First things first: Happy New Year from Flackwoods Solicitors! We hope you had a wonderful festive break and are settling into 2016 well. Now that we are well and truly into the new year, we’ve no doubt that many of you are looking at resolutions for the year ahead. One of the most popular resolutions that us Brits make is to be more organised; whether that’s at home, at work or with your hobbies. If you’re planning on staying one step ahead of yourself this year and being more prepared, why not take this opportunity to reassess your legal assets and arrangements?
Here’s a checklist of key legal aspects to take a fresh look at this year and how to get ahead:
Readdress your will
Wills are often made years before death and can be forgotten about once signed and sealed. There are circumstances that require you to rewrite your will however and the start of a new year is the perfect time to look into doing this. Perhaps you’ve got married since you wrote your will or you’ve had children. Divorce can also affect your will as can a change in financial circumstances (if, let’s say, you’ve sold a property or a business for a substantial profit). It’s important to readdress your will from time to time, particularly if you’ve gone through a recent life change, to ensure that your assets and estate is dealt with rightly and fairly when the time comes.
Set up a Life Insurance Trust
If you’ve not already, then 2016 is the year to set up a Life Interest Trust. In a recent blog, we uncovered the differences between the many different types of legal trusts but Life Interest Trusts are without doubt one of the most important. Also known as an Interest in Possession, it’s established to ensure your beneficiary has the right to receive any income until their death whereby the trust fund is passed to other named beneficiaries. A Life Interest Fund can protect your assets if your spouse remarries after your death, protects assets from long term care costs and help to keep a family business in the family itself so it’s an important legal factor to consider.
Create a Power of Attorney
Choosing a Lasting Power of Attorney for yourself is a big decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Essentially, an attorney will be responsible for making decisions and choices on your behalf should you lack the mental capacity to do so in the future. This can cover a multitude of facets including financial decisions, care considerations and property choices. When deciding who should hold that coveted LPA role, be sure to consider their personality and attention to detail; these are importance factors in a successful and trustworthy LPA. Chat with the person beforehand about their prospective role and be confident in your decision before signing on the dotted line.
Consider elderly relatives
If you’ve elderly parents or relatives that are reaching their later years, now’s the time to think about their aftercare and who’s responsible for what after mental deterioration or death. Unfortunately, many elderly people become ill before organising an LPA and it can add to the stress and upset of the matter in hand. Being prepared and ensuring your parent has everything in place whilst they’re still mentally capable is a hugely important thing to consider and can save time, money and, most importantly, anxiety at a later date. If your parent or relative becomes unwell before getting all the paperwork and legalities sorted, it’s highly likely that the case will need to go to a court to make a final judgement on who the individual’s deputy should be. Get everything addressed now and save the hassle and stress further down the line.
Swot up on inheritance Tax changes
2015 saw plans made to the Inheritance Tax law that could, in theory, leave thousands of Brits better off. Therefore, the start of a new year gives you ample chance to get ahead of the new ruling and know your stuff. In a nutshell, the new Inheritance Tax law states that the tax-free threshold could rise from £325,000 per person to £500,000 in the next five years. Inheritance tax is paid if a person’s estate (including their property, money and possessions) is worth more than the ‘nil rate band’ when they die; a rate that currently stands at 40%. Read our blog for all you need to know on Inheritance Tax and make sure you’re clued up in 2016 to the changes that are on the horizon.
Call Ian Flack at Flackwoods Solicitors on 01403 738777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for a free half hour appointment.