Solicitor in Crewe fast friendly and effective professionals

Tel: 01270 212000 or 01270 610300
law@hswsolicitors.co.uk

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 Autumn Statement Review (10/12/2014)

Personal Taxation
Change:



•The personal tax allowance will rise to £10,600 (instead of the £10,500 originally planned).
•The Higher rate tax threshold will also increase to £42,385.

When:
Both will take affect from April 2015
What does this mean for me? :



Currently the personal tax allowance is £10,000. This change means that you will be able to earn another £600 more tax free.

The higher-rate tax threshold, above which income is taxed at 40%, will also increase from £41,865 to £42,385 in 2015-16 as a direct result of the move to up the tax free personal allowance.

Allowances & Savings
Change:

ISAs will be transferrable to a surviving spouse of civil partner tax free on death
When:
This becomes effective immediately on both cash and stocks & shares ISAs
What does this mean for me? :
Currently a spouse or civil partner can inherit an ISA but it loses it’s tax free status however, with the changes, any amount held by someone that has dies will be transferrable to their spouse or civil partner without creating a tax liability on death i.e. it does not count as part of their estate for inheritance tax purposes.
Any money you inherit this way will be in addition to any ISA allowance you have.
.




Change:

The ISA limit will increase to £15,240
When:
As from April 2015
What does this mean for me? :
This means that you can save up £15,240 in an ISA without having to pay tax on it.

This is £240 more than the £15,000 limit for 2014/2015

Junior ISA limits have also increase from £4,000 to £4,080

Change:

The government will no longer be continuing with proposals to introduce a single nil-rate Inheritance Tax band across multiple trusts
When:
N/A
What does this mean for me? :
These were announced in the 2014 budget to attempt to prevent people from taking advantage of the tax rules through establishing multiple trusts. The government are to now consider new rule to target such avoidance.

Change:

Extension of the Inheritance Tax exemption

When:
For deaths after 19th March 2014
What does this mean for me? :
People in certain high risk roles are exempt from paying inheritance tax if they die in active service. Previously this included armed forces personnel.
This exemption has now been extended so that is also includes emergency services personnel such as police, firefighters and paramedics as well as being extended to humanitarian aid workers.
Change:

Changes to the non-domiciles fee structure

When:
No timescale set
What does this mean for me? :
You must report foreign income or gains of £2,000 or more, or any money that you bring to the UK, in a Self-Assessment tax return.
You can either; pay UK tax on them - you may able to claim it back or claim the remittance basis
Claiming the remittance basis means you only pay UK tax on the income or gains you bring to the UK, but you lose tax-free allowances for Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax (some dual residents may keep them) and you have to pay an annual charge
The Change means that once a non-domiciled person has been resident in the UK for 12 out of the last 14 tax years if he wishes to claim the remittance basis he currently has to pay an annual remittance basis charge (RBC) of £50,000. This will increase to £60,000 from April 2015. A new higher RBC of £90,000 will also apply to remittance basis users who have been resident for 17 out of the last 20 tax years. The RBC of £30,000 for remittance basis users who have been resident for seven out of the previous nine tax years will remain unchanged.

Change:
New Pensioners Bonds
When:
As from January 2015
What does this mean for me? :
Special savings bonds for over-65s will be available via NS&I – the Government's savings arm.
There's a one-year bond paying 2.8% AER and a three-year bond paying 4% AER.
Bonds can be many things but In this case it refers to a fixed-rate savings account. That means you get a guaranteed rate for a set time and your cash is locked away.

Annuities and Pensions
Change:
55% Pension death tax abolished
When:
As from April 2015
What does this mean for me? :
Individuals will now be able to pass on their unused defined contribution pension savings to a friend or family member on, death tax free (if they die before the age of 75)
Beneficiaries of pension funds left to them by someone aged 75 or over will also now be able to take the funds through drawdown at their marginal tax rate – previously this was only available to dependants.

Change:
Joint life and guaranteed term annuities may now be passed to beneficiaries tax free if you die before the age of 75.

When:
As from April 2015
What does this mean for me? :
Beneficiaries of individuals who die under the age of 75 with these types of annuity will be able to receive any future payments from such policies tax-free.
The tax rules are also changing to allow joint life annuities to be passed on to any beneficiary. Currently, you can only nominate your spouse/civil partner or a dependant as the person who receives an income from your annuity after you die.


 Changes to Intestacy Rules (06/10/2014)

Have a look at this interesting article as to how these affect you - for more information call us on 01270 212000 or 610300 to make an appointment Click here for the article


 Certainty Will Registration (26/07/2013)

Hall Smith Whittingham LLP has become a member of the Certainty National Registry of Wills.
If you are already a client of the firm and made your Will prior to 31st October 2012 we are pleased to be able to offer you a free of charge Will saving you £30.Why we are advising clients to register their Will
In a recent survey, 67% of people surveyed did not know where to find their parents’ Wills. Indeed tens of thousands of estates do fall into intestacy each year, which can cause emotional and financial turmoil for loved ones.
Although we keep a database of all the Wills which we hold, changing circumstances, moving to another area or simply the passage of time can sometimes make it difficult for beneficiaries to locate a Will. Registering your Will ensures that Solicitors across the country can log the existence of Wills in a central place. This ensures that you Will is easily traceable by your beneficiaries and not overlooked.
What does the registry of Wills do?
1.The registry records that we hold your Will; no one there sees it, and we keep it here.
2.Following your death, the registry gives us details about anyone who is looking for your Will.
3.We answer the query if it is legitimate, but if not we ignore it, thus protecting both your privacy and your beneficiaries.
Sadly, none of us are immortal and we cannot take our possession with us. Regularly reviewing your Will and having it registered is one of the most important things that you can do for your loved ones.
To take advantage of this offer simply return the attached form, contact via phone or email us. If you have a concern that your Will is not currently up to date then please contact the undersigned.


 Intestacy and Family Provision Claims on Death (24/04/2012)

The Law Commission has published it‘s final report on 14 December on Intestacy and Family Provision Claims on Death, which recommends reform of the law and presents two draft Bills to implement the necessary changes.



The draft inheritance and Trustees‘ Powers Bill includes reforms that would:



•ensure that where a couple are married or in a civil partnership, assets pass on intestacy to the surviving spouse in all cases where there are no children or other descendants;
•simplify the sharing of assets on intestacy where the deceased was survived by a spouse and children or other descendants;
•protect children who suffer the death of a parent from the risk of losing an inheritance from that parent in the event that they are adopted after the death;
•amend the legal rules which currently disadvantage unmarried fathers when a child dies intestate;
•remove arbitrary obstacles to family provision claims by dependants of the deceased and anyone treated by the deceased as a child of his or her family outside the context of a marriage or civil partnership;
•permit a claim for family provision in certain circumstances where the deceased died ’domiciled’ outside of England and Wales but left property and family members or dependants here: and
•reform trustees‘ statutory powers to use income and capital for the benefit of trust beneficiaries (subject to any express provisions in the trust instrument).



The draft Inheritance (Cohabitants) Bill contains further provisions that would give certain unmarried partners who have lived together for five years the right to inherit on each others death under the intestacy rules. Where the couple have a child together, this entitlement would accrue after two years‘ cohabitation, provided the child was living with the couple when the deceased died.


 Land Registry Tips against Fraud (24/04/2012)

Property is usually the most valuable asset that people own. It can be sold and mortgaged to raise money and is therefore an attractive target for fraudsters. Properties most vulnerable to fraud are usually empty, tenanted or mortgage free. Individuals at a higher risk of fraud include owners who are often absent for whatever reason; for example that the owners may be in long term or residential care, live abroad, buy to let Landlord and where a relationship has broken down.



Land Registry‘s top tips to help owners protect their property from fraudster‘s are:-



•first of all make sure the property is registered. If the owner becomes an innocent victim of fraud and suffers a financial loss as a consequence, they will be compensated.


•once registered make sure the contact details are up to date.


•you can have up to three addresses on the register; e-mail addresses or an address abroad can be used. The information provided, the more chance the Land Registry has in contacting the owner if needed.


•owners who feel their property might be at risk can have a restriction entered on their property which is designed to help prevent forgery by requiring the Solicitor or Conveyancer to certify they are satisfied that the person selling or mortgaging the property is the true owner. From 1st February 2012, there is no Land Registry fee for homeowners to register this restriction, as long as they do not live in the property they wish to protect. Owner-occupiers will continue to pay.



For further details, please ask for: -



Crewe Office



Alison Greatbanks; 01270 21200 or agreatbanks@hswsolicitors.co.uk



Nantwich Office



Angela Lewis:; 01270 610300 or alewis@hswsolicitors.co.uk


 DOUGIE MAC WILLS WEEK 14th to 18th May 2012 (23/04/2012)

We are once again pleased to confirm that we are supporting the Douglas Macmillan Hospice base in Blurton, Stoke On Trent, in their fundraising efforts by providing a Will writing service free of charge during the Will Week which runs from 14th to 18th May 2012.



To qualify for the ’free’ Will you will need to contact the Douglas Macmillan Hospice to obtain your Will making pack, which includes a voucher qualifying you for a ’free’ Will. Please note that the ’free will making service’ does only apply to straightforward Wills and a small charge may be made for more complicated Wills. You will be advised of these charges at your appointment.



In return, Douglas Macmillan asks that you leave with us a small donation with a value of at least £50 - £90. Alternatively, you can leave within your Will a bequest to the Hospice.



For further information regarding the good work that the Hospice undertakes please refer to their website dmhospice.org.uk



For further details, please ask for: -



Crewe Office



Alison Greatbanks; 01270 21200 or agreatbanks@hswsolicitors.co.uk



Nantwich Office



Angela Lewis:; 01270 610300 or alewis@hswsolicitors.co.uk


 DIY PROBATE RUNS RISK (21/06/2011)

It is entirely possible to apply for probate and deal with an estate, without seeing a lawyer, but it’s not without risks warns legal group, Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE).



Many professionally drafted wills contain trusts to save tax, to avoid those who inherit paying care fees and to reduce the likelihood of potential disputes. SFE members have noticed an increase in ’DIYers’ returning to them to seek advice when they have made a mistake or find the paperwork too tricky. Mrs A’s will had included a tax saving trust, but when her husband administered the estate, he paid the whole estate to himself. The solicitor was thankfully able to sort out the matter and avoid future complications occurring when Mr A eventually dies. In Mr G’s case, he sold some shares that had made a gain during the administration of his late sister’s estate and had to pay tax. If he had transferred the shares to himself first, before selling them, he could have avoided the tax.



Local SFE member, Alison Greatbanks said ’People aren’t always aware of the complexities and assume probate work is straightforward. It is true that it can be, but it is just as true that sometimes it isn’t. In all but the most straightforward cases, it is important to seek timely specialist legal advice that can actually save you money and worry.’



Many SFE members’ practices will offer to work in partnership with the deceased’s family to help and support them with the legal and technical work. As elder law specialists, members can even add value to their work, for example by identifying cases where money is owed to the estate for care funding, which should have been met by the NHS and assist in making a claim.



Notes to Editors:



1. Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) is an independent, national organisation of lawyers, such as solicitors, barristers, and legal executives who are committed to providing the highest quality of legal advice for older and vulnerable people, their families and carers.



2. Members must pass an entrance exam to join, and have experience of dealing with older client issues. They also sign up to the Code of Practice, which includes being up front about charges for services.
Codes of Practice




3. Members benefit from regular training and education to ensure they deliver the best service possible for their clients.



4. Members contact details: Miss Alison Greatbanks



5. Further details are available on the SFE website: Solicitors for the Elderly


 DOUGIE MAC WILLS WEEK 16th to 20th May 2011 (01/05/2011)

We are once again please to confirm that we are supported the Douglas Macmillan Hospice base in Blurton, Stoke On Trent, in their fundraising efforts by providing a Will writing service free of charge during the Will Week That runs from 16th to 29th May 2011.



To qualify for the ’free’ Will you will need to contact the Douglas Macmillan Hospice to obtain your Will making pack, which includes a voucher qualifying you for a “free” Will. Please note that the ’free will making service’ does only apply to straightforward Wills” and a small charge may be made for more complicated Wills. You will be advised of these charges at your appointment.



In return, Douglas Macmillan asks that you leave with us a small donation with a value of at least £50 - £90. Alternatively, you can leave within your Will a bequest to the Hospice.



For further information regarding the good work that the Hospice undertakes please refer to their website
dmhospice.org.uk




For further details, please ask for: -



Crewe Office


Alison Greatbanks; 01270 21200 or agreatbanks@hswsolicitors.co.uk



Nantwich Office


Angela Lewis; 01270 610300 or alewis@hswsolicitors.co.uk


 Autumn 2007 End for Enduring Powers of Attorney (16/05/2007)

Q. Have you signed an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA)?



A. Everyone over the age of 18 should make one if they have a trusted person or people in their lives.



Q. What does it do?



A. It is a legal document which allows you to choose a trusted person or persons, known as an Attorney(s) to act on your behalf in relation to your financial affairs and property.



Q. Can it be used straightaway and whilst I have full mental capacity?



A. If you wish it to - yes. It can be very useful, for example if you were in hospital for a while your Attorneys, at your request, could use your bank account to pay your bills. Once you are better you could take full charge again.



Q. What if I lose mental capacity and I can no longer deal with my financial affairs?



A. Your Attorneys will be able to act for you once the EPA has been registered with the Court of Protection, which is a straight forward procedure.



Q. What if I haven't signed one and I am no longer able to deal with my financial affairs?



A. Many people believe that a close family member can act, but this is not true! Without an EPA there is NO-ONE legally in place to act and someone will have to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as Receiver. It is expensive, time consuming and long winded - not to mention the emotional cost and so it is best avoided if at all possible.



Q. But time is running out?



A. Yes -from Autumn 2007 no new EPAs can be made. Only those who have already signed an EPA will be able to keep and use them.



Q. Why?



A. The Mental Capacity Act 2005 will come into force and replace EPAs with Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs). LPAs have positive and negative sides. On the positive side it will be possible to appoint attorneys to act not only in relation to finance and property, but also health, welfare and end of life decisions. On the negative side they will be a more complex document than EPAs to make. They are expected to be at least 25 pages long and must be registered with the Public Guardian before use. It is expected they will cost significantly more than an EPA to make. EPAs are less complex and can be used in many situations without the involvement of the Court of Protection or the payment of additional fees.



Q. What should I do?



A. Don’t wait! Get legal advice now from Hall Smith Whittingham LLP


 Thinking of giving your home to your children? (16/05/2007)

Putting your home in trust to keep it out of the clutches of local authorities does not always work.



Introduction (a bit long but worth the read!)



We are continually contacted by client’s who have been advised by Will Writers that a way of protecting their home from being used to fund nursing care bills in the future is to put their home in trust, with their children as beneficiaries. This, client‘s are told will ensure that the properties value would not be taken into account if they ever needed nursing care.



Under current guidelines, people entering a residential home are assessed by their local authority to see if they can afford to pay their own fees. Although the state contributes to nursing bills, those whose total assets are worth more than £20,500 have to pay for everything else. As a result, people fear that there could be nothing left to pass on to their children with, the average place in a nursing home costing in excess of £25,000 a year.



However, simply giving away a home, or putting it in trust, is not guaranteed to keep it safe from the local authority's clutches. It could work in some cases, particularly if the property is transferred years before the need for care arises. But there are no guarantees.



Local authorities have a duty to judge whether people have "deliberately deprived" themselves of assets for this purpose. If they decide this is the case, they can - and do - refuse to pay care costs and register a charge against the property. There is no independent arbiter; the authority itself makes the decision.



The guidelines state that avoiding care costs does not even have to be the principal motive behind a property disposal, merely a significant factor. In this case the local authority can take the "notional value" into account when assessing a person's ability to pay fees. Councils can go back as far as they wish when making this decision.



Many clients‘ come to us and quote the 7-year rule however, this relates to inheritance tax. For example, if someone gives away assets in order to reduce their inheritance tax bill, the value of the gift is disregarded completely, so long as they survive a further seven years and do not retain any benefit or interest in the asset given away. This limit does not apply when assessing whether the motive was to avoid care fees.



However, Local Authority guidelines do state that "the timing of the disposal should be taken into account" when deciding whether a property was given away simply to avoid care costs. Although there is no time limit, the guidelines say: "It would be unreasonable to decide that a respondent had disposed of an asset in order to reduce the charge for his [nursing home] accommodation when the disposal took place at a time when he was fit and healthy and could not have foreseen the need for a move to residential accommodation."



However, different local authorities interpret these guidelines very differently. Some authorities will disregard disposals that have been made more than a year ago, while others will look much further back. With financial pressures on local authorities becoming ever greater, more vigilance is likely in future.



However, Hall Smith Whittingham would recommend caution from going down this route because local authorities have the power to take back property or assets they consider were given away purely to avoid having to pay care fees.



However, there are other options available to you, which, our Wills and Probate department can provide advice. Such options include:



• Holding the Property as Tenants in Common
• NHS Funding
• Temporary Stay Status”
• Long-Term Care Insurance/Savings plan




(Alison Greatbanks)