The Important ‘All in the Car Together’ Clause

A recent gift to the charity Oxfam has highlighted the importance of making a provision in your Will for the unlikely event that the whole family should die with you or before you.

Richard Cousins was the head of Compass, a successful Catering company, and had an estate worth in excess of £40m. On 31st December 2017, he was with his fiancée and 2 sons (aged 25 and 23) when the plane they were all flying in crashed into a river in Australia and all on board were killed.tom-barrett-318954-unsplash

Cousins’ Will provided that his estate would pass to his sons, sadly they died with him. His Will included a long stop provision that should his sons also pass away then the bulk of his fortune would pass to his chosen charity, Oxfam. Without this provision, his estate would have been governed by intestacy rules.

At Four Oaks Legal Services, when we talk to you about making a Will, of course we look at family members you wish to provide for in the first instance but often, particularly where children are young and it is likely that you travel together, or where the family is small, we will advise you to name a ‘long stop’ individual or charity who would be entitled to benefit should those first in line have passed away.

Hopefully, the worst won’t happen but if it does then it’s important to have a plan in place. Many charities rely on legacies in wills and in 2017 legacy giving accounted for over half the single source of funding for charities.

If we can help with updating or making a new Will for you please contact Rebecca or Joanna on 0121 308 8231 or e-mail us at rebecca@fouroakslegalservices.com or joanna@fouroakslegalservices.com

 

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Great News – We are Expanding!

We are pleased to announce that we are expanding and will be opening our new Lichfield office at Ground Floor, New Media House, Lichfield, WS14 9DZ on Monday 22nd October.  

We have outgrown our offices at 168 Birmingham Road, which has been our home for the last 2 and a half years.  New Media House will become our main office but we will continue to offer appointments at 168 Birmingham Road, Shenstone Wood End, WS14 0NX as we currently do now.  Therefore clients who visit us at our offices can choose which location they wish to visit.shutterstock_159894752

The new Lichfield office is on the outskirts of Lichfield and there is plenty of parking at the rear of the office.  We will be based on the ground floor with an easily accessible meeting room.

We look forward to welcoming you to our new office soon!

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Lasting Powers of Attorney Refund Fees Update

We reported back in February that the Office of the Public Guardian would be making partial refunds to people who had paid to register their Lasting Powers of Attorney between the 1st April 2013 and the 31st March 2017.  This was due to the Office of the Public Guardian making savings on their operating costs which weren’t passed onto the public during that time.

Following a Freedom of Information request, the Office of the Public Guardian have confirmed that as at the end of August, there have only been 158,212 claims made for refunds.  The OPG believes there are over a million potential refunds due.

rawpixel-1065670-unsplashIf you might be due a refund and you haven’t yet made a claim, full details can be found on the Government website https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney-refund

Applications can be made online or by telephoning the Office of the Public Guardian on 0300 456 0300 (choose option 6).

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Tamworth Wellbeing Cancer Support Centre Charity Golf Day 2018

Aston Wood Golf Club

Aston Wood Golf Club

On Wednesday 12th September 2018, Four Oaks Legal Services and Tamworth Wellbeing and Cancer Support Centre, held their inaugural charity golf day at Aston Wood Golf Club.

Ten teams played the 18 hole course at Aston Wood, including a team made up of former football manager Ron Atkinson, former Aston Villa footballer Steve Staunton and local Birmingham based actor Mitch Powell, in superb September weather.

Thanks to the incredible generosity of the golfers, the sponsors and our hosts at Aston Wood, the day was a great success and raised a whopping £2,209.15 for Tamworth Wellbeing and Support Centre!

A huge congratulations go to the winning team ‘The Peaky Blinders’, consisting of our very special guests Ron Atkinson, Steve Staunton, Mitch Powell and Aston Wood Manager Simon Smith.  Also, a well done to the best individual player Richard Bywater and the runner up, our very own Stuart McIntosh. Nearest the pin winner was Simon Trevelyan of Four Oaks Financial Services.  The longest drive winner was John Burton and the putting competition winner was Mark Blake – congratulations to you all!

The Peaky Blinders

Winners! ‘The Peaky Blinders’ (Left to Right) Ron Atkinson, Simon Smith, Mitch Powell and Steve Staunton.

Finally, we would like to thank our sponsors for the event, who helped raise much needed funds for the charity.  To you all, we are very grateful:-

Tamworth Wellbeing Cancer Support Centre Sponsors

Tamworth Wellbeing Cancer Support Centre Golf Day 2018 Sponsors

Please keep Wednesday 11th September 2019 free as we are planning to do it all over again!
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Universal Wealth Preservation

Were you a client of Universal Wealth Preservation?

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Four Oaks Legal Services have been made aware by the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners (STEP) that they have received an unprecedented number of enquiries about Mr Steven Long and the companies of which he is a Director, namely Universal Tax Solutions which traded as Universal Wealth Preservation. Associated companies also include Universal Asset Protection Ltd and Universal Trustees Ltd.

Mr Steven Long, his Wife Mrs Melanie Long and Universal Trustees Ltd have acted as Professional Trustees for many clients. Universal Wealth also assisted clients with the drafting and management of trusts; drafting wills and lasting powers of attorney (LPAs); as well as providing  storage of original documents.

STEP have confirmed that they suspended Mr Long’s membership back in November 2017, pending the outcome of investigations into the numerous complaints they received.

Universal Asset Protection entered into compulsory liquidation in May 2018, although the business premises of Universal Wealth Preservation was closed several months before this time and the website is no longer active.

Four Oaks Legal are aware that many people have experienced great difficulties in attempting to contact Universal, with no responses to emails, letters or phone calls made.  Those clients have been concerned about the management of their trusts and have been unable to ascertain the whereabouts of their assets, or retrieve original wills and LPAs held in storage by Universal.   Some clients have discovered their LPAs have not been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), although they believed they had.

We are aware that Suffolk Police are in the process of investigating Mr and Mrs Long, and they have seized all documents that were held at the businesses premises.  Universal clients now face the realistic prospect that they are unlikely to retrieve original documents or to recover cash assets.

What should you do now?

The advice STEP is giving to Universal clients is as follows:-

  • Seek independent legal advice from an experienced trust and estate practitioner on your options, which may include how to make an application to the courts to replace Mr and Mrs Long/Universal Asset Protection Ltd as trustees, making new wills and LPAs.
  • Check whether Lasting or Enduring Powers of Attorney have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian – call the OPG on 0300 456 0300.
  • If you are not in possession of an original will held by them, make a new one without delay.
  • Contact the Land Registry to ascertain in whose name your property is registered. Call the Land Registry on 0300 006 0411. The Land Registry is aware of the issues with Universal.
  • If appropriate, consider whether to make a report to Action Fraud quoting ‘Operation Ardent’.
  • If concerned by marketing information received or direct approaches from other firms advising you to use their services, consider taking advice from Trading Standards/Citizens Advice Bureau.

If you are affected by any of these issues with Universal, please contact Rebecca Head or Joanna Parkin on 0121 308 8231 and they will be pleased to discuss your options with you.

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Making Dementia Friends

Beckie is a Dementia Friends Champion for the Alzheimer’s Society.  This means that she was trained by the Alzheimer’s Society to present Dementia Friends information sessions.  The sessions are aimed at increasing understanding about dementia and helping make our communities more inclusive and  dementia friendly.

Beckie has been a Champion for a number of years and has been delivering the sessions to small local groups and companies.  We are pleased to announce that Beckie has now trained over 100 people to become Dementia Friends, having hit 113 on the 18th July 2018.  Beckie has more sessions planned for later in the year as well.

Rebecca Head of Four Oaks Legal Services

Beckie Head, Co-Director of Four Oaks Legal Services

Beckie said “The sessions are a great way to get us all talking and thinking about dementia.  By increasing our own understanding, it can only be beneficial to those living with dementia.  There are some 850,000 people diagnosed with dementia in the UK, so whether we realise it or not, we all know someone living with dementia, be it the person themselves or those that care for them”.

Many businesses, large and small, are seeing the benefits of making their team dementia friendly.  A member of staff from a Sutton Coldfield security company who recently had a session delivered said “Really enjoyed your session and the feedback from the attendees was equally complimenting. It evoked a lot of thought and we all feel better equipped to engage with those that have the condition. I shall spread the word – so just be aware you may get a deluge of requests!”

If you would like Beckie to run a session for your group or business, please contact us.  The sessions are run by Beckie on a voluntary basis on behalf of the Alzheimer’s Society and are therefore completely free of charge.

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Can I get a copy of a deceased’s Will?

A question that our probate team often get asked is “Can we get a copy of a Will after a person has died?”.

Can I get a copy of a Will?

Can I get a copy of a Will?

If an estate requires a Grant of Probate then the deceased’s original Will is submitted to the Probate Registry and is retained there.  The Will then becomes a public document and anyone, upon payment of a small fee, can apply for a copy of it.

You can find out if a Grant of Probate has been obtained, and order a copy of a Will, by using the Gov.UK search tool here:-

https://probatesearch.service.gov.uk/#wills

If an estate does not require a Grant of Probate, the Will remains a private document and only the Executors of the estate can then agree to release a copy.

 

 

 

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Court of Protection to Refund Overcharged Fees

Following the successful refund scheme for registration fees in relation to Lasting Powers of Attorney, the Ministry of Justice have now announced that some Court of Protection fees are also to be reduced.  An internal review found that the fees are higher than necessary to recover court costs. Therefore, a refund scheme will be set up to reimburse people the amounts they have been over-charged. Details of the scheme are yet to be published.

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New Report Warns of Looming Incapacity Crisis

• 98% of people in the West Midlands leave important health and welfare decisions to chance
• 71% would like a family member to make medical and care decisions on their behalf, in the event of mental incapacity
• 80% of people in the West Midlands are worried about dementia and losing the ability to make decisions for themselves
• 81% haven’t discussed end of life medical and care wishes
• 36% admit to having made no provisions at all, such as a will, Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), pension or funeral plan

Coalition of partners join forces to warn of ‘incapacity crisis’ led by SFE, including Baroness Ilora Finlay, Alzheimer’s Society, Dying Matters, Age UK, Anchor, and SOLLA

A new report from SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly) and independent think tank, Centre for Future Studies, reveals the UK is leaving medical and care preferences to chance. The report looks at the ever-increasing number of people living with dementia which, combined with the failure to plan ahead for mental incapacity, exposes a looming crisis.

The study found 98% of people in the West Midlands have not made necessary provisions, should they lose capacity from conditions like dementia. A further 36% admit to having made no provisions at all for later life, including a will, pension, funeral plan or LPA.
The research found that 80% of people in the region are worried about dementia and losing the ability to make decisions for themselves, but 81% have not spoken about, or even considered, personal medical and care end of life decisions.
A staggering 70% of people incorrectly believe that their next of kin can specify what they would have wanted if they are no longer able to and 71% of the public would like a family member to make medical and care decisions on their behalf.

69% of people incorrectly believe that their spouse has the power to do so

80% of those in the West Midlands are worried about becoming mentally incapacitated and losing the ability to make decisions for themselves

60% believe that being on the NHS organ donor register ensures that organs are donated following death, however this is not the case.

Only 2% of Britons surveyed in the West Midlands by SFE have a health and welfare LPA in place.

SFE is urging the nation to act now to avoid this incapacity crisis by planning ahead in case of mental incapacity.

It is crucial to have a conversation with loved ones in order to make specific medical and care wishes known – such as, where you are cared for, whether you wish to be an organ donor and whether or not you would want to be resuscitated – otherwise there is a risk your preferences are not taken into account.

The campaign calls on people to act now and start a conversation with loved ones about end of life topics to remove the stigma surrounding the discussion.

Lakshmi Turner, Chief Executive of SFE, said:

“Most of us do not like thinking about, let alone talking about, death, disability or disease, despite the fact that it touches all our lives – but it is essential that we do so.

“Whilst it’s great that more and more of us are putting wills in place and establishing plans for finances and assets, far too few of us are planning ahead for our health and care needs and wishes, leaving this to chance.

“It’s time to set the record straight. Planning ahead by talking to family or friends shouldn’t be seen as doom and gloom, it’s about having a positive conversation about welfare, empowering your loved ones and making the decision-making process easier for everyone.”

Professor Ilora, the Baroness Finlay, states: “With decades of experience working and campaigning around palliative medicine, the low numbers of health and welfare lasting power of attorneys is of concern.

“When a person loses capacity to take decisions, it is sad to see families and professionals struggling to try to determine what a person would have wanted. Delays and distress can be avoided by appointing someone to speak for you when you can no longer speak up for yourself.

“Discussing medical and care wishes ahead of time ensures that care can respect an individual’s wishes, with the respect they deserve – even when it comes to fulfilling wishes after death, such as organ donation.

“It’s important to have an open discussion about future illnesses and possible incapacity. I urge the millions of people who haven’t given loved ones the opportunity to listen, to act now.”

Jeremy Hughes CBE, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society

“We welcome this initiative. Lasting powers of attorney for health and welfare too often get overlooked.

“People with dementia have the right to make choices about their care, just like anyone else. Making someone they trust their attorney for health and welfare is one of the ways people can do this. A health and welfare LPA provides reassurance to them and the act of creating one can start useful conversations about the future with family and friends.”

 

To download the report, a short video and infographics, visit https://sfe.legal/the-incapacity-crisis-a-nation-unprepared/

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Property Trust Wills

An increasing number of people are worried about the possibility of needing care in the future and the financial impact that may have upon their assets. Protective Property Trusts in your Will can enable a couple to save part of their property to pass onto their family.  These types of Wills are also sometimes called Property Trust Wills.

Property Trust WillsWhat is a Property Trust Will?

A property trust is a type of legal structure that can be included as part of your Will and is designed to protect your share of jointly owned property from being included in financial assessments that are carried out to determine how much you should contribute to long-term care fees. The structure can also be useful should you be worried that your spouse might re-marry in the future by protecting your share of the property for your family.

A property trust will covers a share of a jointly-owned property to ensure that a surviving spouse or partner can still benefit from their deceased partner’s share in the property even when they are gone.  Bottom of FormShould the survivor have to go into long-term care, their deceased spouse’s share will be protected – and can be passed onto family members upon their death.   

Most couples when making a Will, leave their assets directly to their partner. Should the partner require care, this can mean that there are less assets to pass onto the family after their death.

For this reason, Property Will Trusts can hold assets on behalf of the partner to guard against deductions made due to care costs.

How Does It Work?

The best way to explain how Property Trust Wills work is through an example:-

Let’s say Mr and Mrs Marr jointly own their home. They want to ensure that their respective shares will be passed to their two children when they pass away.  They want peace of mind that if the survivor of them needs care, at least half the property can be passed to their two children.

If Mr Marr dies before his wife, his half share in the property will go into the Property Trust set up in his Will – with the remainder of his estate left to Mrs Marr. She then has the right to occupy the property or move house if she wishes. If she requires long-term care in the future, her Husband’s share of the property remains in trust and cannot be taken into account during any financial assessments to determine what she will need pay towards her care.

In short, 50% of the value of the property cannot be taken and used to pay for her care fees.

This type of trust covers every eventuality. Even if Mr and Mrs Marr’s children divorce, predecease them or declare bankruptcy, the surviving spouse still retains occupancy and their share in the property is fully protected. Upon Mrs Marr’s death, the half share of the property is transferred to her two children, even if Mrs Marr has used all her assets to pay for care.

What Does This Cost?

Depending on your circumstances, this type of arrangement can cost from £400 – £525 + VAT.

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Four Oaks Legal Services can assist if you feel a Property Trust Will might suit your circumstances.  Please contact us on 0121 308 8231.

 

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