Don’t leave it too late

Yesterday BBC News highlighted the issues some people face when applying for Lasting Powers of Attorney.

1 in 3 people born in the UK this year will develop dementia in their lifetime. There are currently more people than ever before living with dementia in the UK, and this number is projected to increase.

Why is this important to know?

Due to the gradual nature of dementia and the mild early-stage symptoms it is difficult to diagnose and more difficult to know when that person will lose their mental capacity. Once someone has lost their mental capacity, they are unable to make Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs).

For a person to lack mental capacity, they must lack one or more of the following; understand the information relevant to the decision; retain that information; and use or weigh up that information as part of the process of making the decision. Many people believe that if someone has dementia, they automatically lose their mental capacity. This is not true. Needing more time to understand and communicate does not mean you lack mental capacity.

However, you do need to act sooner rather than later as a diagnosis of dementia may prevent you from signing LPAs.

Lasting Powers of Attorney 

Lasting Powers of Attorney allow those you trust to make decisions for you, or act on your behalf, if you are no longer able to or if you would like some help with making your own decisions. Without a Lasting Powers of Attorney in place your loved ones can be left with significant worry and there could be ramifications for your finances.

To enable another person to make decisions for you, they will need to apply to the Court of Protection to become a ‘deputy’. The Court has the final say as to who is appointed, and this may not align with your wishes. The process of making a Court application can be a very long and expensive process without guaranteed results.

Contact us now 

To discuss your options and ease your worries, contact us now on 01543 440 308 or email Adam Penn at


Protect your creative work in your Will

We can guide you through your copyrights and papers after death. In the United Kingdom, any copyrights and the Artist’s Resale Right (“ARR”) last your lifetime plus a further 70 years after death. This makes them a valuable asset that you can protect and pass down through generations.

Why you should write a Will

By writing a Will, you are able to leave your copyright, ARR and moral rights in the hands of someone you trust ensuring your artistic work is treated and remembered in the way you would wish. This includes the rights to any unpublished work. Also, whoever you choose to inherit your rights will be able to benefit financially from royalties generated by them. You may wish this to be family, friends or your chosen charity.

If you do pass away without having a Will in place, the rules of ‘intestacy’ apply. All of your assets, including your artistic assets, pass according to the UK rules of intestacy which may not be in line with your wishes. This can also create problems of inheritance and tax for your loved ones.

What should be included

In your Will, specific wording is required to ensure that your executors have the correct powers to deal with your estate, including your artistic work. It is also important to select the correct people to handle your estate as appointing multiple individuals can result in administrative difficulties.

Some people may choose to appoint executors and ‘literary executors’. These are two distinctly different roles that may need to work together but have different powers over different parts of the estate. An executor however, can be given the power or direction to appoint a literary manager.

Finally, you must include who you wish to benefit from your artistic work. This includes having access to the work itself, access to copy rights, and access to any royalties/profit. It is important to be aware that Copyright, ARR and Moral Rights can be referred to separately in your Will. You may wish for family and friends to benefit or even a museum, school or charity to benefit. If you are making a gift to your family, you may look to include a trust to protect the asset and plan against inheritance tax.

Contact us now

If you have any artistic assets that you wish to protect, pass on through generations or simply ensure they are remembered, contact us now. We can discuss the best option for you. Call us on 01543 440 308 or email

Estate Administration

Estate administration is the management of a person’s assets when they pass away. This involves collecting in and distributing the deceased assets.

Solicitor Charlotte Taylor

Who deals with the deceased estate? 

When someone passes away it is the job of Executors (appointed under a Will) or Administrators (entitled by law where there is no Will) to deal with administrating their estate. These roles come with a lot of responsibility and carry a risk of personal liability at an often-emotional time.

Due to the stress that this can cause, a lot of Executors and Administrators choose to take legal advice to help them. The instructions given to a solicitor or firm range from providing initial advice regarding the estate administration process and the duties of their role, to instructing to deal with the entire process on their behalf.

What does Estate Administration involve?

Estate administration can vary greatly depending on the assets that the deceased held. The process can be lengthy and may require a lot of steps. Here are some examples of what the estate administration process involves:

  • Locating the Original Will.
  • Ascertaining what assets and liabilities make up the estate. This includes finding out the values at the date of death.
  • Calculating whether Inheritance Tax is due, preparing the inheritance tax forms and paying the tax due.
  • Applying for the Grant of Probate.
  • Collecting the assets and settling the liabilities of the estate.
  • Preparing the estate accounts.
  • Distributing the estate in accordance with the Will or intestacy rules.

Key things to understand

When dealing with an estate administration, you should be aware of the following:

  • Must ensure that you understand the terms of the Will or if there is no Will, the intestacy rules.
  • There are time limits for a variety of claims against the estate, for filing the information with the Government and HMRC, paying certain liabilities and for distributing the estate. If you fail to comply with the time limits, you may face personal liability and/or penalties.
  • Ensuring that all tax is considered and that you consider any tax planning opportunities.


The lists above are not exhaustive but do highlight some of the complexities that come with being an Executor or Administrator of a deceased estate. The requires of an estate administration vary greatly depending on the circumstances and specifics of the estate.

At Four Oaks Legal Services, we offer a range of services to help with the administration. To discuss the right option for you, contact us on 01543 440 308 or email us at


Solicitors For the Elderly (SFE) are hosting an Update Your Will Week from 23rd to 29th January. The purpose of this is to encourage more people to update their Will and ensure their wishes are carried out when they die.

Why we think having an up-to-date Will is important

By reviewing and updating your Will every 3 to 5 years, you are ensuring that it is reflecting your wishes and your current circumstances. Having an up-to-date, well-drafted Will, can help to ease the stress for loved ones and minimise the chances of disputes.

How often should I review my Will?

It is recommended that you update your Will every 3 to 5 years. However, you should also be thinking about updating your Will if there are any major changes that impact you or your loved ones. For example, the death of a family member or friend, a new baby, a marriage or divorce. You should also be aware that getting married will automatically revoke your Will unless it was made in specific contemplation of your marriage.

How do I make changes to an existing Will or create a new Will?

It is important to speak with an experienced legal professional as they will be able to advice on your unique situation and wishes. A legal professional can also help with reducing your inheritance tax.

At Four Oaks Legal Services, we have two STEP qualified Wills and Probate Solicitors and an expert SFE solicitor. If you would like to discuss your Will with us, contact us on 01543 440 308 or email

What a ‘SHIPPY’ Takeaway

seaborne freight
Seaborne T&C web page

In the media there has been controversy over a “shipping company with no ships”, Seaborne Freight (UK) Limited, that has been awarded a £14 million government contract in readiness for Brexit.

Ridicule has been heaped on the company in many publications because of the ‘terms and conditions’ that were published on its website at The terms and conditions that appeared on Seaborne Freight (UK) Ltd’s website stated:

“It is the responsibility of the customer to thoroughly check the supplied goods before agreeing to pay for any meal/order.”

Part screengrab of the original Seaborne T&C

It would appear that at least some of the published terms and conditions have been prepared for reasons other than freight shipping. The words in the excerpt have now been removed, presumably because of all the press attention. One would expect the company to have moved quickly to repair the damage to its corporate image that has resulted but no. As of today (04 January 2019) another section remains which is laid out thus:

“Seaborne Freight (UK) Limited and any

disclose, distribute, incorporate and otherwise use that material and all data, images, sounds, text and other things embodied in it for any and all commercial or non-commercial purposes.”

There is a noticeable gap between the word ‘any’ and the word ‘disclose’ which means the words on either side of that gap do not form a coherent sentence. Whatever editing was carried out by the company since this story hit the news has obviously been clumsy and less than thorough.

As the government are proposing to spend taxpayers’ money with this company the negative reaction has put the transport secretary in a bad light and brought questions as to what sort of due diligence the government carried out before awarding the contract.

A company website is a shop window to the world. Putting up terms of business copied from elsewhere without thought is a cheap shortcut, illustrative of a company whose managers do not care about important things. Also copying terms from elsewhere on the internet without permission is unlawful as it breaches the owner’s copyright. Terms and conditions are intended to create legal relations between the company and a customer. If there is a problem with a customer, how is a Court going to identify the obligations arising out of shipping freight relationship when the terms and conditions refer to food?

This sorry tale provides a stark illustration of how quickly a carefully cultivated business image can fall apart and how it can have a negative effect on customers of that business. For the sake of a modest expenditure, we work with the director(s) to prepare terms of business that fit around the business model. This process also helps the directors to understand how the law interacts with their particular business. After Seaborne Freight UK Ltd the benefits become obvious.

If you want to discuss your own business terms without obligation, please contact Stuart on 01543 440 308 or email on

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 Adam or Joanna on 01543 440 308 or e-mail us at or


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.

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!

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

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

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!

Aston Wood Golf Club

Universal Wealth Preservation

Were you a client of Universal Wealth Preservation?


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 Adam Penn or Joanna Parkin on 01543 440 308 and they will be pleased to discuss your options with you.