estate planning Archives - MLP Law

Why would I? I’m only 20

I watched a film last night called ‘The Beekeeper’, which is a typical Jason Statham action/thriller but a good escape from reality in our downtime of being “sensible lawyers.” The essence of the plot is that when his good-natured boss commits suicide after losing all her own money plus that of her charities to a massive scam, he sets out on a vengeance campaign against the scammers.

The 20-year-old owner of the scamming operation is threatened by Statham, who delivers the following line before administering “justice”: “So I hope you have your estate planning in order,” to which the scammer replies, “Why would I? I’m only 20.” I laughed out loud at these lines while my partner just looked at me like I was crazy. Why is that funny?

We are trying to instill in clients and potential clients all the time the importance of estate planning: making a will, putting your powers of attorney in order, tax planning, pensions, savings, life assurance, all the hard work you put into your career, property improvements, caring for your family—you need to make sure this is all protected. Yes, things change, and so does the plan.

Speak to an expert here, and we can start you on your estate planning journey.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls in Estate Planning

In order to avoid common pitfalls in estate planning, it is essential to take expert advice and our team at mlplaw are ideally placed to offer you tailored advice to ensure your estate planning is undertaken effectively and efficiently. Here, we detail the most common pitfalls made in estate planning.

 

  1. Pitfall One – Not Making a Will

A Will is the most important estate planning document that you should have in place, whether you are married, single, have children or not. A Will is the only document which deals with the whole of your estate (barring some assets such as pensions or life policies) and how it will be transferred following your death. The value of a Will should not be underestimated and the time and cost devoted to its preparation should reflect its importance and value. Ensure you review your Will regularly.

 

  1. Not Taking Proper Advice as to Inheritance Tax

When seeking advice regarding your Will, it is also important to consider the tax implications to give effect to your wishes in the best interests of your intended beneficiaries. Do not undervalue this exercise or cut corners. A well drafted will ensures your estate can take advantage of all available tax reliefs.

 

  1. Make Proper Provision for Blended Families

Second and third marriages are no longer uncommon, creating difficulties where there are children from the previous relationships which each party to the marriage wishes to ensure benefit from their share of the estate whilst also ensuring that the surviving spouse can continue to occupy the family home and receive the income they need. Where Wills do not fully appreciate and understand the complexity of these arrangements, the result can be that the children of one party to the marriage miss out on what would otherwise be their share of the estate, and this can lead to expensive claims and litigation over the administration and distribution of the estate later. Once again, careful estate planning and a well-prepared Will should help to avoid those consequences.

 

  1. Asset Protection

The desire to keep things simple must be weighed against the need to provide the protection that beneficiaries require. Where a potential beneficiary of your estate is young or disabled or not able to manage their money, there are ways in which the estate can be protected for their use and benefit by using the appropriate forms of trust. Trusts can also offer protection in the longer term against the possibility of a beneficiary divorcing at some point in the future and also lead to longer term IHT savings for the family.

 

  1. Family Disputes

If you are intending to exclude a close family member from a Will, or to leave your estate in unequal shares between your children, then it is essential to take professional legal advice as to the possibility of post-death claims and how to take steps to try prepare for such claims by  the careful drafting of your Will and any ancillary statement of reasons.

To ensure you avoid the above pitfalls and that your estate is planned to provide for your chosen beneficiaries please contact wtp@mlplaw.co.uk or call on 0161 926 1538 to speak with one of our experienced and friendly lawyers.

Dispute over George Michael’s Estate from former partner

It has been more than five years since George Michael’s death on Christmas Day 2016, yet the disputes regarding his estate are only just reaching an agreement.

Despite having left a Will leaving his estate being split between various family members and friends, his estate was contested by his former partners, Kenny Goss and Fadi Fawaz neither of whom were provided for under the terms of the late singer’s Will.

Fadi Fawaz issued a claim on the basis of maintenance to support the lifestyle which he became accustomed during the couple’s seven-year relationship. Previously reported, he had asked to remain in the £5 million property where George had allowed him to live.

The Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 is designed to protect people who ought to have been provided for under a Will but for some reason, were not. Those individuals are entitled to make a claim against the estate for reasonable financial provision to be made. A category of persons eligible for making a claim are spouses or partners who had been living with the deceased in a loving relationship for two years prior to their death.

Fadi Fawaz were reportedly in a relationship for five years prior to George Michael’s death, so it is reasonable to believe that he was capable of bringing a claim against the estate if he could demonstrate this and that he was financially maintained by George prior to his death.

Meanwhile, Kenny Goss persevered in attempting to claim from the late singer’s estate. Following the bitter court battle the trustees of the estate agreed to an undisclosed settlement to Kenny.

Although the estate was left to family and friends, Kenny Goss claimed that he had been promised monthly maintenance to support him following their split in 2011. Kenny sought the sum of £15,000 per month, for life. Kenny argued that he was financially dependent on George during their relationship and he had given up his own career to focus on his relationship with George. Crucial to his claim, he stated that he had remained financially reliant on George even after they split and until George’s death in 2016.

As previously mentioned, the 1975 Act allows certain categories of persons to bring a claim against a deceased’s estate. In this instance, Kenny would need to demonstrate that he was financially dependent on the deceased prior to his death.  Kenny also claimed that when George prepared his Will in 2013, there were questions surrounding his mental capacity.

Kenny based his lawsuit on two common reasons for making a successful claim for inheritance. As he was capable of demonstrating his financial dependency on the deceased he was able to reach an undisclosed settlement with the estate trustees.

The importance of a properly prepared Will offering you all the advice and guidance you need is vital in complex circumstances. Seeking advice from a specialist can avoid the need for lengthy and costly legal proceedings following the death of a loved one.  

MLP Law are advocates at ensuring our clients’ needs are provided for, including preparing them for events during lifetime as in death, to ensure peace of mind. At MLP Law our team of experts are here to talk you through the process, guaranteeing a service which is tailored to your individual needs.

How can MLP Law help me?

If you’re thinking about making or updating your will or require assistance with estate planning needs, please get in touch with our Wills, Trust and Probate solicitors. If you have any particular questions regarding dealing with claims for family and dependents are specialist solicitors can offer advice and guidance.

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 9269969 or WTP@mlplaw.co.uk

Estate Planning: Managing your affairs in a Post-Covid world

Welcome to our series of blogs, addressing post-lockdown issues from a legal perspective.  This week sees the latest blog, from our MLP Wills, Trusts and Probate team, looking at Estate Planning post lockdown.

Uncertain times often lead us to review our personal and financial circumstances, it can be helpful to consider the practical steps you can take to plan for the future.  Covid-19 has been at the forefront of everyone’s mind during the last 12 months, and this article looks at the key things to consider to getting your life back on track and putting effective strategies in place to manage your business and personal affairs as we come out of lockdown.

We have set out below some things to consider putting in place as part of your estate planning needs:

A Will:

Preparing a Will and ensuring your affairs are in order is fundamentally important. It offers you the peace of mind that your wishes are met, whilst easing the stress of loved ones who ultimately have to administer your estate.

There are many benefits to a properly drafted Will and these include providing for minor beneficiaries and the appointment of guardians, help reduce your inheritance tax liability, asset protection and protection of assets for vulnerable or disabled beneficiaries. Reviewing your Wills in ever changing circumstances can ensure that your instructions are up to date and tailored specifically to your needs and wishes.  It is beneficial to consider the use of trusts in your Will to best manage your affairs and make use of all available reliefs.

Without a Will in place, your loved owns will have no choice but to distribute your estate in accordance with the Intestacy Rules.   The rules determine who should inherit from the estate of the deceased based on the surviving family members. The rules do not take into account personal relationships and who is at need but simply look at the family connections and bloodline.

With today’s wide range of estates and the complexity of family structures, it is important to seek professional guidance to ensure that all matters are dealt with properly.

Lasting Powers of Attorneys:

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone, in advance of deterioration of health, to make decisions on your behalf. This is becoming increasingly important as the risk of mental incapacity grows. However, the key thing in preparing these documents is that they need to be put in place before an individual loses capacity.

There are two types of LPAs, a Property & Finance LPA and a Health & Welfare LPA. Property and Finance LPAs let you appoint someone to make decisions including helping you with finances, managing your taxes, buying and selling assets. The Health and Welfare LPA allows your attorneys to make decisions relating to your personal care, accommodation and life sustaining treatment.

In the absence of an LPA, if you were to lose capacity your loved ones would have to apply to the Court of Protection to be made a Deputy. This process is both long and costly.

Preparing LPAs at an earlier point ensures that you have control over who is appointed and you can make them aware of your wishes, to ensure that they always act in your best interest.

Business Owners:

The turbulence of the last 12 months has highlighted the need for business owners to think about succession planning, this can include putting provisions in place should one part die or review the passing on of shares in the company to family members.

Succession planning for businesses is beneficial for the owners, the company and their clients. By ensuring the company goes through a stable transition, the company is able to continue providing the same quality of goods and services without any interruption.

Business assets may qualify for certain reliefs on death and preserving these reliefs is an important part of the succession planning process as the concern for most is that they have worked so hard to build their company. Preparing a full plan ensures that there is business continuity and the owners or their successors in title are protected.

It is also important for business owners to consider the consequences, should they be unable to make decisions. Business owners can make business LPAs which deal specifically with the needs of the business. This provides the owners with peace of mind that should they lose capacity the day to day running of the business should be unaffected.

Next Steps?

If you require assistance in dealing with your estate and planning for the future, our specialist team are available to discuss your instructions and requirements with you. 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 9269969 or WTP@mlplaw.co.uk