Protection for you, your family and business

Call 01603 944099

Saving For A Rainy Day (Pigs Under Umbrella).jpg
 
 

WILLS

A suitable, well drafted will is the cornerstone of good estate planning. It is a document that every adult should consider making as soon as possible. 

A will allows you to pass on your assets to others when you die and gives you control over what happens to your money, possessions and property.

Often, people assume that their assets are too insignificant to require legal advice or a formal document. However, if you die without having made a will your assets will pass in accordance with a set of rules called the 'intestacy rules'. 

The intestacy rules do not recognise co-habitees who are unmarried and not in a Civil Partnership. Therefore, if you live with your partner and die without having made a will, your partner will not inherit any of your estate. The estate would instead pass to your surviving family (i.e. children, siblings, parents) and your partner may have to make a costly claim against the estate if appropriate. 

You may also have young children and wish to ensure that they are looked after by people of your choosing should the worst happen. Or, you may have pets or specific possessions that you wish to give to certain individuals on your death. All of these situations can be taken care of by simply putting in place a valid will. 

If you would like to discuss your particular situation please contact us

 

 
 
 

Lasting Power of Attorney

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) gives another person or persons (known as your "attorney(s)") the authority to act for you if you are unable to do so yourself. That authority continues even if you lose the mental capacity to make decisions for yourself.

If you do not have an LPA in place and you lose mental capacity, it will be necessary for someone to make an expensive and time consuming application to the court in order to act on your behalf. This can take several months and it is not uncommon for it to take 6-9 months.

There are two types of LPA, namely:

  1. Property and financial affairs.

  2. Health and welfare.

You can have either or both types of LPA.

LPA for property and financial affairs

This type of LPA allows your chosen individual to deal with your financial affairs, for example to pay your bills, sell your property or investments and operate your bank accounts. 

LPA for health and welfare

This type of LPA allows your chosen individual to make decisions about matters such as your medical treatment, your diet, where you live and how you spend your time. Unlike the LPA for property and financial affairs, your attorney can only use it when you have lost the mental capacity to make decisions yourself.

If you would like to discuss your particular situation please contact us

 

 
 
 

Inheritance Tax

Careful planning is essential to ensure you don’t pay a significant proportion of your wealth in taxes on your death. 

Under current legislation, the first £325,000 of an individual's estate is not liable to inheritance tax (‘IHT’). For married couples and registered civil partners it is currently £650,000, if the full allowance is passed to the surviving spouse.

There is also the new 'Residence Nil Rate Band' to factor in. This new relief only applies, as the name suggests, to main residences and provides an additional £175,000 of relief per person. However, this relief is being phased in gradually and is currently standing at £100,000 per person.

If your estate exceeds these combined amounts, and you do nothing, your executors might have to pay a significant proportion of your estate to HM Revenue & Customs.

We can help you to mitigate the impact of IHT on your estate using a combination of one or more of the following:

  • Ensuring that your will is drafted correctly to save the maximum amount of tax using trusts

  • Utilising lifetime gift

  • Utilising investments which qualify for relief from IH

Although pension death benefits are broadly exempt from IHT, if they are passed to your survivor they will form part of their estate. We can offer solutions which allow your survivor access to your death benefits without them forming part of their estate.

If you would like to discuss your particular situation please contact us

 

 
 
 

Life Assurance trust

If you have life assurance contracts payable on your death, you can consider establishing a trust to mitigate potential inheritance tax charges on the sums paid out and to protect the funds for successive generations.

This works by creating a lifetime trust and assigning the rights to the policy to the trust rather than the benefits becoming payable to your estate. 

The trust can be discretionary, with trustees able to use their discretion to use the fund, so that all family members are potentially able to benefit.

This provides ultimate flexibility for the trustees and your family to utilise the funds in the most tax efficient and secure way possible.

The types of life assurance policy your estate could be entitled to benefit from include:

  • Death-in-service benefit

  • Whole of life policy

  • Term assurance policy (often linked to a mortgage)

If you would like to discuss your particular situation please contact us

 

 
 
 

Asset Protection trust

An Asset Protection Trust (‘APT’) is a trust that is put in place during your lifetime rather than coming into force on your death (as is the case with a will trust).

Some people prefer the reassurance that everything is in place during their lifetime rather than leaving assets to be used at the discretion of trustees after their death. The benefits of this type of trust include:

  • No claim on the estate can be made over the assets transferred into the APT

  • Assets are not included as part of the client’s estate for probate purposes

  • Where the asset is a property, the APT can reduce the lengthy delays often associated with probate when dealing with a property.

Crucially, any assets within the APT will not be regarded as the capital of the client if they require residential care in the future (only any income will be assessed under the current rules).

The assets would, however, be assessed by the Local Authority if there had been a deliberate deprivation of capital in order to avoid care costs. This is a complex area and we’d recommend that you speak to one of our advisers if you need any more information on this subject.

If you would like to discuss your particular situation please contact us

 

 
 
 

Business Services

There are a range of documents that can help to protect you and your business. 

Shareholders agreement

With a Shareholder Agreement in place there is a formal understanding, agreed by all of the business owners.

By determining what happens in certain situations there is much less potential for disagreements  that could damage the business.

Establishing the rules which everyone has to comply with makes good business sense and having an agreement in place will help protect the relationships you valued when you decided to work together.

Business Lasting Power of Attorney

If you were to become incapacitated, the Court of Protection would consider you to be vulnerable and would have a duty to inform all financial institutions to freeze your personal and business bank accounts and other assets.

The consequences for your business could be catastrophic…

A Business Lasting Power of Attorney enables your chosen individual to take over your financial affairs on your behalf without cost or delay. You can place restrictions on and give guidance on how they should deal with your affairs or you can restrict their powers to only deal with certain issues. 

Cross Option Agreement

It’s not something many of us want to think about but the death of a shareholder, especially if he or she is also a Director, can have a major impact on a business that hasn’t planned for such an event.

Planning for this eventuality and having a well drafted Cross Option Agreement in place can not only ensure that both parties needs are met but it can also create a tax efficient environment utilising Business Property Relief.

The basis of a cross option agreement is straight forward; each shareholder agrees that following his or her death, the fellow shareholders will have the option to buy the deceased’s shares (in some cases this could also include those of his or her spouse).

Typically the shares would be made available for purchase at market value (a so-called ‘call option’) and that his or her personal representatives (on death) have the option to sell the shares (and, in some cases, those of his spouse) to the continuing shareholders.

If funding the sale/purchase of the shares is likely to be an issue, the shareholders entering into the Cross Option Agreement will take out a term assurance policy. Any amount that becomes payable under the policy is held in Trust by the remaining Shareholders to pay for the deceased’s shares.

Structuring the transfer of shares in this way, it is possible to make sure that the deceased’s shares qualify for business property relief. In valid circumstances this would currently provide 100% relief from Inheritance Tax.

Document Drafting

A business requires legal documents on a regular basis, this could be:

A contract
Review of your current terms and conditions
Non Disclosure or Non Compete declarations
Director’s service agreement
Employment contracts
Sale and purchase agreement
Loan agreement

You may also need to consider what possible effect putting in place such a document might have on you or your business and if you need tax, accounting or financial advice.

We will coordinate all of the advice and expertise you need and produce the relevant documents.

If you would like to discuss your particular situation please contact us

 

 
 
 

Property Ownership

Where two or more people own property together they can hold the property jointly in two ways: ‘joint tenants’ or 'tenants in common'.  

Joint tenancy

With 'joint tenants' neither of the owners own a specific share of the property but, rather, they each own an indivisible share of the property. The key feature of this type of ownership is the right of survivorship.

The right of survivorship means that if one of the owners were to die, that person’s interest in the property passes to the surviving co-owner(s) automatically. No action is required to vest the property in the survivor(s), as they are already entitled to the whole of the property.

The deceased's person's interest in the property cannot be inherited by the deceased's heirs, as the deceased owner did not own a distinct share of the property. In other words, you can't leave property held in this way under your will.

Tenancy in common

If property is instead held as ‘tenants in common’, each owner has a distinct beneficial share in the property (usually 50:50 in the case of married couples and partners although not necessarily so).

If property is owned in this way it enables the owners to pass their specified share of the property by their will to a person of their choosing or, in some cases, to leave their share to a trust. 

If you would like to discuss your particular situation please contact us