Who needs a Will?

Who Needs a Will

WHO NEEDS A WILL?

  • Anyone who owns a home
  • Anyone with children
  • Anyone who does not wish their assets to end up with the Crown

 

It is therefore surprising that an awful lot of us sail through life without a will and seldom give it thought!

It is often only when we experience: illness, war, pandemic, or another life-threatening tragedy that such matters come to mind. Preferable is to think in advance about our estate, and to whom we wish it left, in the event of our demise.

The Covid 19 pandemic has certainly brought mortality into sharp relief for many. Yet, pandemic or not, death is sadly one of the few certainties in life.  Perhaps, for sanity, we are hard wired to look away when faced with the brevity of our time here. Notwithstanding, it has been said that we do not die while those who loved us survive. It is they who suffer in the absence of adequate preparation.

The questions we might ask ourselves are:

  • What will happen to our next of kin if we are no longer here to care for them?
  • If we have a partner/spouse and children, what will happen to them? Could they manage financially? Who would care for the children if both parents died at the same time e.g. in a road accident?
  • Do I need to take out life insurance to make sure they would have enough money to live on?
  • Who would I wish to nominate as guardians for my children and who would be prepared to take on the responsibility? Where would the children be happiest?
  • Who would I want to inherit personal items, such as jewellery or other precious items?
  • What would happen to my pets or livestock?

 

The Who Needs a Will list goes on! Wills may also contain information about funeral wishes.

Dealing, in advance, with issues around inheritance make them infinitely less burdensome to grieving loved ones, furthermore, harmful family conflicts are avoided.

It seems a lot to sort out, maybe that’s why so many people would rather put it off for another day! However, with professional guidance, a little help, understanding and discussion, it’s not so difficult.

Wills allow you to make provision for those you care about, perhaps a child who is less financially stable than their siblings, or who has contributed more to your care, or who has benefited to a lesser degree from gifts in life. The right advice and sensitive wording of key documents, allow you to explain your reasons for certain gifts and may allay feelings of unfairness in those left behind.

So, who needs a will? Most do in truth. Once made it can bring great peace of mind. Remember a will can be changed at any point in life, but without one, you risk exposing those you love to uncertainty, conflict and grief.

Don’t know where to start ?

If making a will is something you’ve been meaning to get around to, but don’t know where to start, speak to our client advice team on 021 231 7010 or click here and we’ll call you.

 

Are prepaid funeral plans safe?

Are prepaid funeral plans safe

Are prepaid funeral plans safe? When you take out a prepaid funeral plan you are doing just that, paying money upfront for your funeral. Mostly people take out these plans so that their family don’t have to pay for their funeral and make all the arrangements.

 

It’s great they say, pay for your funeral at today’s prices, beat funeral cost inflation and chose a funeral that you want.  They key, is of course, in the word “upfront”. You are taking your hard-earned cash and giving it to a company in the hope that they deliver after you have died. I don’t know about you, but I am very weary of giving my money to an organisation for a future service, especially after I am dead.

 

So why do people do it, is it safe? You hear stories of people getting ripped off with these plans!!

So Are prepaid funeral plans safe?

So, lets deal with the stories. People do get ripped off but that is because they have probably bought them from unregistered/unregulated Providers. Let me explain, the Prepaid Funeral Plan Industry is NOT regulated. In 2002, to improve standards and set a Code of Conduct/Practice, members of the industry set up the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA). This community interest company exists solely to help and benefit customers, i.e., you and me. The FPA has an independent Board and Compliance Committee to push for the highest standards for Providers. Self-regulation for the industry.

 

That’s all good and well, but people are still getting ripped off. Well, the problem is that registration with the FPA is completely voluntary, so the ones doing the ripping off are probably not registered. That is not to say that ALL unregistered Providers are dodgy, there are probably some good ones.

 

So let’s talk about these self-regulated, registered Providers. They do have to follow a strict set of Rules and Code of Practice. What follows are just a few of these Rules and Codes.

  • There is a strict minimum requirement for providers that register with the FPA.
  • They are regularly assessed and reviewed by the FPA to make sure they are raising standards and putting the customer first.
  • The Rules and Codes that they follow are enforced by the FPA.
  • Providers must follow Principles of Business that include, Integrity, Management and Control, Customer’s Interests, and Financial Prudence to name a few.
  • There is also a Code of Conduct that providers must follow.

 

And then of course, the big advantage of using a self-regulated provider is how they manage your money once you have paid for your plan.

  • Either, put your money into an account managed by Trustees that are approved by the FPA. Most of these Trustees must not be connected to the provider.
  • Or, have your money invested by an independent Fund Manager who is authorised by the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000.
  • Or, apply your money toward a whole life assurance policy with a company authorised to do so.

 

Your money is safe with a Provider that is registered with the FPA, even if that Provider goes bust. It is worthwhile investigating but just make sure the Provider you chose is registered with the FPA.

Don’t know where to start ?

If making a will is something you’ve been meaning to get around to, but don’t know where to start, speak to our client advice team on 021 231 7010 or click here and we’ll call you.

Are prepaid funeral plans worth it?

Are prepaid funeral plans worth it?

Short answer: yes, they are.

But that doesn’t tell you anything so let me explain.

In 2011 an average cost of a funeral was £2971 and in 2020 it was £4163, do the sums, a 40%

increase. I don’t know how old you are but think about what it will be in 5, 10 or 15 years if it keeps

going up at that rate!

Savings plans or life assurance policies are all good and well but how much is an inflated funeral cost

going suck out of these plans in the future. I’m not slating these savings and policies as they are good

to have, but not for funeral cover. You’re going to have to keep paying into them just to keep up

with funeral cost inflation. There are other factors that make these plans unsuitable for funeral

cover, but I won’t go into that now because I’m telling you why a funeral plan is worth it.

So going over re prepaid funeral plans worth it

There are many great reasons that make funeral plans worth it but for, me, a big reason is because

you are paying for your funeral at today’s prices. In 10- or 20-years’ time that money is long gone,

you’ve completely forgotten about it, but you still have your funeral plan valid at the prevailing

prices of the time. Why would you not want that?

Another excellent reason is that it takes away the emotional stress from your family having to make

the arrangements and pay for your funeral. They will be grieving; they will possibly be vulnerable to

being oversold on a funeral as they won’t want to ‘dishonour’ you by giving you a ‘cheap’ funeral.

You decide what type of funeral you have and how much is spent on it by pre-paying for it. Why

would you want to leave it up to your family or friends to arrange and pay for?

Those are the two main reasons, for me, but what else makes them worth it?

 You get to choose the type of funeral you want and that is what you pay for,

 Most plans also let you upgrade along the way to include items you did not initially chose,

i.e., two limos instead of one,

 Flexible payment options allow you to pay it all up front or pay it monthly over a period that

suits your pocket,

 All registered funeral plan providers must place your money in a whole of life insurance

policy or an independently managed funeral trust fund, so your money is safe,

 Guaranteed acceptance without any requirements for medicals,

 Registered Providers are approved by the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA),

 Some plans will pay out even if all the premiums have not been paid,

 Some Providers offer guarantees on their Plans,

 Some providers offer a money back guarantee in case you want to cancel the plan at any stage.

Don’t know where to start ?

If making a will is something you’ve been meaning to get around to, but don’t know where to start, speak to our client advice team on 021 231 7010 or click here and we’ll call you.

Prepaid Funeral Plans Pros and Cons

Prepaid Funeral Plans Pros and Cons

Prepaid Funeral Plans Pros and Cons – The cost of a funeral is rising much faster than inflation. Between 2011 and 2020 an average cost of a funeral increased from £2971 to £4163, a staggering 40% rise.  What is it going to be in 5, 10 or 15 years? Some people have savings plans or life assurance policies, but these have their own problems when using them to cover funeral costs.  Many people are now turning to prepaid Funeral Plans. Basically, paying for their funeral in advance.

 

So what are prepaid funeral plans pros and cons?

  • When you die your family won’t have emotional stress of arranging and paying for your funeral because everything is done for them,
  • Once you have bought your plan you will never have to pay more for those services you have chosen,
  • Most plans also let you upgrade along the way to include items you did not initially chose, i.e., two limos instead of one,
  • A big benefit of a prepaid funeral plan is that you pay at today’s prices,
  • Flexible payment options allow you to pay it all up front or pay it monthly over a period that suits your pocket,
  • All registered funeral plan providers must place your money in a whole of life insurance policy or an independently managed funeral trust fund, so your money is safe,
  • You get to choose the type of funeral you want and that is what you pay for,
  • Guaranteed acceptance without any requirements for medicals,
  • Registered Providers are approved by the Funeral Planning Authority (FPA),
  • Some plans will pay out even if all the premiums have not been paid,
  • Some Providers offer guarantees on their Plans,
  • Some providers off a money back guarantee in case you want to cancel the plan at any stage.

 

You also need to know the Cons.

  • Funeral Plans are not regulated so you could be mis-sold.

Registration with the FPA is opt-in only and not mandatory, so not all providers are regulated.

  • The cover from different providers varies and they each have different plans with different levels of cover, so you need to make sure your Plan covers everything that you want covered,
  • Unregistered funeral plan providers don’t have to place your money in any type of ‘safe’ fund,
  • It can only be used to pay for a funeral,
  • Burial plots are not included,
  • Some third-party costs may not be covered, check your plan,
  • If you are expecting to need a funeral plan soon, i.e., have an incurable disease, you might be paying for something you don’t need as prepaid plans are excellent at inflation proofing,
  • You may not be able to have the funeral at your family’s convenience,
  • You could be restricted to using a funeral director chosen by the provider.

 

There are some good providers and there are some bad providers so do your homework and go to a reputable, registered provider.

Don’t know where to start ?

If making a will is something you’ve been meaning to get around to, but don’t know where to start, speak to our client advice team on 021 231 7010 and we’ll call you.

WHAT STEPS TO TAKE IF A LOVED ONE DIES

what steps to take if a loved one dies

When a loved one dies, whatever the circumstances, it has a profound effect on close friends and family.  Naturally feelings of sadness and shock can be overwhelming and sometimes the need to communicate with someone close is the first reaction, to share the grief and get emotional support.  However, there are procedures that need to be followed, some more immediate than others, depending on the circumstances of the death. If the person has died at home and the death is expected due to terminal illness or serious illness/disability for which the Doctor has been treating the patient, then you may feel the Doctor should be your first call and he/she may well issue a Medical Certificate showing the cause of death which you can then take to the  Register Office (within 5 days of the death)  and the Registrar will register the death and issue a Death Certificate, for which there will be a charge, it is a good idea to purchase extra copies as they will be needed for the Will and official correspondence informing of the person’s death, e.g. Banks/building Societies, Pension companies etc. The Registrar will also give you a Certificate for burial or cremation and a certificate of registration of death. Remember Registrars are used to dealing with bereavement and will happily advise you professionally on any queries you may have.

Having contacted and spoken to the Doctor, you can contact a funeral director and proceed with the funeral arrangements.

If someone dies in hospital, the hospital will usually issue a Medical Certificate and they will advise you on procedures and what you need to do regarding the transfer of the body to a funeral parlour or chapel of rest etc.

If someone dies suddenly and unexpectedly at home it may be appropriate to contact the Dr so that they can confirm the death, if you don’t know the persons doctor or it is out of hours then dial 111 and they will advise you what to do. When the cause of death is uncertain it is not unusual for it to be reported to a Coroner who will investigate the death in order to establish the cause. In these circumstances they may call for a post mortem or inquest to be carried out to assist with the investigation and the funeral may have to be delayed while the process is implemented.

Priority has, of course, to be given to the care of dependants and pets of the deceased. If  the deceased’s , it is important to property is to be left empty it is important to make sure their home is safe and secure. Hopefully a Will is in place and provision made therein for family and pets.

It may be worth mentioning here that if the deceased has left a valid Will he/she may have stipulated how they wanted certain if not all aspects of the funeral to be dealt with, for instance some people specifically wish to be cremated others buried, and some people want a specific type of burial for example, a woodland burial or there may be a funeral plan in place or a preference as to where they are buried or in the case of cremation where and how they would like their ashes to be placed/scattered.

It’s important to remember that a time of loss and grief, friends and relations usually prove to be extremely sympathetic and supportive.

AT WHAT AGE SHOULD I GET A WILL WRITTEN & WHY?

Prepaid Funeral Plans Pros and Cons
  • As long as you have mental capacity, from the age of 18.
  • As soon as you have valued assets and/or people you care about is probably the right time to write a Will.
  • If you don’t have a Will, assets may pass to the Crown.
  • You can use a Will to prevent your assets being lost to your children should your partner remarry after your death

Most people in the U.K. are over 50 when they get around to writing a Will but it’s important to remember that none of us know what the future holds or how long we will live. The current Covid 19 pandemic has highlighted our fragility and made people think about their own mortality, something most of us would prefer not to dwell on. Even without the pandemic there are risks all around us and yet people often wait until someone they know, or are close to, dies or becomes seriously ill, before they start thinking about making a Will.

A Will places reduces uncertainty. There are many important reasons for making a Will. The main reason is to protect those you love in the event of your death.

It is not uncommon for people to assume that if they are married and they die without having made a Will (intestate) their entire estate will automatically be inherited by their spouse. This is not necessarily the case. If you die without a valid Will then those you leave are forced to rely on the Intestacy Rules (the law) to deal with your affairs and your estate may not go to the people you want. Indeed, it may revert to the Crown.

Without a Will, if you are married or have a civil partner and no children your estate will be inherited by your spouse/ civil partner. If you are married or have a civil partner and you have children, your spouse/civil partner will inherit your possessions and the first £250,000 of your estate, the balance to be shared with the children. If, however you and your partner have not married or joined by civil partnership, unless there is a valid Will in place, your partner does not have an automatic right to inherit your estate, regardless of the length of time you have been together.

It is possible to protect your family’s future further by setting up a Property Trust within your Will thereby ensuring you are leaving your property to those you love and that it will not pass to a future spouse of your partner by intestacy, or indeed get absorbed by care fees.

Obviously, if you have children under the age of 18, it is extremely important to make a Will, in which you can address the personal issues of nominating guardians who you would trust to love and care for your children when you are no longer here to do so. Life is uncertain, death arguably more so, a Will should be viewed as an important part of long-term planning to protect your loved ones.

If you’ve any questions about estate planning or to get a will written – Get in Touch

 

WHY IS ESTATE PLANNING IMPORTANT?

Estate Planning
  • Accommodate loved ones, financially, when you’re gone
  • Appoint guardians
  • Minimise conflict

 

It is not difficult to understand or appreciate why Estate Planning is so important to most of us. After all you are dealing with your total estate, which over your lifetime you have worked hard to accumulate. You are also dealing with the most important people in your life, the people you love and you want to protect. So there you have it, it’s about protecting your estate and protecting your loved ones, the most important things in life and to ensure that both are looked after and managed in the best way possible, when you are no longer here or unable to supervise or manage events yourself.

For parents of young children one of the top priorities to consider is their upbringing, should the unthinkable happen. Who would raise them? What sort of education would they have? Where would they live? Who would feed and clothe them? In other words, who would be best placed and willing to love and nurture them as closely as you would have yourself, and of course where would they be happiest, in other words, guardianship. Quite a number of major decisions to make in just that one part of planning your estate.

Then of course there is the distribution of your estate.

A Will would be a priority in estate planning, where you are able to name Guardians for your children, if appropriate, and to write down where and how you wish your estate to be distributed after your death. You also name the Executor/s chosen to manage the distribution of your Will.

Having done that, estate planning goes further and should make the process easier for the Executor/s and Attorneys, by stating the reasons for your wishes in detail and making clear where such documents such as, Bank Statements, Insurance Policies, Investments, Power of Attorneys, Any mortgage details etc., are stored and how they can easily be identified. An Estate Plan may also make clear how you would wish your affairs, such as property, finances and child care, where necessary, to be handled if you were to lose mental capacity during your lifetime.

Lasting Power of Attorneys are an important part of Estate Planning, with the potential to protect assets in life, for successors. Use these to nominate a person/s to look after your financial affairs should you lose mental capacity during your life time. They also give you the opportunity to nominate someone to make health decisions, for you, if and when you should not be able to do so yourself.

It maybe that you would like to leave a letter to your family and friends explaining your bequests in writing, in order to avoid misunderstanding and distress at a difficult time. You may wish to leave specific instructions regarding your funeral.

Finally, it is important that all these documents are stored safely and that the executor/s of your will are informed of their whereabouts.

If you’ve any questions about estate planning, call Confidence Wills now on 0121 231 7010.

Pre-Paid Funeral Plan Costs

Pre-Paid Funeral Plan

Funeral costs are the first thing to come out of your estate after you die, and can significantly reduce the amount you leave. Their organisation may also place undue pressure on those left behind.

  • PRICE: The average cost of a funeral today is £5,000-£6,000. But critically the average annual growth in the cost of a funeral has exploded in recent years to above 7%, ahead of house prices.
  • COMPLEXITY: organising a funeral has been compared to organising a wedding, in around 10 days, whilst experiencing extreme emotion.
  • AVOIDANCE: Most of us don’t wish to think about it in advance because it’s tangible and relates to mortality, so fail to plan.

The effects of these three factors are arguably interactive.

The bereaved have the responsibility and difficult task of arranging a major event in a short time frame (typically less than ten days). This involves making decisions such as: location; organising a Church Service (or not); cortege; choice of casket/coffin etc. On top of this are a plethora of options/ extra expenses, including (but not limited to): flowers; newspaper notices; wake (after-funeral gathering), the list goes on.

A funeral director may (correctly) advise the bereaved that the average cost of a funeral is currently between £5,000 and £6,000. The funeral director may have been established for tens if not hundreds of years, with offices/parlours filled with symbols of reverence and competence. With no ill intent, they might establish such figures as ‘normal’.

At a time of grief, the bereaved are often happy to be guided by the funeral directors, simply because they are in a state of emotional turmoil, having lost a loved one and feel under pressure of time to get matters finalised.

Under such conditions, it’s all too easy, when organising a funeral of a loved one, to conflate certain ‘extras’, such as a costly coffin or an expensive wreath, with the affection felt for one who has passed. Costs may quickly spiral.

Death is an inevitable part of the life cycle, a funeral is an extremely personal event and who better to decide how this proceeds, than the deceased themselves, while they are alive and able to do so. This is not so easy, however, as it is demands reflection on a time when one is no longer here. The best time to think about such matters is when undertaking other end of life tasks, such as writing a will.

A pre-paid funeral plan allow costs to be fixed in advance (nb. not all providers guarantee to cover future costs, the CO-OP is one large organisation which does). Key planning decisions can be made, based on what the plan holder thinks important for their funeral, and not informed by the grief of the bereaved. Enormous pressure can be relieved from those left behind.

By taking out a funeral plan the decisions & choices will have been made and the costs covered!

If you have any questions about pre-paid funeral plans contact Confidence Wills now on 0121 231 7010.

LEGISLATION ALLOWING VIDEO WITNESSING OF WILLS EXPECTED TO BE ANNOUNCED

Remote Sign
  • Remote will instruction taking continues to be fully valid
  • The Ministry of Justice has indicated intent to legalise of ‘video’ witnessing for a limited period
  • The Ministry of Justice suggests this change in law will be retroactive covering wills made in 2021

 

Video witnessing of wills expected – Most people would like to think that their possessions and property, such as they are, would pass to the people they love upon their demise, which is of course the object of making a will. The Covid 19 pandemic has sharpened our senses in this respect, in other words many of us have become more aware of our mortality.

It has also presented us with difficulties to overcome. Having made a will, often with the help of professional will writers to guide us through the process. In order for the will to be legal it has to be validly executed, i.e. the Testator (the person making the will) must sign their will in the presence of two witnesses. The witnesses have to be able to see the testator sign the will. In normal circumstances this would not be a problem.

However, during the current pandemic, life is anything but normal! Where people have been locked down, self-isolating and in some cases shielded, social distancing is essential if we are to protect ourselves and others from being infected with this potentially deadly virus.

Witnessing the signature of the testator may prove difficult if physical contact is to be avoided.  Many people have resorted to signing their wills through closed windows where witnesses can see the signing of the will, the will then being passed through the window to the witnesses for them to sign, all parties wearing masks and taking protective precautions. Whilst this is certainly achievable it can be stressful and inconvenient.

So GOOD NEWS!  Earlier this year the Law Society announced that they were in talks with the Ministry of Justice to discuss emergency measures that could be put in place to allow wills to be validly executed safely during the pandemic.  Many of us have had to adjust our way of lives in order to achieve social distancing and stay safe. One of the biggest changes is the level of online shopping! We’ve done it and actually many of us have got used to it and now prefer it! Well it makes sense to use our computer skills to sign and witness wills by video link, using apps such as Zoom or Skype, with which many of us have become familiar over the last few months and indeed many will writers have used to take instructions remotely.

This move would mean that the current requirement in the Wills Act 1837 that the witnesses need to be ‘present’ would no longer mean physically present as long as the witnesses have line of sight of the testator signing their will, which can of course be achieved by video link.  It makes sense and of course the world has moved on somewhat since 1837 when Queen Victoria ascended the throne!

The Ministry of Justice are expected to announce that this change to the law will have retrospective effect and will apply to any wills executed after 31st January 2020, which means that any testators who have resorted to video witnessing during the recent difficult months will not need to get them re-signed at a later date.

This is not expected to be a permanent change though. It is expected to reviewed in two years time.

We look forward to the official announcement from

PROPERTY AND FINANCE LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY

PROPERTY AND FINANCE LASTING POWER OF ATTORNEY
  • Allow loved ones to manage your affairs should you lose mental capacity.
  • Can be used before you lose mental capacity, perhaps if you are physically disabled.
  • The powers given to attorneys can be wide ranging or narrow.

 

The benefit of having a Property and Finance Lasting Power of Attorney in place is never truly appreciated until you need it.

The very thought of losing mental capacity is a terrifying prospect for any of us, imagine not being able to remember how to access your bank account or even where it is, this is just one example. The ramifications are extensive and scary.

You must make an LPA whilst you are still capable of making decisions for yourself.  This is called having mental capacity.

Thanks to modern medical science we all hope to live long and healthy lives but of course it isn’t always that way and of course it isn’t just illness that can overtake us and disrupt our lives and the lives of our loved ones, the unexpected can happen, such as accidents, brain damage or even the side-effects of medical treatment which can severely affect our ability to cope.  Contemplating the unthinkable is uncomfortable.  Conversely, however, it is comforting to know that in the event that anyone of us should find ourselves in the unfortunate position of not being able to cope with our own affairs, someone we know and trust, would be prepared and equipped with a Property and Finance Lasting power of attorney to act on our behalf and in our best interests.

The person you choose to be your property and financial affairs attorney is able to make or help you (the donor) make decisions about things like:

  • Money, tax and bills
  • Bank and building society accounts
  • Debts
  • Property investments
  • Pensions and benefits
  • The Attorney can use the donor’s money to look after the donor’s home, i.e. necessary repairs etc., and to buy anything they need to live from day to day, like food, toiletries and clothes.
  • The Attorney can buy family members birthday presents & cards etc., the personal things that you’ve always done and have meant a lot to you.
  • A Property and Financial Affairs Attorney can discuss decisions affecting the donor’s living arrangements, medical care etc with your health and welfare attorney, if you have one.

All the things that we do on a daily basis ourselves when we are well.

If you want to make an LPA which only deals with certain matters, you should make sure that it is drawn up carefully so that the attorney is clear about what authority they have when dealing with your affairs. A Property and Finance Lasting Power of Attorney can be used before you lose mental capacity and indeed immediately, if you so wish, or only when you lose mental capacity.

You can have as many attorneys as you wish, although it is common to appoint between one and four. Sometimes, for instance, a parent of one or more children, may wish to appoint all of them as attorneys depending on their situation. These may be appointed jointly or severally. It’s advisable not to have too many attorneys, as it can cause difficulties if lots of people are trying to act on your behalf at the same time and of course you must discuss the fact that you would like someone to act as  your attorney with them before appointing them. Not everybody would be happy to take on the responsibility and some people may not have the time to devote to the task. If you decide to appoint only one attorney you can nominate a reserve.

If you’d like to learn more about these crucial powers of attorney, visit www.confidencewills.co.uk and have a no-obligation conversation with one of our experienced consultants.