FAQs & Case Studies
Welcome to our FAQs and Case Studies page. Because estate planning is a complex process, we are here to make it simple. Obviously there are many considerations when deciding to make a Will and we are here to help you every step of the way. We use plain English to explain and educate on the importance of the correct estate planning. Most importantly, all our advisors receive regular in-house training, therefore enabling them to answer all your queries.
Since we are asked many questions relating to estate planning, we thought it helpful to put together this selection of FAQs and case studies to assist you in the process. Undoubtedly, there are many questions to ask and lots of things to consider. Making the correct choice for your circumstances is paramount.
Read through our selection of helpful FAQs and Case Studies below. In order to help you understand more about making a will and our estate planning services. Also you might like to visit our News page. Here you will find lots of helpful articles relating to all aspects of estate planning.
Why should I make a Will?
If you do not have a Will, you have no say over what happens to your assets when you die and this can cause difficulties for those you care about most. Your estate will pass under the rules of Intestacy and this may not be as you wished.
If I already have a Will do I need to change it?
Peoples circumstances change over time and your Will should reflect these changes. It is recommended that you review your estate planning every 3-5 years to ensure it is still fit for your particular purposes. Also if you get married, re-married or divorced your current will becomes invalid.
What can I include in my Will?
A Will allows you to distribute your estate as you would like. You can name your beneficiaries and the share they will receive, you may also exclude individuals from receiving a share of your estate. Parents can nominate guardians for their children and ensure they are financially provided for. Unmarried partners may be protected and avoid future family disputes.
Who can make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
Anyone with mental capacity over the age of 18 can make a lasting power of attorney.
Do I need to register my Lasting Power of Attorney?
In order to use a lasting power of attorney it must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/office-of-the-public-guardian. We recommend you do this at the time of making to avoid future delays. Unfortunately there is still a lengthy delay for registration with the OPG, therefore registering straight away is the best option. Consequently you can use your LPA straight away as and when it is needed.
Can I protect myself and my assets against care home fees?
You cannot be seen to be deliberately withholding assets from the local authority. This is known as the Deprivation of Assets. However, you can choose to plan for the future to protect against such things as care home fees. This must be done well in advance so no-one can question your reasons for doing so.
Case Study 1
We met Mrs Casey in 2016. She attended a seminar on the subject of ‘Preserving Wealth and passing it on’. She appeared harassed and unsettled and we carefully enquired whether everything was okay.
Mrs Casey had a long history in many ways. She was 82 years of age and had been married twice. However, she was in good health, both physically and mentally. Her first husband passed away in his early 60’s and she remarried some 5 years later.
One of her three children from her first marriage, Catherine, couldn’t accept that her mother had a new life. This this led her to become angry and cruel towards her mum. The relationship never reconciled. Indeed, matters got worse with sustained financial and emotional abuse continuing to escalate.
Mrs Casey was under substantial pressure to make funds available to her daughter. The correct signposting was made to support agencies, but the client didn’t feel able to raise her concerns externally.
Mrs Casey owned her own house and some money in the bank.
We discussed how a Lifetime Trust can be used as a shelter or harbour for assets. It puts assets outside of the reach for those not appointed by Mrs Casey (the Settlor) as Trustees. It also makes administration of the estate after the Settlors death easier. Other potential benefits include the protection of assets, so that they ultimately pass to the nominated beneficiaries.
Finally, but of even greater importance was that if assets remain in Trust for more than 6 years, it is almost certain that any challenge brought by Catherine, after her mother’s death, would fail.
Mrs Casey took a huge amount of comfort from having placed her house, and most of her money into Trust. The Trustees were people that had a good understanding of the situation that she was in. They could, and would, robustly defend the Trust, should Catherine seek to undermine the arrangement later. This was proper estate planning, tailored to the individual requirements of the client.
Case Study 3
Chris and Elizabeth Brown came to an Autism event. Chris is 68 and Elizabeth 65, they are married and have three children aged 48, 45 and 42. The youngest child Stephen, is vulnerable and is high functioning on the autism scale. He doesn’t work and is in receipt of PIP. They have five grandchildren and Elizabeth’s mother is still alive and owns property and savings totalling about £300,000.
The estate comprises of property worth £450,000, with no mortgage and savings and investments totalling £150,000. Their current wills include life interest trusts for the property which is owned as tenants in common and distributes the estate directly to the three children. They have no Lasting Powers of Attorney.
The first fact finding meeting identified their generic objectives as being:
- to retain control over the distribution of the wealth and where it goes at the end of the day
- to retain control over who can make decisions for them in the future if they are not able to
- to minimise disinheritance risk and maximise inheritance for their children and grandchildren
- to ring fence and protect Stephens inheritance to provide for him in the long term and avoid loss of means tested benefits
- to make sure that wishes were known and that they will be respected and followed
- to make life easier for their loved ones in the future after they have passed
Their specific concerns were to protect their wealth to ensure as much as possible passed down the bloodline. Wishing to make sure Stephen is provided for properly and to mitigate the impact of probate. Both in terms of fees and delays/hassle to mitigate the potential impact of care fees in the future.
Because their situation is not straight forward we sent a report and recommendations and organised a second meeting. Therefore answering any questions and guiding them on the most appropriate solutions to meet their concerns. At the second meeting we were instructed to prepare;
- two Lifetime Trusts, including a vulnerable persons trust for Stephen
- two new wills with multiple trusts, protecting the residence nil rate band but also directing the majority of the estate into discretionary trusts
- both lasting powers of attorney and registration
- sign up to our client care plan for ongoing storage, reviews, updates and Probate Assist
- a review when Elizabeth mum has passed away to decide whether a Deed of Variation is appropriate
Case Study 2
We visited a lovely couple called Paula & Gary at their home. Both in their early forties with a 6 year old daughter.
Unfortunately, Paula was diagnosed with terminal cancer and told she had a lifespan of 2 to 4 years. These heart-breaking circumstances meant we had to act quickly. Our first meeting was extremely emotional and had be stopped several times as both Paula and Gary broke down whilst dealing with their emotions.
Their absolute priority was to protect their daughter Alice and to ensure they maximised her Inheritance. In addition they also wanted to protect their home which still carried a mortgage. Income was a major concern. Paula was only receiving a reduced percentage of her salary (ceasing in 6months) and Gary is in a very low paid job. There was concern as to how Gary would fund the mortgage payments and manage on such a low salary. This gave them sleepless nights.
In addition to looking at the key elements of Estate Planning (Wills / Powers of Attorney / Trusts ) we always take a holistic approach to our clients. This means considering their broader circumstances. As part of this approach Gary realised he may have some existing life cover in place from many years ago. However, he was unsure. We advised Paula and Gary to look out any documents they may have and to contact the insurance company directly. In order to confirm if they did in fact have some additional life cover.
During our meeting we agreed on Mirror Wills with Guardianship for Alice. Lasting Powers of Attorney for Paula and Gary. A Property Protected Trust and a Discretionary Trust for Alice. Paula and Gary were very grateful for the advice, support and recommendations; for both the Estate Planning work and the broader guidance to do with the potential life cover. They thanked us for our professionalism and helpful guidance.
A few days after our meeting Gary called me to say he had followed my advice and contacted the insurance company who confirmed that life cover of £300,000 was in place. Whilst the news is bitter sweet it does mean that they will be able to pay off their mortgage and take away some of the stresses and worry that there finances would otherwise have caused. Gary said that if it hadn’t been for the thorough, caring approach we had taken they would never had realised this cover was actually in place.
They can now try to enjoy the time they have left together knowing their financial burden has been eased. Added to this is the fact that they have the right estate planning in place. All of which means they have the peace of mind which allows them to concentrate on Paula’s treatment and care.