Recent News

Our Private Client Department

St Raphael's Will Week

 

Our Private Client Department

We are very excited to announce that our Priate Client department is expanding with the addition of a new Fee Earner and a new secretary.

Yasmin Lombardo joined us on 14 September 2015 to assist Martyn Dixon with his growing case load.

Ronnie Carey joined us from 9 May 2016. She specialises in the preparation of Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and the Administration of Estates.

Both of them will be happy to assist with any enquiries you may have.

St Raphael's Will Fortnight

For a number of years we have assisted St. Raphael’s Hospice, (a local and very worthwhile and under-funded charity), by doing a Wills fortnight.

During this fortnight, we prepare Wills for clients (old and new) for no fee, on the understanding that the fee will instead be donated to St Raphael's Hospice.

This year, we are very pleased to announce that we have raised £3,120.00, beating our 2015 amount of £2,985.00 and our 2014 donations of £2,260! This year, in total, St Raphael's raised £20,935! We are particularly proud of this achievement, given that there were 18 firms that took part and we managed to raise over 1/7th of the total raised!

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Inheritance Tax

10% to charity on Death:

From 6 April 2012, if, by Will, you leave at least 10% of "your estate" to charity, the remainder of your chargeable estate is charged at 36%, rather than the usual 40%. This will only be of interest to you, if your estate exceeds the Nil rate Band (see below).

What consitutes "your estate" is somewhat more complicated to define, than the above statement may suggest. If you would like to make use of this scheme, we can discus the advantages/disadvantages of doing so, when preparing your Will.

Double Nil Rate Band:

On 9 October 2007 the previous Chancellor, Alistair Darling, as part of his Pre-Budget Report and Comprehensive Spending Review, introduced a number of changes to the rates and method in which various taxes are charged, the most important of which, we believe, is Inheritance Tax..

Before the Pre-Budget Report an individual was entitled to a £300,000 allowance (Nil Rate Band) on his or her death. This has since been increased to £325,000 in April 2009 and has ramined this since. This meant that assets below the Nil Rate Band were taxed at 0% and everything exceeding £325,000 was taxed at 40%. Anything passing between spouses or civil partners on death was covered by spouse/civil partnership exemption and hence no Inheritance Tax was payable. What this generally meant was, where the first spouse died leaving everything to the other spouse and the surviving spouse later died, their estate would consist of the amalgamated assets but would still only be entitled to the £325,000 allowance.

Couples therefore needed to take advantage of the £325,000 allowance on the first person’s death so as to ensure that the surviving spouse’s estate was either kept below the threshold or alternatively was significantly reduced to reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax on their death. This generally involved the drafting of a Nil Rate Band Discretionary trust or an absolute gift of the half share of the property (having first transferred their property into Tenants in Common).

Following this change, the above planning is not so necessary as it introduced a method of “transferring” the Nil Rate Band from spouse to spouse or civil partner to civil partner. What this now means is if a spouse or civil partner dies leaving everything to their spouse/civil partner then on the surviving person’s death they are entitled to a £650,000 Nil Rate Band. However, this allowance is only for spouses and civil partners, not co-habitees. This allowance is only applied if the surviving spouse/civil partner dies after the 9 October 2007. It is, however, applied retrospectively so that if the first spouse/civil partner died before this date the new Nil Rate Band would apply.

This"new" regime will assist most couples to avoid Inheritance Tax and to ensure that their beneficiaries receive their maximum entitlement but this may not always be the case and our staff will gladly advise you of other methods to ensure your estate is tax efficient.

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Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

Whilst not recent news, Stamp Duty was replaced by SDLT some years ago. The effect of SDLT however is wide ranging. As a tax on transactions, rather than documents, clients and solicitors must be aware that any transaction might be viewed in conjunction with another which could subsequently give rise to SDLT (for instance marriage might make a previous unconnected transaction, connected). Any transaction, however simple it may seem, always needs to be given serious thought. Leases and rent, particularly in commercial matters, are particularly at risk.

The rules regarding SDLT changed at the last mini-budget. It is now only possible to calculate this with refernce to the HMRC calculator. Please find the link below:

http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/tools/sdlt/land-and-property.htm

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Lasting Powers of Attorney

On 1 October 2007 Lasting Powers of Attorney replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney.  A person given power or who has drawn up an Enduring Power of Attorney before 1 October 2007 can still use it and the attorney can still apply to have it registered in the usual fashion. This person has a duty to apply to register the Enduring Power of Attorney as soon as they believe that the donor is becoming or has become mentally incapable of managing their affairs.

The Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document that lets you appoint someone you trust as an ‘attorney’ to make decisions on your behalf. It can be drawn up at any time while you have the mental capacity, but, unlike the Enduring Power of Attorney, cannot be used by your attorneys until it is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

A registered Lasting Power of Attorney can be used at any time, irrespective of whether you have the mental capacity to act for yourself or not.

There are two types of Lasting Powers of Attorney: 1. Property and Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney: This is similar to the previous Enduring Power of Attorney in that, as the name suggest, it covers your property and finances. 2. Personal Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney: This allows you to make decisions regarding the type of treatment you consent to when you do not have the mental capacity to do so and can include such things as life-sustaining treatment etc.

The Lasting Power of Attorney forms are substantially longer than the previous Enduring Power of Attorney forms but our staff will be happy to advise you of the key differences.

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