Lasting Powers of Attorney and the Government’s risky online legal tool

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A number of organisations representing older and vulnerable people have joined together to raise serious concerns around the Government’s online tool for creating Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs).   An LPA is a powerful legal document that allows a person to appoint trusted individuals to make important decisions about care and finances on their behalf, in the event of a loss of mental capacity through an accident or illness such as dementia.

In May 2014, the Government’s Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) launched its online LPA tool, which it claims allows people to create the documents without the need for professional advice from a solicitor.   But a new report, published by a coalition of organisations led by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) warns that anyone creating an LPA without taking specialist legal advice faces a significantly higher risk of being left with an ineffective legal document, incurring additional application fees, and even becoming a victim of fraud or coercion.

The report also raises concerns around the potential of a completely digital system proposed by the OPG, whereby ‘wet signatures’ – the physical signing of the document – would no longer be required.

Sarah Littlewood, who is a Full Accredited member of SFE believes that “The prospect of being able to submit an LPA application entirely digitally is extremely concerning, and raises some serious questions around the potential for fraud and financial abuse.”

During a study conducted for the report, participants were invited to create LPAs using the OPG’s online tool and other ‘DIY’ methods. The study revealed that:

  • Some of the forms did not accurately express the way in which participants would want their affairs and welfare to be handled in the future
  • Documents made using DIY methods were more likely to contain elementary mistakes, rendering them ineffective and requiring additional application fees
  • Following consultation with a solicitor, most participants made significant changes to the permissions of their documents regarding how and by whom their affairs were managed

June McSparron, a 75-year-old who participated in the study, said: “You’re exposing yourself to a lot of risk by filling this form in on your own. There are so many bits that you can get wrong, and you can easily be pressured into making choices that you’re not entirely comfortable with.”

The number of LPAs being registered has increased steadily since the launch of the online tool, with over half a million registered in 2015/16 alone. The OPG is actively trying to convince more people to apply for LPAs online, having set a target for the service to comprise 30% of all applications from April 2016 to March 2017.  In its latest Annual Report, the OPG even admits it is willing to take ‘risks’ in striking a balance between ‘empowering and safeguarding’.

With the OPG already receiving over 1,000 calls to its contact centre every day, the organisations behind the campaign say the Government body is potentially exposing people to unacceptable levels

An LPA is by far the most powerful and important legal document an individual can have, because it allows you to pass potentially life-changing decisions about your affairs on to a third party.  It is absolutely right that people should be planning ahead for the future with LPAs, but granting someone this sort of authority over your affairs is an extremely big responsibility for all parties involved. This is a specialist area of the law it is recommended that anyone considering an LPA goes to a legal expert to ensure they get the right advice, consider all the options, and safeguard themselves for the future.”

If you would like to discuss making an LPAs please contact Sarah Littlewood or Laura Scott who will be happy to help

 

 

Kenyons support Good Divorce week

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I’m a proud member of Resolution, a community of family justice professionals who work with families and individuals to resolve issues in a constructive way.

Resolution membership is about the approach I take to my work. This means that as a Resolution member, I will always seek to reduce or manage any conflict and confrontation, support and encourage families to put the best interests of any children first and act with honesty, integrity and objectivity.

I know from my twenty years working as a family law professional, that clients reach the best outcomes when they are helped to understand and manage the potential long-term financial and emotional consequences of decisions. This is why I use experience and knowledge to guide my clients through the options available to them.

As a Resolution member, I have signed up to a Code of Practice that will demonstrate to clients the approach I will always take. The Code promotes a constructive approach to family issues and considers the needs of the whole family, in particular the best interests of children.

If you decide to work with me, this means:

  • Listening to you, being honest with you and treating you with respect.
  • Explaining all the options and giving you confidence to make the right decisions.
  • Helping you focus on what’s important in the long-term.
  • Helping you balance financial and emotional costs with what you want to achieve.
  • Working with others to find the right approach and the best solutions for you.
  • Managing stress in what can be an already stressful situation.

Because I’m signed up to the Resolution Code, I work with a network of other like-minded professionals, including mediators, financial planners and family consultants, to make sure I’m helping my clients find the right approach for them.

Please give me a call to discuss how I can help you on 01405 813108 or email me rebeccak@ksandc.co.uk

Rebecca Kershaw

Solicitor and Family Mediator

 

Half Marathon success! Worksop Hallowe’en completed, what’s next?!

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Sarah Littlewood, Laura Scott, John Bysouth and Tony Henshaw all successfully completed the Worksop Hallowe’en half marathon run last weekend. For all concerned this was our first, and perhaps for some last, competitive half marathon. Far from being an easy half marathon this was even in the organisers words, an “undulating” course, although the scenery of Clumber Park help distract from the side splitting pain and blistered feet!

We would like to offer our thanks to all our supporters who have so far helped us to raise £435.00 with gift aid yet to be added to the total for the Eve Merton Dreams Trust. Just to remind our faithful readers The Trust is a Cancer Charity set up to help create a dream or wish for a serious or terminally ill cancer patient in Doncaster.

Tony Henshaw, partner at Kenyon Son & Craddock said:-

It was a great team effort.”

John Bysouth added:-

“We are delighted to see our efforts have raised the profile of the Charity in our local area and some vital funds to help such a worthy cause.”

Money has continued to pour in even after the event took place. Our donations page is active until 30 November. Kenyon Son & Craddock has pledged to match the final sum raised and we therefore urge anyone who wishes to donate to do so as soon as possible.

So what next for the intrepid four?

Sarah Littlewood was quoted this morning in defiant mood saying:

“This is the start of many. We are now in deep discussions for our next gruelling challenge, watch this space!”

Any suggestions will be gratefully received, and perhaps discarded depending how difficult they are!half marathon pic

Kenyons Family Mediation supports Mediation Awareness Week

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If you and your partner are separating or divorcing, family mediation can help you to settle practical issues, such as dividing your assets and arranging access to your children, in a way which works for everyone. It removes the need for these decisions to be settled in court or through solicitors, which can be stressful and costly; indeed, even if your case has already gone to court, mediation can help resolve any additional issues you might have.

In family mediation sessions, you and your partner will meet (first separately, then together) with an impartial and specially trained family mediator. You’ll explain what needs to be settled, explore the options available, discuss your individual and collective concerns, and consider ways of reaching agreement on the issues you need to resolve.

Your mediator will help you and your partner to reach well-informed decisions that are practical and seem fair to both of you, without taking a side or trying to influence your decision in any way. When you reach an agreement, the mediator will write it down in a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ so that all parties are clear on the outcome. If your decision needs to be legally enforceable, the terms worked out in mediation can be made legally binding in court.

Call Rebecca for a no obligation chat on 01405 813108 or email rebeccak@ksandc.co.uk

Mediation week

Charity Halloween Worksop Half Marathon

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Tony Henshaw, John Bysouth, Sarah Littlewood and Laura Scott have dusted off their running shoes (or bought their first pair!) to start training for the Worksop Half Marathon which is taking place on 30th October 2016. With just 11 weeks left they are all training hard to make sure they cross the finish line.

We have decided to raise money for a local Doncaster charity The Eve Merton Dreams Trust. The Charity do amazing things for people suffering with Cancer.  The Charity aims to help patients by funding essential illness related materials, granting a wish or fulfilling a Dream.

If you would like to sponsor us then please click on the link below. We appreciate any amount donated as it is all going to a fantastic cause.

Visit my fundraising page on BT MyDonate

For more information about the charity and to see examples of how your kind donations could be spent then please visit their website:

http://www.evestrust.co.uk/

Common Law Marriage – It’s a MYTH!

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There were 3.1 million opposite sex cohabiting couple families and 90,000 same sex cohabiting couple families in the UK in 2015. Together, cohabiting couple families account for 17% of all families in the UK which is an increase on previous years (Office of National Statistics).

Despite the increasing trend of cohabitation, many people still believe that cohabitants have the same legal rights as married couples. This is not the case and in fact they have almost no rights at all when it comes to inheritance. The main difficulty that arises with cohabitating couples is when one partner dies without leaving a Will.

When any person dies without a Will then the rules of intestacy apply. If you are not married to your partner then you have no legal entitlement to any of the assets held in their sole name.

It is also important to consider how the family home is owned. If the property is owned by you partner in their sole name, when they die, you will not be entitled under the rules of intestacy to any share of the property.

If you own the property jointly and believe that should one of you die the other inherits the property automatically, this may not be the case. There are 2 ways to own your property jointly ; as Joint tenants which is where the property will automatically pass to the surviving owner, or  as Tenants in Common where each owner owns a specific share in the property and it doesn’t automatically pass to the surviving owner. It will pass in accordance with the Will or if no Will under the rules of intestacy. You may want to check the ownership of your property if you are unsure.

It is therefore extremely important that both cohabitants make a Will expressing their wishes should one of them die.

If no Will is in place and the surviving cohabitant believes they should be entitled to some or all of their partners estate then they can bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.  There is no guarantee that a claim would be successful and in order to protect your loved one from any unnecessary worry and costs our advice is to make a Will to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

If you would like to discuss making a Will then please call either Sarah Littlewood who works between our Thorne and Wakefield offices or Laura Scott who works between our Goole and Thorne offices on 01405 813108.

 

Dementia Awareness Week 15th to the 21st May 2016

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Dementia is an illness which we are all becoming increasingly aware of due to the escalating age of the population.   Dementia Awareness Week is the campaign run by the Alzheimer’s Society to raise awareness about dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in the United Kingdom.

At Kenyon Son & Craddock we are aware of the difficulties that families can face when a loved one is diagnosed with Dementia.  We are keen to promote the importance of making provision for your future.   We advise all our clients of the importance of preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney and a Will, to ensure that your wishes are carried out during your lifetime, and following your death.

Lasting Powers of Attorney

Making a Lasting Power of Attorney is an important aspect of planning for your future.  They allow you to appoint someone who you trust to deal with your affairs if you become incapable, for whatever reason, of dealing with them in the future.

Lasting Powers of Attorney (known as a ‘LPAs’) are now widely considered as being as vital as having a Will.   There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney: Property and Financial Affairs and Health and Welfare. The Property and Financial Affairs LPA allows the person or people you choose (your ‘Attorneys’) to deal with your finances such as your bank accounts and home, on your behalf.  The Health and Welfare LPA allows your Attorneys to make decisions about your care should you be unable to make these decisions yourself.  Your Attorneys can only use the Health and Welfare LPA should you lose mental capacity.

In order for your Attorneys to use the LPAs they must first be registered with a government body, the Office of the Public Guardian.

If you have not made a Lasting Power of Attorney and you become mentally incapable to make one in the future, through accident or illness, it may be necessary for an application to be made to the Court of Protection to appoint someone (known as a ‘Deputy’) to deal with your affairs. The application to the Court is complex and costly and you will not be able to choose your Deputy.

Wills

Making a Will is also a vital part of planning for your future. It allows you to state how you wish all of your assets, which include your personal items, bank accounts, home, and anything else which you own at your death, to be dealt with when you pass away. It is a common misconception that all assets pass automatically to the surviving members of your family if you do not leave a Will. Government legislation, The Intestacy Rules, dictate how your estate is dealt with if you do not leave a Will (known as dying ‘Intestate’), and this may not be in accordance with your wishes.

In order for your Will to be valid it must be properly drafted and executed. It is important to instruct experts to make your Will, who can also provide advice on inheritance tax planning and later life issues.

Dementia Awareness Week

If you plan now, all the provisions will be in place for you and your family to give peace of mind and security for the future.

If you have any questions or wish to put provisions in place please contact Sarah Littlewood or Laura Scott who specialise in dealing with Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney

Laura Scott joins our Wills and Probate Team

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We are delighted to welcome Laura Scott to our Wills and Probate team.

Laura qualified as a Solicitor in September 2015 having trained at a firm in Doncaster and lives locally. Laura specialises in dealing with Wills, Powers of Attorney, Court of Protection matters and administration of estates. She is an Associate Member of Solicitors for the Elderly, an independent group which specialises in the niche area of legal services for older and vulnerable people and their families and carers.

Laura works in both our Goole and our Thorne Office and if you would like to contact her please telephone 01405 813108 (Thorne) or 01405 720850 (Goole) or e-mail her at lauras@ksandc.co.uk

Rebecca Kershaw accredited as Law Society Mediator

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Kenyon Son and Craddock are delighted to announce that their Family Mediator, Rebecca Kershaw, has had her mediation skills recognised by the Law Society. Rebecca, who is also a family solicitor, has been certified as a member of the Law Society’s Family Mediation Scheme, which means she has achieved the high level of skill and experience required by the scheme and will be added to their ‘Find a Mediator’ database. Rebecca mediates in children and financial cases in and around the Thorne and Goole areas and is happy to talk to potential clients about whether mediation is suitable for them and whether legal aid may be available. For a free, no obligation chat call her on 01405 813108.