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Perhaps one of the first things to think about when planning or revising your Will is who your dependants are. Who relies on you financially or for care? These are significant considerations you will need to think about.

viously, this could include a spouse, civil partner or co-habiting partner, along with any children you may have. This isn’t limited to your natural children; you may have adopted or step-children you will need to consider. It may also include anyone you have been caring for or looking after financially, such as elderly relatives or a child with a disability.

If you and your partner are not married or in a civil partnership, it is vital that you have a Will to protect them should you die. If you don’t then the proceeds from your estate will pass to your children or to other relatives if you have no children. If there are no relatives, your estate will pass to the Crown. Under the Inheritance Act 1975 your partner may be able to make an application for some of your assets, but this will take time and money.
If you and your partner die before your children are 18 years old, they will need a guardian to take responsibility for them

You may also consider setting up a Trust to cater for the financial costs of being a guardian, by leaving a property for any children in the Trust until they are older. Usually a guardian will be one of the trustees, but it’s advisable to appoint someone separate as well to help the guardians and ensure there is no conflict of interest.

More thought also needs to go into providing for a child with disabilities. If you have more than one child, it is natural to want to provide for them equally. That said, sharing the proceeds of your estate equally between your children may not be in the disabled child’s best interests.

If you plan to leave a lump sum to each child, you need to assess whether or not the disabled child has the capability to make decisions for themselves. If they don’t have capacity to deal with their financial affairs, a deputy may need to be appointed. This is likely to eat into some of the funds of their inheritance.

You will also need to consider whether any inheritance left to a disabled child will affect their entitlement to means tested benefits. If it does, their inheritance may have unintended consequences that leave them worse off financially rather than better.

Again, setting up a Trust to provide an income for the disabled child is often a sensible approach to take.

There are different types of Trusts to consider and Trust law is complex. A good Solicitor, Estate Planner or Will Writing Professional will be able to advise you on this and all aspects of providing for your dependants in the way that you want.

For help and advice please call us today on T 01483 325282 M 07759916185.
James Tong

The way properties are judged for Inheritance Tax is about to change.

This month (April 2017), the new Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) will be introduced. This new band will allow parents to hand more of their estate over to their children without having to pay Inheritance Tax.

Currently, an individual does not pay Inheritance Tax on an estate worth less than £325,000. This increases to £650,000 for couples.

However, the RNRB, something which former Chancellor George Osborne announced, means an end to Inheritance Tax on the family home for most of us. It is essentially an extension to the current tax-free allowance, but applying solely to property. It initially stands at £100,000, but will increase over the next four years until hitting £175,000 in 2020/21.

In order to qualify for the RNRB, the estate must include a qualifying property - basically a property that the deceased lived in at some point during ownership. That property must also pass to a direct descendant, such as a child or grandchild. Finally, the value of the estate cannot exceed £2 million. For every £2 over this limit that your estate is valued, the relief is reduced by £1.

It could save families a huge amount in tax. Things can, however, become complicated if the property is held in Trust.

Why hold a property in Trust?

Trusts can be very useful for people who want to cut their Inheritance Tax bill. By putting certain assets - like a property - into a Trust, they are not viewed as being part of your estate when the time comes to work out what Inheritance Tax your loved ones will have to pay.

While some forms of Trust will benefit from the RNRB, others will not.

The RNRB will only be available with the following Trusts:
  • A Bare Trust for a lineal descendant
  • An Immediate Post Death Interest Trust for a lineal descendant
  • A disabled person’s Trust for a lineal descendant
  • An 18-25 Trust
  • A bereaved minor’s Trust.

Other Trusts will not benefit, for example if the property is left to a Discretionary Trust, RNRB will not be available, even if the beneficiaries of the Trust are a lineal descendant.
We understand that working out exactly who should get what after you pass away takes a lot of thought and planning. Getting a comprehensive Will in place is crucial. Please come and speak to us today on 01483 428 710* to receive expert advice.

James Tong
The government is proposing a new tiered system of probate fees in England and Wales, based on the value of the deceased's estate, rather than the current flat fee of £215.

Presently an application fee of £215 is made payable to HM Courts and Tribunals Service on all estates over £5,000.

With all the news surrounding Brexit you may have not read that under new rules proposed by the government, the system of probate fees would change, to one based on the value of the deceased's estate. In Scotland, the equivalent Confirmation process continues with a flat rate fee for eligible estates (currently £225). Estates worth more than £50,000 will face probate fees which rise as the value of the estate increases.

We believe this is an unfair form of tax for ordinary families. With the increase in house prices many estates will now be subject to the proposed increase in fees. The death of a loved one can be an expensive process as it is, with funeral costs to pay upfront prior to the estate being distributed. For families to have to pay this additional fee adds to their burden, both emotionally and financially. I/we would call for the Government to rethink these proposed probate fee increases.
To find out more about the increase in probate fees, and what inheritance tax your beneficiaries may be liable for contact us today by telephone or email and we will be happy to give you some initial, without obligation advice.
James Tong
Ever thought your life’s turning into a soap opera? However complicated things get, be glad you’re not one of Coronation Street’s Platt family. When bad girl turned good Kylie Platt departed our screens for the last time in July 2016, stabbed to death in an emotional scene that practically caused a countrywide flood warning, she left a right old mess behind. Oh Kylie, if only you’d taken our advice here at Charis Life Planning and written a will!

Who’s the Daddy?

Poor little Max Turner – he’s only ten and his family tree is sprouting extra branches and exploding into a veritable forest. Kylie gave birth to the blond-haired boy when she was just 19 but her hedonistic lifestyle made social services intervene and place him in foster care. Kylie fought to get him back, before selling him to her half-sister for £25,000. Then she abducted him and social services intervened again before she and her husband David Platt applied for – and won – custody. But Max’s newfound stability wasn’t too last long. Now, with Kylie and his birth father Callum Logan gone, David is fighting Callum’s family for custody. Confused? Imagine how Max must feel!

Gaudy goodbye?

At only 29 and in good health, Kylie hadn’t made a will or set out funeral plans so it was up to husband David and son Max to reflect her, ahem, colourful personality in her send-off to the great cobbles in the sky. Mourners were instructed to wear bright hues – a request Kylie’s mate Gemma took very seriously – and Destiny’s Child’s Bootylicious boomed out, shocking the vicar and some fans of the soap. ‘Kylie’s funeral looks more like the circus has come to town than a sombre farewell to a wife and mother,’ one tweeted.

If you’d prefer your departure to be a little more dignified – Beethoven instead of Beyoncé perhaps – and don’t want any old Tom, Dick or Harry squabbling over your children’s custody we’d recommend writing a will.

Here at Charis Life Planning our will writing services start at £185.00 so call us on 01483 428 710 or email us on to book an appointment. We promise – we won’t make a drama out of it!

Finally We would love to wish you and your loved ones a very Blessed Christmas and Prosperous 2017
James Tong
I know a blog should be my own original work, but I recently stumbled across this article written by tomdeans_admin from Willing Wisdom. The article can be found here. I found that the article needed no amendment whatso ever so I have reproduced it in full for your reading pleasure.

Top 10 Reasons You Should Never Write a Will

1. You have spent a lifetime working, saving and generally deferring consumption to fund your retirement. Now that your money has outlasted you, it will be awesome to see how the government divides your assets. Governments always make amazing decisions about other people’s money.
2. The idea that a Will simplifies matters for your family after you die is so overrated. Why deny your family that special moment when they gather at your funeral and one relative whispers, “I wonder how the jewelry will be divided” and another relative answers, “What jewelry?”
3. All lawyers are loaded – they make a fortune writing Wills. The rumor that they make more money representing families who battle in court when there’s no Will is simply hearsay.
4. When you write a Will and then share it with your intended beneficiaries, expectations may be set high. It’s much better to keep everyone in the dark, especially the one child who’s providing the bulk of your late-in-life care. Strong, dynastic families are built on secrets and pitting children against each other after you have died intestate. Fighting toughens children up and prepares them for the real world.
5. If you write a Will and share your dreams and aspirations with your intended beneficiaries, they will likely never work another day in their lives. People usually don’t work because they want to. Even billionaires who continue to work and start new businesses are usually faking it.
6. Some say a Will is important when you have young children because the issue of guardianship is addressed – you know, naming the person who will actually be entrusted with raising and caring for your children when you can’t. This is a tough decision – maybe the toughest decision of all, which is why you’ll want to avoid it at all costs. Let Lady Luck – and the courts – work their magic. Your kids will understand.
7. When you write a Will you appoint an executor who is responsible for carrying out your last wishes. But this denies your family the opportunity to debate the merits of burial versus cremation. This can be a lively debate, especially when everyone is grieving. Great families thrive on chaos, anger and regret; clearly communicated Wills and last wishes undermine this principle.
8. Wills often include Advanced Health-Care Directives and clearly outline the kinds of medical interventions you’d like when you can’t communicate. But here again a Will denies your family the opportunity to play one of the most satisfying guessing games ever invented. It’s called Resuscitate – Do Not Resuscitate. This game is best played at the hospital in front of the doctors, who will be fascinated to see who wins.
9. If you die (I say “if” because you may be the first to live forever) the grieving process is enriched when family hunts through your personal files and possessions in an attempt to figure out what you owned. This is like a scavenger hunt but with more zeros. After the hunt, some might say they’d like to bring you back from the dead and kill you themselves – but they’re just having fun. This is a game the whole family can play. In truth, it’s a game the whole family will play because everyone wants to make sure others get more.
10. Studies show that people are superstitious – and they should be. When you write your Will, you’ll almost certainly die shortly thereafter. The same applies to writing books on the subject of Wills. Having written Willing Wisdom I’m practically uninsurable. Just like eating fruit and vegetables and getting regular exercise, writing a Will is extremely bad for your health.
Dr. Tom Deans is the author of Every Family’s Business and Willing Wisdom. An author, a full-time professional speaker and the founder of the Will to Will Campaign, Deans starts conversations but rarely finishes them, leaving that to the trusted advisors and charities that bring him to their community to speak. To learn more about his live event presentations about transitioning a family business or transitioning family wealth, simply or call 519-938-2069 for speaking fees and available dates.
One thing I find rather interesting at the moment is how passionate people are becoming about the U.S. presidential election.

No matter how hard I try, it appears there is no escaping the furore. It is on my radio, my TV and all the social media outlets. It doesn’t matter which camp you fall into, i.e. the red team or the blue, people seem to be getting so caught up in vilifying the other candidate it amazes me. The irony is that those who are criticizing the behaviour of one candidate are engaging in exactly the same behaviour.

There is so much misinformation out there it is not funny. There also seems to be an underlying assumption that the eventual winner, i.e. your preferred candidate, will somehow be the saviour of the free world, as we know it. However I have some bad news. Both candidates are flawed. Neither will save you, nor give you the future you want. Even those political leaders closer to home, will not be able to help you.

You are responsible for your own future, not some man or woman in a funny coloured tie, YOU! You choose your own future. The decisions you make followed by the actions you take today, will determine the future you have tomorrow. You cannot blame the outcome of an election or another person in a funny coloured tie if you don’t have the life or future you want.

Benjamin Franklin once remarked that those who fail to plan are planning to fail. What plans have you put in place to secure your future and that of your family, irrespective of who is in Government? Have you given any thought to your legacy? Steve Irwin will be remembered for his passion for conservation, a mantle now taken up by his daughter Bindi. What plans have you implemented to ensure that you will be remembered? If you haven’t made any plans or don’t know where to start, why don’t you give us a call? We are your Estate Planning Specialists. Think Wills! Think Charis! 01483 428710.

James Tong

The SatNav literally saved my marriage. I never thought I would say it but a little magic box was the saviour of my marriage. I remember our first family holiday to Devon.
Devon is a myriad of narrow winding lanes interspersed with houses, combine harvesters and an occasional church. I should also mention that my wife doesn’t like my driving. She says I drive too fast and I brake too late. Qualities she assured me were not suitable for the narrow lanes of Devon.

Even though she would be in the passenger seat I would see her foot push down toward a non-existent brake pedal hoping that it would somehow slow us down so that she would not meet her maker that day. One morning I was informed that there had been a family meeting; the result of which was that I was no longer the designated driver. So I begrudgingly I handed over the keys and plodded to the passenger seat. I still remember hurtling down the aforementioned lanes licking my wounds when I was bombarded with all manner of existential questions such as, where are we? Where do we need to turn off? Were we meant to take that road back there? How would I know? I have been thinking about me for the last 45 minutes and you are seeking answers to questions, which philosophers throughout the ages have struggled.
So after a heated argument or two I dug out a map and attempted to ascertain our location, find our destination, and then try to plot a route. The situation was further complicated by the fact that it was an outdated map for Dorset and every 20 or 30 seconds my wife would yell out seemingly random place names, as we passed them as if it somehow helped.

The tension in the car was palpable, as she could not understand that yelling random street names did not assist. I still shudder as I recall our eventual beleaguered arrival at our destination along with a strong conviction never repeat that again. However like lemmings we continued the process for our entire stay.
However the following year I purchased a SatNav so when we travelled to Devon again, not only did we know where we were going but we were still on speaking terms when we arrived. That got me to thinking. When we go on a journey we tend to have a destination in mind, we programme that destination into our SatNav, and in turn it gives us a clear plan to reach that destination. By following the plan we eliminate the pain of getting lost and all the arguments.

However when it comes to planning for our future very few of us give it much thought. I find it strange that we spend £1000’s and expend significant energy into planning a holiday but we completely overlook that which is really important.

When was the last time you sat down and considered what your legacy to your family, or planet Earth is going to be? Will you be remembered as the person who had a plan that provided peace of mind and a future for your family?

We at Charis Life Planning can help you plan by creating a Will, Powers of Attorney, or Trusts. We also offer Funeral Plans and Probate services. To alleviate the stress for you and your family during those hard times, you know it just makes sense to plan ahead. Call us today. We can help you plan for you and your family’s peace of mind.
James Tong