Many of the anxieties and concerns of our elder clients have become far more complex in recent years.
Whether that be the management of financial affairs, payment of care fees, inheritance tax or financial abuse, we can help alleviate your concerns.
A Will is central to the estate planning process and will go a long way to ensure that you make adequate provision for both your dependants and your chosen beneficiaries. A professionally drafted Will can ensure that the provision you make is protected after your death against the creditors, divorcing spouses or vulnerability of your chosen beneficiaries. Now, more than ever, your estate is under threat from liabilities such as inheritance tax and nursing home care fees. In reviewing your estate planning and preparing your Will it is essential to consider these threats if you are to preserve the value of your estate.
Estate planning begins with your Will but must include consideration of many other matters. We often work with our clients’ other professional advisers, such as accountants and financial advisers, to ensure you receive a complete estate planning service.
Powers of Attorney
When someone becomes incapable of managing their affairs, it can be a very difficult time, both for them and their family and friends. When planning for the future it is important to consider what would happen if you were to lose mental or physical capacity due to dementia, illness or accident and could no longer manage your financial affairs.
We recommend the preparation of a Lasting Power of Attorney (‘LPA’). This is an important document which enables you to choose one or more individuals to act on your behalf. You may wish to appoint your partner, friends, relatives or a director of Stonegate to fulfil this role.
If you were to lose mental capacity without having made an LPA (or its predecessor an ‘EPA’) then the Court may select and appoint a Deputy to act for you. You would then have no opportunity to influence how your affairs are conducted or who would conduct them. The appointment of a Deputy can be a lengthy and relatively expensive option and meanwhile, your accounts will be frozen and your bills may not be paid.
As the population ages local authorities and the NHS are likely to continue tightening their approach to funding care fees. You are therefore increasingly likely to be required to fund your own care and the costs may be significant. We can advise on the implications of such fees and tailor your wills and the other available solutions to preserve your estate against this threat.
There is no quick fix for the threat of care fees and many of the aggressively marketed “solutions” are deeply flawed. In particular the transfer of your home to your children is layered with problems, leaves you vulnerable and could leave you open to claims by the local authority of “deliberate deprivation” of assets. Our care fee planning section sets out the key points for taking legitimate steps to plan for care fees.
We can also offer advice in relation to local authority and NHS assessments and assist you in raising appeals against unfavourable assessments.
Inheritance Tax is payable when you die if the value of your estate exceeds the inheritance tax threshold. For Inheritance Tax purposes, your estate can include the value of gifts made within seven years before death and any interest you may have in particular trusts.
Inheritance Tax is payable at 40% on any excess over the ‘nil rate band’ threshold at the date of your death. The current ‘nil rate band’ is only £325,000 per person which allows most couples to pass down £650,000 of value without any charge to Inheritance Tax. There are many important reliefs and exemptions which can be claimed and proper use of these is at the core of our tax planning service.
We have significant experience in helping clients to reduce or eliminate Inheritance Tax liabilities including applications to the Court of Protection to achieve planning schemes for clients who lack the capacity to make their own arrangements.