The new year provides a great opportunity to take stock and review your affairs. The landscape of the world and your own personal circumstances can change dramatically over the course of a year, so it is essential that your affairs are kept in order and up to date.
Jon Creswick, solicitor at Howell Jones, sets out five new year’s resolutions that don’t involve diets or exercise!
1. Make a Will or review your existing one
If you don’t have a Will your estate will pass in accordance with the intestacy rules when you die. These rules dictate what happens to an estate when there is no valid Will. Depending on your circumstances, not having a Will could result in your estate passing to family members who you have fallen out with or not spoken to for years! It is especially important that co-habiting partners make Wills – as a unmarried partner does not inherit via the intestacy rules, regardless of the length of the relationship.
Even if you have made a Will, it is important to keep it up to date. A Will does not expire unless it is expressly revoked (or you get married). Therefore, a Will you made twenty years ago will still be valid, even if your circumstances and relationships have changed considerably since.
2. Make Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs)
LPAs are documents that enable you to appoint attorneys to make decisions on your behalf, should you require assistance or lose capacity in the future. If you lose capacity, then it’s too late to put a LPA in place at that stage. This will result in your family not being able to deal with your financial affairs or make decisions regarding your health and welfare unless they apply to the Court of Protection.
The Office of the Public Guardian are currently taking 20 weeks to register LPAs. Therefore, don’t wait until you need the LPAs to put them in place as your Attorneys won’t be able to use them for several months.
3. Review your Inheritance Tax position
HMRC received inheritance tax totalling £5.32 billion in 2020/21, the highest amount ever received in one tax year. The rules regarding inheritance tax are complex but there may be changes you can make to your Will or financial affairs that will reduce the amount of tax your family will have to pay when you pass away.
4. Register your property with the Land Registry’s Property Alert service
The Land Registry offer a free service which enables homeowners to register their property so that you receive alerts if there is significant activity on the property (such as a transfer or mortgage).
Property fraud is on the rise and there have recently been a number of cases of fraudsters posing as home owners to try and sell vacant properties and pocket the sale proceeds.
Beware! This happens more often than you could imagine and is close to home too! A case just like this happened to a property in Addlestone and the firm of solicitors had to defend a claim where a fraudster had provided fake identification in order to sell another person’s property illegally!
5. Speak to your relatives and make sure their affairs are in order
If you have elderly parents or relatives it is important that you speak with them and make sure they have up to date Wills and LPAs. We often encounter problems where people have lost mental capacity without putting LPAs in place or die without leaving a valid Will. These problems can be avoided by having open and honest conversations with your loved ones.
If you would like any further information or would like any help or advice, please contact Jon or another member of our friendly, knowledgeable team.
Meet Jon Creswick
Jon Creswick qualified as a solicitor with a firm in Addlestone before joining Howell Jones in 2020.
Jon specialises in the preparation of Wills and providing advice regarding Inheritance Tax planning. He is a student member of Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and has completed the STEP Advanced Certificate in Will Preparation. Jon is also experienced in preparing Lasting Powers of Attorney and making applications to the Court of Protection for Deputyship Orders.
He also has an extensive knowledge of Probate matters and handles a wide range of estates, including complex cases worth millions of pounds.
Jon is a keen supporter of local charities and he has worked closely local hospices to raise thousands of pounds.
Outside of work, Jon’s main passion is football. He is a qualified Football Association Referee and has previously officiated on The National League – the highest level of the non-league system. He also enjoys travelling.