Probate fee changes to hit bereaved families
Some 230,000 families a year will be forced to hand back financial support received after the loss of a loved one to pay for higher probate fees planned by the Government. Nigel Jones of JMD Law believes that parents of younger children are the most disadvantaged by the changes, adding: “Estates need probate, even when the spouse is the beneficiary, so it really is a tax on the bereaved.”
Assets not split equally
It has been reported that only half of over-55s split their estate equally, with growing numbers basing their decision on personal factors such as how well a person treated them during their lifetime. One in 10 also give some family members less money than they do others because they are wealthier, as they wish to help out those with financial difficulties.
Loophole allowing gold-diggers to marry the vulnerable
MP and lawyers say “gold-diggers” are exploiting a legal loophole by marrying vulnerable elderly people and later inheriting their estates despite not being beneficiaries in a will. This is because few people are aware that marriage invalidates previous wills and once mentally incapable, only a Court can authorise the making of a new Will with all the difficulties that brings of having to show that the vulnerable person never wanted the new spouse to inherit. . Campaigners are trying to enact a law to prevent “putting marriages before wills”. Nigel Jones of JMD Law said “reform is urgently needed as the population ages and cases of dementia rise. This is a situation which has led to unscrupulous suitors marrying vulnerable people knowing that they will be deemed mentally incapable of drafting an updated will”.
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”
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