Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Inheritance tax threshold set to rise

Plans to increase the inheritance tax threshold to £1m was first pledged by the Conservatives seven years ago. This proposal made in the Tory manifesto has since been altered so that when pensioners decide to downsize in terms of property any potential children will not miss out on the tax break. This decision comes as George Osborne unveils plans to finally end inheritance tax on properties worth up to £1m.

This policy is said to take an estimated 94% of people out of the inheritance tax altogether. The current system means that individuals who inherit will have to pay a 40% tax on wealth over £325,000 for a single person or 40% on £650,000 for a married couple or civil partners. Therefore, from 2017 changes will see the current thresholds raised to £500,000 and £1m retrospectively. It is important to note that this increase will only apply to property and not other forms of wealth. This £175,000 increase is set to be called 'family home allowance'.

This change is set to come into force April 2017 and is to be funded by pension tax reliefs for those who earn over £150,000. In addition, the Chancellor will allow people who have owned valuable homes to defer their allowance until death, even if they moved out of the property decades earlier.

Stay tuned to find out more...

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 Unbiased.co.uk 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.

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

How to protect your business legally

Whether you are about to start up your own business or you have been running your own business for years, protecting your business legally is essential. Any ideas, copyrights, patents, software and financial information should be protected with a non-disclosure agreement. Protecting these can help keep your business safe against other businesses, that may wish to replicate your work. Non-disclosure agreements can also offer some protection in relation to the information you disclose. Non-disclosure agreements can be used by just one person as way of disclosing information or can be used by two parties as a deterrent against disclosing confidential information.

If you own or are setting up a limited company, a shareholders agreement must be set up. A shareholders agreement outlines and regulates the arrangements between you and other shareholders in the business. With this in mind, it is essential to agree to the shareholders agreement as well as writing down who owns the shares and in what amounts.

In addition to this, the framework of how your company is operated also needs to be set out, as well as who makes the decisions and how they are going to be made. Signing and setting up agreements such as these are also essential for avoiding any future disputes.

If someone decides to invest in or loans money to your business an investor agreement should be made. By setting up such an agreement, investors will be able to see the terms on which they are giving money formally written down. With this you must write down how many shares they get, what type they are and what their value is. This agreement should also address the following questions/issues:

·         Will their shares get diluted if more money comes in?

·         What are the procedures for running the company and its exit?

·         How much control will you be giving them?

·         If you fail to address potential situations such as this, it may come back to bite you later.

If your business has a website, your consumers should be able to see your sites terms and conditions. Your websites terms and conditions should set out how your business is run and how you expect your customers to behave. Copying and pasting another sites terms and conditions is not an option as there may be certain laws that you must adhere to which is not included in theirs.

If your business has a website or you are an online business it is more than likely that you will have software developers helping you build your business. Setting up a software agreement is important and can help you avoid any potential pitfalls. This type of contract should include answers to questions/issues such as:

·         What’s the price?

·         When will it be paid?

·         What are the development milestones?

·         Who will own the software?

·         Who will deal with bugs, changes and maintenance and at what cost?

Your businesses software could be a key factor in running your company so ensuring that the paperwork is correct is vital.

If you are thinking of starting your own business or if you already have your business but lack the legal documents which could protect you, LawStore Business can help you! LawStore Business provides legal packages for both startups and established businesses.

Legal services may seem like a costly, overwhelming expense but ensuring that the right legal procedures and documents are in place from the outset will help prevent against any unforeseen, costly difficulties that your business may face later on. They will also ensure that your businesses identity is protected right from the beginning.

The LawStore's Business Start-up Legal Packages offer cost effective, fixed fee solutions for all your start-up needs from Company Formation through to Contracts, Terms and Conditions and even website services and privacy policies, designed to assist new and even established businesses in all the necessary legal preparations required.

To find out more about LawStore Business' legal packages simply click here or call them on 0845 603 6544 today!

Letting agents to publicise fees charged to landlords and tenants

As from today (27th May 2015), it is a statutory duty for letting agents to fully publicise the fees they charge to both landlords and tenants. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, letting agents must visibly display a list of their fees at each of their offices, including their website.

These new requirements have been issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government with some input from the Advertising Standards Authority. The new guidelines state that, "all fees, charges or penalties (however expressed) which are payable to the agent by a landlord or tenant in respect of letting agency work and property management work carried out by the agent in connection with an assured tenancy. This includes fees, charges or penalties in connection with an assured tenancy of a property or a property that is, has been or is proposed to be let under an assured tenancy.”

All fees must also be inclusive of VAT. Letting agents however, do not need to publicise the rent which is payable to a landlord or the tenancy deposit which is taken as security against any damage or violation of the tenancy agreement.

These guidelines are enforced by Trading Standards. Non-compliance will result in a fine of up to £5,000. Lower fines will only be applicable to those in extenuating circumstances. Common excuses including, ‘I did not know about the law’ or ‘I did not know what to do,’ are no longer acceptable.

This change now means that a breakdown in costs are required. All fees should be clear without surcharges or hidden costs. Fees for things like 'administration fees' will no longer be acceptable, with all charges being displayed inclusive of tax.

In addition to these changes, letting agents must also display which redress scheme they have joined. There are three redress schemes and they include:

- The Property Ombudsman

- The Property Redress Scheme or Ombudsman Services

- Client Money Protection (CMP)

But what do you think? Start your own discussion in the LawStore Social Landlord and Tenant forum.

Monday, 18 May 2015

MTA Solicitors took part in Will Aid

MTA Solicitors LLP has been mentioned in the Bromley Times online. In an article entitled "Solicitors waive Will fees to raise £1.75m for charity", MTA solicitors is one of twelve solicitors in the Bromley and Bexley area who have helped raise money for nine charities by taking part in Will aid. The Will aid campaign takes part each November and is designed to encourage people to protect their families by ensuring that they have a properly drafted Will as well as support charities. It is estimated that around 70% of people in the UK do not have a Will.

Click here to find out more.

See below for other blog posts about Wills

Don't have a Will? Neither does 73% of the UK

What you need to consider when making a Will