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I’m sure everyone thinks about making a Will every once in a while, and thinks it is something to put off. There are lots of reasons to do that.  But there are lots to make one too. We are currently dealing with an estate where an elderly lady has left a substantial amount of money, but never made a Will. This means we have to look at the rules of intestacy to see who to distribute her estate to.  You can find a copy of the rules here. Her family situation means that we are tracing people up and down the country.  The lady died almost two years ago and we still cannot give a penny to anyone because we still don’t know which members of her family are alive and which ones we can find. It doesn’t matter that only two of them looked after her, and kept in touch after all these years.  They may only get a very small proportion of the estate in the end. The best way to ensure your money goes to who you want it to go to, and to make the process as quick and simple as possible is by making a Will.  We charge £115 plus VAT for the majority of Wills that we write, so it really isn’t too expensive. If you would like to know more about making a Will, then please contact a member of our Private Client team  on 01623 451111, or email: rhoward@fidler.co.uk.
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Here is an extract from an email we received from Will Aid recently: “Thank you so much for all the work you have put into Will Aid 2014 and for the £5328* in donations we have received from you This makes Fidler & Pepper Solicitors one the top donating firms nationwide!  Many congratulations. We really appreciate all the effort you and your colleagues have put into the scheme to make another successful year.  So far we have received over £1m in donations and we expect that the final total will be nearer £2m.  This makes all the difference to the work of the participating charities.” Lovely news, and we’re very proud to be making a difference. If you would like to know more about Will Aid, or making a Will, then please contact a member of our Private Client team  on 01623 451111, or email: mailto:rhoward@fidler.co.uk.
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A recent survey has shown that, whilst 8/10 over 50s know the rules are changing, and that caps are being introduced, fewer than 1/10 knew what the new cap on care fees would be. Care fees is a subject that affects more and more people.  And it’s something you can take advice on – the earlier the better really. If you have any concerns about care fees, and how they might affect you or a relative, then please contact a member of our Private Client team  on 01623 451111, or email mailto:rhoward@fidler.co.uk.
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A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a way of handing control of your financial affairs, or decisions over your health and welfare, to someone else. You can draw Powers of Attorney up for all sorts of reasons, whether it is because: 1.  you have been diagnosed with a condition that means your mental health may deteriorate; 2.  you may be out of the country frequently and require business / property transactions to continue smoothly in your absence. 3.  you want to have one available, just in case, so that if you have an accident someone will be able to step into the breach and help you. These are just three examples, but there are many other uses. Generally these documents are drawn up after consulting a Solicitor and family members, and carefully considering who should be involved in your affairs. The Government has long been discussing a digital service. Our firm is all for digital services, and frequently offer new services to clients which hopefully help them when using legal services – check out our Conveyancing case tracker for example. But with these kinds of personal documents a lot of thought has to be put into it.  And in particular, consideration must be paid to the vulnerable, who can be abused if these documents are drawn up by unscrupulous people. So I am pleased that the government has postponed the digital service to allow time for more consultation. If you would like to know more about Lasting Powers of Attorney, then please contact a member of our Private Client team  on 01623 451111, or email mailto:rhoward@fidler.co.uk
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The Council’s right to Buy Scheme is a very attractive proposition to people who have lived in their property for a long time.   Buying a house worth £90,000 for £30,000 is a no brainer, isn’t it?!? However, most people eligible for the scheme are retired, with little disposable income, so where can they find £30,000? Very often, Sons and Daughters are enlisted to help. However, this involves some risks. The Risks When the Parent(s) buy the house in this way, the title deeds to the property must be in the names of the Parent(s). But if the Children have effectively paid for the property: 1.  What if the Parent(s)  go into residential care – is the house available to the Local Authority to pay for care fees, and will the Children lose their investment? 2.  What if the Parent(s) Will leaves the property to someone else, or shares it between all of the Children but only one or two have actually paid for the house? The Solution To ensure that your financial help to your Parent(s) is protected, you should consider making a Declaration of Trust. They are usually quick and simple to set up.  And what they do is secure your investment in the property so that when and if your Parent(s) sell the property you can get your share in the equity back. You may never need it.  but if the Parent(s) go into care, or pass away, then you know you will be getting your investment back.   For more information please contact Richard Howard on 01623 448 318 or mailto:rhoward@fidler.co.uk
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We seem to be seeing a lot of clients buying property together, where one of them is putting more money into the property than the other person. This can happen for lots of reasons, such as one person simply having more savings than the other person.  Or maybe one person has come into an inheritance. The Risk It’s difficult to think about it.  But if you are buying a property in this way, and putting up all or most of the deposit yourself, do you want it back if your relationship ends? I think most people would say yes. The Solution To ensure that your deposit monies are protected, you should consider making a Declaration of Trust. They are usually quick and simple to set up.  And what they do is secure your investment in the property so that when and if you sell the property you can get your part in the equity back. You may never need it.  But when you are writing the cheque, or transferring the money for the deposit on your property, think how you would feel losing half of that money in a bitter break up.   For more information please contact Richard Howard on 01623 448 318 or mailto:rhoward@fidler.co.uk

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Further to my blog </a>of a few months ago, there has been yet another study criticising the level of change the government intends to implement in relation to care fees. The Institute and Faculty of Actuaries (IFoA) says that the £72,000 limit on what people will have to pay will benefit just 8% of men and 15% of women. I have to say that of the clients who come to me for advice on care fees, I always consider the new rules as well as the current ones.   I think I have only ever found one client who might actually benefit from this new cap. Care fees are complicated, and also financially devastating.  It is worth getting advice, and the earlier the better. If you would like to know more on this subject, please get in touch.
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For those of you who have not made a Will, you probably think that your estate would go to your Spouse, or children, if you die? This is not always the case, as you will see from our website.  You can find a guide http://www.fidler.co.uk/probate/will_without.cfm, which shows the current rules for what happens if you die without making a Will (‘intestacy’). It looks like there will be three main changes to these rules: The surviving spouse or partner still receives the first £250,000 and personal belongings absolutely, but they receive half the balance, so it is their own property. The remainder of the balance continues to go to the issue; Where a person dies intestate leaving a surviving spouse or civil partner but no issue, the surviving spouse or partner will take the whole estate. This is rather than sharing the balance, if any, with the deceased’s family such as their parents, siblings, or nephews and nieces; Where a child is adopted after the death of an intestate parent, the child will not lose their interest under the deceased parent’s estate even though under the Adoption and Children Act 2002 the adoptive parents are to be treated as the only parents of the child for all legal purposes. These situations might suit you.  But it is much clearer for everyone if you make a Will.</span> And if these situations don’t suit you, then you should definitely think about making a Will. If you would like to know more on this subject, please get in touch.

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After my last blog, I have had a request for some rough figures for care fees. I think lots of people have wild ideas about this, and how it works, so hopefully this will be a good basis to at least start conversations. The last survey that I read said that care fees in the UK average at £604 per week. In the area that I work in North Nottinghamshire, care fees average around £650 per week.  That’s around £2,600 per month.  Or around £33,000 per year. In the same survey, it was claimed that people spend, on average, just over 2 years in case before they die.  So, on average, people who require residential care pay £66,000 in care fees. These are stark, and quite scary figures.  So it is definitely worth taking some advice as early as possible, to see what, if anything, you can do to prepare for this. If you would like to know more on this subject, please get in touch.

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It’s that time of year where the Local Authority calculate how much someone in residential care should be paying towards their care fees. I’m not talking about the initial ‘means assessment’, but the review. It’s a tough calculation to work through – tariffs, disregards, personal allowances?!? We act for numerous vulnerable clients, and families of vulnerable clients, so we know the rules and what to look at. But I imagine it’s hard for the lay person.  There is no explanation given by the Local Authority, just a list of numbers. Don’t take it as a given that the Local Authority will get it right, everyone makes mistakes and it is to the resident’s benefit, sometimes not. It’s worth taking the time to check it over. And if you need help translating the calculations, feel free to get in touch.

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