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  • The Importance of Wills and LPAs in Protecting Family Bonds

    The heart-wrenching story of Carolyn Stephens and her father, Vincent, serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of organizing wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs). In 2012, Carolyn bid farewell to her father, not knowing that it marked the beginning of a painful journey where she would be estranged from him for almost four years. Vincent's changing circumstances, influenced by a new relationship and health issues, emphasize the need for legal preparations that safeguard individuals and their families. Vincent's story took a drastic turn when he met Iris, a woman he befriended on a holiday in Cyprus. Carolyn's concerns grew as Vincent sold his house to be closer to Iris, and she suspected that their relationship was isolating him from his family and friends. Moreover, Vincent's health started deteriorating, with signs of potential dementia, raising alarms for Carolyn. Vincent's situation worsened when Iris gained power of attorney over his affairs. While granting power of attorney requires mental capacity and a lack of coercion, the system is susceptible to abuse. Dr. James Warner highlights the challenge of assessing mental capacity, and the potential for exploitation is evident when Iris complained to the police, leading to a severed relationship between Carolyn and her father. Carolyn's determined search for her father over several years underscores the difficulties faced by families in such situations. Iris's death led Carolyn to discover Vincent's whereabouts, hidden away in a care home. The lack of communication and information during this period highlights the need for legal provisions that empower families to stay connected and informed about their loved ones. Vincent's story emphasizes the need for better legal protections for vulnerable older individuals. Carolyn believes that had her father planned for the future, including an early diagnosis of dementia and a power of attorney in her favour, it would have been harder for him to be isolated. Concerns about potential vulnerabilities in the legal system, as seen in the new Powers of Attorney Act, further emphasize the necessity for robust legal frameworks that protect the elderly. The tragic tale of Vincent and Carolyn Stephens serves as a stark reminder of the fragility of family bonds, especially in the face of changing circumstances and potential exploitation. Organizing wills and LPAs can play a crucial role in preserving family relationships, ensuring that the wishes and well-being of individuals are protected. As society grapples with evolving legal frameworks, it becomes imperative to prioritize the rights and protections of vulnerable older individuals, allowing families to navigate challenges and stay connected through difficult times. To find out more on this story follow this link: https://www-bbc-co-uk.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-67773394.amp If you require advice in relation to lasting powers of attorney or drafting a will, please do not hesitate to get in touch. Call us now on 01752 299 466 or email us directly at debrawilliamson@mdwsolicitors.com

  • The Crucial Role of Lasting Powers of Attorney in Securing Your Future in Today's World

    In today's world, planning for unforeseen circumstances has become increasingly important. Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) stand as a vital instrument in safeguarding your interests and decisions, particularly in the realms of health and welfare, as well as property and finance within the UK legal framework. An LPA is a legal document that allows an individual (the donor) to appoint trusted individuals (attorneys) to make critical decisions on their behalf should they become incapable of doing so themselves due to illness, injury, or other incapacitating conditions. Health and Welfare LPA: This aspect of the LPA pertains to decisions regarding an individual's healthcare, living arrangements, medical treatment, and overall welfare. It grants the appointed attorney(s) the authority to make choices about treatment options, living accommodations, and other crucial aspects of the donor's well-being. Property and Finance LPA: The property and finance LPA, on the other hand, empowers the appointed attorney(s) to manage financial affairs, handle property matters, pay bills, manage investments, or make decisions related to buying or selling assets. This is essential in ensuring that an individual's financial affairs are managed competently should they be unable to do so themselves. Recently, Martin Lewis, renowned for his financial expertise, shed light on the importance of LPAs during one of his shows. His emphasis on this topic underscores the critical nature of securing one's future interests. Lewis's advocacy for LPAs serves as a wake-up call for individuals to take proactive steps in protecting themselves and their assets. His comments echo the sentiment that LPAs are not solely reserved for the elderly; they are essential for anyone over the age of 18. Accidents or unexpected illnesses can affect anyone at any stage of life, making it crucial to have these arrangements in place. Lewis emphasizes that preparing an LPA is not about relinquishing control but rather about ensuring that trusted individuals can act in the best interests of the donor should the need arise. It's about empowering loved ones to act according to the donor's wishes. In conclusion, Lasting Powers of Attorney stand as a cornerstone of responsible future planning. They provide peace of mind and ensure that even in challenging times, your wishes are upheld and your affairs are managed according to your preferences. Following the advice of experts like Martin Lewis can serve as a catalyst for individuals to take the necessary steps in safeguarding their future through LPAs. If you're interested in finding out more, take a look at some of our other articles or watch The Martin Lewis Money Show on ITV. If you're looking to draft LPAs, please get in touch by calling 01753 299 466.

  • FAQ's - Setting up a lifetime trust.

    I set up a lifetime trust and put a property in it. What happens if I want to sell the property? Lifetime tax planning is an excellent way to mitigate against inheritance tax. Many people set up trusts during their lifetime, and they are not just for the most affluent. When a Trust is set up, it is a lifetime chargeable transfer for Inheritance tax purposes, and there may be immediate Inheritance tax to pay. People think of Inheritance tax as a death tax, but it is not just paid on death. It is essential to get legal advice when setting up a Trust, as there are ways to ensure that no tax is paid upon setting up. For example, there may be an IHT charge on a Trust withdrawal and on the 10th anniversary. Again, legal advice should be sought. What happens if I put a property in Trust and then want to sell it? Capital Gains Tax is payable again. The gain is calculated by deducting the property's market value going into the trust from the proceeds of the sale. You can deduct any monies you used to enhance the property and any charges relating to the sale. The Trust would also have its’ annual exemption of £6150, which can be deducted from the gain. There may be other reliefs available depending on the circumstances, for example, PPR. Again, legal advice is crucial as without applying for the relevant reliefs, you could be producing a tax return which adds thousands of pounds to your tax bill. We recently advised a client how they could reduce their tax from around £35,000 to £12,000 by applying for the correct relief. If the Trust comes to an end and I now personally own the property, when I sell it, do I pay CGT? The answer is likely to be yes. You are likely to pay CGT on the difference between the sale proceeds and the market value when the trust ends, less any costs incurred. You will need legal advice as it depends on the individual circumstances as to how to advise. MDW Solicitors Ltd is headed by Debra Williamson, who has 29 years of qualification as a Lawyer. Debra has taken all her STEP exams and is STEP affiliated. MDW Solicitors is a specialist firm dealing in Trusts, tax, probate, wills, LPAs, motoring offences and private Crime. We can attend the police station to represent, but we do not do any legal aid work.

  • Dealing with inheritance tax and self-assessment

    Inheritance tax is a tax on the estate of someone who has died. There’s normally no Inheritance Tax to pay if the value of the estate is below £325,000. But that doesn’t mean that there are no forms to complete. You’ll still need to complete an IHT205 detailing the value of the estate, to demonstrate why tax isn’t payable. As it says in our 5 major pitfalls of a ‘DIY’ probate, if the value of the estate is higher than this nil rate tax band you may have to complete and submit to HMRC over 20 different forms. That’s before you’ve got started on a self-assessment tax return if the person that died was required to do one. If you aren’t familiar with these forms then asking a solicitor to help can ease the burden and ensure these essential forms are dealt with as quickly and efficiently as possible. P.S. With both legal and financial experts in our team, we’re happy to answer any questions you may have, including queries relating to Inheritance Tax and self-assessment.

  • Have your children flown the nest yet?

    Are you dealing with empty nest syndrome? If your children are in full-time work or have moved into homes of their own, you may be feeling a new sense of independence. Many people choose to travel more in retirement, enjoying longer holidays without the constraints of work or school. As it says in our 5 crucial reasons why you need a Lasting Power of Attorney if you are over 55, creating an LPA can allow you to go off and enjoy travelling the world whilst your domestic affairs are kept in order. Whether it is the sunnier climate of Spain, the peacefulness of the French countryside or even further afield, you can relax knowing that someone is on hand to look after your money. Find out more about why it makes sense to appoint an Attorney sooner rather than later by calling me on 01753 299466 or emailing debrawilliamson@mdwsolicitors.com. P.S. When you create a Lasting Power of Attorney, it’s a good time to review your Will and ensure it is up to date. If you haven’t already made a Will, download ourFive reasons why everyone over 40 needs a Will to ensure you make the right preparations for your future. I’m happy to confirm I have been pleased with the service you have provided. I particularly like the location and style of your office, all designed to offer a relaxed atmosphere, yet retaining a professional touch. From the moment I first met you at the St Giles fair at your promotion event I liked your relaxed approach and I have not been disappointed. Mr J

  • Understanding the legal jargon: who can be an Attorney?

    You can choose a family member, friend, spouse or partner to be your Attorney. You can also ask a professional, such as a solicitor or accountant that you know well. The important thing is that you select someone that you trust, as you will be giving them full responsibility and power over your affairs. Just like appointing Executors for your Will, it’s important to talk to the person about it first and ensure they are happy to do it. It can be helpful to appoint more than one Attorney. If you do so, you’ll need to decide if you want them to work jointly – meaning they work together on all matters, or jointly and severally – where they may act together or separately, as they choose or on specific matters. For example, you may want to specify that they must act jointly for major decisions such as selling your house, but they can act jointly and severally for all other decisions such as disposing of your possessions when the time comes. Remember that you don’t have to be unwell or elderly to appoint an Attorney. The role of the Attorney is to support you and enable you to make your own decisions for as long as you possibly can. Only when you are unable, will they step in to make decisions on your behalf and ensure your wishes are respected. P.S. Worried about how long it might take to create your Lasting Power of Attorney? I can provide a quick and efficient service. “Debra dealt with my matter extremely efficiently and professionally. She explained everything clearly to me and took all the worry out of the process. It was a quick and overall a very positive experience. I have already recommended her to friends and family due to fantastic value for money and brilliant customer service. Thank you so much.” Miss H (Windsor)

  • Understanding the stages of probate

    There are three key stages in the probate process: Valuing the estate Completing all the relevant IHT forms and applying for probate Gathering in funds and then distributing them in line with the person’s Will (if they had one) or in line with intestacy rules (if there was no Will) Some of these stages can be easier to manage than others so we offer a flexible service that can be adapted to the particular situation of your probate. For example, we can provide legal support in just the initial stages of probate. We can contact organisations to help you identify the value of the estate, ensuring you have thought about any potential debts the person might have such as utility bills owing or credit card statements, as well as all potential assets including their home. Our experienced team can complete the required forms including IHT, handing over to you to gather the funds and distribute the estate once probate has been granted. “An excellent service, very efficient” - Mr R (Ruislip) We can also act until the estate is fully disposed of so that you don’t have to take on any aspect of the process. This can be particularly helpful in complex or high-value estates which can be very time consuming and take months or even years to process. Where the will has been misplaced or may be invalid, using a legal professional through the whole process means you and your family are fully protected. P.S. We offer a clear and transparent fixed-fee policy for dealing with probate, giving you peace of mind. You can see the fees involved in each stage of probate on our website.

  • Have you booked your free LPA review yet?

    At this free consultation, we will look at your current situation and help you identify the potential impact that not having a Lasting Power of Attorney could have on your life. We will then show you the steps we can take to avoid these problems and take control of your future. You might be surprised just how much influence the State can have if you haven’t made your wishes clear. Do you want medical professionals to make decisions about your treatment? Are you happy with the State deciding whether you should move into a Care home or not? Even if you have talked extensively with your partner or family about these kinds of scenarios, if you don’t have an LPA in place then they cannot carry out your wishes. Ensure your voice is heard by creating a Lasting Power of Attorney. PS. Many people think creating a Lasting Power of Attorney is expensive. But it can be more affordable than you think. At MDW Solicitors we believe in transparency and value for money. I can talk to you about our fixed fee options during our free review, so you know exactly what to expect from the start.

  • Have you decided to DIY probate?

    You might think that doing probate yourself will save you money and that you can do it quicker yourself. If I can give you one piece of advice it would be to think again. Administering an estate can take months and even years. Once you accept the responsibility of executing the estate it is a job for life. You can’t simply resign or decide to step down once you have started carrying out your duties. You also make yourself personally liable if things go wrong. As solicitors, we have special insurance measures to protect us should a situation like that ever arise. Do you have the same protection? “Debra dealt with my matter extremely efficiently and professionally. She explained everything clearly to me and took all the worry out of the process. It was a quick and overall a very positive experience. I have already recommended her to friends and family due to the fantastic value for money and brilliant customer service. Thank you so much.” - Miss H (Windsor) Please get in touch with me on 01753 299466 or email debrawilliamson@mdwsolicitors.com to discuss how I can help you deal with probate swiftly and sensitively and allow you to move on with your next steps in life. P.S. If you do decide to manage probate yourself, I strongly recommend that you advertise in the Gazette, the UK's official public record, for any unknown creditors to come forward, once you have received the grant of probate. If you do not, then you could be held personally liable for unidentified debts.

  • Have you made time to create your LPA yet?

    It’s easy for creating a Lasting Power of Attorney to slip down your to-do list. None of us want to think about a time when we might not be able to make decisions for ourselves. Deciding where to book your next holiday may sound much more appealing. Even if you are in good health and haven’t retired yet, creating a Lasting Power of Attorney is an important step in planning the future you want. It can also save your family heartache later on, as they try to second-guess what you may have wanted, or fight to get access to the care you need. As one of our clients found, I can help you cross creating a Lasting Power of Attorney off your to-do list and put your mind at rest, so you can get on and enjoy life. “It has been a pleasure dealing with MDW solicitors as your professionalism and helpfulness has made the process of creating power-of-attorney very painless.” Mrs N (Seer Green) Please get in touch with me on 01753 299466 or email debrawilliamson@mdwsolicitors.com to book your free appointment today. P.S. When the time does come, we offer a full Probate Service. This is the dealing of the estate when a person dies and is normally done through a Solicitor in order to not overburden you when you are at your most vulnerable after the loss of a loved one.

  • Covid changes the way in which Wills are witnessed.

    For over 100 years The Wills Act 1837 has dictated how Wills are made valid. Section 9 of that Act states that a Will should be witnessed by two people in the presence of the testator after he has signed. This has caused tremendous problems during Covid and it has taken until a few days ago for the Ministry of Justice to announce that video witnessing of wills will be made legal during the Corona virus pandemic. The planned changes will be back dated to the 31st of January 2020 and there is no end date however it is thought that this new law will remain in until the Corona virus pandemic has passed. Although the Ministry of Justice would prefer future Wills to be witnessed in accordance with section 9 of the Wills Act guidelines will be produced in the next few weeks which will explain how Wills can be witnessed via video means such as zoom. This will therefore avoid the problems that many clients have experienced over the last few months and will also assist should we go into lockdown in the winter months. To discuss how this may affect you please call Debra on 01753 299466 where we will be happy to advise you. Please remember that we offer a fixed fee will service which will ensure that you remain in control of your assets and leave them to who you chose to leave them to. We also offer price reductions if you chose to have your LPAs drafted at the same time.

  • HM courts and tribunals service contradicts the government in saying that as from Monday 27th July 2

    As from Monday anyone that attends court in England will have to wear a face mask. This is welcome news for many lawyers and directly contradicts what the Government said just over a week ago with regards to the public not being required to wear masks in court buildings. With regards to what happens inside the courtroom itself, this will be left to the individual judge but social distancing rules will be observed and it is likely that masks may be removed when evidence is being presented and when people are speaking in court. This will ensure that the safety of the court and tribunal users remains paramount. Again, We do not know how long these changes are for but they illustrate how Covid has changed the way in which the law in this country is being administered.

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