When was the last time you checked your Will and, in particular, are you happy with your choice of Executors?

It has recently been reported that it is believed that up to 1.5 million families face losing billions of pounds in outrageous legal fees to administer their loved ones Estate following their death.

In the late 90’s and early 2000’s certain Banks were offering budget Wills for as little as £75 each, an attractive incentive for many. However, unbeknown to many of their customers, these sometimes hastily drafted Wills included a clause appointing the Bank themselves as Executors. In many instances the consequences of this had not been fully explained.

As a result, the Banks can then charge astronomical fees when dealing with the deceased person’s Estate.  It is not uncommon for these legal fees to include an additional charge of up to 2.5% the value of the Estate.  Therefore inheritors of £50,000 can expect to pay as much as £12,500 in addition to the usual legal fees.  This is approximately 6 times more than a typical cost expected in dealing with an Estate of this size.

As a result High Street Banks can expect a combined 9 Billion pound windfall from these Will writing services.

If you have a Will drafted by your bank (particularly during this time period) then please check who your Executors are and (if it’s the bank themselves) carefully consider whether or not you are happy for your Bank to act as your Executors.

If you wish to make any amendments to your Will please contact our experienced solicitors at Dixon Rigby Keogh to discuss.

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Landlords Beware! New EPC Regulations come into force in 2018

What they are?

The Minimum Energy Efficiency Standards (MEES) regulations are a set of new regulations designed to improve energy efficiency in privately rented properties. They require all privately rented property, both domestic and commercial, to achieve Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) level E.

When do they come into force?

The new regulations were introduced in March 2015 but will take effect from 1st April 2018. As of that date, properties cannot be let under a new lease or rental agreement unless the property achieves a minimum EPC level E. Come 1st April 2023 all properties will need to achieve the minimum EPC level E whether entering into a new lease or rental agreement or whether there is already one in place.

Who it Affects

The regulations will affect Landlords of domestic and commercial rented property.

There are some exceptions and exemptions from the new regulations for some properties, such as; places of worship, temporary buildings, buildings due for demolition or buildings with a footprint of 50m2 or less.

A building under the regulations is defined as, “a roofed constructions having walls for which energy is used to condition the indoor climate”. Agricultural buildings such as barns or sheds for instance, that have an open front and no heating or climate altering system would not be caught by the new regulations.

Consequences of non-compliance

The first step will be a compliance notice, served by a Trading Standards Officer (TSO). This compliance notice will require the landlord to produce a valid EPC, any current lease or tenancy agreement and/or any qualifying assessment. The landlord will have 1 month to produce this information.

From 1st April 2018, penalty notices can be served by an enforcement authority where it believes a landlord’s property does not meet the required standards under the MEES regulations or that landlord has breached a compliance notice. The penalty notice may impose a financial and/or publication penalty. The financial penalty imposed for commercial property let for more than 3 months is 20% of the rateable value, up to a maximum of £150,000.00. The publication penalty involves publishing information on the penalty notice exemptions register.

For more information on what these regulations mean for you and how to stay compliant please contact Dixon Rigby Keogh Solicitors on 01270 766 550.

TOP TIPS FOR A STRESS FREE MOVE

INSTRUCT A CARING & PROFESSIONAL FIRM

Here at DRK you will not just be another file on the desk, we aim to offer all clients a personal experience and will always take into consideration your wishes and individual timescales whenever possible and practical. Ours clients satisfaction is a primary concern to us.

We are accredited with the CQS which stands for ‘Conveyancing Quality Scheme’, this means that as a firm we have rules and regulations we must abide by to provide a quality service to all clients. DRK welcomes new clients as well as maintaining an established base of repeat clients and referrals.

CLEAR COMMUNICATION

Clear and effective communication between solicitor and clients is key to a stress free move. Our solicitors will keep you updated with progress at every stage of the transaction, and give clear and concise reasoning for any delay. We make sure we communicate effectively with the buyer/sellers solicitors so that the transaction runs as smoothly as possible.

The more information we have from you at the outset of your circumstances, for example, if it will be chain transaction or if a mortgage is required, the better we will be able to advise you as to likely timescales.

FLEXIBILITY

Maintaining a flexible mind-set from the outset of any matter may save you stress further down the line. Unavoidable and unanticipated obstacles may arise in any transaction, such as a delay with a survey report or mortgage offer being provided, however, by maintaining a flexible and adjustable approach stress can be avoided.

Call us today for a non-obligation quote for your sale, purchase, transfer of equity, re-mortgage also land possession claims.

Winsford      01606 557211

Northwich     01606 48111

Sandbach      01270 766550

Are you considering making a will for the first time? Do you have an existing will that needs updating due to changes in your personal circumstances? Then please contact Dixon Rigby Keogh to make an appointment to see one of our experienced Private Client Lawyers today.

Why it is important to make a will?

It is important for you to make a will whether or not you consider you have many possessions or much money. People put off making a will as they don’t often see it as something that is necessary. Unfortunately, they sometimes leave things too late and this can cause serious problems for your family and loved ones. It is vital that you set out your wishes clearly as it is becoming increasingly common for peoples estates to be disputed following a death.

  • If you die without a will, there are certain rules which dictate how much money, property or possessions should be allocated. This may not be the way that you would have wished your money and possessions to be distributed
  • Unmarried partners and partners who have not registered a civil partnership cannot inherit from each other unless there is a will, so the death of one partner may create serious financial problems for the remaining partner
  • If you have children, you will need to make a will so that arrangements for the children can be made if either one or both parents die
  • It may be possible to reduce the amount of tax payable on your estate if advice is taken in advance and before a will is made
  • Marriage – any future marriage or civil partnership will revoke an existing will
  • If your circumstances have changed, it is important that you make a will to ensure that your money and possessions are distributed according to your wishes. For example, if you have separated/divorced/remarried/widowed, you may want to change a will.

Why should I choose Dixon Rigby Keogh Solicitors?

It is advisable to use a solicitor or have a solicitor check over a will you have drafted yourself as there may be factors which you have not considered which could have serious consequences for the distribution of your estate following your death. It is easy to make mistakes and sorting these out following your death can result in considerable legal costs which will reduce the amount of money in your estate.

We at DRK will provide a thorough check of your personal circumstances to ensure your wishes are carried out and that all of your money and property is accounted for, that the formal requirements to make the will legally valid are executed, ensure that you have considered all eventualities (such as a beneficiary dying during your lifetime), ensure you are aware of how circumstances can affect the validity of your will and advise on issues such as your dependants ability to challenge your will.

There are of course situations where it is particularly advisable to use a solicitor, such as:

  • Where you share a property with somebody who is not your wife, husband or civil partner
  • You wish to make provision for a dependant who is unable to care for themselves
  • There a several family members who may make a claim on the will, for example, a second wife or children from a first marriage
  • Your permanent home is not in the UK or you own property over seas
  • There is a business involved

 

Things to consider before making an appointment to see a solicitor

Before making an appointment, it is worth considering the following:

  • Estate – How much money and what property and possessions you have, such as property, savings, occupational and personal pensions, insurance policies, bank and building society accounts, shares
  • Beneficiaries – Whom you wish to benefit from your will. You should make a list of all the people you wish to leave money or possessions (beneficiaries). You may also want to consider whether you wish to leave any money to a particular charity.
  • Appointment of Guardians -Who should look after any children under the age of 18
  • Executors – Who is going to sort out your estate and carry out your wishes as set out in your will? These can be either family members, friends or a professional such as a solicitor

MAKING A WILL

Have you made a will?

Had your will reviewed recently?

Have there been changes to your circumstances since you made your last will?

Our Wills, Probate and Trust Department advises you to contact them to discuss your Will and your circumstances. It is important to periodically check whether any Will you have made remains relevant. Changes in tax rules, your circumstances or your family circumstances could be important and impact upon the provision you have made. Please do contact us if you have any concerns.
 
If we hold a Will for you or anyone you have responsibility for (eg you may be an executor or a spouse) and circumstances have changed, perhaps you could contact us with an update since it helps us to maintain accurate records. We would also be grateful to be advised if for any reason you have made a replacement Will elsewhere.
 
If you have a Will and are intending to discuss this please bring your copy along with you to the appointment.

MOVING HOUSE

It is that time of year when you are thinking about moving house. Lots of people are. You will want to be one step ahead. We would recommend that you contact us as soon as you start to consider any move and before you contact anyone else. We can help ease the worry and smooth the path from the very start. We can offer you some great advice and may even be able to save you money. Now how helpful does that sound?
 
Unless you already have an established Solicitor contact within our firm then please call your most convenient of our offices.

GIVING AWAY YOUR HOUSE

A Tempting Idea?

We have many enquiries from people wanting to give away their home by transferring it into the names of the intended beneficiaries of their estate, normally their children. 

Listed below are 10 reasons why this may not be a good idea. 

Care Home Fees

1. If you have to go into care the Local Authority will do an assessment of your finances and may still take the value of your home into account. In making their decision the Local Authority will consider when your house (or any other asset) was disposed of and the reason why.

2. Some better quality care homes require a top up fee to be paid. If you are asking the Local Authority to pay for your care, you may have a limited choice and may not be able to go to the nursing home that you want due to lack of funds. 

Your Standard of Living 

3. Your property will often be your major asset. To lose control of it may have a significant impact on your standard of living.

4. You will lose the freedom to choose. What if you suddenly decided that after all you would like to take that round the world cruise, would you have the money?

Loss of Control over your Property

5. Your property will be owned by someone else. Even if that person is your child who you trust implicitly, what happens if they unexpectedly die? Who would then inherit the home that you wish to continue living in? What happens if they experience another change in their circumstances such as divorce or bankruptcy? Your property will be at risk of being taken into account in any assessment of their finances.

6. Relations may change between you and your children. They may decide that they want to realise the capital within the property and could force a sale.

7. You may lose the opportunity to adapt to your changing circumstances perhaps by adding a stair lift or other aids to help you remain at home. You may wish to downsize or release equity from your property. These may not be options available to you. 

Inheritance Tax implications 

8. If you die within 7 years of the gift your estate may still have to pay tax on the value of the property.

9. If you continue to live in the property after the gift your estate will still pay tax on its value for an indefinite period of time.

10. If you do not continue to live in the property you may lose the Capital Gains Tax main residence exemption.

Further Advice

In most cases the motivation behind it is to avoid their home (often the only or main asset) being used to pay for the cost of care home fees.

If you intend to continue living in the property meaning the transfer will merely have been a paper exercise, then the Local Authority may look further into why the property was transferred. If they conclude that it was done solely to avoid paying care home fees then they may seek to undo the transfer and recover the property. Alternatively, they may treat you as still having the property and refuse to pay for your care.For further information please see Age Concern UK – Fact Sheet 40, Depravation of assets in the means test for care home provision.

For many people funding the cost of care does not in fact present a problem. It might be possible to rent your house out, or sell it and invest the sale proceeds. The income produced together with your pensions might well meet most of the cost of care home fees. You may want to consider making a Power of Attorney appointing someone to manage your financial affairs in case you become unable to do so.

There is a draft Care Bill currently before parliament that contains changes to the assessment of care funding and a recommendation that a ‘cap’ be implemented, limiting the amount people will have to pay towards their care. However, it may be 2016 before any changes are implemented.