association or a partnership agreement?  Do you need a Business LPA?

Company Directors

Depending on the size of your business and its structure, provision may have been made that deals with incapacity in the Articles of Association.  The most common provision in large companies is for the termination of a director’s appointment if he or she loses capacity.  If your business does not have this or a similar provision or if you feel it may be discriminatory, a Business LPA could be an alternative to consider which allows you to appoint a proxy should you lose capacity.

As a Sole Director, it is not as straightforward.  The loss of capacity of the Sole Director would result in no one in a position to run the business – this is where a Business LPA can help make clear your wishes.

General Partnerships

If you are a Partner, your Partnership Agreement may cover what would happen if you were incapacitated – it is always good to check to ensure that the provision is adequate as you may feel that an LPA is needed.  If this is the case it is important to ensure that advice is sought to guarantee that any clause included is not discriminatory and that the LPA you wish to put in place does not conflict with the provisions already made in your current agreement.

Limited Liability Partnerships

If you are a Partner in a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), it may be that you operate under an Articles of Association model.  If this is the case it may be worth reviewing your Articles to ensure that any discriminatory clauses are removed and that you and the other partners take legal advice in regard to a Business LPA to ensure the minimum of disruption should any of you be incapacitated.

Sole Trader

As a Sole Trader, you run your business as an individual.  As such the business is not legally separate from the owner.  It is advisable if you are a Sole Trader to put a Business LPA in place to ensure that you do not expose your business to unnecessary risk.

The team at Tollers has experts that can assist with both Personal and Business LPAs and work with companies to ensure that their agreements and articles are robust and cover all that is required currently by law.  Having a Personal LPA in place will not necessarily cover your business interests and so it is important to take legal advice to ensure that your business interests are protected.

If you would like to know more about the practicalities and implications of making a Business Lasting Power of Attorney …Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558, and our Wills/Tax and Estate Planning team will be happy to advise you.

Find out more about LPAs here.

To value an estate, when administering it, there are two sets of values that you need to consider; the gross and net values for Inheritance Tax (IHT) purposes and the gross and net values for Probate purposes. Depending on how the deceased’s assets are owned, and whether there are any lifetime gifts to consider, these values may be the same or different, sometimes significantly.

Gross and net values for IHT

These are the values that the IHT calculation will be based upon and determine how much tax is paid, if any. This calculation will include the value of all of the assets that are held in the deceased’s sole name as well as a proportion (usually half, but not necessarily) of any jointly owned assets.

The calculation will also include the value of any gifts that were made by the deceased in the seven years before their death, after deducting any applicable exemptions such as annual or small gift exemptions.

The value of the gross estate for IHT purposes will also include the value of some trusts that the deceased had the benefit of during their lifetime to the date of their death (or any interest that they disposed of in the seven years before their death).

Once the values of all of the sole assets, the share of any joint assets, and any applicable gifts and trusts has been established, this is added up and the total is known as the gross estate for IHT.

From the gross estate, you can then deduct any liabilities (or share of liabilities from joint assets) that the deceased may have had at the date of death. This will include things such as outstanding credit card balances, mortgages on properties, and outstanding care fees.

When you have established the extent of the liabilities, this figure is deducted from the gross estate to give the net estate for IHT purposes, which will then enable you to calculate whether any IHT is due from the estate. This may also result in IHT being paid by any trusts that have been taken into consideration.

Gross and net values for Probate purposes

These totals differ from gross and net values for IHT as they do not include any joint assets, gifts or trusts. This is because joint assets do not pass in accordance with the deceased’s will or the intestacy rules but by survivorship (i.e. to the surviving joint owner). Gifts and trusts are not owned by the deceased at the date of their death and so also do not follow the deceased’s will or the intestacy rules.

Therefore, to value the gross estate for Probate purposes, you simply add up the value of all of the assets held in the deceased’s sole name at the date of their death and deduct the value of any liabilities in their sole name. If a mortgage is held in joint names, the liability passes to the surviving joint holder and so this is not deducted for Probate purposes.

The gross and net values for Probate purposes will appear on the Grant of Representation when it is issued by the Court, but the IHT values will not appear.

Obtaining the values

This usually involves getting in touch with any financial institutions that the deceased had dealings with in order to obtain the balances on the date of death. Other assets, such as shareholdings and properties, will need to be valued to be included in the paperwork.

If you are a personal representative of an estate (either an executor or administrator), it is very important that you ensure that you give the correct financial information to the best of your knowledge to the Court and, if applicable, to HMRC as both require that you make a declaration that you have done so. Whilst honest mistakes are accepted, you are expected to have made every effort to ensure that the information that you provide is correct. When you ask Tollers to administer an estate on your behalf, we will ask you for details of the assets that you are aware of and we will contact the financial institutions on your behalf to establish the values in the estate. We will also advise you as to how properties and other assets should be valued and assist you with this.

Talk to Tollers

If you need advice or guidance…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558.  Our experienced team is sensitive and supportive and always have your best interests at heart

Losing a loved one is something that we will all experience at some time during our life and, at what is an emotional time, it can be very difficult to consider what needs to be done in order to deal with the deceased’s estate. This article will advise you of the practical actions that need to be taken.

Unfortunately, until the death has been registered there is nothing that you can formerly do in respect of the deceased’s estate. This is because all organisations will require a copy of the death certificate to confirm the death.

Did the deceased leave a Will?

If the deceased left a Will then this will appoint Executors who have the authority to deal with the estate administration.

If the deceased died Intestate (without having left a valid Will) then the Intestacy rules determine who has the authority to deal with the administration. A member of the Tollers Trusts and Estates team will be able to assist with confirming who can deal with the estate depending on the deceased’s family situation.

Register the Death

Following someone’s death you will need to arrange for the death to be registered with the local Registrar. The GP who confirms the death will need to provide the Registrar with the cause of death information and once this is received an appointment can be made by you to register the death. This can be arranged online or by phoning the office locally to where the death occurred. You will need to provide the registrar with the full name of the deceased, date of birth, date of death, full address, occupation, marital status and the full name of any spouse or civil partner (deceased or surviving).

The number of death certificates required will depend on the number of deceased’s assets but each organisation will return the original to you so there is no need to buy an excessive amount. Please also bear in mind that if you instruct a solicitor to deal with the estate administration then they will be able to provide Death Verification forms of the original death certificate instead (if required).

Deceased’s property

The most important action in respect of the deceased’s property is to ensure that the property insurance company is advised of the death and that confirmation is provided as to whether the property is no longer occupied. Most insurance companies will carry on insuring the property but this may be for a limited time or limited risks or they will increase the premium to cover the additional risk if the property is empty.

It is advisable to remove any items of value as soon as possible after the death i.e; jewellery, cash, valuable artwork, antiques etc.

If the new owner remains living in the property then it would be advisable to either transfer the policy to them or make arrangements for a new policy to be entered into in their name.

Arrange the Funeral

You will need to instruct a Funeral Director to deal with the funeral arrangements, in the event that a pre-paid arrangement is not in place. If the deceased had a pre-paid funeral plan then this may refer to a specific funeral director who should be contacted.

If the deceased has made a Will then they may have included wishes in respect of their funeral and so this will need to be taken into consideration when arranging the funeral.

The funeral director will require a ‘green form’ from the registrars before they take any action as this is the authority for them to act. You will, however, be able to make an appointment to meet with the funeral director in order to discuss the arrangements. Consider clothing, venue, flowers and reception.

Tollers Trusts and Estates Team

Our friendly and approachable team will be happy to help with any questions that you may have regarding the process of dealing with an administration of an estate after losing a loved one. We will be able to support you, provide advice and assist you with the administration process from ascertaining the date of death value of the estate, making an application for the Grant of Probate, cashing in the assets and making the final distribution to the legal beneficiaries.

If you have a question…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 our experienced and empathetic Trusts and Estates team is here to provide you with the best information to help you make the decsions that are required.

More information can be found here.

Writing your Will and lifetime planning is an important part of preparing for the future.

Inheritance tax may be payable on your death depending upon the value of your estate when you die.  There is an allowance for each person’s estate before inheritance tax is payable which, on current figures, is £325,000, known as “the Nil-Rate Band”.  Subject to certain conditions, where you own your own house and leave it to your children, your estate can also qualify for an additional allowance of up to £175,000 known as “the Residence Nil-Rate Band”.

These allowances are transferable between spouses or civil partners.  For example, if the first to die leaves everything to the survivor of them, then their entire estate is exempt from inheritance tax.  In this case, on the subsequent death of the second of them, their estate would benefit from a doubling of the nil-rate band ie their estate would need to exceed £650,000 before any inheritance tax was payable.  If they are also eligible for the Residence Nil-Rate Band then their estate will need to exceed £1m before any inheritance tax is payable.  Any sum over and above any Nil-Rate Band allowance is taxable at 40%.

It is therefore important that you look at estate planning to consider mitigating any inheritance tax payable on your death.  This can be done in a number of ways including writing a tax-efficient Will, lifetime giving, considering charities and/or managing your inheritance tax liability by making use of all available exemptions and reliefs.

It is also worth bearing in mind that if you are a beneficiary of someone’s estate and you do not “need” these funds, it may be possible to re-write the person’s Will after their death.  Most people do this to pass the inheritance onto their own children by what is known as a Deed of Variation.  Providing this is done within two years of the death and the appropriate elections are made in the Deed the gift will be treated as having been made by the Deceased rather than you for inheritance tax purposes.

If you are planning to write or update a Will or require assistance with lifetime planning in regard to your estate…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558, our experienced Trusts and Estates team is on hand to guide you through the process.

More information regarding Inheritance tax…

The main difference between a Lasting Power of Attorney and a Deputyship centres around a person’s capacity. If a person does not have capacity, they will be unable to make a Lasting Power of Attorney, however, an application might need to be made to the Court of Protection for a deputy to be appointed to manage their financial affairs or their health and welfare.

Capacity

A person will be judged to have capacity if they can communicate: the nature of a lasting power of attorney, who they would like to act as their attorney and in the case of a Property and Finance Lasting Power of Attorney, how the appointment of an attorney will enable another person to manage their finances.

If there are any doubts about a person’s capacity, an assessment will need to be completed by a medical professional or qualified social worker in order to evidence capacity.

Lasting Power of Attorney

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) allows a person, with capacity, to appoint family members, close friends and/or professionals to act as their attorneys. Replacement attorneys can also be appointed just in case an original attorney becomes unable to act for whatever reason.

There are two different types of Lasting Powers of Attorney: Property and Affairs LPA and Health and Welfare LPA.

A Property and Affairs LPA allows attorneys to manage a person’s financial affairs. This could include the management of any bills, signing cheques and could even include the sale of a person’s property to fund their care fees.

A Health and Welfare LPA allows attorneys to make health-related decisions such as where a person might live, what medication they take and could include the authority to give or refuse consent to life-sustaining treatment on behalf of the person.

Deputyship Order

If a person lacks capacity, you can apply to become someone’s deputy through the Court of Protection. This is known as a deputyship application. A person might lack capacity when they have dementia, severe learning difficulties or have suffered a brain injury. A capacity assessment will need to be completed to confirm that a person does not have capacity before you can apply to be a deputy.

There are two types of deputyship orders: a property and financial affairs deputyship and a personal welfare deputyship. These mirror the different types of LPA.

Property and Financial Affairs Deputyship

Once a deputyship order has been granted by the Court of Protection, the deputy would have the authority to make financial decisions on the person’s behalf.

Personal Welfare Deputyship

If a deputyship order has been granted by the Court of Protection, the deputy would normally have authority to make specific decisions regarding a person’s day-to-day medical treatment (which could include life-sustaining treatment), where a person lives and any matters relating to their personal care. It is important to note that these orders are increasingly rare and supporting evidence would need to be strong in order for the Court to grant this order.

If you would like more advice and guidance regarding Lasting Powers of Attorney or putting a Duputyship in place…Talk to Tollers on 01604 258558 experienced Trusts and Estates and Elderly and Vulnerable team who are on hand to sensitivity advise and guide you through the process.

More about Lasting Powers of Attorney…

More about Deputyship…

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