Legal actions relating to powers of attorney rising
The number of court applications from the Office of the Public Guardian against people with lasting power of attorney for vulnerable people rose by 71% last year, up from 272 to 465 in 2017-18. Nigel Jones of JMD Law commented: “This increase can only be because people do not realise the complexities and requirements of managing the finances and Property of someone who has lost capacity and whilst there is a cost, it is a job best left to the professionals”
We look at the implications of the Government’s proposed changes to probate fees. A new banded fee structure will see rates rise from a flat rate of £215 to between £250 and £6,000 depending on the size of the estate. Nigel Jones of JMD Law, says: "This is a massive change of direction that it's going to be extremely difficult for the public to swallow – it’s a "stealth tax" and purely a revenue raising project”.
The number of High Court disputes relating to wills has jumped more than a third in five years, as increasing numbers of people are writing their own. Nigel Jones of JMD Law said that last year almost four out of 10 people executed wills without calling in an expert despite the danger of being sued by family members: “Homemade Wills may result in a legal dispute if someone does not think they have been left what they were promised, the wording is ambiguous or it has not been signed correctly. It really is a false economy to try and do your own rather than use an experienced solicitor, to try and save the fee”. Six in 10 Briton have failed to write a will, according to research by Which? Legal.
Executors take care – you might be liable for IHT even if you are not a beneficiary. One case offers a cautionary tale. Glyne Harris was left owing HMRC £340,000 in death duties after discharging the assets of an estate on what he claims was the understanding that the beneficiary would pay the IHT owed. But the beneficiary left the country for Barbados without paying up. Mr Harris launched an appeal but tribunal judge Nicholas Aleksander rejected it. Nigel Jones of JMD Law, commented: "It doesn't necessarily depend on the size of the estate, but it can pay to instruct a lawyer where, as in the case with Mr Harris, inheritance tax is payable."
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