Why a letter of wishes may be a useful addition to your will

When it comes to making a will, there maybe many reasons why we make the decisions we do, and these decisions should most certainly be yours. However, there are situations where a person may contest a will, stating their claim against your estate.
There is no cast iron way of preventing someone from making a claim, however a letter of wishes accompanying your will may be of some assistance to your executors in the future.
If a person makes a claim against your estate that is taken to court, a court may assess your wishes at the time of making your will with reference to a letter of wishes. This can be used, for instance, to explain why someone has not been included in your will or why someone is to have a smaller proportion of your estate compared to another. It may also be useful if any such claim were to settle before the need for a court hearing, as there is less second guessing your decisions, as the reasons for them are in black and white.
The letter may only have a limited affect, as ultimately the court would have the discretion to make any such decision in respect of your estate following a claim, however it gives them a starting point, if nothing else, as to your reason and rationale.
Discuss whether a letter of wishes is necessary with one of our solicitors who can help you through the process of making a will.

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Remember a Charity week 2017

Next week sparks the start of “Remember A Charity” week. It runs from the 11th -17th September, and we are now proud supporters of the campaign.

There are many different things to think about when making a will, from the executors to the beneficiaries, even to who is going to care for your loyal family pet.  What this campaign is aiming to do is to raise awareness to the benefits of charitable legacies in your wills and to show us all exactly how this helps.

What many people may not know is that incomes from gifts in Wills are worth more than £2 billion a year to charities in the UK.

As a country we are extremely generous when it comes to giving to charities. If we look at last years ‘Charity Aid Foundations Giving report’, we as a nation donated £9.7billion to UK charities last year alone.

There are many big campaigns that will no doubt be poignant in our minds, such as Children in Need, the Poppy Appeal and Movember to name a few. During our lifetimes we don’t hesitate to donate, however sometimes when making our wills, charitable donations are not at the forefront of our minds when we are trying to prepare for every eventuality.

There is also tax relief to consider. If you leave a donation to a charity in your will and your estate is in excess of the inheritance tax threshold, the value of the gift will either be taken off the value of your estate before Inheritance Tax is calculated or if more than 10% of your estate is left to charity you will reduce the level of inheritance you pay from 40% to 36%.

Why not have a think about it. Whether you are an avid charity donator, or even if your will is your first chance to help and support a charity, any legacy as little or as large as you can will make such a difference.

Use #HaveYourSay to spread awareness, get involved in the campaign and help the work live on.

JNP Legal are leading law specialists who can assist with all your legal needs in a discreet and professional manner.

We are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm in our Merthyr Tydfil and Nelson offices and to ensure maximum convenience to all of you that may need our help and guidance on a Saturday morning 9am – 12pm in our Merthyr Tydfil office.

We offer home visits to those clients who are unable to attend our offices in person and we pride ourselves on offering first class client care.

If you need assistance in relation to any of the issues raised in this blog please call us on 01685 350421 or 01443 450561 or E Mail: Law@jnplegal.org and we will do our very best to provide you with the legal assistance you require.

The frosty arm of the law!

Christmas may be over, but the cold months are certainly not. Early mornings and cold weather are not the best start to the day, and resisting the temptation to start the engine, and pop back into the house for a warm while the car defrosts is difficult at the best of times, but it would be far more difficult to come back to the reality of a stolen car, or even a fine for breaking the law.

Many police forces around the country have issued statements recently in relation to a flurry of vehicles stolen when they have been left unattended with the keys in the ignition while they defrost or warm up. Not only are you creating an opportunity for the vehicle to be stolen, you also run the risk of being fined for breaking the law at the same time.

S123 of The Highway code makes it clear that a parked vehicle should not be left unattended with the engine running unnecessarily on a public road. This is then enforced by s42 Road Traffic Act 1988. It is known as Stationary Idling. You could potentially face a fine, which would increase if not paid within the specified timeframe.

Penalty Charge Notices (PCN) are issued by local authorities rather than police.

This offence of stationary idling relates to cars parked on public roads, rather than those in private areas, but there are still other points to consider.

There is always the added worry of insurance companies not paying out for theft of vehicles in this way. This may case specific, but it is something that is worth bearing in mind.

So although it may seem like the best option on a cold, frosty morning, just ask, Is it worth it?

JNP Legal are leading law specialists who can assist with all your Legal needs.

We are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm in our Merthyr Tydfil and Nelson offices and to ensure maximum convenience to all of you that may need our help and guidance on a Saturday morning 9am – 12pm in our Merthyr Tydfil office.

Call us on 01685 350421 or 01443 450561 or E Mail: Law@jnplegal.org

 

Where there’s a WILL there’s a way!

Many people put off making a will for a number of reasons. Many think they are too young or to healthy, or even that starting the process means the beginning of the end. Well think again.

Making a will at any age in life has significant importance. Death is the only certainty in life, so why not be prepared.

By making a will, and ensuring that your wishes are known and understood, not only allows you to relax, knowing that the right persons are inheriting your estate, but also removes the burden from loved ones at such an emotional time.

There are many battles between families and loved ones after death that can tear apart long standing relationships. There can be lengthy court battles and significant monies spent trying to fight for what your loved one wanted. We all like to think that this wouldn’t happen to us and our family or friends would sort it all out, but unfortunately, the reality paints a bleaker picture.

Here are a few examples of celebrities over the years who have died intestate (without a will) and some of the implications this has had.

Billie Holiday, the famous Jazz Musician and song-writer died in 1959 at the age of 44. Her estranged husband inherited her entire estate, including the royalties from her music as she died without making a will.

57 year old music legend Prince, died in April 2016 without a will. Prince never married nor had any children. His estate will now be divided between his six siblings equally. Prince also had a number of half siblings, which could potentially make a claim against his estate.

In the above cases, the decision as to who was to benefit from the estate was made in line with the intestacy provisions. It could be the case that a parent or sibling inherits your estate, or even an estranged spouse, where you may not have a relationship with them, or a bad one at best. Don’t leave it to chance.

Not only is it important to make a will in the first instance, but it is also important to ensure that the will is kept up to date.

Another example in the celebrity world is Actor Heath Ledger, who died in 2008 at the age of 29. Mr Ledger had previously made a will, however this was before his daughter was born. When he died, his estate was divided between his three sisters and parents as specified in the will. There were subsequent court proceedings that resulted in his daughter obtaining a proportion of the estate.

To ensure your wishes are carried out it is important to be prepared at any age. We can help you along the way, and guide you through the process.

We offer will appointments in our Nelson and Merthyr Tydfil offices, and can also offer home visits if required.

In addition to the preparation of the wills, we can also assist with the administration of an estate and contested probate, should this arise.

We are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm in our Merthyr Tydfil and Nelson offices and to ensure maximum convenience to all of you that may need our help and guidance on a Saturday morning 9am – 12pm in our Merthyr Tydfil office.

Call us on 01685 350421 or 01443 450561 or E Mail: Law@jnplegal.org

 

 

 

Looking to expand your property portfolio? Don’t forget the tax man!

property-portfolio2a

In the 2016 budget, the Government announced their commitment to increasing stamp duty land tax (SDLT) for people buying second properties, or properties bought for the purpose of renting them out to others.

The traditional rules on SDLT are that if you buy a residential property, so in others words somewhere for you to live, in excess of £125,000 you would have to pay a tax on that property. The level of tax depends on the value of the property in question. Below is a table to explain this;

Bracket Value of the property Percentage of SDLT payable
1 £0 – £125,000 0%
2 £125,000 – £250,000 2%
3 £250,000 – £925,000 5%
4 £925,000 – £1.5 million 10%
5 Over £1.5 million 12%

 

So, for example, if Mrs M sells her house and buys a new property for £200,000, this would be classed as her sole residence, because she only owns one property, she would be liable to pay SDLT of £1,500

The first £125,000 of the property would not be subject to any SDLT liability as this falls within the first bracket of 0% as shown above, and the remaining £75,000 would be taxed at 2% (bracket 2) making a total liability of £1,500.

If, for example, the house Mrs M bought was worth £300,000 her SDLT liability would be £5000. The first £125,000 would be tax free (bracket 1), the next £125,000 would be liable to pay 2% (bracket 2) making a total of £2500 and then the remaining £50,000 to take the total value of the property to £300,000 would be taxed at 5% (bracket 3) which would be £2500. If you add the figures together this is a total SDLT of £5000.

The changes come into play where a person already owns one property as their sole residence, their home, and decides to buy a second property. This is quite common for those who wish to get into the buy-to-let market or redevelopers alike.

The table below shows the additional SDLT percentage that would need to be paid on top of the basic SDLT they would already have to pay.

If your second property is less than £40,000 then you are not subject to the additional SDLT as detailed below.

However, where you buy a second property for more than £40,000 you will have to pay the extra stamp duty on the whole value of the property. No tax free brackets I’m afraid for second properties.

 

 

Bracket Value of the property Percentage of SDLT payable
1 £0 – £125,000 3%
2 £125,000 – £250,000 5%
3 £250,000 – £925,000 8%
4 £925,000 – £1.5 million 13%
5 Over £1.5 million 15%

 

Taking the same examples as we used earlier, if Mrs M bought a property for £200,000 but instead she was keeping her first home and buying this to rent to a friend, she would have to pay £7,500.

This would be the basic £1,500 as calculated above and an extra £6000 which is calculated at 3% on the first £125,000 (bracket 1) and 5% on the remaining £75,000 (bracket 2) to make up the total of the property value.

Again, same scenario but this time the house is being bought for £300,000. Mrs M would have to pay the basic SDLT of £5000 as calculated above and the extra SDLT of £9,000 which is calculated at 3% on the first £125,000 (bracket 1) a total of £3,750 then 5% on the next £125,000 (bracket 2) a total of £6,250 and 8% of the remaining £50,000 (bracket 3) a total of £4,000, add all these together and you get your final SDLT of £14,000.

Fear not, if you plan to sell your house but the chain falls through and you find yourself with two properties on you hands, you will have to initially pay out the extra SDLT if applicable, however you can then claim it back if the circumstances allow.

For all you savvy investors, redevelopers, property moguls or budding entrepreneurs out there, keep this in mind when it comes to purchasing a property in addition to your residence, or this extra tax may just send your plans into a spin.

JNP Legal are leading law specialists who can assist you should such issues arise. We are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm in our Merthyr Tydfil and Nelson offices and to ensure maximum convenience to all of you that may need our help and guidance on a Saturday morning 9am – 12pm in our Merthyr Tydfil office.

Call us on 01685 350421 or 01443 450561 or E Mail: Law@jnplegal.org

 

Social Media in the workplace: To tweet or not to tweet?

We can all be guilty of spending too much time logging onto social media, chatting with friends, posting photographs of that special day or generally updating friends and family on our daily adventures. This seems harmless enough, and more often than not is, but sometimes that one post,  That one hit on the reply button, could potentially impact on more than just your social life.

Employers are finding that Facebook, Twitter and Whatsapp, to name a few, are playing far bigger roles both inside and outside the workplace than ever before.

The problem arises when the use of social media starts to impact on your employment. Improper use of social media by employees can have a devastating affect on the reputation of employers, and as such, it is becoming increasingly common for employers to have a separate social media policy contained within their staff handbooks or manuals to protect themselves from those troublesome tweets.

These policies are usually very clear as to the employers stance on the use of social media, both inside and outside of the workplace, and we would recommend spending a little time familiarising yourselves with the do’s and don’ts, as the implications of not following such policies can be devastating.

Depending on the wording of such a policy, a breach of this could potentially amount to Gross Misconduct, which could see you losing your employment without notice. Each case would need to be considered on its own merits.

Don’t worry you say, your settings are private you say. Many would agree. Unfortunately, employment case law does not always share the same view.

In a recent case that was taken to an Employment Tribunal for unfair dismissal following the use of social media, the Tribunal found that it didn’t matter what a person thought about the privacy of their communications through social media, it was in fact deemed a public domain. So whether you Whatsapp or Facebook, just remember, you may not be the only person reading that comment.

There has been recent news coverage of an employment case whereby the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held that an employer was well within their rights to read the Yahoo Messenger chats of an employee that were sent whilst at work. This area of law is developing every day to try and keep up with the new and exciting realm of social media. That one frustrated tweet about a colleague, or that message to a friend about your boss may be it all it takes to breach your employers policies leading to the termination of your employment. Is it really worth it?

Remember, you are what you tweet.

JNP Legal are leading law specialists who can assist with all your Legal needs.

We are open Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm in our Merthyr Tydfil and Nelson offices and to ensure maximum convenience to all of you that may need our help and guidance on a Saturday morning 9am – 12pm in our Merthyr Tydfil office.

Call us on 01685 350421 or 01443 450561 or E Mail: Law@jnplegal.org