Today’s meeting attracted members eager to find out efficient ways to plan for their demise. Speaker John Ashworth from The Co-op Estate Planning proved a most knowledgeable and agreeable dispenser of information.
To start with he warned against delay in making arrangements concerning inheritance. Such measures or changes have to be taken whilst in a sound and coherent mind otherwise they may not be legally recognised.
Regarding inheritance tax he explained that, as of today, a married couple’s maximum tax free allowance is £1 million and any excess is taxed at 40%. There are only a few ways that the tax can be reduced such as giving to charities and political parties.
On a related topic, payment for long term care eventually arises for many families. Statistically, 1 in 6 men and 1 in 3 ladies over 80 go into long term care. This has to be paid for 100% out of their assets until just £23,250 is left.. However, once again, there are ways that part of their assets can be shielded from being consumed by the cost of long term care.
Mr Ashworth continued by explaining the benefits of a Trust Will over a Standard Will. A Standard Will typically passes all jointly owned assets over to the surviving spouse. Therefore, the amount available for payment for the care of the survivor will be 100% of the assets less £23,350.
Whereas, if appropriate, a Trust Will can be set up where each Partner owns 50% of the family assets. If one Partner dies, their 50% share is passed into a Trust and the surviving spouse retains their own 50% share. Continued occupancy of the family home is assured and, should long term care be required, the amount to be paid out will be measured from the current value of the 50% asset split. The assets placed in Trust are fully protected and managed by family or known Trustees.
Subsequently, Trustees can dispense the Trust funds to anything or anyone including the surviving spouse . Such an arrangement can last for up to 125 years and serves to reduce the statutory amount available for the self funding of long term care for the surviving spouse. It could also support educational, property and start-up grants and form an enduring legacy in support of future generations.
On a different topic Mr Ashworth considered a situation where one might suffer an unexpected accident or illness resulting in a loss of mental capacity. He strongly recommended that we should all have in place a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). This is like an insurance policy where should the need arise, people known to you, can help you make decisions, or make decisions on your behalf,. Failure to have an LPA will mean that lengthy Court Orders must be obtained to take any action on Bank, Bills, Investment, Property, Medical or Personal choices for the Beneficiary.
After several questions from the floor, Frank Ellis rose and thanked the Speaker for a thought-provoking and relevant talk delivered to an appreciative audience.
Mr John Ashworth can be contacted on 07540 048 242
Posted by RICHARD WRIGHT