December 2021 - MLP Law

Changes to care fees and social care – will it affect me?

The white paper on social care in England and new cap on care fees brings more confusion to an already confused system. It’s unlikely to save many people any money and does nothing to alleviate the immediate crisis facing social care.

The government announced a cap on the amount that people have to pay for the cost of care. It is proposed that from October 2023, no one will pay more than £86,000 towards the costs of their own care during their lifetime.

The lifetime cap of £86,000 only applies to care costs and people will still be expected to contribute towards their accommodation and daily living costs. Contributions that have been paid before October 2023 will also be excluded.

The current means-tested cap provides that those with assets and savings less that £14,250 do not have to pay for their care. The new system provides the lower threshold is increased to £20,000. In addition, the upper capital limit will rise to £100,000.

This means people above the upper capital limit (£100,000) will have to pay full cost as they are a self-funder. People with assets between the capital limits will contribute on a sliding scale depending on their assets. And those below the lower limit (£20,000) will no longer contribute from their assets.

There may be a positive difference for a very limited number of people but certainly not poorer pensioners.  It’s clear the safety net for individuals has some significant holes in it. None of us can rely on it and each of us should make both a health and a wealth plan. It’s time we stopped thinking of planning for the future as something we do in later life.
 
When thinking about protecting your home when it comes to paying for the cost of care, there are a few things to consider:

1. If you need to move into a care home, you’ll usually have a financial assessment to work out how much you’ll need to pay yourself. If you own your house and your spouse, partner or civil partner is still living there then a ‘property disregard’ could apply which means your home won’t be used to fund care costs.
2. However, the local authority will take income, including pensions, into account when they decide how much people will pay towards their own care. This may reduce the household income available to the spouse/partner who continues to live in the property.
3. In most cases, couples tend to own a property as joint tenants so that when one partner dies the property automatically passes to the survivor. One of the primary reasons people change this is to ensure their 50% share of the property passes to their children, rather than it automatically passing to a surviving spouse / partner (and consequently the whole value of the property being taken into account for the costs of care of the surviving partner / spouse). You can sever the joint tenancy over your property by written notice and then updating the ownership position with the Land Registry. You should then make a Will to ensure that your share of the property passes in accordance with your wishes. However, as an alternative, you may consider your home as an investment to fund your care. This would give you a greater ability to choose where you would like to be cared for (close to loved ones and relatives perhaps) and how (any preferences you may have that would incur a greater care cost).

How can MLP help me?
Each individual’s circumstances are very different, so we’d always recommend speaking to a specialist solicitor.

MLP Law have specialist solicitors who can advise clients on protecting assets and planning for your future.  We have solicitors who are members of SFE (Solicitors for Elderly), the membership organisation for specialist solicitors who support older and vulnerable people.

Our offices are open for covid-19 safe appointments, alternatively we can discuss your instructions via telephone, video call or email.

Contact Details for Wills, Trusts and Probate Team: 0161 9269 969 or WTP@mlplaw.co.uk

The Return of Homeworking – how our Toolkit can benefit you

With the Government announcing tighter restrictions to combat Covid-19, particularly the new Omicron strain, employers have again been told to facilitate working from home where possible, from 13 December 2021.  It is thought that this will last until at least early January 2022.

If you would like guidance on how to reduce risk for your business by ensuring that working from home is properly managed, you should consider our Homeworking Toolkit.

The Toolkit includes ready-to-go, no fuss documents, combined with tailored advice, and is available for a simple fixed fee (starting from £350 plus VAT) or can be accessed through your MLP Flex allocation.

Homeworking Toolkit

• Risk assessment consultation with an MLP Law employment law expert;
• Self-assessment questionnaire for employees, allowing you to assess the viability of home working and conditions;
• Contractual letter to confirm the terms of homeworking arrangements; and
• Homeworking Policy.

Get in touch with Gareth Matthews or Julie Sabba in the MLP Law Employment Team on 0161 926 9969 or employment@mlplaw.co.uk, to discuss how our Toolkit can help your business get ahead of the game.

Protecting Vulnerable Individuals – A look into the story of Daphne Frank’s mother

Daphne Frank’s devastating account of her mother falling victim to a predatory marriage highlights the need for better protection of vulnerable people who could be targeted by abusers.

Daphne Frank’s mother was a vulnerable 87-year old living with dementia and terminal cancer, when a man befriended her, isolated her from her family and married her in secret. Five months after the marriage her mother sadly passed away.

In accordance with the laws of England and Wales, marriage has the effect of annulling a Will, rendering it no longer valid. This meant when Daphne’s mum passed away her new husband inherited the entirety of her estate.

As it stands, there are little protections in place that help the victim and their loved ones. Once a wedding has occurred, it’s difficult to protect the vulnerable person in question; even with proof of coercion or proof of the victim’s lack of mental capacity. Relatives could also face an emotional and expensive process if they wish to reclaim their loved one’s estate after they’ve passed. 

To protect vulnerable people and stop predatory marriages from happening, we need to ensure capacity testing is thorough and that registrars have sufficient training to spot potential predators who could be taking advantage of someone.

If you suspect a family member or loved one has entered a predatory marriage, it’s important you raise your concerns with them, and try to encourage an annulment. If the person in question doesn’t have adequate mental capacity to do so, you can make an application to the court of protection.

Similarly, they should also be encouraged to make a new will as the marriage will have revoked any previous will. If a person doesn’t have capacity to make a will, an application for a statutory will can be made to the court of protection, although this is trickier.

These steps can’t fully prevent a predator from marrying and financially or emotionally abusing you or a loved one. However, conversations centered around your later life wishes are a good step to take as preventative measure. Formalising these by drafting wills or Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) will give you, or your loved one, a higher level of protection should you, or they, ever lose capacity.

How can MLP Law help?
Where possible, you should always speak to a specialist lawyer experienced in this area of law when putting legal protection in place.
MLP Law have a specialist team who are able to provide the best advice on what’s needed according to your situation.
 Our offices are open for covid-19 safe appointments, alternatively we can discuss your instructions via telephone, video call or email.
Contact Details for Wills, Trusts and Probate Team: 0161 9269 969 or WTP@mlplaw.co.uk

At what age do you need to write a Will?


When you should make a Will does not depend on your age, but instead, your financial and personal circumstances. As long as you are over 18, you can never be too young to write a Will.
 
You should considering making a Will if: 
·         You own your own home
·         You are married or cohabitating
·         You are divorced
·         You have children (especially if they are under the age of 18)
·         You own your own business
 
If you die without making a Will, your estate will pass to your family as per the rules of intestacy, which may mean people inherit your estate against your wishes.
 
If your assets are over £325,000, or £650,000 if you are married, your estate may be liable to pay Inheritance Tax upon your death, which is the highest rate of tax in the United Kingdom at 40%. By making a Will, you can incorporate Inheritance Tax planning to protect your assets upon your death.
 
If you do not have a Will and would like to discuss making a Will with one of our experienced Wills, Trusts and Probate lawyers, please get in touch by phone on 0161 926 9969 or send us an email wtp@mlplaw.co.uk.

Christmas Party

It’s that time of year again, when employers want to reward staff for all their hard work and engender the festive spirit by having a Christmas party. But, as is becoming increasingly more common for employers, there are wider considerations (in the form of Covid and the mutated strain of Omicron), in addition to the usual concerns, when planning and hosting a Christmas bash. Read on to find out our employment team’s top tips for successfully managing this issue, taking into account the vagaries of organising a party in 2021.
 
1.       The first question to be asked is whether or not to even have a party this year. The rise of flu bugs in the winter, the introduction of Omicron and the general problems surrounding Covid, mean that many businesses are unsure if they should go ahead with parties where staff will physically mix. Indeed, there have been recent media reports about large organisations, like the accountancy firm Deloittes, deciding not to have the usual company wide-event. Instead, like many others, such firms are encouraging smaller gatherings, which are either team or department based. Our advice would be to exercise common sense and ensure that any event is Covid secure or, where the event will be taking place outside the workplace, that current Covid guidelines are being observed. Employers should also be sensitive to staff members who no longer want to attend due to Covid concerns.
 
2.       Don’t exclude anyone but also ensure that employees don’t feel obligated to attend, as there can be a variety of pressures on staff which can make attendance at a work party feel like a chore. For instance, employers should be mindful of the timings of other religious festivals that take place in December, when choosing a date. They should also factor in that some staff will have childcare issues or other family responsibilities, In summary, employers should be understanding of staff who cannot attend.
 
3.       If ‘other halves’ are to be invited, don’t forget to include employees with same sex partners.
 
4.       Although we all want to eat, drink and be merry – don’t base socialising exclusively on consuming alcoholic drinks; some employees will not drink for religious/health reasons or will need to drive home. On the other side of the coin, if supplying alcohol or offering free drinks, ensure that there are plenty of soft drinks available and have members of the management team informally keeping an eye out for staff who may have had one too many (and gently pour them into a taxi).
 
5.       Try and accommodate dietary requirements for staff with religious requirements, food preferences (such as vegetarianism) or allergies.
 
6.       On the day of the party, managers should be considerate of the event and not have unreasonable expectations regarding completion of work or deadlines, which could prevent a member of staff from joining in. There is no point have a party that no-one gets to go to.
 
7.       Employers should also be careful about the timing of parties: lunchtime or midweek parties have the potential to cause problems if your employees are returning to work in a less than productive state. An office full of hungover people might cause problems later on, if they’re making mistakes.
 
8.       This year, it is more pertinent than ever to consider appropriate activities at the Christmas party. Dancing and party games may make social distancing harder, so it may be better to have a seated event or an event that allows participation by Zoom for some (even though that is so 2020!).
 
9.       Whilst not wanting to be a killjoy, it can be helpful to set out a few pointers in advance of the party about appropriate behavior. Staff should be reminded that they should be respectful and professional towards each other, as they would be if they were at work. It may also be sensible to run over the rules that you have in place to ensure that your event is Covid secure, to reflect the most recent government guidance.
 
10.   If staff will be working the day after the party, be clear about expectations at work – it may be that employees are expected to attend but can do so a bit later, if agreed with the relevant line manager.
 
Finally, if you are having a party – don’t forget to have a good time, we all deserve it!
 
If you would like to advice from the Employment team at MLP Law in respect of any of the issues raised here or more generally, please do not hesitate to get in touch on 0161 926 9969 or employment@mlplaw.co.uk, or follow us on Twitter @HRHeroUK

Business Succession Planning: Fail to Prepare, Prepare to Fail

The demands of running an owner-managed or family business can be great and many business owners spend little or no time planning for the succession of the company.  But considering the future and making a succession plan can be critical for the growth of the business, handover of ownership, the reduction of taxes and mapping out your retirement/exit plans.

An owner-manager usually envisages retirement and selling the business someday but has not considered how that will come to fruition.  Owners need to understand what the current position of the business is in terms of how it operates, who the key employees are, who the key customers are, where the value lies and what the current needs are. They can then prepare for new structures or new leadership.  Owners also need to consider the other shareholders of the business and what provisions are in place in terms of shareholders’ agreements, cross options and bespoke Articles and their family estate planning.

Set out below are some questions you might want to ask yourself to consider your business succession planning:

1.    What are your personal goals in terms of exit or retirement?
2.    What is the timescale are you working to (ie. retire in 3 years) and what value are you seeking?  Have you had the business valued?
3.    Is this valuation realistic in terms of the company’s worth and your retirement plans?
4.    What is the vision for the ongoing ownership and management of the company?
5.    Do you have an identified successor?  Will you be looking for a third party sale, a management buy-out or transfer to family?
6.    Have you taken tax advice as to the best option for you personally as a seller and for the company (as applicable)?
7.    Do you have a contingency plan if a business owner dies or becomes unable to continue working due to ill health or other reasons? 
8.    Have you considered other options to help the company achieve its succession goals or to release cash to shareholders, such as restructuring, company buy-back of shares, reduction of share capital or employee ownership trusts?
 
For further information on Business Succession Planning, please email our Corporate and Commercial Team on corporate@mlplaw.co.uk or alternatively call 0161 926 9969 and also refer to our previous blogs Succession Planning Part 1 – Some Exit Options and Succession Planning Part 2 – Issues to Consider