Monday, 22 June 2015

Plan ahead for your future with a Power of Attorney

It can often be heart-breaking to have to watch a family member or a close friend suffer and be let down, unable to do anything about it due to an illness or mental incapacity. However there is something that you can do to ensure that both your care and finances are looked after.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which enables you to choose someone to make decisions for you when you no longer can or are unable to. Your chosen attorney will usually be a loved one or someone you trust. Two people can jointly be appointed to act of your behalf.  You will be able to specify within the documents what actions the attorneys’ are allowed to take once you become ill.

A Lasting Power of Attorney is often seen as an under-used tool in ensuring that loved ones are treated fairly and with dignity. News stories from over the last few years have seen a surge in the number of families who are unhappy with the level of care family members are receiving whilst in hospital or in care homes. However the families concerned had failed to secure a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare, which meant that their power over what happened was limited.

By creating a Health and Welfare LPA, you could ensure that someone has the authority to make decisions on your behalf once you become ill or are mentally incapable. This type of LPA will give your attorney the power to make decisions about things like medical care, care homes, daily routine and more.

By having a Health and Welfare LPA in place you can also ensure that solicitors will be able to challenge social services, care homes and hospitals should anything go wrong. Over the years many people have believed that by having an Enduring Power of Attorney or Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs will cover them for issues regarding health and welfare. This however is not the case and both types of Power of Attorney should be treated differently. A Property and Financial Affairs Power of Attorney with only give your attorney the power to deal with your finances and not your personal care. It requires a separate power to be set up, and just as with financial power, it has to be done before capacity is lost and the person is no longer able to declare that they give their consent for this to happen.

When it comes to your finances it is essential that you create a Property and Financial Affairs Power of Attorney. This type of LPA will give your attorney the power to make decisions about things like paying bills, collecting your pension, managing your bank account and more.  With a recent increase in pension freedoms and equity release plans, it is more vital than ever before to ensure that you have an attorney to manage your financial affairs when you no longer can.

At MTA Solicitors, we can assist you with drafting or creating your Lasting Power of Attorney ensuring that all restrictions and conditions are set out exactly how you want them. We also offer straightforward advice to ensure that your LPA is both accurate and legally binding. 

To make an enquiry or to create your LPA, simply call us on 0208 437 0731 to speak with one of our friendly legal advisors.

Friday, 19 June 2015

So what are your rights when your flight has been delayed or cancelled?

So the summer holidays are just on the horizon which means millions of us will be jetting off to somewhere hot or even somewhere cold. But what can you do if you are left grounded by your airline?

Research carried out by Which? has revealed that 30% of UK holidaymakers have experienced delayed flights and consider it as their top holiday gripe. Although this is the case, many people do not know their rights when it comes to cancelled or delayed flights.

It has been estimated that around 3.27 million passengers to and from UK airports each year could have a potential claim. In addition to this, an average of £320 is demanded as compensation.

By law, customers have 6 years to submit a claim and airlines must pay compensation for delays caused by technical issues. In order to make a claim you must have been delayed for more than 3 hours. The amount you are entitled to however, will depend on the delay and the distance.

However, holidaymakers must be aware that the amount of compensation you receive can be halved if the actual arrival time is within two hours for short haul flights, three hours for medium flights and within four hours for long-haul flights.

If your flight has been delayed, airlines have a duty of care to provide those affected with refreshments and accommodation, if required. Even if you have booked your flight through a tour operator, the airline still owes you a duty of care.

Compensation is usually paid in cash, bank transfer or cheque. If the airline is looking to pay you in vouchers for other services, you must agree to this, so don't accept anything you do not want.

So what are extraordinary circumstances?

Extraordinary circumstances account for issues such as security risks, weather events, and dust clouds for example. Basically, the term mean anything which is beyond the airlines control. If this is the case, you will unfortunately not have a claim. It is important to note however that recent rulings have excluded mechanical failures from 'extraordinary circumstances'. If you feel that the airline is not acting fairly in regards to what actually counts as 'extraordinary circumstances', you may challenge them. If your flight was cancelled or delayed in the UK then you can raise it with the Civil Aviation Authority.

What else am I entitled to?

During your delay, the airline must look after you, providing that you are flying from an EU-based airline or are flying from an EU airport.

This Denied Boarding Regulation covers cancellations and delays, and entitles travellers to welfare packages from their airline. Short-haul flights must be delayed by more than two hours, medium-haul by more than three hours and long-haul flights by more than four hours. Once the designated time has passed, passengers are entitled to meals and refreshments, two free telephone calls and potentially accommodation if needed.

If your thinking of making a flight delay or cancellation claim MTA Solicitors can help you! To find our more or to make a claim simply click here or call us on 0208 313 7804 today!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Make a Will to help your family avoid arguing

When famous actor Rik Mayall died last June intestate (without a Will), his family had to pay an unexpected inheritance tax bill. With an estate valued at £1.2 million, the family of Rik Mayall are facing an IHT liability of up to £60,000. With this mind, it is also important to note that you do not need to be a wealthy celebrity to leave your family with an unexpected and unnecessary IHT bill.

According to research conducted from Macmillan Cancer Support, an estimated 1 million Britons have had a serious family argument after a relative passed away without leaving a Will. Out of these 1 million Brits, nearly a fifth had said that the row had gone on to break up the family.

It seems however, that despite the dangers of dying intestate, almost 6 out of 10 UK adults have failed to set out exactly how they want their estate to be divided once they pass away. The main reason given for this was that they "just never got round to it".

In addition to the research conducted, 1 in 3 people who have already written a Will failed to include something they had promised to a loved one. Many have argued that dying intestate can also pile financial stress onto grief. Making a Will does not have to be expensive but it essential in helping to avoid family breakdowns and legal issues once you pass away.

In terms of IHT payments, research from the website has shown that Britons wasted £550 million in 2015 on unnecessary IHT payments by failing to make plans. Many have suggested that this vast amount of wasted money is due to a combination of an improving economy and rising house prices which may have resulted in more estates exceeding the £325,000 threshold.

Yet to come into force however, during the 2015 general election, the Tories pledged a new allowance relating to family homes which will effectively take the IHT threshold per couple to £1 million. Currently, everybody can leave £325,000 worth of assets tax-free. Anything above this amount will incur a 40% tax.

To find out more about making a Will or about Inheritance Tax simply click here.