10 reasons you might need a Will

top 10 reasons you might need a will

I was at a Networking Meeting recently and a lady asked me ‘Why would I need a Will?  What times in my life should I think about it?”

Great question!

So, here’s my list of the top 10 times you might need our services;

  • You turn 18 – OK, slightly facetious one to start with, but for most people that’s the earliest they can make a Will, so why not draft it over your first legal pint?
  • You move in with someone – Renting or buying, it’s usually a sign that this relationship might be going somewhere.  If you’re serious enough about them to want to share a washing up rota, you might want to protect them in your Will. Unmarried couples don’t have the same protection under intestacy (see glossary) as married folk.
  • You have children – This one should be a no-brainer.  In your Will, if you have children under 18, you make provision for how they will be cared for in the event of your death.  You appoint Guardians who will continue to bring your kids up.  You can leave instructions for them, and you can choose to leave a gift of money for them if they carry out their duties.
  • You get married – If you had a Will before marriage, the chances are, it’s now invalid! Of course, if you’re reading this with a view to getting married, we can draft your Will with a contemplation of marriage clause that legalises it.  Seriously, the law does afford you a bit of protection once you’re married in terms of intestacy, in that your spouse gets the first £250k, but you probably still want to take a look at your Estate Planning.  Intestacy Rules don’t account for previous children, step-kids, Inheritance Tax Planning …..
  • You make significant purchases – You bought a rental property – Get a Will!
  • You separate – THIS is the most significant one so far.  The same rules of Intestacy apply – your spouse gets the first £250k, and half of everything left over.  Your soon to be ex is still your spouse until the Decree Absolute comes through.  Is that what you want?
  • You remarry – Especially where this creates a ‘blended family’ situation, and things like habitation of a previous marital home can come into play.  You probably need to take a look at things from a new perspective,
  • You inherit – The IHT threshold is getting a lot closer for a lot of people!  An inheritance can push you way over that threshold.  You should automatically review your circumstances at this point.
  • You are bereaved – The loss of a loved one is a sad time, and I’m not suggesting that you engage a Will Writer immediately.  Due to IHT spousal transfer though, you may have inherited from your Husband, Wife or Civil Partner, and may now have a future Inheritance Tax Liability.  You may also simply want to revisit your planning now that quite possibly your first choice beneficiary has passed.
  • You get ill – This is the last one on the list. For many people, this is the first time they stop and consider their own mortality, the inevitability of life and death, and what they might want to do to help their loved ones once they’re gone.  We often see people at this time. As much as we love helping folk in this situation, it’s much nicer for all to make it 10 years before you get ill.  I know you don’t know when that will be, so do it now!

You might notice that Divorce isn’t on the list.  Unless a very rare clause has been used in your previous Will, your ex-spouse is automatically ignored in your Will.  They are in fact treated as if they are dead.  You may want to have a look just to make sure, but it is unlikely that they will benefit.

Of course, there are many other reasons for making a Will – these are just some seminal life events where the need might become greater.  We’re always happy to take a look at your current arrangements and review their suitability for you right now.  We make no charge for this service.

At Thoughtful Planning we have a range of services that give you Peace of Mind throughout the life cycle.  From Powers of Attorney, to Funeral Plans, Estate Administration and Wills, our Estate Planning service is small, friendly, and cares.  Contact us to see how we can help.

What is a Certificate Provider for an LPA?

What is a Certificate Provider?

All Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA’s), whether they are dealing with Health and Welfare, or Property and Financial Affairs, must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian to be deemed valid.

Each LPA needs to be certified by an independent signatory to state that the donor (see glossary) has the required mental capacity.  The Certificate Provider must be either someone who has known the donor well for over 2 years, or somebody acting in a professional capacity.

The Certificate Provider cannot be a member of the either the Donor’s or Attorney’s families. Also they cannot be a Director, Manager, owner or employee of a Care Home in which the Donor lives.  Finally, they can’t be a business partner, or be employed by the same business or firm as an Attorney or the Donor.

What is the certificate provider for an LPA?

What does a Certificate Provider on an LPA do?

What are the duties of a Certificate Provider?

The person acting as Certificate Provider must be able to demonstrate that they understand the process of making an LPA, and its implications.  They must be confident that the donor understands they are giving rights of attorney to another party, and are clear about what these powers are.

At Thoughtful Planning, our consultants are experienced Certificate Providers.  We are happy to act in this capacity as part of your Estate Planning solution.

We are based in West Yorkshire and offer cost-free home visits throughout the North.  If you would like more information please contact us, or book your consultation here.

Refund of Power of Attorney Registration fees

If you made either an EPA (Enduring Power of Attorney) or LPA (Lasting Power of Attorney) between April 1 2013 and March 31 2017, you may be entitled to a partial refund of your registration fees.

Between these dates, the Office of the Public Guardian made substantial operating cost savings, as LPA’s became more widespread. The registration cost did not come down in line with these savings, and as the department is not allowed to make a profit, the Ministry of Justice announced a refund scheme.

Power of Attorney Refund

Power of Attorney Refund

There is an extremely easy process to follow to make your claim for a refund, but you must claim before the end of January 2021.  Either the ‘donor’ of the LPA or an Attorney can make the claim.  Additionally, if the donor is deceased, a claim may be made by the estate administrators or executors.

Before you start you should make sure you have;

  • The donor’s Bank Account details
  • A copy of the LPA (if possible)

Then click here to start your claim

You’ll need about 10 minutes, and the refund will take around 12 weeks to process.

If you don’t have an LPA, please see our dedicated Power of Attorney pages for more information about our Fixed Price service

Do I need a Will?

The typical Will Writing Service client is often 55-plus years of age, retired, married, and often have new grandchildren.  So it’s easy to see why they would look at writing a will as a priority. What about if you don’t fit that profile?

I was packing up after a networking event recently, and a young chap approached me.  My talk had prompted him to ask, “Do I need a Will?”. Of course, there’s no easy answer to that.  I’m inclined to say everyone does because I often see the mess left behind when a loved one dies without having written a will. But this lad was around 19 years old, lived at home, had no substantial romantic relationship, didn’t have much in the way of assets, had no kids and …. well, he was a typical 19 year old in all the best possible ways!

I had to begrudgingly concede that he probably had very little need for a will right now, but I implored him to give me a call when anything substantial takes place in his life. So, when (let’s call him) Bob;

  • Has a child
  • Enters a substantial relationship
  • Ends a substantial relationship
  • Buys his own house
  • Has a change in his financial circumstances (Inheritance, Lottery Win!, Salary changes)

then he’ll give me a call.

I think this question can only really be answered by yourself.  So often people say to me that there is no point having a will because they have no money.  That’s not a great reason on its own.  Many of those people also have children.  Simply having children in itself is a great reason to make a Will.  In your Will, you can appoint ‘Guardians’ – these are the loved and trusted people in your life who agree to look after your children in the event of your death.  THIS is peace of mind! I wrote a Will this week for a young, single mother. The simple fact that she could name someone in her Will to look after her daughter if she died was reason enough to make that will.

So ask yourself, without a valid Will in place, who would suffer?  A Will never benefits the person who writes it. It is there to help your loved ones get through a really tough time.  If you conclude that it is worth looking at making a will, please get in touch. We’re always more than happy to talk through your options, and we offer Fixed Pricing on all Wills and LPA’s

Our Amazing #BlackFriday deal

Thoughtful Planning Black Friday LPA deal

Don’t miss this amazing offer on LPA’s.  Some companies charge upwards of £500 for an LPA.  Take advantage before we change our mind.

Appointment must be organised, and payment made by 5pm on 1/12/17

For any questions, please contact us on 01134360350

We’ve joined the fight – will you?

I’m so chuffed to announce our corporate partnership with The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust (Reg’d Charity Number 1138003).

In March 1995, Laura Crane was a 15 year schoolgirl from Huddersfield, studying for GCSE’s when she was diagnosed with Cancer – an immature Teratoma, which can often be relatively uncomplicated, and successfully treated.  Unfortunately, during Laura’s journey, further, more aggressive cancers were discovered, and Laura passed away in 1996, aged just 17.

When The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust was founded, in 1996, there was no national charity aimed specifically at research into childhood cancers.  Between the ages of 13 and 24, there are a number of unique cancer risks, which need special research. The trust do some amazing work, both into funding non-animal research, and also into helping and supporting patients and their families.

We’d love to help raise awareness of this outstanding charity, and so have adopted them as an official charity partner.  They run their whole UK operation from Huddersfield, with a team of just 3 employees!

So for each document that we produce, we will donate £2 to the trust.  We will also offer a small discount to any customer who wishes to leave either a cash legacy of above £250, or 2.5% or more of their residual estate to the charity.

We look forward to growing our relationship with Pam and the team.  Will you take a look at their website, and see how you can help?

The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust

The Laura Crane Youth Cancer Trust

Could writing a Last Will and Testament soon be compulsory?

Could writing a Living Will be mandatory?

It was reported in the national press this week that a senior UK judge has suggested that writing a living will should be made mandatory.  In this article, Judge Justice Francis was referring to ‘Living Wills’ – a statement of wishes in the event of being seriously incapacitated.  He had been dealing with an issue in the Court of Protection, part of the Family Division of the High Court, where there was disagreement about the treatment of a pensioner with dementia.

Justice Francis made a suggestion that there could be a national awareness campaign along the lines of the highly successful Organ Donation blueprint.

We would welcome such a campaign.  The number of enquiries we get here where concerned family members are looking at putting a Lasting Power of Attorney into place for their relative who may or may not be lacking the required mental capacity to do so.  An appointment has come in today where this may be the case.  A team member will go out, and hopefully will be able to complete an LPA, but they will have to make an initial capacity judgement before proceeding.  Where we aren’t convinced, a full medical Mental Capacity Assessment has to be ordered, adding time and money to the whole process.   Ultimately, if a client is adjudged to be incapable of understanding what they are doing, a very arduous and expensive path of obtaining Deputyship is the only remaining option.

We’ve previously written about a particular situation that was reported in Yorkshire. Thankfully there was a decent resolution to that one, but I’ve personally had to inform a family that they’ve left it 3 months too late to get something in place.

We offer free initial advice by telephone or Skype. Don’t leave it too late. Pick up the phone and speak to a consultant for a no obligation chat.  You can find our contact details here. This is our passion. We love when we are called in the nick of time. We hate when we’re not.

Lasting Power of Attorney Form UK

Lasting Power of Attorney Form UK

Can a person with Dementia make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Can a person with Dementia make an LPA?

Driving in to work this morning I was listening to a sad story on BBC Radio 5 Live. It was discovered that a pensioner from Leeds who is suffering from Alzheimer’s was paying £110 each month to Sky, as well as Gas and Electricity Bills of £60 each per month.

His niece, Rachel Holdsworth, discovered this shocking fact when helping her uncle Rodney with his bank account.  Thankfully, after tweeting Sky, Rachel was able to reduce Rodney’s bills to £55, and is investigating the utility bills.

Can a person with Dementia make an LPA?

This is a common situation faced by that army of family carers looking after elderly relatives who may not have full mental capacity.  Often when trying to sort these issues out, the challenge soon becomes a Data Protection one, with the carer unable to access their loved ones’ accounts.  Additionally, the customer may be unable to remember their security information and so aren’t able to make changes to their own accounts.

The final issue is that those suffering from these kind of dreadful diseases become increasingly unable to take advantage of the best deals on the market.  My own experience shows that they are often on legacy deals, which are often on less favourable terms than they could receive.

There is an OFCOM rule which states that third party access to online accounts, but quite how often this is utilised, or how easy to implement, nobody seems really sure. Frankly, something needs to be done to protect our most vulnerable in society. Dementia is a growing epidemic, that shows no signs of disappearing fast.

If an LPA was in place from the outset, of course the nominated Attorneys would be able to affect change.  They would be in control of not only online utility and satellite TV bills, but also the bank accounts that bills are often taken from by Direct Debit.  An LPA, or Lasting Power of Attorney is one of the most useful tools in the Estate Planning armoury. Unfortunately it is often too late to do anything by the time real life issues arise.

I’ve had two enquiries in the last couple of weeks that directly relate to this situation.  In the first case, Health & Welfare, and Property and Financial Affairs LPA’s are now in the process of being registered with the Office of the Public Guardian, the UK government agency that deals with protecting citizens who lack mental capacity.  In the second instance, an appointment has been made, and I’m confident at this stage that we will be able to help.

The key issue is that an LPA can only be put in place at a time when the person in question (the donor) is of sufficient mental capacity to understand the powers they are granting under the terms of the LPA.  Now clearly as time progresses, degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s take away this capacity.  Initially though it is more than likely that enough understanding of the situation exists, and Attorneyship can be arranged.

Without getting too technical, there is something called the ‘Golden Rule’ arising from the Mental Capacity Act 2005 which determines capability to make such a decision.  The ‘Certificate Provider’ which is often the person completing the LPA forms (we act as Certificate Provider) has to effectively declare to the best of their ability that the donor has the required level of understanding to make the decision.

Sometimes that will be assessed on a simple face to face meeting.  In early stage dementia this is often easy to do.  Later on, this may require commissioning a Mental Capacity Assessment by an external professional.  In all cases it is our company policy to ‘notify’ the donor’s GP officially using the OPG forms.

So the reality of the situation is that if your loved one is showing signs of confusion, or has been recently diagnosed with dementia, it is still possible that they will be able to grant you or another carer legal attorneyship.  The key is to get this done early.  Don’t delay, or you could end up fighting a losing battle.  Ultimately your loved one is the person who loses out, so act early.

We’re always more than happy to have an initial chat about this, or any, situation.  You can email us at [email protected], or call us on 01134360350.  You will find our full contact details here

Is a copy of a Will legally valid?

Is a copy of a Will legally valid?

You are absolutely within your rights to make as many copies of your Will as you like.  But is a copy of a Will legally valid?

The simple answer is no, and without getting into semantics, that is the advice we would always give.  Copies are OK for giving to Executors or Guardians if you want them to be fully aware of the contents right now.  We always suggest writing on the cover sheet “This is a copy of my Will. The original is stored at ______ with Reference number ______”.  This can be very useful when the time comes, as so many Wills sit in stuffy filing cabinets, and then have to be found on the death of the testator.

However, for a Will to be valid, it needs to be the original, in good condition.  For probate to be granted, the original Will must be sent to the Probate Registry, who will then issue the Executors with a Grant of Probate.  If the original Will can’t be located, a copy of a Will can sometimes be accepted by the Probate Registrar, if there is enough evidence to prove that the original hadn’t been destroyed by the testator, and that the copy is of the legal LAST Will and Testament.  You will most likely need the services of a professional dealing with ‘Contentious Probate’ – get your cheque books out!

Wills do go missing, and the courts try to apply as much common sense as they can, but ultimately they are dealing with an individual’s last wishes.  It is incumbent on the authorities to ensure that those wishes are absolutely carried out.

The main reasons that a copy of Will may be submitted to Probate come back to the original being misplaced.  This occurs when proper records haven’t been kept, and often when time has passed between making the Will and the death of the testator.  When they are stored in dusty filing cabinets, usually at a solicitors that may have changed hands a number of times, the chances of them getting lost are increased.

Thoughtful Planning do offer a Will Storage service.  Your document is sealed in a waterproof, rodent-proof wallet and kept in a secure facility.  They are fully insured whilst in storage, and will be recreated and replaced free of charge should loss or damage occur.  The location of your Will is recorded on the National Wills Register, and you are provided with plastic identity cards, which can be given to your Executor, who can then access your Will free of charge.  Please ask for more information, or contact us with your enquiry.

So, in summary – you can make copies, and there’s an outside chance that they’ll be accepted as ‘the real thing’, but what’s the point?  You will just be putting your loved ones under more pressure.  Be ‘Thoughtful’ and secure the storage of your original.

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See you after the Bank Holiday

Well, that’s it.  The office is packed up now until Tuesday morning.  I hope you have a great week end.  I’ll be busy tomorrow, at Headingley for the England v West Indies Test Match, and then on to the boxing at stupid o’clock on Sunday morning.

Don’t forget, you can still make a booking for your Wills, LPA, Funeral Planning or Insurance consultation using our online booking system.

See you after the week end!