Legal Advice Factsheets

>Factsheets
Factsheets 2017-09-04T21:28:13+00:00

We are always working on ways to improve the communication between ourselves and our clients. Part of this involves producing factsheets and guides to help you make decisions about the legal matters that are important to you and your loved ones.

Here you’ll find some of our most frequently requested factsheets. We review and add to this list from time to time. If you are looking for information on a topic that isn’t covered here, please feel free to contact us. These factsheets have been prepared to help and guide you on the various topics covered, but are no substitute for legal advice. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you need more information.

Wills & Probate

An Advance Decision, sometimes called a Living Will, is a legally binding document setting out what circumstances you would want to refuse specific medical treatment in the future.

It would come into effect if you ever lost capacity to consent to treatment for some reason. This could be because you have suffered an accident, are unconscious, or you are suffering from a condition that means you are no longer able to make decisions about the care you receive.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET
If you have children under the age of 18, then you need to appoint a guardian in your Will. This is the case whether you are a single parent or if you are a couple with children.

If you are a couple, then although on the death of one of you, the other will usually continue to care for the children, if you both died, then a guardian would need to step in, to care for and make decisions for your child or children, until they reached 18.

This can be a difficult and emotional decision, but we can help with some of the essential points you need to consider.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET
A Deed of Variation is where one or more beneficiaries of a deceased person’s estate chose to give up or change the amount of inheritance they have received under a Will or Intestacy, in favour of someone else. Sometimes a Deed of Variation is called a Deed of Family Arrangement.

There are many reasons why a beneficiary may wish to alter their entitlement; it could be because they wish to provide for others who are in greater need, or because there are tax advantages of doing so.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET

If someone was receiving means tested benefits during their lifetime, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) might ask for information about their estate after they have died.
This is because they want to make sure that any benefit paid, was correctly assessed during the person’s lifetime. In some cases, money has to be paid back.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET
When someone dies, it is usually necessary to deal with the ‘winding up’ of their estate. This means sorting out their property and affairs in accordance with their Will – or if there is no Will, in accordance with the Administration of Estates Act.

Where there is a Will

If someone leaves a Will, it is usually necessary to apply for a Grant of Probate to give the Executor (the person appointed in the Will to manage the estate), the authority to do deal with everything.

Where there is no Will

If there is no Will, it may be necessary to apply for someone to be appointed an Administrator, to take on the role of winding up the affairs. In this case, the authority is called a Grant of Letters of Administration.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET

If you have a connection with any of the EU member states listed at the end of this note, or expect to have one in future, the EU Succession Regulation may change what happens to your estate when you die. You may need to change your will (including any foreign wills), or make a will if you don’t already have one. Advice that you have received in the past may no longer be correct.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET

There are two ways in which you can own property jointly in England and Wales:

  1. Joint Tenants; or
  2. Tenants in Common

In this context, the word ‘tenant’ means owner, and ‘tenancy’ means ownership. Our factsheet explains the difference and how it affects you.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET

We advise many clients when it comes to planning for the future. One recurring theme concerns care home costs, and how these might be met. Many people worry about having to sell their home to pay for care.

There are measures that we can take however, to safeguard part of your loved ones’ inheritance, and to prevent the whole of your property from being taken into account should you require care in the future.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET

We advise many clients when it comes to planning for the future.

One recurring theme concerns how best to protect children from losing their inheritance, if a spouse or partner remarries, or enters into a new relationship, after the first spouse or partner has died.

It is also important to consider this if you already have children from a previous marriage, and you want to make sure that they are protected.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET
Whatever age you are, your Will lets you decide what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death. Making a Will can also make sure that your relatives don’t pay more inheritance tax than they need to.

We don’t recommend writing your own Will or using a Will Pack from a stationer, as the Will may not be interpreted in accordance with your wishes; it could also end up being be invalid.

Taking advice from a solicitor, fully trained and qualified in this area, and regulated by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, ensures that your Will reflects your wishes and is legally sound.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET

Powers of Attorney

If you are named as an Attorney in a Lasting Power of Attorney, then you may be required to make decisions about the affairs of a friend or family member. This could be because they ask you to (in the case of financial decisions), or because they now lack capacity to manage their own affairs. The person who appointed you in the Lasting Power of Attorney is call the Donor.

Perhaps your friend or relation has special needs, has had an accident or illness, or is suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia. As an Attorney, you’ll be authorised by the Donor in advance to make decisions on their behalf, but you need to be mindful of the legal framework within which you are authorised to do so.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) lets you appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf. It is usually used when someone is unable to make their own decisions, and needs to be made long in advance of this happening. Anyone over the age of 18 can make a Lasting Power of Attorney. They are very practical and useful documents. LPAs ensure that should you be unable to make decisions for yourself, there is always someone chosen by you who can step in.

If you don’t make an LPA then no one can automatically assume this authority, and the matter could end up going to Court. It would then be the Court who would decide who could act for you and this can be expensive and take a long time.

DOWNLOAD THE PERSONAL FACTSHEET

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) lets you appoint someone to make decisions on your behalf. It is usually used when someone is unable to make their own decisions, and needs to be made long in advance of this happening. Anyone over the age of 18 can make a Lasting Power of Attorney. They are very practical and useful documents. LPAs ensure that should you be unable to make decisions for yourself, there is always someone chosen by you who can step in.

If you don’t make an LPA then no one can automatically assume this authority, and the matter could end up going to Court. It would then be the Court who would decide who could act for you and this can be expensive and take a long time.

DOWNLOAD THE BUSINESS FACTSHEET

You can no longer make new Enduring Powers of Attorney, as these were replaced in October 2007 with Lasting Powers of Attorney. However, if your loved one has an Enduring Power of Attorney that was made before October 2007, then it is still valid and can be registered and used if they lose capacity.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET

Inheritance Tax Planning

Many people consider passing on significant assets to their children or loved ones during their lifetime, and the reasons for making such gifts vary. Whether you are proposing to gift property or another significant asset, there are consequences which should always be considered.

This factsheet highlights some of the main considerations when thinking about gifting, but you’ll still need to take independent legal advice, based on your own circumstances.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET
Deliberate deprivation is where you have intentionally decreased your overall assets to reduce the amount you have to pay towards your care. Contrary to popular belief, there is no time limit after which such deprivation will be disregarded by the local authority. Some people believe there is a seven-year rule, but the seven-year rule is about inheritance tax and not care home fees. Want to know more?

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET

A discretionary trust is a flexible trust under which no beneficiary has an automatic right to receive assets. Instead, it is the trustees who have the power to decide who, from a list of beneficiaries, should receive the money or property held in the trust, and when.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET

Court of Protection

If you are named as a Deputy in an Order from the Court of Protection, then you will be required to make decisions about the affairs of a friend or family member.

This will be because they now lack capacity to manage their own affairs. The person who you are making decisions for is called the Patient and you are called the Deputy.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET

If you are in a situation where you are looking after the affairs of a friend or family member who lacks capacity to manage his or her own affairs, it may be necessary to apply to Court to be their Deputy. Perhaps your friend or relation has special needs, has had an accident or illness or is suffering from Alzheimer’s or Dementia. As a Deputy, you’ll be authorised by the Court of Protection to make decisions on their behalf.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET

Funeral Planning

The traditional way of arranging a funeral is to engage the services of a funeral director. They may be a member of an organisation such as the National Association of Funeral Directors.

This naturally entails paying for these services and, in most cases, arranging for someone to deal with their burial or cremation. There is an alternative however, you could arrange the entire funeral yourself.

The process is not likely to be easy, physically or emotionally, but if you feel this is the best way to carry out your duty, then it may be a fitting way to proceed.

DOWNLOAD THE FULL FACTSHEET

Contact us for further information on any of the topics above.

Get in touch