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WillPack Monthly Newsletter. What's going on in the Will Writing world?
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Aug Newsletter #2
Welcome to the 2nd August Edition of WillPack News

There was just so much going on this month, in regards to things Wills and Inheritance, we wanted to get a second edition out so our information is current and up to date. We have a very family oriented message for you this time round, which means more on Inheritance tax, some expansions on how we're understanding Parental Responsibility and it's impact on guardianship and how situations can change dramatically during divorce and how marriage affects Wills. We even have a few pieces of information that we think will be useful when it comes to taking instructions and Will writing in general. 
This week we have updated our website, Facebook and Twitter, giving ourselves a more refreshing image. Things are changing here in the office and we're looking forward to where they might take us if we hold on and run with them.

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Parental Responsibility

An appointment of a guardian for a child can only be made by a person with parental responsibility for that child. Parental responsibility is the rights, duties, powers, responsibilities and authority which by law a parent has in relation to their child and includes:
  • Providing them with a home maintaining them
  • Making choices about their medical treatment
  • Deciding how and where they are educated
  • Deciding their name
More than one person can have parental responsibility for the same child at the same time and where this occurs they can either act independently or together. Parental responsibility can be removed by the court and is extinguished when the child is adopted.
A birth mother will automatically have parental responsibility, as will the biological father if he is either married to the birth mother or registered on the birth certificate after December 2003. If neither of these apply the father can gain parental responsibility through a number of ways:
  • By marrying the birth mother
  • Formal parental responsibility agreement
  • Re-registering the birth
  • Parental Responsibility Court order
Step parents may also gain parental responsibility through and agreement or court order. Guardians and adopted parents will gain parental responsibility. It is possible for same sex parents to gain parental responsibility but that is a much more complicated situation, particularly for male partners, and more information on parental responsibility for same sex partners can be found on the links below.

A guide to lesbian parenting - Rights of Women
Parental Responsibility for Gay Couples - Birkett Long
A guide for gay dads - Stonewall

Marriage and Divorce

Two of the more common questions we hear are; ‘how does marriage effect a Will?’ And; ‘how does a divorce effect a Will?’ These are important questions that must considered if any of these occur for clients.
When clients marry, they revoke any Wills and Testamentary documents that they have previously signed, therefore new Wills would need completing. There is however, a way around this. If at the time of taking instructions from your clients they plan on getting married in the future, a provision can be placed in the Will to show that the Wills are prepared in anticipation of a future marriage, preventing the Wills from being revoked when they marry.
A divorce does not revoke a Will, however any appointment of the now former spouse, are treated as if they have predeceased the client, this includes any gifts made, appointment of executorship and guardianship, unless the former spouse has parental responsibilities. If there is a divorce and your client is still on good enough terms to name the former spouse in their Will, they will need to sign a new Will. Any divorce agreements should be considered when preparing a new Will in case there is any need from the former spouse to contest the Will.

Family Home IHT

Since 2009, the nil-rate-band (NRB) which each individual has for Inheritance Tax purposes has been frozen at £325,000; the last budget saw the announcement that a ’family home allowance’ is to be introduced and this will be in addition to the current £325,000. The draft legislation indicates that from the 6th April 2017 the additional allowance will start at £100,000 gradually increasing to £175,000 in 2020/21. This will take the new allowance up to a total of £500,000 for an individual and just like the current NRB it will be transferable between married couples and civil partners, therefore up to £1m.
The allowance will only apply where there is a main residence involved and this is left to direct descendants*. For wealthy individuals where the estate exceeds £2m the new allowance will gradually be withdrawn; for every £2 which exceeds £2m value £1 will instead be deducted from the allowance. Good news for those who own their home, where the estate is above current NRB and leave direct descendants but unfortunately the allowance will not apply to those who leave no direct descendants.


 
Intestacy can be complicated, we've made a simple flowchart which outlines the key features on how your Client's estate will pass if the do not have a Will in place or their levels residue of residue pass
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