Pictured is Mike and Peter of Alder Wills at the Yateley 10K Race. Photo taken by Denis Chapman http://www.denischapman.co.uk
Published on 13/08/2013 14:19
This year’s Yateley 10k Road Race Series comes to an end and it is with great pleasure that we support this event and have assisted on all three events by marshalling.
The letter you always wanted to write
The Guardian, Saturday 9 June 2012
Your passing was a shock, although I suppose it shouldn't have been, but at 76 years old you were still living at home actively doing all the things you loved to do. You liked to say "I haven't retired, just changed jobs." I think you were almost busier after retiring than before. You always had a list of things you were going to do.
Unsurprisingly, updating your will was on that list, but 40 years is a long time to have had that task waiting to be completed. Death isn't something we really like to talk about or dwell on particularly is it? I read recently that 61% of Britons haven't made a will, one in 10 hasn't told anyone where to find the will they have made and a further 13% haven't updated their will in the past decade. You clearly weren't alone in avoiding the task.
No doubt you would be incredulous to discover that your children have had to apply for legal permission to sort out your affairs. You have been gone almost a year but we are still waiting for permission to be granted. We can't touch any money in your accounts, so we paid for the funeral costs by extending the mortgage. Each month we budget towards paying your council tax as well as our own.
The bedsit attached to your house continues to be rented, which helps, but we can't increase the amount to reflect market rates as it is not our property. While we wait, your property has to be maintained and we also have to pay fees for the work lawyers are doing on our behalf.
You used to say I was one of the sanest and most capable people you knew but this last challenge you have left me is almost doing my head in. You won't have realised that because you and mum were divorced, she couldn't be one of your executors. With Uncle Frank passing away before you, both the people you nominated in your will are unavailable. Although you had told family members that it was to be my job, it must be written down to count legally. Written agreement to pursue our application for the legal right to sort your affairs has to be given by all of those listed as receiving a gift. Thankfully, I now have contact details for three of the four you mentioned. I spent six weeks tracking down your god-daughter, Gillian, and only found her because of the family history work I had been doing. I still have absolutely no idea who Isabella May is or what connection you had with her family. Gillian is lovely, by the way, as I discovered when I met her recently. Her mother and father are doing well but were saddened by the news of your passing. They shared many hilarious family stories, including some about your 21st birthday. You would have enjoyed catching up with them again.
People say that what doesn't break you makes you stronger and maybe the past year has been one of those times. I have thought a lot about life and death and what I value, but I have yet to grieve properly. That will come when all the jobs have been resolved and I can be left alone and not pretend, for the sake of others, that I am strong and coping.
I know my children are also capable individuals but this isn't an experience that they need to have. I'm going to ensure I regularly review my will so that it reflects my current circumstances. If I choose to leave a gift to anyone specifically, I will include their contact details too. I want my children to have space to grieve and move on with their lives, holding on to the good things we have experienced without the involvement of lawyers or financial difficulties. I know you would have wanted this too and updating your will was probably the very next item on your to-do list. I don't blame you – I just feel exhausted from trying to cope.
Respectfully, your eldest, Liz
Pictured is Sharon Leverett,mum of Rotherham soilder James killed in Afghanistan along with James's girlfriend Tiffany Lound and James Baby son also called James at home in St Nicholas Road,Rawmarsh,who are all having to suffer their first Xmas without James.
Published on 12/04/2013 09:48
A DISPUTE over the estate of a fallen South Yorkshire soldier has been settled out of court.
The mother and girlfriend of James Leverett, killed by a roadside bomb while serving in Afghanistan, reached a last-minute agreement before their battle was due to be brought before a County Court judge in Sheffield.
Sharon Leverett, aged 39, of Rawmarsh, Rotherham, and Tiffany Lound, 21, the mother of James’ two-year-old son, had been locked in a row over the serviceman’s inheritance, which included insurance and a death-in-service payout.
The women put up a united front in the wake of his death in 2010, but the relationship soured in the years that followed.
At James’ inquest last year, Sharon said she had not seen her grandson for six months.
“I’ve only seen him on television and in magazines or the paper,” she said.
The women were at Sheffield Crown Court yesterday, preparing for their case to be heard. But legal representatives settled out of court on an undisclosed sum, with a confidentiality clause set.
James, of St Nicholas Road, Rawmarsh, died in July 2010 when his convoy of armoured vehicles hit a huge improvised explosive.
The soldiers – members of the Royal Dragoon Guards – were within sight of comrades they had been sent to relieve when the 40kg bomb went off, stripping James of his body armour and hurling him from the driver’s seat.
His son, named after his late father, was born weeks later.
James, known as ‘Levy’, grew up in Sheffield and Rotherham, and was described by army colleagues as ‘very likeable’.
Probate Do It Yourself: Whilst I accept that in many cases probate of an estate can be completed by an efficient lay person in some circumstances it can go very wrong.
We were contacted last week by a lady who had managed to obtain a grant of probate in her name some four years ago and was now in a position to sell the property that was part of the estate.
The lady had mentioned that contracts had been exchanged the day before but she just wanted to check the tax position.
I had to inform her that as the property had increased in value there was a capital gains tax bill of around £18,000.00. I had to make here aware that if she had contacted us prior to exchange of the property that this tax could have been saved.
The executor is personally liable for this mistake so the tax should come out of her share! I am sure you would agree that this was a very costly mistake.
We can assist you to complete the probate and advise you of any traps to watch out for or completely remove this liability from you and complete the probate work on a fixed fee basis.
Ms Gibson was speaking shortly before Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, announced that from 2017, anyone with assets, including their home, worth more than £123,000 will have to pay for the first £75,000 of their care costs. They will also pay “bed and board” of up to £12,000 annually when in a nursing home.
The proposed cap on social care marks an improvement on the current system, which requires anyone with assets of more than £23,000 to pay the full cost.
However, an independent commission, led by the economist Andrew Dilnot and set up by the Coalition, recommended a £35,000 cap on care bills and a £10,000 annual limit on “bed and board” costs. It said state help should be available for those with less than £100,000 and that the system should be introduced now.
The National Pensioners Convention spokesperson attacked the proposals, remarking that they only served to benefit 10 per cent of pensioners who needed care. Despite the rise in the asset threshold, she also claimed many elder citizens were still scared they would have to sell their homes to meet costs.
A retired RAF officer died virtually penniless after his family was forced to sell his home to pay for his dementia care.
Wing Commander Geoff Beckett had served his country all his life. But when his health deteriorated, his bravery counted for nothing – because he owned his house.
Under rules which punish thousands of responsible pensioners every year, he was told the £160,000 property would have to be sold to pay for the care he needed.
Over nearly six years, the widower's carefully-accrued savings – money he would have hoped to pass to his three grandchildren – were almost completely used up.
Finally, last month, his family managed to persuade the authorities that he was so ill he was entitled to state help. By a terrible irony, Mr Beckett died a week later, at the age of 88 and with virtually all his money gone.
Yesterday his family backed calls for a reformed care system which does not penalise responsible pensioners who have saved for their retirement.
'I can't believe how my dad was treated,' his daughter Gill Bradley, 54, said yesterday. 'He lost his house and his savings to pay for his care and it's not right. He'd worked hard all his life for his savings and served his country, but the reality is there are a lot of people just like my dad who are having to sell off their homes to pay for care.
'They said that he didn't qualify because he had his RAF pension, savings and a house that he sold to pay for his care. It's the system that is at fault.
'My dad served his country but his country failed to serve him.'
Mr Beckett was a member of the Home Guard before he joined the RAF.
During a colourful career he served in Palestine in the 1950s, was involved in rocket tests in Australia and interviewed Cold War prisoners in Berlin's Spandau Prison. At one point, he was even wanted as a spy by the Russians.
He was an aircraft engineer in Oman in the 1970s before he retired to North Wales with his wife, Joan, where he played golf and enjoyed building and fixing clocks.
Mrs Beckett died aged 79 in 2002, and four years later Mr Beckett started showing signs of dementia.
His family were told he would have to move to a care home – but officials at the Betsi Cadwaladr University health board said he did not qualify for state help.
As he had more than £23,000 in savings, no support was available until the money ran out. As a result, his family had to sell his five-bedroom house in Penmaenmawr to pay fees of up to £2,800 a month. Over the next six years, nearly all of his savings were swallowed up.
The family repeatedly argued that his health needs meant the bills ought to be subsidised – and finally on September 3 the health board agreed to healthcare payments. He died just a week later.
'He definitely warranted help from the Government,' said his daughter, a dental nurse.
'He was such an amazing person and had such an incredible career. I'm glad he was in a good home where he was treated with such respect, dignity and love.
'It's a shame that he didn't get the same treatment from the Government.'
Last year economist Andrew Dilnot, who was hired by the Coalition to draw up a new funding system, suggested the amount pensioners have to pay for their care should be capped at £35,000.
However it later emerged any change in the law could see a cap placed at £100,000 rendering the plan 'meaningless', according to critics.
Mrs Bradley added: 'My dad had an amazing life - he went rocket testing in Australia and during the cold war he was interviewing prisoners at Spandau Prison and worked with the British secret service.
'He was a bit of a James Bond - the Russians wanted him at one time and put out his picture to say that he wasn’t allowed in their country. I’m not sure how true that is but it’s what my dad used to tell us.'
In October 2006 Mrs Bradley said she got a phone call from a local British Gas man. The water tank had flooded my dad’s house so he’d called them out.
'However the gas man rang me because he was concerned that my dad had appeared confused. I was really worried so took him to the doctors who did tests on him and he was diagnosed with vascular dementia.
'I used to see him on a regular basis but I must have missed little signs because I saw him so often so it was harder to notice things, plus he had hidden quite a lot from us for ages. I do wish I saw the signs earlier.'
After his diagnosis, Mrs Bradley was told that her father would have to move to a care home for his own safety.
But officials at Betsi Cadwaladr University Local Health Board said he did not qualify for health care payments as he had more than £23,000 of savings.
She said: The government will not fund anyone with more than that and dad had a five bedroom house and an RAF pension.
'Altogether it was about £160,000 of his savings that he had to use - including selling his house - over six years.
'He didn’t know what was really going on. I know that there was nothing that we could do about it because someone had to take care of him.
'When he was assessed I was told that he had quite a few severe needs and qualified for help. But they then moved him to another home that they said met his needs better rather than funding him. They kept moving the goal posts.
'He was in a wheelchair and he was double incontinent and had sepsis - how poorly do you need to be to get help?'
The Board finally agreed to pay for Mr Beckett’s care from September 3 but he died just a week later on September 10.
Mr Beckett’s family are now battling to claim some of his money.
His daughter added: '10 days before he died we finally got the confirmation that he would have his care paid for - but it was too late and he died on 10.
'I was told to cancel his direct debit - but it was too little, too late. He definitely warranted help from the government.
Some people are left with nothing after they die because they have been made to spend all their life savings on their own care and it’s not right.'
'He was such an amazing person and had such an incredible career in the RAF. This is why I was so upset and angry at the way he was treated.
'It’s too late for my family but I hope this helps other families to safe guard their inheritance.
‘We all want to help out children and grandchildren and pass money down the line but there is little to show for what an amazing life my dad had.
'Of course I’m glad he was in a good home where he was treated with such respect, dignity and love. It’s a shame that he didn’t get the same treatment from the government.'
A spokesman for the Betsi Cadwaladr board said: 'People are eligible for NHS healthcare funding if their main care requirements are to address health needs.
'This need is determined by an assessment carried out by a range of NHS staff, colleagues from local authorities and other professionals involved in a patient’s care, according to a national framework.
'This framework considers the nature and intensity of a person’s needs, how different needs interact with each other and whether the needs fluctuate over time.'
Earlier this year David Cameron pledged to end the heartache of tens of thousands of elderly people who are forced to sell their homes to fund long-term care.
He said he wanted to implement recommendations that cap the amount individuals pay at £35,000 - with the taxpayer picking up any further bills.
Alder wills & Probate can assist you in planning for the Future, whatever happens!
Source Daily Mail
Anecdotal evidence suggests that anything between 40,000 and 70,000 properties are sold each year to cover the owner’s care fees. Parents are also seeing nest eggs built up as intended inheritances for their children decimated over short periods once in care.
With advance planning this need not be the case. There are ways to protect the family home for the next generation.
We are delighted once again to be sponsoring the Yateley 10k race series.
Peter Hoare our Director has competed in the event on ten occasions and marshalled at over 20. Peter has been a resident in the Yateley area for 36 years. We are proud to offer any volunteers or runners of the Yateley 10k Road Race Series 2012 a 15% Discount off all of our services including, Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and any Trust advice.
The England & Wales Court of Appeal has declared that a will executed by Martin Lavin on his deathbed is invalid, because his sister - the will's sole beneficiary - guided his signing hand.
The litigants in the case (Barrett v Bem  EWCA Civ 52) are the immediate descendants of Mr. Lavin and his sister Anne, both now dead.
The exact circumstances of the signing of the will, just before Mr. Lavin's death in hospital in 2004, have been a matter of dispute. The witnesses and other family members present have changed their minds from time to time. But the EWCA's belief - informed by the evidence of handwriting experts - is that Martin Lavin could not have signed the will unaided. Apparently he was so ill that his hand would not stop shaking. It had at one stage been claimed that Anne "held his hand to steady it while he signed the will", but the Appeal Court agreed with the earlier High Court judge that Anne had "stepped in, took the pen, and signed the 2004 Will on Martin's behalf".
The crux was thus whether Anne had signed the will by the direction of the testator; if she had, then it could be judged valid under s.9 of the Wills Act 1837 as amended.The EWCA could find no binding authority on what the drafters of the 1837 Act might have meant by "the direction of the testator", so it created its own interpretation. The key passage in its judgement was stated by Lord Justice Lewison: "The court should not find that a will has been signed by a third party at the direction of the testator unless there is positive and discernible communication (which may be verbal or non-verbal by the testator that he wishes the will to be signed on his behalf by the third party".
In this case, he said, "the mere facts that Martin wanted to make a will and had tried and failed to sign it personally are insufficient to amount to a direction to Anne to sign the will on his behalf ... In my judgment some positive communication is required in order to amount to a valid direction."
Accordingly he declared the will improperly executed and thus invalid, and ordered Mr. Lavin's earlier will (which had been concealed by one of the Bem defendants) to be admitted to probate instead.
In a further comment, he called for the law of probate to be amended to cope with situations like Mr. Lavin's. "It is plainly undesirable that beneficiaries should be permitted to execute a will in their own favour in any capacity", he said. "Parliament should consider changing the law to ensure that this cannot happen in the future."
The England & Wales High Court has upheld a will executed by 78-year-old George Wharton on his deathbed, leaving everything to his long-term partner Maureen.
The challenge was brought by the testator's daughters, who alleged that the execution was obtained by Maureen's undue influence.
George Wharton was a Kent businessman who operated holiday camps and caravan parks. At his death in September 2008, his estate was worth GBP4 million.
The sequence of events leading up to his death was unusual. He had been suffering from terminal cancer, and when told he had only days to live he returned home from hospital to settle his affairs. By then he had been cohabiting with Maureen for 32 years, his first marriage having ended in divorce in 1977.
The same evening, Maureen and he were married in a ceremony conducted by two visiting registrars. Just before the ceremony, he executed the contentious will making Maureen his sole beneficiary. It was handwritten by his family solicitor Timothy Bancroft, who read it aloud to the testator, and (along with his own wife) also witnessed its execution. The will was made in contemplation of the marriage.
Three days later George Wharton died. As the High Court judge (Mr Justice Norris) put it: "A deathbed marriage, a deathbed will, a large estate and the absence of any provision for issue may be expected to heighten family tension." It did. The testator's three daughters challenged the deathbed will, claiming that Maureen used undue influence to make George execute a document that was contrary to his wishes.
But Mr Justice Norris disagreed, stating that he could not accept that Mr Wharton was acting under coercion when making a deathbed will in favour of the woman he had treated as his wife for 32 years, and whom he had just chosen to marry. "He quite plainly understood marriage as a solution to the inheritance tax problem which overhung the business he and Maureen had created and for which he had made no provision", said the judge.
After the judgement, Maureen Wharton criticised George's daughters for challenging the will by using solicitors on a contingency fee arrangement.
(11 December 2007) The High Court has upheld the controversial Will of a wealthy woman which leaves £10 million to the owners of a Chinese restaurant. Despite challenges from her disappointed relatives the court ruled that the Will was valid and that the wishes of the testator Mrs Bechal were to be followed
The case highlights the freedom that we have to leave our estate as we wish. It also brought to the fore the need to ensure that all circumstances surrounding the making of the Will are handled properly so that it cannot be challenged successfully in court.
(9 October 2007) In his Pre-Budget Report the Chancellor Alastair Darling made a major announcement on the tax free limit for married couples and civil partners. With immediate effect, the tax free limit will be transferable between spouses, having the effect of doubling the limit for couples from today. He commented that this will also apply retrospectively, providing benefit to those already widowed
As ever, the key will be how it is all implemented, and we will be looking at the details over the coming days and weeks. It is likely that Wills made in the past to minimise inheritance tax remain entirely valid, and still provide other benefits.
(1 October 2007) Regulations for Lasting Power of Attorney came into force today. The LPA replaces the previous Enduring Power of Attorney regulations, although any existing EPA remains valid. LPAs provide additional safeguards, and can deal not only with financial matters (LPA Property & Affairs) but also with health and welfare matters (LPA Personal Welfare)
(29 July 2007) As reported in the Sunday Times, HM Revenue & Customs are chasing up bills for unpaid tax as part of the crackdown on offshore assets. This includes following up undeclared interest for overseas savings accounts even for accounts relating to those who have died.
The report comments that the Revenue has power to pursue such debts for at least 3 years. It is part of the responsibility of being an executor that during the probate process all such debts are paid, and is a reason why many families pass on the burden to professionals who specialise in this area.
(9 July, 2007) According to a recent report by Barclays Wealth, the majority of those with children (64%) do not have a Will. This means it's uncertain who would take care of their children (act as Guardian) and nor would they know who would be responsible for taking care of their children's inheritance (Executor / trustee).
A further finding is that on average those who have made a Will take 7 years before reviewing it. In today's climate of more and more estates being subject to Inheritance Tax, it can mean they may be leaving unexpected tax bills for their loved ones.
Selected past news items
(6 Apr, 2007) From today (start of the new tax year) the 'Nil Rate Band' for Inheritance Tax increases to £300,000 (from £285,000). The NRB is the maximum amount that an individual can leave (other than to a legal spouse or a charity) without incurring Inheritance Tax. The tax is levied at 40% on any excess above this level, and can result in some very large bills before the family can inherit the estate.
With properly drafted Wills, a married couple can exploit both NRBs, whilst still looking after each other. These Wills allow them to pass on £600,000 to the family without paying a penny in Inheritance Tax.
(21 Mar, 2007) In the Budget speech today the Chancellor announced that the Inheritance Tax limit will rise to £350,000, but only by 2010. This continues his previous announcements of raising the limit only very slowly - by around 4% - 5% per year.
With house prices continuing to grow in the long term there are very many families who might be caught by this tax in the future. The tax remains set at 40%.
(10 Jan, 2007) At the January meeting of the Midlands (Central) group of the Society of Will Writers, there was what is rapidly becoming their traditional charity auction of 'unwanted' Christmas presents. This year we chose to support the "Hearing Dogs for Deaf People", and were able to raise £200 to support their excellent work.
It costs around £5,000 to fully train a dog, so the charity is always in need of support. If you wish to include in your Will a legacy to the charity Alder Wills & Probate Ltd Wills & Probate will be delighted to draft the Will for you, and as a "thank you" for your business we will donate 10% of the fee directly to the charity.
You can find out more about the Hearing Dogs charity at www.hearingdogs.org.uk
(9 Nov, 2006) The latest forecasts from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) show a planned increase of 9% in the amount of Inheritance Tax being collected this financial year (2006/07). The new annual total is expected to be £3.56 billion. This growth in tax is despite a small increase in the amount that any individual can pass on tax free, from £275,000 last year to £285,000 this year.
Further rumours amongst financial specialists suggest that the Chancellor is looking at additional means of increasing the tax taken, including removing the right to vary a Will after death (an Instrument of Variation). Whatever the truth of the rumours it is clear that making a Will is becoming ever more vital in order to stop the Government taking a bigger share of your family's inheritance.
(30 Oct, 2006) The Society of Will Writers 10th Annual Conference is taking place in Market Bosworth 13-14th November, and once again Alder Wills & Probate Ltd Wills & Probate will be attending. The meeting is part of the ongoing commitment to training and professional development, ensuring that Will writing specialists are right up to date with the latest changes to the regulations and tax legislation. Sessions this year include background on dealing with overseas assets (such as a Spanish holiday home), which is becoming increasingly common.
Whoever is writing your Will, be sure that they are keeping up to date with all the changes and are not just relying on training received many years ago.
(20 Sept, 2006) According to a survey conducted on behalf of Help The Aged, around 46% of those approaching retirement are prepared to sell their home in the future to pay for residential care. The survey also showed how many have not considered the reality of how care is paid for, and the impact it will have on their estate.
Appropriate planning ahead of time, including creating suitable Wills, can protect some assets from being lost in this manner - leaving more to pass on to the family.
(5 Aug, 2006) Research by the Halifax shows a major increase in the number of estates that are paying Inheritance Tax (IHT). In the five years to 2003/04 the number has risen by 72% - and government projections expect a further 22% for year 2006/07.
Figures show a 49% increase in the total amount of IHT paid over the last 5 years, with estates that are just over the Inheritance Tax threshold (currently £285,000 for 2006/07) paying an increasing proportion of that total tax bill.
Current government plans are for only a slow rise in the IHT threshold, and they project a further increase in the total amount of IHT being paid, and also in the number of estates impacted.
(26 July 2006) As many as 10% of adults have fallen out with the family over inheritance (according to a press release from Scottish Widows using research by YouGov) - with as many as 42% of siblings who have argued never speaking again
The report emphasises the need to make a Will to prevent some of the arguments. The statistics show that good advice is needed to minimise the family problems that might otherwise be left behind.
(9 Jun, 2006) The Government have tabled amendments to the Finance Bill. Described by some as "technical changes" (or by others as a "climb down") these go some way towards removing the concerns raised by Will writing professionals about proposals announced in the budget. The budget proposed that money being left to children had to pass to them at age 18 or else it might be subject to additional tax burdens - the changes to the Bill go some way towards letting the money continue being held in trust until age 25 (by which time it is hoped they are more able to handle their inheritance).
Either way, the main route for saving Inheritance Tax remains unaffected but it is hoped the changes will also ease the situation for an extra handful of families.
(7 Apr, 2006) The Finance Bill has been published following the Budget. Despite scaremongering from some of the press, it is still possible to use your Wills to minimise inheritance tax. Some of the more exotic tax-saving schemes look to be caught out by the proposed changes - particularly those which involved creating trusts during your lifetime. It means that it is even more important to focus on setting up your Wills correctly, to exploit the tax-saving approaches that remain available.
(19th Mar, 2006) According to a report in the Sunday Times, figures from the Office of National Statistics show a big increase in the number of estates that pay Inheritance Tax. Back in 1997 the figure was around 15,000 estates per year, but the most recent figures reported now show 35,000 estates per year pay the tax.
(3rd Feb 2006) According to a recent survey by Scottish Widows, 8.2 million people have assets worth more than £275,000. This is said to represent 34% of all homeowners, with around 3/4 of those surveyed having done nothing to reduce the large Inheritance Tax bills that their families potentially face. To quote part of the report:-
"With this is mind it is vital that people take action. For many people it is possible to cut or even completely avoid IHT with just a few simple steps. The first and most obvious of which is to make a Will."