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Risks of Making Own Lasting Powers of Attorney image

Risks of Making Own Lasting Powers of Attorney

In today’s environment we are all looking at areas of our lives where we can save money, whether that is our weekly shop at the supermarket or shopping around for cheaper utility providers. In some cases, people are also looking at the possibility of carrying out some of their own legal work where traditionally they would have appointed a lawyer to act on their behalf.

It is worth remembering that lawyers have undertaken many years of extensive training and, in some cases, built up many years of experience to provide full advice, taking into account the risks and benefits involved.

Although it is possible to make your own Lasting Powers of Attorney, the risks of doing so without having an experienced lawyer instructed to create the Lasting Power of Attorney on your behalf can be very serious.

One of the risks is if the Lasting Powers of Attorney are rejected by the Office of the Public Guardian at the point they are registered. There are thousands of Lasting Powers of Attorney rejected at this stage each year and if this is the case the Office of the Public Guardian will retain the registration fee submitted and require a further registration fee when the corrected application is made. Whilst having to incur a second registration is frustrating, the matter could be made worse if the person whose Lasting Power of Attorney is sought to be registered no longer has capacity. If capacity has been lost then a Lasting Power of Attorney cannot be made and the alternative to this (known as a Deputyship Order) is a very expensive, often running into the thousands of pounds, and time consuming process.

Another common situation is where a Lasting Power of Attorney has been created without legal assistance and is successfully registered at the Office of the Public Guardian. Some time later when the Lasting Power of Attorney is needed to be used there may be errors within the document or some incomplete sections which means banks and other organisations will not accept the document. Again, if the person in question no longer has capacity then they cannot make a new Lasting Power of Attorney. As stated previously, the only option available in this situation is the expensive and time consuming Deputyship Order. The Deputyship Order takes a number of months to be obtained which can cause difficulties for the family ensuring that bills continue to be paid which could cause cash flow problems for themselves.

Whilst certain areas of Lasting Powers of Attorney are relatively simple to complete, there are other areas of the form that are less simple. Indeed, there are some areas where it is advised that legal advice should be taken.

Another role of a solicitor when acting for a client making Lasting Powers of Attorney is to be alert for any potential undue influence or even fraud. A lawyer will attend upon the client and discuss the Lasting Powers of Attorney in detail to ensure they have understood the principles of Lasting Powers of Attorney, any implications and that it is something they are wanting to do themselves rather than a forceful third party exerting undue influence on them to do something they are not comfortable with. Sadly, there are cases where Lasting Powers of Attorney have been fraudulently made (such as being prepared and signed by someone with the person in question having no knowledge that it had ever been made so that the “attorneys” can then access bank accounts). With a lawyer instructed then we can safeguard against this since all of our clients are identified to ensure they are the person they are claiming to be.

As with most cost saving exercises, making your own Lasting Power of Attorney could result in being a false economy. The costs of rectifying errors, whether that be making a new Lasting Power of Attorney or the situation arising where a Deputyship Order is required, are unnecessary and expensive.

Our costs for dealing with Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) are as follows:-

One LPA will be £350 plus VAT
Two LPAs will be £500 plus VAT
Any additional LPAs will be charged at £100 plus VAT.

Therefore, if a husband and wife decide to create both Property and Financial Affairs LPAs and Health and Welfare LPA’s (a total of four documents) then our total charges will be £700 plus VAT.

The document must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian for which there is an £82 court fee per document. It may be possible to apply for an exemption of this court fee if you are in receipt of certain benefits and this will be discussed during your initial meeting

To discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney, please contact one of our lawyers in the Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Probate Department:-

Jamie Dobbs- jamie.dobbs@maplessolicitors.com
Jane Mawer- jane.mawer@maplessolicitors.com
Faye Blair- faye.blair@maplessolcitors.com

Or telephone the office 01775 722261 and ask to speak with one of the team.

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What are the Risks of DIY Probate? image

What are the Risks of DIY Probate?

When a family member or friend passes away there are many steps that need to be taken by Personal Representatives in order to administer their estate. These may be practical arrangements such as re-homing any pets or clearing the property but could also involve legal matters such determining who are the beneficiaries, obtaining a Grant of Probate (or Letters of Administration if no Will has been made, collectively known as a Grant of Representation) and finalising the tax affairs.

Whilst it is possible to administer an estate and obtain a Grant of Representation without instructing a lawyer, there are considerable risks involved. The role of a Personal Representative, whether that be an Executor or an Administrator, is a very important role and many duties and responsibilities are placed upon them. A Personal Representative must tread very carefully when administering an estate to ensure that they are not breaking the law and not putting themselves at risk.

If a Personal Representative makes a mistake during the administration, no matter how innocent the mistake may be, then the Personal Representative could be personally liable. For example, if the beneficiaries of a Will are unclear or there is no Will then the correct beneficiaries must be determined. If the incorrect beneficiaries are paid then the Personal Representative could be personally liable to correct beneficiaries. Equally, if the beneficiaries have been paid and, at a later date, a further invoice is received then the Personal Representative again could be personally liable.

A Personal Representative may also be personally liable for something they have not done, which may be something they did not know was even necessary.

If there is any inclination that an estate may be insolvent (and it must be borne in mind that this may not be obvious at first as details of credit cards and loans, for example, may only materialise later during the administration) then Personal Representatives must take great care. In an insolvent estate there is an order of priority of who should be paid first and if this order is not followed then creditors may pursue the Personal Representatives for the outstanding debt.

Personal Representatives who are administering the estate themselves may not be aware of the provisions of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 whereby certain categories of people are allowed to bring a claim against the estate if reasonable financial provision has not been made for them. A Personal Representative may proceed to administer and distribute an estate without realising that someone could potentially bring a claim against the estate and if such a claim is made and is successful, if the estate has been distributed then again the Personal Representative could find that they are personally liable.

If an estate is taxable then it is the Personal Representative’s responsibility to calculate the inheritance tax payable to H M Revenue and Customs if no lawyers are instructed on their behalf. Such a calculation can become complicated, particularly where certain exemptions and reliefs may be applied, but without detailed knowledge of these exemptions and reliefs a Personal Representative could pay more tax than necessary. On the other hand, if tax is incorrectly calculated and too little tax is paid then financial penalties could be imposed for which the Personal Representative could be liable.

Many Personal Representatives are unaware that their responsibility also extends to ensuring the deceased’s income tax affairs are finalised to the date of death and for the period of the administration of the estate. This involves researching the deceased’s income and potentially completing income tax returns. Again, any mistakes made in this regard could result in penalties imposed by H M Revenue and Customs and, again the Personal Representative may be personally liable.

It is worth keeping in mind that it may be possible for certain strategies to be exercised to reduce any tax due, whether that be inheritance tax or possibly capital gains tax, or even considering the possible future tax implications of surviving family members.

This article points out just some of the risks involved for administering an estate without legal assistance. To summarise, there are many situations where a Personal Representative may find themselves personally liable or there are areas where having a lawyer to assist may either save the estate money at this stage or in the future. It is therefore likely that administering an estate yourself rather than instructing a lawyer is a false economy that could become very costly indeed.

It is always worth speaking with one of our lawyers who can provide a quote for our involvement in the administration of an estate. On many occasions, clients have advised that they thought our costs would be much more than the quote provided having read articles online of legal fees being many thousands of pounds. It is only the particularly complex estates that involve the higher legal fees.

To discuss the administration of an estate, obtaining a Grant of Representation or any other matter relating to the affairs of a deceased person, please contact one of our lawyers in the Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Probate Department:-

Jamie Dobbs- jamie.dobbs@maplessolicitors.com
Jane Mawer- jane.mawer@maplessolicitors.com
Faye Blair- faye.blair@maplessolcitors.com

Or telephone the office 01775 722261 and ask to speak with one of the team.

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Who Will You Be Entrusting With Your Conveyancing? image

Who Will You Be Entrusting With Your Conveyancing?

Who will you be entrusting with your Conveyancing work? The Choice is yours!

Are the selling agents or perhaps the mortgage broker pushing or trying to persuade you to use a particular conveyancing firm? If so, we would strongly recommend that you ask the following pertinent questions so that, armed with all relevant facts, you are better able to make a reasoned decision:-

Why?

Are the agents receiving a kickback or referral payment from the firm concerned? Using a firm in cahoots with an estate agency inevitably leads to a potential conflict of interest. Will such firm be working in your best interests or simply those of the introducer? Here at Maples we pride ourselves on being completely independent and we consider the idea of a referral fee both abhorrent and unethical. We much prefer to obtain our work based on past performance and recommendation.

How Much?

Do not be misled by a seemingly attractive basic figure initially quoted but be sure to enquire about and read the small print for add ons for so called “extras” (such as mortgage costs, preparation of a stamp duty land tax return, telegraphic transfer fees and the like) which suddenly spring up at a later date and only become apparent in the firm’s final statement. Ensure that you are comparing like for like. Here at Maples, we give you a complete and all inclusive rundown of our professional charges and all disbursements at the outset, with no hidden extras.

Where?

Is the firm local or, as is more likely, based in a completely different part of the country? If the latter, then the transaction will, without a doubt, be dealt with by post, phone or email and lack any personal contact. Here at Maples we are fully accessible, like to meet our clients to discuss and advise upon the transaction face to face and share with you the benefit of our wealth of local knowledge and experience.

Who?

Will you actually be aware as to who will be dealing with the matter for you or will you simply be a reference or matter number at the end of a phone in a firm dealing with volume conveyancing? Here at Maples, you will be assigned to your own experienced and dedicated conveyancer who will be responsible for and deal with the transaction for you from beginning to end, with a high level of personal service throughout.

Making a hasty and bad appointment could seriously prejudice or delay your transaction and cost you dearly. Getting honest answers to these four simple questions at the outset could make all the difference.

To discuss any Conveyancing matters please contact either Claire Smith or Anita Zaborniak of our Conveyancing Team or telephone the office 01775 722261.

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Gemma Mayer LLB

Open Quote Icon "I would highly recommend Maples Solicitors, especially Gemma Mayer, for any conveyancing work. The level of support and professionalism was excellent at all times. I also felt if I needed to ask or clarify anything that it was not an issue. Buying and selling a house is stressful enough, but Gemma helped me through it step by step." Close Quote Icon

Anita Toal LLB BA

Open Quote Icon "I think you are brilliant. You can use my comments above. You are efficient, friendly and quite clearly very good at what you do. Mainly you don’t leave people hanging around too long for." "So easy to talk to her and she understood what I wanted. She put me at ease and I cant thank her enough" Close Quote Icon

Daven Naghen LLB

Open Quote Icon "Daven provided an excellent service, from attending the first interview with me to the final court appearance. He filled me full of confidence that he would defend me to which he did and come out with an excellent outcome in view of my position that I had put myself in." Close Quote Icon

Faye Blair LLB

Open Quote Icon Faye was excellent, sensitive and acted very well to the time constraints we faced. Great service and dealt with compassion at such sad times made the process less painful very professional. Close Quote Icon

Jamie Dobbs ACILEx

Open Quote Icon Over the last forty years I have cause to deal with many law firms both in a personal and professional capacity, including some ‘top’ London Companies. In all of those dealings I have never found anyone as proactive and so willing to offer help and advice as Jamie Dobbs. During the last two years Jamie guided my parents through the completion of Lasting Powers of Attorney. Helped myself with the use of the LPA and recently dealing with Probate and Estate Administration following their death. Close Quote Icon

Mike Pepper MA

Open Quote Icon This is the second time we have used Mike Pepper at Maples Solicitors in the sale of our house. We cannot praise Mike enough for the highly efficient and professional service that he has provided us with. He is by far the best solicitor we have ever worked with, and the service that he has provided us with has gone far and beyond anything we have ever experienced. We have found the whole process to be a very relaxing experience. Close Quote Icon

Claire Smith FCILEx

Open Quote Icon Claire Smith has been amazing in every way. I highly recommend her and I am so grateful for all her help. She’s professional on all levels, reliable, extremely organised and I will be recommending her to everyone. I’m very lucky to have had her representing me and I can’t thank her enough. She is an asset to Maples. Thanks so much Claire! Close Quote Icon

Anita Zaborniak

Open Quote Icon We found it a pleasure to deal with Anita Zaborniak, she was most helpful and informative and kept us up to date with the progress of the purchase of our new home. If we were to move again we wouldn’t hesitate to use Maples again. Close Quote Icon