Will Writing



This is at the heart of our friendly and professional service. We visit clients at their home or office to discuss their circumstances and advise on the best way to achieve their wishes, providing a service that is not only straightforward, but convenient.

Wills are prepared within two weeks of receiving instructions and are then returned directly to the client with detailed instructions on how to have them signed and witnessed.

No matter how complicated your affairs, Charter Wills will offer the best solution for dealing with them. This is because Charter Wills does not operate based solely on commercial interests, but on a genuine desire to help clients protect their estate.

If you already have a Will, we even offer a free ‘health check’ as part of the added value to our people-centred service; this is because poorly worded or ‘home made’ Wills can often be just as damaging to the execution of your last wishes as having no Will at all.

Home-visit Service


We usually need about 1 hour or so of your time; we give you all the help and advice you may need, take your instructions, and then guarantee to have the completed Wills back to you within 10 working days, provided we have all the necessary information.

As we are centred on client satisfaction and wellbeing, we find that a home visit is preferable. Clients feel more comfortable talking about what may be an uncomfortable subject in the privacy of their own homes.

Estate Preservation


A hidden ‘tax’ is Community Care Costs. If you have to spend your last years in care, this can effectively decimate your estate. In most cases, the impact of Community Care Costs can often be lessened by having a well-drawn Will, and we will be able to offer the right advice on this. With this meticulous approach, we ensure that your estate is preserved as far as possible, to the benefit of your loved ones.

We guarantee that there will be no oversights or loopholes in executing your wishes for your estate. For example, where couples have a concern that any children by a previous relationship could be disinherited when all assets are left to a new spouse, a correctly drafted Will can ensure that part of the estate is ‘preserved’ for those children. This can be done by incorporating a Will Trust clause into their Wills.

Property


For most people, their main residence represents the bulk of their estate; doing the right thing with regard to your property in your Will is therefore critical. We will give you all the information and advice that you need in order for you to make the right decisions in your Will.

Will Storage



Proper storage of Wills is of fundamental importance. If lost or destroyed, they can rarely be ‘reconstructed’ from copies.

Again, as part of our commitment to you as our client, we offer a secure Will Storage scheme which, for a small annual payment, entitles you to update your Wills free of charge. You are also provided with a copy of the Will, and we write to all those clients who store their Wills with us every 12 months reminding them of the details in their Wills, and asking them to review the Will to see if any changes are required. If so, we then update your Will free of charge. This is the quality of service and consideration we maintain for all our clients at Charter Wills.

For further information on our home-visit Will writing services, please contact us.


Nil Rate Band Discretionary Trusts



Since 9 October 2007, the way in which couples are able to use their inheritance tax allowances, known as the nil rate band, has been changed so that the nil rate band of the first deceased spouse/partner can now be carried over and added to that of the surviving spouse/partner for first marriages/civil partnerships only.

While these changes mean that couples will no longer need to include a discretionary Will Trust facility in their Wills for inheritance tax benefits, it is still important to consider such Trusts for other reasons:

Example 1: Husband and wife both make Wills leaving everything to each other. Husband dies 1st May 2007 when the nil rate band is £300,000; wife dies in 2010 when the nil rate band is £325,000. Wife has a nil rate band of £650,000

Example 2: Husband and wife both make Wills leaving £150,000 to children on first death. Husband dies 1st May 2007 when nil rate band is £300,000. The gift to children uses half of his nil rate band - the other half is transferred to wife. Wife dies in 2010 when the nil rate band is £325,000. The wife has a nil rate band of £487,500 ie. £325,000 plus £162,500.

This applies to all existing widows/widowers/civil partners where their spouse/civil partner has already died irrespective of the date of death. It would seem that there can only be one carry-forward in the case of those who marry more than once.

The impact of these changes on couples drawing up their Wills, is that it is no longer necessary to include a Discretionary Will Trust facility in their Wills for inheritance tax benefits.

However, it is still be important to consider such Trusts for other reasons:

  • Where couples wish to ensure that on the first death assets pass to children from a previous relationship, a discretionary Will Trust would protect such assets from a new, second spouse/partner, who may otherwise leave everything to someone else on the second death. Thus, part of the estate is preserved for the children.
  • After the first death, if the surviving spouse/partner has to go into long-term care, then a discretionary Will Trust can protect the home from being ‘invaded’ by the local authority to help pay for the cost of care, by leaving the first spouse/partner’s share of the house to the Trust.
  • There is also a case for using a discretionary Will Trust in situations where half the value of the home is worth at least the value of the nil rate band, and is likely to increase by more than the nil rate band over time. The Trust can be index-linked so that on the second death, the amount owing to the Trust is more than the prevailing nil rate band at that time. This would reduce the potential inheritance tax liability on the second death.
Charter Wills has a great deal of experience in handling discretionary Trusts and will ensure that no part of your estate ‘slips through the cracks’ because of oversights regarding changes to the law. For further information on discretionary Trust Wills, please feel free to contact us at Charter Wills. We would be pleased to discuss these in more detail with you.

Living Wills



A Living Will is a document which usually takes the form of a written statement setting out in advance what types of medical treatment the maker of the Will does or does not wish to receive in specific circumstances, should he/she be incapable of giving or refusing consent.

A Living Will must be signed while the maker is mentally competent. Living Wills allow people to specify what medical treatment they want if they become mentally incompetent or seriously ill, or in the eventuality of a sudden debilitation.

Living Wills and the Law



Living Wills are not legally enforceable (in the UK) at present, but they can be considered by medical staff who are responsible for your care. Despite the fact that legislation is currently going through Parliament so that Living Wills may become legally enforceable in future, lawyers and doctors are often unclear as to whether they are legally binding.

The current view of the courts is that, subject to a number of important limitations and conditions, an advance refusal of treatment may be enforceable, provided it can be clearly established that the patient understood the result of refusing treatment, and was capable of making such a decision, and the decision applies to the treatment in question. Yet, this certainly leaves room for doubt in many situations and places medical staff in a potentially very difficult position when confronted by such a situation.

Until such time as the government does give statutory backing to Living Wills, the situation will remain unsure. However, if you do wish to make a Living Will, we can provide all the information, guidance and advice you will need to ensure that your Living Will stands the best possible chance of being upheld in court and enforced by your lawyers and doctors in the event that it is required.

If you would like more information about Living Wills, please feel free to contact us at Charter Wills. We would be pleased to discuss them in greater detail.

Nonetheless, if you would like to feel more secure about the medical treatment you will receive should you no longer have all of your faculties, Charter Wills can offer sound advice on the options available to you. An alternative solution, for example, may be to take out a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

Please see our LPA section below for details, or contact us for more information and advice.

Lasting Powers of Attorney



Under the terms of the Mental Capacity Act 2006, and with effect from October 1st, 2007 it is no longer possible to draw up an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA). However, all EPAs drawn up and signed and witnessed prior to that date remain effective for the rest of the life of the Donor. An EPA must still be registered when the Donor is or is becoming mentally incapable of handling their own affairs.


What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?


The LPA is a legal document that enables a person’s trusted representative(s) – known as Attorney(s) – to oversee their financial and property affairs. Dealing with money matters in old age or ill health can be difficult and worrying – perhaps even impossible. Although you may nominate a Receiver to handle your affairs, this can be a lengthy and costly process. The simplest solution is for you (the Donor) to appoint one or more Attorneys to manage your affairs on your behalf if you become unable to do so.

There are two different types of LPA:
  1. A Property and Affairs LPA
  2. A Personal Welfare LPA

Property and Affairs LPA


This type of LPA allows your Attorney to make decisions on your behalf about your property and affairs, including paying your bills, collecting your income and benefits or selling your house subject to any restrictions or conditions. It does not allow your Attorney to make decisions about your personal welfare.

Personal Welfare LPA


This type of LPA allows your Attorney to make decisions on your behalf about your personal welfare, including whether to give or refuse consent to medical treatment on your behalf and deciding where you live.

These decisions can only be taken on your behalf when you lack the capacity to make them yourself; for example, if you are ill, unconscious or because of the onset of a condition such as dementia. It does not allow your Attorney to make decisions about your property and affairs.

Who might need an LPA?


Most of us will be fortunate enough to live long lives, but we may not always be able to manage our own affairs as we enter our golden years. If you were to suffer significant physical or mental incapacity, an LPA could make your life much easier and less stressful for you and your loved ones, as well as protecting your interests. An LPA is a little like an insurance policy: you hope that you'll never need it, but if you do, it's invaluable.

Charter Wills can help give you that peace of mind by drawing up an LPA that will see to it that you and your property and affairs are dealt with according to your wishes in the circumstances described above.

How do I make an LPA?


The LPA is an official form that must be completed and signed by the Donor and Attorneys in the presence of a witness. Charter Wills can guide you through the whole process simply and swiftly.

What can my Attorney do?


You can give your Attorney general authority to manage all your finances, including paying your bills, signing cheques, dealing with your bank, and buying or selling property and making decisions on medical treatment. However, you are free to restrict the Attorney’s powers if you wish. For example, you may want to insist that they obtain medical evidence before they can use their powers, or require them to account for their actions annually to a solicitor or relative. This is where the advice and expertise we offer in drawing up LPAs are truly indispensable.


When do my Attorney's powers become effective?


Once a Property and Affairs LPA is signed, you can continue to handle your own financial affairs. If you prefer your Attorney to help you with them, then the LPA must be registered. However, once an Attorney believes that you are, or are becoming, mentally incapable, they must register the LPA with the Court of Protection in order to take full control of your financial affairs.

A Personal Welfare LPA must also be registered before it can be used, but decisions can only be made on your behalf when you are unable to do so yourself.

What if I want to cancel the LPA?


Provided you are still mentally capable, you can make a ‘Deed of Revocation’ that ends the LPA.

Once the LPA is registered with the Court of Protection, however, you would need medical evidence and the Court’s permission to revoke the LPA.

What happens when I die?


When you die, the LPA ceases to be valid and the powers of your Attorney(s) end.

Can Attorneys charge for their services?


Professional Attorneys are entitled to charge for their work. If you appoint a friend or family member as Attorney, then they are unlikely to charge but may claim reasonable out-of-pocket expenses when the LPA ends.

Who can advise an Attorney about their role?


Charter Wills is happy to offer advice and guidance to an Attorney, and detailed advice and guidance is also available from The Office of the Public Guardian.

A Case study:


Frank Weston’s life changed in 100 ways when his elderly mother, Grace, suffered a major stroke. Unable to walk or communicate, she needed full-time care after leaving hospital. Frank was left not only with the problem of caring for her as best he could, but also with managing her affairs.

Frank and Grace had always assumed that he’d be able to look after her finances if she ever became unable to do so herself. Now, however, the court deemed her mentally incapable and therefore Lasting Power of Attorney could not be sought.

Frank had to apply to The Office of the Public Guardian for the only alternative – Receivership. The process was lengthy and time-consuming, and meant that her money was untouchable for months, despite all the funds she needed for her care, transport, medical expenses and support. Eventually, Frank was granted Receivership for which he had to pay over £1,000 along with annual fees. After that, Frank had to suffer the indignity of regular statutory checks to prove that he was looking after his mother appropriately.

“If only we’d arranged an LPA when she was healthy,” said Frank, “All this distress, expense and worry could have been avoided. Since this happened, I’ve made sure I’m covered by an LPA so if the worst happens to me, no one else in my family will have to go through what Mum and I have endured.”

For further information about Lasting Power of Attorney, contact Charter Wills. We would be pleased to discuss it with you.


Partnership and Shareholder Agreements



Charter Wills has a wealth of experience and expertise in handling corporate clients. We understand the legal concerns of our business clients when contemplating how their business will be run in the event of their death or that of a partner or shareholder.

Partnership Agreements


Many people working in partnership do not have a formal agreement and their partnership is thus governed by the outdated provisions of the Partnership Act 1890 which are largely unsuitable for 21st Century business. Without an agreement, a partnership must dissolve on death, which can have serious consequences for the business.

Charter Wills can draw up a comprehensive partnership agreement for you and your partner(s) at a reasonable cost to provide a sense of security in the event that one partner dies or wants to leave.

Shareholder Cross Option Agreement


If a shareholder in a private company dies then his shares could pass under his Will or under the intestacy laws to a family member who has no experience in the company and no wish to engage in its business. This could have disastrous consequences for the continuing shareholders.

A Shareholder Cross Option Agreement gives the surviving shareholders the right to purchase a deceased’s shares and gives the executors of a deceased shareholder the right to require the surviving shareholders to buy the shares. Insurance is taken out at the same time, and written in Trust, so as to provide the necessary funding.

If you would like further details about these services for business clients, please feel free to contact us at Charter Wills. We would be pleased to provide further details.


Probate Service



As we are committed to the preservation of your estate and to ensuring that your last wishes are respected as you intended, Charter Wills provides a low cost, no-nonsense approach to probate, either where there is a Will or in cases of intestacy.

When a death has occurred, we arrange to meet with the next of kin in order to establish the degree and complexity of the work involved. We will then provide a fixed fee quote for carrying out the work, and let the family decide whether they wish to use us or not. We do not charge by the hour or by percentage of the estate, although as a guide our fees usually work out to about one per cent (1%) or less of the value of the estate.

Once appointed, during the process, we keep the family informed of progress on a regular basis. Since we charge a fixed fee, it is in our interests to complete the work as efficiently and quickly as possible. This way, your loved ones are not subjected to lengthy, drawn-out processes or inconveniences.

If we consider the work to be done too complex for us to undertake, we will be open and honest with clients, and we will recommend an appropriate specialist; the most important thing to us above all else is ensuring that your estate is handled according to your wishes without putting your family through any unnecessary stress.

So large or small estates, straightforward or complex, Charter Wills can offer the best possible solution in what is a very difficult time for the family.

For further information on our probate services, please feel free to contact us. We would be pleased to discuss them with you further.

Product and Services

SIX REASONS YOU NEED A WILL

Reason 1:

You can choose who will inherit your property, your money and your possessions

Reason 2:

You can appoint Guardians for young children

Reason 3:

You can even save tax after you die, to the benefit of your loved ones

Reason 4:

You can establish Trusts to protect young or less able beneficiaries

Reason 5:

You can plan for the care of family pets or leave money to charity

Reason 6:

You can protect the value of your home