Here, at Buckingham Wills & Probate, we offer a number of additional services which you may require as part of your longer term planning. You can read more below.
Please get in touch with us by email or telephone if you would like more information about any of these, or our other, services. We will be happy to talk you through what is involved.
To make an appointment to come to our office, please book online.
To book an appointment at your home or other location, please telephone us directly to make arrangements.
Home Visits & Priority Service
Whilst all our clients are welcome to visit us in our Buckingham town centre office, we recognise that this is not always a practical option.
If you are unable to come to the office for an appointment, for whatever reason, please do not be put off. Telephone our office to request a visit to your home and we will be glad to schedule an appointment that is convenient for you.
There will be no extra or hidden costs to your home visit.
It is not uncommon for us to be asked to see a client and prepare their documentation as a matter of urgency. In these circumstances, you may book our Priority Service. We will travel to you as soon as possible, draw up your paperwork immediately following our meeting, and return it to you in person for signature.
The Priority Service costs £100. This will be invoiced within 14 days of the service being booked.
It is valuable for our team to know in advance what you would like to discuss at our appointment, so that we can bring appropriate guidance materials to talk you through or leave with you after our appointment.
If you have any queries please get in touch with us by telephone or by email.
Living Will/Advance Decision
What is a Living Will & how much does it cost?
Living Wills, correctly known as Advance Decisions, came into law under the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
The Advance Decision sets out your preferences about specific types of medical treatment.
In the event that you do not have mental capacity or are unable to communicate when such treatment is being considered, medics are legally bound to follow the instructions found in your Advance Decision.
We charge a fixed fee of £125.00 (inc VAT) for the consultation and paperwork required to complete your Advance Decision.
Why might I need an Advance Decision?
It records whether you would object to, or accept, life-saving or prolonging treatment in particular circumstances. Your medical team is obliged to heed your Advance Decision.
Although it sounds gloomy to plan for the worst, that’s pretty much what an Advance Decision lets you do. It effectively gives you a say in the situation despite your incapacity at the time.
How do I make an Advance Decision?
We will talk you through the particular scenarios which an Advance Decision covers, and help you articulate your views on what your treatment should be. We recommend that you discuss the scenarios and your instructions with your GP or other treating doctor before finalising your Advance Decision.
When the Advance Decision is written, it must be signed in the presence of a witness. The witness must then also sign in your presence.
Can I include my wishes for general care in case I lose capacity?
No. But you can make an Advance Statement for this purpose.
The Advance Statement is not legally binding, but can include general guidance about how you would like to be cared for should you lose capacity. It often covers personal preferences, such as what type of music you enjoy, what your intimate care regime is, your hobbies and interests – information which will give those looking after you insight into your likes and dislikes.
What else should I consider when making my Advance Decision?
1. You should review it every couple of years, and sign and date it to indicate you have done so. If your medical team are aware that there have been advances in treatments or techniques since you signed your Advance Decision which, had you known about them, might have caused you to change your mind about your Advance Decision, they can apply to the Court to have it set aside. Regular reviews show that you have reconsidered your decision in light of any such advances.
2. You should ensure people know about it! Tell your next of kin, or a trusted friend who is likely to be contacted in an emergency or involved in your care. Give a copy to your GP and have it added to your health records. If you amend your Advance Decision, be sure to have the old ones destroyed and replaced.
3. If you have a Health & Welfare LPA, or are considering one, talk to us about the implications of having both in place. The most recent document will outrank the older one in terms of binding your treating doctors, so it is important that they interact together without contradicting one another. We can advise you in this regard, and complete the relevant paperwork for you to ensure your wishes will be carried out.
Inheritance Tax Planning
What is Inheritance Tax?
When someone dies, whether they have a Will or not, all their money and possessions – known as their estate – is valued.
If the value of the estate, once the debts and liabilities have been deducted, is less than the nil rate band then there will be no Inheritance Tax to be paid. The nil rate band is currently £325,000.00.
If the estate is valued at more than this, Inheritance Tax is calculated at 40% on everything over the £325,000.00.
My assets are worth more than the nil rate band!
What can I do about this now?
Did you know there are Inheritance Tax exemptions which can be used whilst you are still alive?
You are permitted to give away up to £3,000.00 per year under your annual allowance, £250.00 annually to as many people as you like under the small gift allowance, and £5,000.00 to your children on their marriage under the wedding gift allowance.
It is also possible to gain exemption for ‘making gifts out of income’. Very detailed records must be kept if you want your Executors to be able to claim this exemption. We can talk you through this.
It is possible to make larger financial gifts in your lifetime. However, if you die within 7 years of making a larger gift, it will be taken into consideration when your Inheritance Tax is calculated.
What can I do about this in my Will?
We can advise you on making your estate as tax efficient as possible. Our team at Buckingham Wills & Probate will explain the various ways to manage your money and possessions so as to ensure it is tax efficient when the time comes.
It may be that you use the spousal exemption, leaving your estate to your spouse and, in the process, leaving them your Inheritance Tax nil rate band to use when their estate is distributed. You may choose to leave your main residence to a direct descendant, taking advantage of the main residence nil rate band.
There are further exemptions and types of tax relief available, including business property relief, preserving access to income from a gift into trust, and using trusts to protect funds from tax liability.
Crucially, gifts to charity are not subject to Inheritance Tax. Many people choose to leave considerable legacies in their Will so that they can make a difference for others. These gifts have the added benefit of reducing the overall value of the estate for tax purposes. If you leave over 10% of your estate to charity, the Inheritance Tax on the remaining taxable estate will be calculated at a rate of 36% rather than 40%.
I know there will be an Inheritance Tax liability, and I don’t want my family to pay. What can I do?
You could take out a life insurance policy for the purposes of paying the Inheritance Tax. The policy pays out on death, into trust, and is available for use against the tax bill straight away.
Long Term Care Planning
Long term care planning is a complex issue, as there are many things to consider. For most of us, the main worry is how to fund the costs of such care.
We can help by talking you through the various financial considerations and outlining your best options, as you contemplate making care plans for yourself or a loved one in the longer term.
Each case varies in terms of complexity and work required, so please contact us directly for an estimate of our fees.
Secure Document Storage
It can be hard to think of the best place to keep your original, important documents. We can offer secure document storage at the Archive Centre, an ISO 9001 registered firm who are fully compliant with all the secure storage obligations under Data Protection provisions.
For £20.00 per year, your paperwork can be stored at their site. You will be given cards with your unique reference information, to enable you to access your papers at any time. More than one card is provided so that you can ensure that the Executors to your Will, Attorneys you have appointed under an LPA, or someone else who you trust, will be able to access the paperwork should the need arise.
This storage is not just for your Will. There may be other documents which are important to you, or which must be presented in their original form, such as property deeds. Contact us to find out more or to arrange your secure document storage now.