Author Archives: maximum

Protect charitable gifts in your Will

According to recent analysis from the Co-op Legal Services, rise of charitable gifts in wills has led simultaneously increase in the number of related probate legal disputes.

The number of people leaving money to charities in their wills has risen, with one in ten people leaving money to a good cause in the last year compared to just one in 16 from the year before, research from the Co-op Legal Services found.

Recently, there has been an increase in the number of contesting a will disputes related to charity donations in wills. More charities are coming forward to challenge re-written wills that do not include them, as demonstrated earlier this year in the case of Ilott v The Blue Cross & Others case where the Supreme Court ruled the charity was entitled to a chunk of Mrs Jackson’s inheritance, despite her daughter’s protests.

The Dogs Trust is one of the latest charities embroiled in a legal dispute, over the will of the late Tracey Leaning. Ms Leaning drew up a will in 2007 leaving her whole estate to the Dogs Trust and other charities. However, in 2014 a new will was produced that left £340,000 of her estate to her partner Richard Guest on the condition that he took care of her three dogs.

It is understood from press articles that the Dogs Trust argue that the will is invalid on the basis that the second will was not properly created including that the page with Ms Leaning’s signature was detached from the rest of the document. This may invite questions as to whether there were any pages of the will with other provisions that have also became detached.

Ms Learning made her new will in 2014 in favour of Mr Guest after she was diagnosed with brain tumour, and it may argued that she lacked mental capacity to do so. Arguments around mental capacity are being put forward in probate cases more and more, perhaps because of the rise in the number of people suffering from dementia.

Obtaining specialist advice on capacity when drafting a will can make all the difference in avoiding (successful) contention later on. The best way is to have capacity confirmed by a solicitor when the will is being prepared who can, where there is doubt, instruct a medical expert to undertake a capacity assessment and Counsel to advise on the scope of that assessment any issues as to capacity that might arise. Otherwise, the Court will have to try to reach a conclusion on the testator’s mental capacity at the relevant time by less than perfect means including witness and documentary evidence. This kind of evidence is likely to be more contentious, leading to Court proceedings, and therefore more costly.

Research suggests that just 40 per cent of Britons make a will. There are many lessons to be learned from recent legal disputes over wills, but first among them is that challenges can be avoided by taking proper legal advice and ensuring that any potential issue as to the testator’s mental capacity is headed off at the time the will is produced.

Get expert advice on your inheritance and reasons for contesting a will, contact Going Legal Ltd today.

Document Storage

Storage of Wills and Other documents

We have all seen TV shows and films in which a plot strand is a missing or destroyed will, the moral of story being a will or other document is no good if it cannot be found. We offer a simple solution to the potential storage problem.  Every client gets free storage of his or her documents for the first year after the documents are signed, thereafter, the fee for storage in our fire-proof vaults is £12 per client.

Naturally, you would get a copy of each document we hold for you, with our name and address and contact details prominently displayed. All you need do is let your loved ones know where to find the copies that would lead them to the original documents which we hold.

Save for retirement? Ah, I can do that later!

Investment Myth 1 : Saving for retirement? Ah, I can do that later!

In early stages of our career, retirement planning  like writing a will is probably the furthest thing from our thoughts. We try to channel our earnings to acquire latest gadgets, buy a smart car, get the largest mortgage our income would support, go on exotic holidays more than once a year. Saving for retirement is something that is rather low priority for most. While acquiring lifestyle items are important, it is also important for us to take necessary action to preserve our lifestyle post retirement.

It’s never too early to plan for retirement. On the contrary, the earlier you begin, the easier the task will be. Here is a mathematical fact, for every 5 years you up off starting to save your retirement, you reduce the income you could get by fifty percent in fancy terms known as the time value of money.

When you start early, the amount of investment required to build a substantial retirement savings pot is smaller than the amount required to make the same kitty if you delay retirement planning. Our earlier article, Retirement Planning – Start now, Save more, Retire rich, explains why starting early with your retirement planning is advantageous for you.  Although such opportunites get rarer by the day, if there is an employer provided scheme available to you, join it.  I came across a painful example just over a year ago, this lady who had worked for the same employer since she left school, but never joined the pension scheme because like young folk she was always of the feeling Ill not be here for very long, and in any event, theres no need to start thinking of retirement just now. If this lovely lady had joined the pension scheme at the earliest possible time, the could have got a retirement income of £6,000 a year, index linked, for the rest of her life she was only 50 years old.  All that free money wasted.

Codicils

Wills and Codicils

As the last will and testament is the foundation of one’s estate planning, from time to time, one would need to revisit the will in light of changes to significant events in one’s life, after all, the point of estate planning is to leave the things in one’s life to the people in one’s life in the most cost efficient and hassle free manner.  All be books and all the guides and all the courts prescribe the codicil as the manner in which this alteration should be effected.

Writing a Codicil

Anyone who has written a will would be acquainted with the process of effecting a codicil. Simply outline the clause you wish to alter and get your signatures witnessed as did on your main will.  In short it involves as much effort as writing a will.

Codicils – we disapprove of them

Here’s why, if you note above, it takes almost as much effort as to write a will in the first place – it is just as well to start all over again – this creates clarity with the will writing process – there ends up one document, there is no scope for mischief, fraud or loss.

If you examine your current will document, it is very likely has binding that is virtually tamper proof, as appending any thing to the will is likely to call its validity into question, writing a codicil would  create several documents, creating scope for administrative palaver.

Codicils have been used in the past by third parties to pull a fast on the legitimate beneficiaries of the will without going to the bother of locating and destroying the original will.

In sum, codicils, while legal, and are acceptable to the probate court, are not to be recommended because they expose the estate and its intended beneficiaries to hardship.

Changing the address of deceased person

Estate Administration & Management

Question: Is it illegal to change the address of a deceased person?

Answer? On death, all relationships are terminated, as correspondence is a by-product of relationships, a deceased person should not be getting any mail.  Standard practice in estate administration dictates that all relevant parties government authorities, pension providers, utility and finance organisations etc should be notified. On being informed, these bodies would make the necessary arrangements so that all outstanding accounts may be settled and closed.

On death, all relationships are terminated.

In the event  that you are the executor of the estate of the dead person, there are several things you need to do as part of the process of estate administration and carrying out the provisions of the last will and testament of the deceased person.  One of them would include notifying all relevant parties of the death including registering it with your local registrar of births; deaths and marriages.

There might however be correspondence arriving as consequence of the fact of the death, those items should the addressed to the estate of the deceased or on rare ocassions to the executor 0r person winding up the estate (in his or her own name).  In my opinion, informed  by my experience, there is no reason or justification for changing the address of a dead person. Such a question as youve asked, caused the word fraud to form in the mind  of your interlocutor.  In the event you think there is a genuine and legitimate reason for seeking to change the address of the deceased, you would be advised to consult a professional estate administrator to set out the circumstances that you believe require a departure from standard estate administration practice for advice that is particular to your circumstances so you do not inadvertedly lay yourself open to prosecution.

Latest time to make a will

During a question and answer session at a recent talk I was asked, ‘when is the latest time to make a will?’

The answer comes in 3 parts, the first and most obvious – it’s a lot of hassle, and very expensive for the client, generally its not something we like to do – although better late than never.

The question was ‘When is it too late to make a will – apart from when one is dead of course?’

The answer, as I alluded to earlier had always be internalised, but now comes time to articulate it.

Around the middle of the second term, most economics students would learn about money, and one line drummed through the ages is that ‘money has no intrinsic value’ – it has no use in its own – it is only useful for what we can do with it. In this respect, a will is of little value by itself a will is of value for what it can do – so if we left the important issue of minor children for now, the main point of a will is to give the things one owns to the important people in one’s life.

The things in your life to the people in your life. 11 words that could go towards enhancing one’s family’s financial and social status for generations to come. One of the benefits of a will is that is the foundation of inheritance tax planning. Most people in a bout of unwarranted modesty believe inheritance tax is not a problem with which they have to contend. The sooner one started this business of estate planning, the greater would be the scope for keeping one’s wealth in the family rather than it burn in care home fees or inheritance tax. In our experience families save hundreds of thousands of pounds inheritance tax by simply planning early.

No far thinking professional wants to write a will against which a successful challenge would be brought. A trawl of contentious probate cases highlights the fact that cases more often than not tend to have one of two characteristics the first being that the document was a forgery or the testator was not of sound mind the second class being that the testator failed to receive proper professional advice in laying out his or her wishes. It is the first class that is our concern here. Those who have worked with the seriously ill or dying report that those who are near death might be fearful or confused, as such it might be easy to influence them (one reason hospitals and care homes are reluctant to get their personnel involved in anything that has the semblance of a will). Hardly a surprise if a will made in such circumstances is subject to challenge.

Having made a will earlier gives the scope to lay a ‘paper trail’ so that any changes in the will are well documented and would reasonable in light of the changing circumstances of the testator’s life.

While better late than never, the sooner one gets round to writing a will thus determining the extent of estate planning required, the easier, cheaper and more thoroughly the aims of the will can be accomplished.

Bereavement Funeral Coordinator Fees

Funeral & Bereavement Planning Fees

Funeral Coordination Fee– £550

  • Registration of death (2 hours)
  • Ongoing liaison with funeral director (2 hours)
  • Organising the design and printing of an Order of Service OR provide flower brochure and arrange the ordering and delivery of selected floral tributes (3 hours)
  • Arrange funeral venue and catering (6 hours)
  • Ringing relatives and friends to advise them of the death OR provide details of funeral arrangements (including emailing directions) to up to 50 names (2 hours)
  • Send up to 50 thank you cards for flowers and donations (2 hours)

Bereavement Coordination Fee £350

  • Removing perishables from property (1.5 hours)
  • BASIC* clean and tidy, to include bed stripping, dealing with dirty dishes and delivery of unwashed laundry to a laundrette or family member or dealing with its disposal (6 hours or less depending on property size. Price confirmed on appointment.)
  • Safe disposal of prescription and other medicines (1.5 hours)

BUY BOTH PACKAGES FOR £850 AND SAVE £50

Basic Administration Fee- £120

  • Cancelling junk mail and arranging for the redirection of other post (0.5 hours)
  • Contacting relevant benefits providers, utility providers, the DVLA and passport office to inform them of the death and undertake any paperwork required (3 hours)

BUY ALL 3 PACKAGES FOR £900 AND SAVE £120

*A basic clean means just that – dealing with any dishes in the dishwasher and washing dirty dishes that are lying around, stripping beds, removing dirty laundry including towels, wiping down bathroom and kitchen surfaces, removal of dead flowers, general tidying, light dusting and vacuuming. In the unusual event a basic clean would not suffice, alternative arrangements would have to be made.

Deep cleaning can be arranged on request if this is required.

Funeral Planner Co-ordinator

Funeral Planning Adviser and Co-ordinator

We are currently looking for a Funeral Planner to cover South East England.

While training would be provided you would be expected to have recognised customer service qualifications and experience. You would have some experience of project management and co-ordination with an assortment of stakeholders. You but must have excellent communication skills. A sensitive and caring nature and be able to work well in a team, often under pressure.

Current driving licence and use of a motor vehicle are essential.

What to do when someone dies

Post Death Practical support

When someone dies there are a lot of practical tasks that have to be undertaken both at the time of the death and afterwards, everything from registering the death through organising the funeral to selling a house.

But what happens if you’ll have no one to do this for you when your time comes? Or what if you’re a son or daughter who has lost a parent and you live a considerable distance away, with a busy life of your own, and organising the sale of your parent’s home is going to involve lots of motorway travel and several weekends away from your family sorting through your parent’s belongings, organising decorators and/or builders in an area with which you’re unfamiliar, trying to keep on top of progress from a distance and then liaising with and managing an estate agent in order to sell the property? Or maybe you’re just the executor of the will and not even a family member. Why put yourself through all that?

Whatever your reasons for wanting or needing to offload some or all of the unavoidable practicalities following a death, Maximum Inheritance is here to provide as much or as little assistance as you need.

Examples of some of the jobs we can undertake on your behalf include:

  • Urgent domestic tasks following a death – immediately after a death, when it might be difficult for grieving relatives to cope with entering the deceased person’s home, or there are no family members, we can visit the house to clear out perishable foodstuffs and do other tasks that need immediate attention such as watering plants, feeding or removing a pet, stripping a bed, washing dishes, dealing with laundry and general cleaning and tidying
  • Liaison with utility companies, financial institutions etc. regarding the death – we can handle all the communication, both by telephone and letter, to inform of the death, provide copies of the death certificate and undertake any follow-up required to finalise the deceased’s dealings with these and other types of organisations
  • Comprehensive and careful property searches for valuables, cash and key documents to provide to the executor – we will look in all the usual hiding places and, more importantly, in all the unusual ones, to ensure that all items of value or importance are found and delivered to the executor and not accidentally discarded in a general house clearance
  • Arranging the valuation of specific items – we can arrange for specified items to be valued for the estate. This can involve photographing items and emailing the digital images to a professional valuer, arranging for the delivery of items to a valuer, or taking them there ourselves, or for the valuation of an item to take place in situ.
  • Organising final house clearances – we will organise the final clearance of the deceased’s property, ensuring that whatever is meant for family members and friends is either delivered to them directly with the permission of the executor or delivered to the executor to be passed on. We arrange for the remainder of the deceased’s possessions to be donated to charities and community projects where possible and then for a house clearance company to remove anything remaining
  • Inventories of property contents – we will undertake room-by-room, comprehensive inventories of the entire contents of a property to be held by a solicitor or other trusted third party, either prior to someone’s going into long-term care or passing on, or immediately afterwards. Recording the exact contents of a property helps to minimise the likelihood of items being removed from the property without the permission of the executor or relevant person.
  • Managing the preparation of a property for rent/sale – we will co-ordinate and supervise whatever needs to be done to bring a property up to an acceptable standard for renting or sale. This may include scene of crime cleaning, deep cleaning, basic cleaning, decorating, garden clearance/tidying.
  • Managing the sale of a property – we can liaise with the estate agent and/or solicitor instructed on the sale if required. We can also arrange to pop round to clear mail and give a brief dusting and freshening to the property between viewings and turn on the heating for a few hours prior to a viewing if necessary. We can also arrange to keep the lawn mowed and window exteriors cleaned during the sales process.
  • Managing the sale of a car – we can negotiate the sale of a car to a garage or arrange for a private sale through relevant auto and local media, newspapers and online
  • Organising the delivery of personal effects to the right people and organisations including shipping items abroad – we can make local deliveries in person or arrange for packing and posting of items, either through the Post Office or courier companies, and the completion of Customs and Excise forms for goods being shipped abroad
  • Arranging the secure decommissioning and recycling of computer equipment – if a computer is no longer needed, we can arrange for the computer to be decommissioned via an approved company that will destroy it in a secure environment to ensure total protection of personal data and information, significantly reducing the potential of identity theft, and ensure the parts are recycled or disposed of with due consideration to environmental impact
  • Pet re-homing and pet burials/cremations – we can arrange for a pet to be re-homed into a suitable environment or, if it is the wish of the deceased, we can arrange for the humane ending of the pet’s life and to have it buried or cremated in accordance with its owner’s instructions
  • Organisation of memorial service/scattering ceremonies – either immediately after the funeral or whenever the family of the deceased is ready, we will undertake the entire organisation of a memorial service and/or scattering ceremony for the deceased’s ashes
  • Cancelling junk mail – we can register with the appropriate organisations to minimise the amount of junk mail which is sent to the deceased
  • Cancelling memberships and subscriptions to clubs and publications – we will ensure all subscriptions to clubs and magazines are cancelled with immediate effect and arrange for any refunds that are due to be paid back to the estate
  • Safe disposal of prescribed drugs and other medicines – we will ensure any medicines left in the property are disposed of safely via an approved handler
  • Return of mobility aids to relevant organisations – we will arrange for any mobility aids and furniture that may have been on loan to the deceased to be returned to the relevant organisation

Finding out if there was a will

How can I find out if someone has left a will? My father in law has passed away and we are trying to sort out funeral arrangements and any wishes he might have had but are unsure as to whether he left a last will and testament as this was never talked about.

My condolences on the death of your father in law. We have all seen films and TV shows where a significant plot line involes the loss or alleged loss of the will. As a rule, I advise my clients to make a separate statement of funeral wishes. In sum it is a good idea to inform those likely to be planning the funeral of what ones  final wishes are rather than leaving it to the will. The funeral depending on local custom being more immediate than executing the will.

As there is no central register for wills, the responsiblity for saftey of the documents rests with the testator

On the broader point of the will, it is always sound practise to inform the significant parties to the will, at least, in broad terms, what the provisions of the document are, and where it can be found.  There is no central register of wills [this would be consistent with the fact that there is no obligation on anyone to record his testamentary intentions in writing] , therefore, the responsiblity to keep the will safe lies with the testator, after all, the document is no good if it cannot be found.  At the risk of stating the obvious, informing the significant parties especially the beneficiaries, trustees and exectors of the content and location of the document would reduce the probability of fraud or surprises that could lead to a challenge or contest of the will.