Armstrong’s raises £1,375 for worthy causes

We're pleased to announce that, by taking part in last November's Will Aid scheme, we raised £1,375 for nine of the UK's best loved charities, including Age UK, Save the Children and the British Red Cross.  In all, Solicitors in the UK raised over £2,000,000, which is a new record for the campaign.

Thank you to all our clients who took part and for the generous donations.

Attorneys and Gifts

A frequently asked question by an Attorney under a Lasting 0r Enduring Power of Attorney is whether he has the right to make gifts on behalf of the Donor of the power.

In practice, the power of attorney will normally allow certain gifts to be made by an Attorney on the Donor's behalf.   The right to make gifts is, however, limited and normally restricted to appropriate birthday / seasonal gifts and charitable donations.  Such gifts must be appropriate in the context of the value of the Donor's estate.  In each case, the overriding issue is whether or not the gift can be considered to benefit the Donor.

If a larger gift is anticipated (perhaps in the context of estate and tax planning), an application for permission must be made to the Court of Protection.

If you are concerned about your rights and responsibilities as an Attorney, we will be pleased to advise you.

Couple’s Intentions Not Binding After Signing Wrong Wills

A man who was the intended beneficiary of a £70,000 estate has lost out after the discovery of a major blunder at the time that his deceased 'parents' signed their wills.

Terry Marley befriended a married couple who, in 1999, had a meeting with their solicitor to sign the wills that had previously been drafted for them. The wills were brief and almost identical to one another: each spouse left their entire estate to the other or, if their spouse failed to survive them by one calendar month, to Mr Marley, whom they had treated as a son for several years. The clear intention of the couple, Alfred and Maureen Rawlings, was to exclude their own two sons from benefiting under their wills and instead to pass their estate to Mr Marley.

Unfortunately, when it came to signing the wills, each of them mistakenly signed the other’s. The mistake went unnoticed on the death of the wife in 2003, but came to light when the husband died in 2006. At that time, the two sons successfully claimed that their father had died intestate, as his will was invalid, having been signed by the wrong person.

On appeal, counsel for Mr Marley tried to invoke Sections 20 and 21 of the Administration of Justice Act 1982. These provisions allow for the rectification of a will in order to give effect to the testator’s intentions. However, it was held by the Court of Appeal that in order to take advantage of such provisions, it was first necessary to have a valid will. The Court upheld the view of the original trial judge that the wills were invalid as they had not been properly signed.

New 36% Inheritance Tax Rate for Charitable Testators

From today (6 April 2012), a new reduced rate of Inheritance Tax will apply where a person leaves at least 10% of their net estate to charity.  Where the criteria have been met, the taxable part of the estate will be charged at 36% Inheritance Tax rather than the usual 40%.

The aim of the new rules is to increase the percentage of people who leave a charitable legacy in their Will from the current 7% to 10%.  It is hoped that this will result in an extra £1 billion being given to good causes.

There are however a number of pitfalls that can arise when including charitable gifts in a Will.  It is therefore essential to take proper legal and tax advice and to have your Will drafted by a Solicitor that specialises in this deceptively complicated area of law.