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New rules planned to ensure that medical tourists pay their bills

Free NHS treatment is only available to those who are “ordinarily resident” in the UK or who are otherwise exempt from the charges.

“Ordinarily resident” is a common law concept meaning someone who is living lawfully in the United Kingdom voluntarily and for settled purpose, as part of the regular order of their life for the time being.  Nationality or past or present payments of UK taxes and National Insurance contributions are not taken into consideration when establishing residence.  The only thing relevant is whether you ordinarily live in the UK.

Changes to the Immigration Rules currently before Parliament will mean that those subject to immigration control who fail to settle an outstanding bill of £1,000 or more for NHS treatment will not be allowed to enter or remain in the UK until the debt is settled.  The NHS will share information with the UK Border Agency to enable it to identify debtors.  It is anticipated that the £1,000 threshold will catch 94 per cent of outstanding amounts owed to the NHS.

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Your Will and your Digital Legacy

According to a survey by Goldsmiths at the University of London, one in 10 Britons are leaving their internet passwords in their Wills to make sure that their ‘digital estate’ is not lost after they die.

The study found that more than a quarter of people in the UK have hundreds of pounds worth of digital music and films that they wish to leave to loved ones on their death.

Your digital estate could include:[bulletlist]

  • photographs and home movies saved on your computer or on online accounts such as Flckr and Facebook;
  • music and movies on iTunes;
  • emails, tweets and contacts saved in Outlook, or on online accounts such as Hotmail, Yahoo, Gmail or Twitter; and
  • business contacts on LinkedIn.[/bulletlist]

Although it is important to provide as much information to help your Executors to administer your estate, leaving sensitive information in your Will is always to be avoided – once a Grant has been obtained from the Probate Registry a Will is a publicly available document and is a potential source of information for criminals looking to access online accounts.

Your Letter of Wishes

If you would like to provide details of your digital estate to your Executors, we suggest that you first list all of your computer and online accounts, including brief descriptions of the accounts (your Executors may not be as technologically savvy as you are!), your usernames and passwords.

Then, rather than including these details in your Will, we suggest that you write a ‘Letter of Wishes’ to your Executors.

A Letter of Wishes is a non-binding document that is left with your Will to guide your Executors when administering your estate.  A Letter of Wishes is not made public along with the Will and so can contain sensitive information.

A Letter of Wishes does not need to be in legal language, but if you would like us to help you write it, then please let us know.

You should then place the Letter of Wishes in a sealed envelope and place it with your Will.  If we are holding your Will for safekeeping, then please send it to us by registered post, courier or give it to us by hand to make sure that it does not go astray in the post.

Lastly, remember that if you have used your computer to write your Letter of Wishes, that document itself must be password protected to prevent someone else fraudulently obtaining a copy.

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Tobacco – Don’t Get Caught Out by New Limits

When travelling within the EU, there is – strictly – no limit on the amount of tobacco products that can be brought into the UK for ‘personal use’. However, the importation for resale of tobacco products bought abroad (where they are often much cheaper) is widespread – and unlawful.

Enforcement of the law has traditionally been dealt with by the application of a concessional policy, which allowed up to 3,200 cigarettes to be brought in for personal use.

When the limits were originally introduced, foreign travel was nowhere near as commonplace or inexpensive as it is now and, in a bid to reduce the loss to the Exchequer, the concessional limits have been reduced from 1 October 2011. The limit on cigarettes is now 800.

The law has not changed, but anyone coming into the country with more than that number will need to be able to justify that the purchase is for their own use.