Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Pitfall of Gifting Assets

It's no secret that there is a care crisis in the UK.  Council tax is increasing in most areas to help cover the cost of social care.  In order to reduce their care liabilities, older people may consider giving away their assets to loved ones. However, where such gifting is concerned, there are strict rules which must be followed.

If you have savings and assets worth more that £23,250 in England or, a weekly income high enough to cover care fees, then you will not be eligible for local authority funding.  In other words, you will have to pay for your own care. You may therefore consider gifting your assets away to reduce the value of your assets to bring yourself within these limits.
Deliberate deprivation
It's not easy to hide the fact that you may have tried to give your property away to your children or grandchildren. Local authorities will carry out a financial assessment, looking not only at your current assets, but also those you have previously owned.

If they believe you have given away assets intentionally, in order to qualify for funding from the local authority, they may find that you have indulged in "deliberate deprivation".  This may include selling assets for less than their true value, as well as giving them away.

What makes it deliberate?
To determine whether the disposal of assets was deliberate, the local authority will look at a number of things.  These include:
-  what your apparent motive was
-  the timing of the gift (i.e. the time between you realising your need for care and when you disposed of the asset)
-  the amount of assets involved.
For example, they are less likely to investigate you if you give away £500 than if you are handing over £50,000.

If it is found that you have deliberately deprived yourself of those assets, even if you no longer own them, their value may be considered in the financial assessment.  If the local authority does fund someone's care costs, and later discover that the individual deliberately deprived themselves of assets, they can pursue the person the asset was transferred to, in order to recover some of those costs.

It is possible to protect assets for the next generation without falling foul of the deliberate deprivation rules but, it requires early and careful planning.  A professionally written Will is essential.

For more information and advice about this complex area, call Jennifer Slater at Hansford Bell Law in Tavistock on 01822 619805 to make an appointment either in the office or at home.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Lasting Powers of Attorney - Planning for the future

At some point many people will reach a stage where they may become unable to make decisions for themselves.  This may be due to illness such as dementia or a stroke or they may simply no longer want the responsibility in their older years.  It is therefore incredibly important that somebody is nominated to have lasting power of attorney (LPA).

An LPA allows that person - known legally as your 'attorney' - to make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer in a position to make them yourself.  There are two types of LPA - a property and finances LPA and a health and care LPA. You don't have to make both at the same time.

You need to choose someone you trust who you believe knows you well and will act in your best interests.  They must be trustworthy and have the necessary skills to take on the responsibility and be someone you can always rely on.  They will have to be over 18 and if making financial and property decisions, cannot have been declared bankrupt.

Most people pick family members, such as their partner and/or children, but you can appoint a professional such as a solicitor if you prefer.  Bear in mind that they will charge for their time.

You can include preferences and instructions in your LPA to guide your attorneys or limit their authority.  However such instructions  must be worded very carefully otherwise they will not take effect.  It is never too early to make LPAs but sadly it can very often be too late so don't delay.

For specialist advice on how to create LPAs exactly to suit your wishes, call Jennifer Slater at Hansford Bell Law in Tavistock on 01822 619805 to fix up an appointment either in the office or at home.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Trust in the Family

Around a third of parents are concerned about leaving an inheritance to their children, as they are worried that divorce may mean that money leaves the family.   It is perhaps an understandable concern, with around 42% of marriages failing according to the Office for National Statistics.

There are however, steps you can take to ensure your money ends up in the right hands irrespective of how successful your child might be at finding a long-lasting partner.

Putting money into a discretionary trust is a useful way to protect money from divorce.  With a discretionary trust, it is up to the trustees to determine how and when any potential beneficiaries may be able to access cash.  Your trustees can consider the needs and personal circumstances of all the potential beneficiaries and protect assets for future generations.

What's more, gifting money into a trust during your lifetime will reduce the value of your estate for inheritance tax purposes.  A trust is therefore a useful tool for inheritance tax planning and protecting assets for your family. Alternatively you can include such a trust in your Will.

For specialist advice about such trusts call your local solicitor, Jennifer Slater  at Hansford Bell Law who is based in Tavistock on 01822 619805 to fix up an appointment either in the office or at home.

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Cappuccino and a Will please

Getting your Will made is as easy as ordering and enjoying a cappuccino at your favourite coffee shop in Tavistock.  Generally the first appointment takes only half an hour and with our offices on West Street it's easy to fit in a visit to us when you are next in town.

Ideally call first to make an appointment for your free initial consultation but if you prefer, you can pop in and fix a time with our friendly receptionists.  

Getting your Will sorted is so important and easy to achieve.  So call in and have a coffee with us while we help you with your Will.

Call us now on 01822 619805  Your legacy is really too important not to.


Here at Hansford Bell Law, we know writing a will probably isn’t top of anyone’s list of New Year’s Resolutions – who wants to start 2017 with such a grim project?

What is incontrovertible, however, is that 2016 was the year that reminded us with the loss of so many famous people, that death is inevitable, regardless of how rich and famous you are.  It also reminded us of the importance of writing a will.

“Why are so many celebrities dying in 2016?” asked the Daily Mirror and people on Twitter expressed that their tolerance was subsiding, “Enough, 2016!”

Alan Rickman left £100,000 to charity, David Bowie similarly planned sensibly, setting detailed instructions on how his estate should be divided, which included his wish to have his ashes scattered on Bali after a Buddhist ceremony.  On the other hand, Prince died intestate, with drama ensuing over his £300m estate as various people now claim to be his blood relatives.

With this in mind, January 2017 is a good month to reflect on our own mortality and get our estates in order - even if they aren’t of A-list proportions

Maybe it’s time to rethink your New Year’s Resolutions list for 2017 – and add writing a will to the top of it. To stick to resolutions, psychologists advise breaking goals into small steps.

Take the first one today by speaking to your local solicitor, Jennifer Slater at Hansford Bell Law in Tavistock where the cost of writing a will starts at as little as £165 + VAT.  For more information, and to start 2017 with a little of the self-empowerment which writing a will can bring, call Jennifer on 01822 619805 or log on to

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Hansford Bell Law of Tavistock in devon

Hansford Bell Law is a niche legal practice led by Jennifer Slater TEP providing high quality legal advice delivered in a clear manner so you will understand the choices available to you having regard to your specific needs and circumstances.

We cover a broad range of private client areas such as tax and wealth planning, wills and trusts, powers of attorney and Court of Protection applications.

We ensure the arrangements our clients put in hand are robust and tax efficient, protecting their family’s assets and maximising the value of tax reliefs and exemptions.

Whether you are seeking support for a family member or making preparations for your own future, we can advise on powers of attorney and Court of Protection applications.

Our fees are fixed according to the service and assistance our clients require so you will always know the cost before we undertake any work for you.

We are committed to developing a long term relationship with our clients and offer a flexible personal service.  Clients can be confident our advice is bespoke and every detail has been considered with their specific circumstances in mind.

Contact us to discuss how we can help you.  Decisions made today will impact well into the future.  Early planning is essential to protect assets for your lifetime and the generations that follow.