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First-time buyers should consider Lifetime ISA

First-time buyers should consider Lifetime ISA

A Lifetime ISA, or ‘LISA’ as they’re regularly referred to, offers a similar deal to Help to Buy ISAs but with considerable differences which you should watch out for or take advantage of. Some people may be taking advantage of a LISA to save for later in life (over 60), however there are benefits of using a LISA to purchase a property as a first-time buyer. If you wish you can always keep your LISA after purchasing your first property and continue to save

What is guardianship in Scotland?

What is guardianship in Scotland?

Many of you may have seen the latest headlines regarding the #FreeBritneySpears movement where her fans are concerned about her father acting as her Conservator. Conservatorship is an American legal concept whereby the court appoints a person to manage a person’s affairs if they are deemed to be incapable.

The equivalent of Conservatorship in Scotland is known as Guardianship. A Guardianship Order is a court order which authorises a person to act and make decisions on behalf of an Adult with incapacity. In Scotland, an

Living with dementia - putting your affairs in order

Living with dementia - putting your affairs in order

Now, possibly more than ever, it is important that those living with dementia and their families look at getting an individual’s legal affairs in order to alleviate the stresses that can arise when their condition worsens. 

An individual with a dementia diagnosis can (depending on the stage of their condition) instruct a solicitor to assist them in putting their affairs in order whether this be in the preparation of a Power of Attorney or a Will.  The lockdown has not resulted in solicitors being unable

The impact of Covid-19 on guardianship applications and renewals in Scotland

The impact of Covid-19 on guardianship applications and renewals in Scotland

Although lockdown restrictions have eased slightly there is still a significant impact which will be felt by us all for the coming weeks and months.

Where someone has been assessed as lacking capacity and has not put in place a power of attorney, an application requires to be made to the Court for a guardian to be appointed where someone requires to have legal authority for decision making in respect of the incapax adult’s health, welfare, finances and/or property. This was brought into effect some

Dementia Awareness Week 2020

Dementia Awareness Week 2020

Today sees the start of Dementia Awareness week in Scotland, which would usually culminate with Alzheimer Scotland’s annual conference.  Sadly, the conference will not be taking place this year due to lockdown.  However, during this time we can all continue to show support and continue to raise awareness for those living with dementia, their carers and families. 

Now, possibly more than ever, it is important that those living with dementia and their families know that getting an individual’s legal affairs in order can alleviate the

Should I consider an online Will?

Should I consider an online Will?

The Covid outbreak has led us all having to adapt to different social and working practices. It has also led to many of us considering our mortality and (finally) getting round to that New Year’s resolution of getting our affairs in order. Since lockdown commenced there has certainly been an increase in enquiries about and people preparing or updating their wills. Preparing a will, as many of us know, allows you to decide what happens to your money, property and possessions after your death. So

Covid-19 — Death of a loved one - Estate administration — Large Estate

Covid-19 — Death of a loved one - Estate administration — Large Estate

You have registered the death, organised the funeral and now that you have identified all of the assets your loved one had (and established whether or not they have a Will), you are ready to progress with the administration of the estate. This blog focuses on the procedure where the value of the estate is over £36,000.

You need to now progress with obtaining Confirmation (known as Probate in England & Wales). As detailed in our earlier Blog this is the legal document that gives

Covid-19 — Death of a Loved One - Estate Administration

Covid-19 — Death of a Loved One - Estate Administration

You have registered the death, arranged the funeral and now it is time to look at estate administration. The current lockdown period has had a significant impact on the process of administering a deceased person’s estate. The Courts in Scotland, at the time of preparing this Blog, are not currently progressing Commissary work (estate administration). They are, however, looking at how to restart Commissary business soon via remote working. However, even once the Courts have finalised appropriate procedures to restart this business, there will inevitably

Covid-19 — Death of a loved one - Arranging a Funeral

Covid-19 — Death of a loved one - Arranging a Funeral

In our first blog we advised on how to register a death. Now you (and the funeral director) have the death certificate, you can go about arranging a funeral. Funerals are continuing to take place as normally as possible and families are being encouraged not to delay funerals. The Scottish Government have provided guidance for funeral services during the pandemic and funeral directors are being asked to ensure that social distancing is adhered to.

Some helpful tips:

  • If the deceased had a funeral plan, contact

Covid-19 — Death of a Loved One - Registration of Death

Covid-19 — Death of a Loved One - Registration of Death

The death of a loved one is a difficult time for everyone. Not only are they grieving but for many they may have never had to register a death or deal with the winding up of a loved one’s estate.  It can all become quite overwhelming.

The Covid-19 outbreak and lockdown of the nation has brought a whole new level of uncertainty. A short series of blogs will follow providing guidance from registering a death, dealing with the funeral arrangements and winding up an estate.

Scottish Wills - we are here to help

Scottish Wills - we are here to help

We will donate 10% of the fee to local foodbanks.

Ensuring you have a Will in place not only means that you can decide who you wish to inherit your estate, but it also provides peace of mind and comfort for both you and your family, knowing that your affairs are in order.

The current Coronavirus pandemic has brought into sharp focus the importance of providing for our families should the worst happen. Just because you cannot meet face to face with a solicitor at

Coronavirus and Powers of Attorney

Coronavirus and Powers of Attorney

Now more than ever, we should be asking the question: “are my affairs in order?”

In these uncertain times, it is prudent planning to consider putting a Will and Power of Attorney in place. A Will, of course, allows you to state what you wish to happen to your assets upon your death and provides your family with some comfort in knowing your affairs will be in order upon your death. A Power of Attorney, on the other hand, allows you to appoint someone to

Inheritance Tax Changes - What You Need To Know

Inheritance Tax Changes - What You Need To Know

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has made some recommendations and proposals to overhaul Inheritance Tax (IHT). Whilst these proposals may look good on the surface, the devil is in the detail.

A welcome proposal made by the OTS is the reduction of the seven-year gifting rule to five years. This would see individuals being able to make gifts to their children and only have to survive five years for it to fall outwith their estate for IHT purposes. Perhaps the suggested change to five

Death of a Sole Director - What Next?

Death of a Sole Director - What Next?

When a sole director of a company dies, there can often be difficulties. However, those difficulties are, perhaps, more evident where a sole shareholder dies who is also the sole director of a company.

The general position is that where a company has a number of directors and one of the directors dies, the surviving directors can continue to manage the organisation. If the sole shareholder of a company dies, the directors can continue to manage the company until the deceased shareholder's beneficiaries have the

I'm Appointed As An Executor - What Are My Responsibilities?

I'm Appointed As An Executor - What Are My Responsibilities?

Choosing who you wish to implement the terms of your Will can be a difficult decision. After all, this is the person you will trust to ensure that your estate is administered according to your wishes. An executor is a person who is appointed by someone who is making a Will (also known as the testator) to carry out their instructions as set out in their Will.

If you have been appointed as an executor, several considerations should be borne in mind. Firstly, as an

Managing Someone Else's Finances

Managing Someone Else's Finances

When you, or someone close to you, has been diagnosed with a deteriorating health condition thinking about day-to-day practicalities can be difficult, for example managing finances.

To allow someone to manage your day-to-day banking (but not open or close accounts or apply for overdraft) can be arranged by means of a Third Party Mandate. The account holder signs a mandate allowing the third party to pay bills and assist in managing the account on a day-to-day basis. This type of arrangement is suitable for someone

Letters of Wishes

Letters of Wishes

You have made a Will. Congratulations! This now means all of your affairs are in order, your Will can be easily interpreted upon your death and your family will understand your reasons for what you have chosen to include in your Will. Well, not necessarily. It can, at times, be difficult to understand someone's Will after their death and it may be that a Letter of Wishes can clarify matters.

What is a Letter of Wishes?

A Letter of Wishes is as it says: a

Thinking of a care accommodation move for yourself or a family member?

Thinking of a care accommodation move for yourself or a family member?

There can be many reasons for someone requiring a move to a care home from being less able to do the things you used to do, recurring falls or starting to feel lonely. Care homes have trained staff on hand, which may help to remove risks you may face at home. It is perfectly normal to have conflicted feelings about a care home move for yourself or a family member. So what are the things you should think about before moving into care accommodation?

Different

You own a business? Make a Will!

You own a business? Make a Will!

For many, the prospect of making a Will to adequately provide for their family can seem a rather daunting task. However, when you are a business owner, the number of issues to be considered increases. With that in mind, why should business owners make a Will? Is it really that important?

Planning for the future

Succession planning is often at the forefront of a business owner's mind to ensure that the business can carry on when they are no longer here. A Will should be

Funeral Expenses Payment in Scotland

Funeral Expenses Payment in Scotland

Today sees the introduction of a new Social Security Scotland benefit to assist those on low incomes to meet the costs of a funeral. The payment, known as Funeral Expenses Payment, can help pay for some of the costs of the funeral (burial/cremation fees, travel to arrange or attend funeral, death certificate & other documents). Up to £700 is available for other funeral expenses (e.g. flowers, coffin or funeral director's fees).

The payment will not usually cover all of the costs of the funeral. The

What is a Home Report?

What is a Home Report?

Home Reports provide buyers, solicitors and mortgage lenders with a clear market valuation of residential property on the open market for sale and give detailed information on the condition of the property.

The onus is now with the seller of a property in Scotland, who wishes to sell their residential property on the open market, to provide a home report to any potential buyers. Failure to do so could result in you being fined up to £500.

A Home Report comprises three separate reports these

Tenement Repairs - a common problem

Tenement Repairs - a common problem

Are you the owner of a property in a tenement? If you are, can you answer the following:-

  • Who owns the various parts in your tenement building?
  • Who is responsible for the maintenance and repair of your tenement?
  • What do you do if tenement repairs are required?
  • Who is settling the account for your tenement repairs?

If you are unable to answer these questions, and repairs are required in your tenement, the starting point is to check the title deeds which relate to your property.

Changes to Inheritance Tax?

Changes to Inheritance Tax?

The Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has made some recommendations and proposals to make changes to Inheritance Tax. Whilst these proposals may look good on the surface, do they actually lead to the elimination of some useful tax breaks such as taper relief?

Timescales

A welcome proposal made by the OTS is the reduction of the seven-year gifting rule to five years. This would see individuals being able to make gifts to their children and only have to survive five years for it to

What is the difference between a power of attorney and guardianship?

What is the difference between a power of attorney and guardianship?

Often people will ask - what is the difference between a power of attorney and guardianship or if one is better than the other? Our simple guide below explains the difference.

Power of Attorney

Power of attorney is a legal document which you ('the grantor') grant in favour of another person ('the attorney') to make decisions relating to your finances, property and/or welfare. In Scotland this is known as a continuing and welfare power of attorney (lasting and enduring power of attorney in England &

What is a Liferent?

What is a Liferent?

Dependent upon your family circumstances, it may be sensible to consider including a liferent provision in your Will. However, what is a liferent exactly and how may it benefit you?

What is a liferent? 

A liferent can be used where you wish your spouse, for instance, to benefit from the income from your assets or be in a position to use those assets, without them having outright entitlement to/ownership of those assets. Instead, the assets will ultimately pass to others; most commonly, your children.

A

Failsafe Beneficiary - Future Proofing Your Will

Failsafe Beneficiary - Future Proofing Your Will

We're all going on a summer holiday?

It's that time of year again. Sun, sea and sand... it's holiday time.

Multi-generational travel has increased markedly over the past few years. No longer is it simply mum, dad and the children jetting off abroad, it is now mum, dad, the grandparents, the grandchildren etc. Whilst family time on those long summer days is on everyone's mind, it is also important to consider what if something happened to all of us? Do I need a failsafe beneficiary?

To Cremate or Compost? - Your Will and Funeral Instructions

To Cremate or Compost? - Your Will and Funeral Instructions

Deciding upon what you wish to happen to your body when you die is never an easy thought. What would your family want? Should you be buried? But along with that can often come additional expenditure on top of funeral costs, including purchasing a lair etc. Or should you be cremated and have your ashes scattered in that special place?

Well, now there may be no need to decide between the two if the latest decision emerging from Washington, USA is anything to go by.

The Importance of Reviewing Your Will

The Importance of Reviewing Your Will

If you have a Will in place, it is important to review this on a regular basis to ensure it is up to date with your personal and financial circumstances.

People often think of reviewing matters such as the amount of money to be left to nieces or nephews or who should, in fact, inherit the family heirlooms. However, most don't think to review who they have appointed as their Executor in their Will. So why is this important?

What is an Executor?

An

Brain Injury Awareness Week

Brain Injury Awareness Week

Brain Injury Awareness Week 2019 is here - #ActionForBrainInjuryWeek #ABIWeek, culminating with #HatsForHeadway on Friday 24th May.

As is often the case, family members can face numerous difficulties as the result of a loved one succumbing to a brain injury - if they no longer have capacity to make decisions for themselves and if the family is not aware of what steps they need to take. Difficulties can arise in relation to medical or financial decisions that need to be made and no-one having

Dying Matters Awareness Week

Dying Matters Awareness Week

No-one likes to contemplate their own death or think of the death of a loved one. It is however an important topic of conversation to have with your family and friends and is encouraged as part of the Dying Matters Awareness Week. Doing this at an early stage allows you to have an unpressured conversation at a time that suits you and not at a time of ill health or crisis.

Conversations of this nature are a prompt to discuss your affairs and the

What are the Duties of a Financial Guardian?

What are the Duties of a Financial Guardian?

Once appointed by the Court to act as Financial Guardian there are certain administrative responsibilities which you will have to fulfill, these are detailed below. By taking on this role you are accepting this responsibility and it is therefore important that you consider if you have the time and ability to carry out the duties of a Financial Guardian.

Caution (pronounced Kay-shun)

The Sheriff may order that you obtain a Bond of Caution (usually within 4 weeks of your date of appointment). A Bond of

Gifting Your Property to Avoid Care Costs

Gifting Your Property to Avoid Care Costs

Many families wish to ensure that their family are provided for in the future. They have worked hard to be able to own their property and do not want their estate to be exhausted by paying care costs. Beware, there are many things to consider before gifting your property to avoid care costs.

  1. Should you require a move to residential care accommodation the local authority can look at assets you had previously, the time of gifting and the reasons for gifting. There is the potential

Care Home Fees - Deferred Payment Schemes

Care Home Fees - Deferred Payment Schemes

Since 2002 deferred payment schemes have been available for care home residents however, many are unaware of their availability.

Care home residents who have insufficient income and capital (excluding the value of their property) to meet care home fees may enter into an agreement with their local authority to defer payment of part of their contribution towards care costs. They can settle these sums with the local authority at a later date when their home is eventually sold. A deferred payment agreement is an agreement

Scotland Introduces Free Personal Care For Under-65s

Scotland Introduces Free Personal Care For Under-65s

In September 2001, the Scottish Government introduced legislation to provide free personal care for those who were assessed as requiring it and were over 65. 'Personal care' means care which relates to day to day tasks and the needs of the person cared for (for example, washing, eating etc.).

1st April 2019 sees the introduction of 'Frank's Law', which will broaden the availability of free personal care to those under 65. This means that those living with early onset dementia, Parkinson's Disease,

Wills and Powers of Attorney - Do You Have Your Affairs in Order?

Wills and Powers of Attorney - Do You Have Your Affairs in Order?

It's Lent - the Christian period of time for reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. With that in mind, what better time than to focus your mind on your affairs and having everything in order so that you and your family have a secure and comfortable future. This can be sorted with both a Will and Power of Attorney.

Your Will

Your Will is probably one of the most important documents that you can make. It is vital if you wish to protect

Arrangements After Death - The Importance of Preparing a Will

Arrangements After Death - The Importance of Preparing a Will

No one likes to contemplate their own death or the death of a loved one. The importance of preparing a will is often overlooked or postponed or those who do have wills overlook the importance of reviewing their wills.

In preparing a will you provide written instructions on how your estate should be distributed on death and who should do so. Often the Executor will be the person who will make funeral arrangements. This need not be the case. Should you wish, you can make

Changing Your Name on Your Title Deeds Following Gender Reassignment

Changing Your Name on Your Title Deeds Following Gender Reassignment

If you have undergone gender reassignment surgery, you will be dealing with an overwhelming number of changes and will be starting to create your new identity. To make things easier, the Registers of Scotland (ROS) will change your title deeds to reflect your new identity. They will not only change your name as owner, they will also change your name as borrower in respect of any securities registered over your title. Please note however you will also have to inform your security lender of the

Removal of an Executor - A Change in the Law?

Removal of an Executor - A Change in the Law?

You have made a Will. Congratulations! This puts you ahead of the almost 60% of the Scottish population who do not have Wills in place.

In your Will, you have appointed an Executor; the person charged with implementing the terms of your Will and carrying out their legal duties as your Executor. However, in light of the recent case involving a man who murdered his mum, but because he is named as the Executor in her Will he can attend to administering her estate, some

Loft Conversion - 5 Things to Consider

Loft Conversion - 5 Things to Consider

Many people choose to convert their loft area as a means of obtaining more space without having to move home. This blog provides some advice on what you should be thinking about before making the decision to extend and how to ensure that the loft conversion is safe and legal.

1. Check you own the roof and roof space

If you live in a house this shouldn't be an issue but for top floor flats (including upper cottage flats) you should check the title deeds

Business Development Mistakes

Business Development Mistakes

'It's in the diary.' 'Let's catch up over coffee.' These are typical phrases which are uttered when we hear the words - 'business development'. What are we really looking to gain from having countless lunches and coffees with contacts we may not have seen or heard from in a while?

The purpose

In these uncertain times, businesses can no longer afford to cherry pick where their business comes from. Work may be referred continuously from one reliable source or may come from the man in

Your Rights as a Carer in Scotland

Your Rights as a Carer in Scotland

There are many people who are providing care for loved ones in their own homes. The Scottish Government recently circulated an updated Carers' charter explaining the rights of adult carers or young carers in Scotland. This came on the back of the introduction of new legislation, The Carers (Scotland) Act 2016, which came into effect from 1 April 2018. What are your rights as a carer in Scotland?

The legislation was introduced to enhance the rights of carers in Scotland to help improve their

Top Tips: Practical aspects of registered Power of Attorney with a Bank

Top Tips: Practical aspects of registered Power of Attorney with a Bank

You have been appointed as a Continuing (financial) Attorney and now need to trigger the powers granted to you.

  1. Check the document has been registered with the Public Guardian's Office. The document requires to be registered to be operational.
  2. Check the powers you have been granted. Ensure you have specific powers to deal with managing bank accounts.
  3. Attend the bank to register the registered Power of Attorney (POA) document. Call the bank or drop in to check if they have a staff

I've paid off my mortgage, why do I need to discharge it?

I've paid off my mortgage, why do I need to discharge it?

So the day is finally here; you've worked hard, made years of payments and now you've got that all important letter from the bank/lender confirming that you have fully paid off your mortgage. So pop open the champagne, enjoy the moment and have a think about how you are going to spend that extra money each month. But wait, you notice on the letter there's something about discharging the mortgage, what does this mean?

The concept is fairly simple, when you use a mortgage to

First-time buyers consider Lifetime ISA for free cash

First-time buyers consider Lifetime ISA for free cash

As most people are aware, the government set up a very generous scheme at the end of 2015 known as Help to Buy ISAs where young people who had never owned a house before (first-time buyers) could save for a house and be given a free 25% bonus on top of their savings when they became able to purchase of a property. A Lifetime ISA, or 'LISA' as they're regularly referred to, offers a very similar deal but with considerable differences which you should

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and Additional Dwelling Supplement - Update

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and Additional Dwelling Supplement - Update

Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) replaced Stamp Duty Land Tax on the purchase of property in Scotland on the 1st April 2015. Since then there have been many updates, amendments and guidance notes issued. The purpose of this blog is to provide an update on the current threshold and tax banding for LBTT, the new First Time Buyers Relief and the increase to the Additional Dwelling Supplement (ADS).

LBTT Threshold and Banding

The threshold for paying LBTT on the purchase of residential

Equity Release Mortgages

Equity Release Mortgages

Why consider an equity release mortgage?

The average person can expect to live for around 20 years following retirement and for many people equity release is an attractive option as it offers either a lump sum or a regular income which could be used in a number of ways:

  • To supplement your pension
  • To pass on money to your family while you are still alive
  • To go on a once-in-a-lifetime holiday or trip
  • To redecorate or renovate your home
  • To pay off a loan, clear

Legal Rights

Legal Rights

'But I've not spoken to my children in 10 years!!' Whether or not you choose to make a Will, there exists what are known as 'Legal Rights' in Scotland. Some argue that if they have chosen to make a Will and expressed a clear wish that their children are not to inherit any of their estate, then why should their children, who they, perhaps, have not seen nor spoken to for many years, be able to lay any claim against their estate? The theory behind

How Important is the Appointment of an Executor?

How Important is the Appointment of an Executor?

When it comes to Wills, most people are focused purely on how the estate will be distributed. Questions such as 'have I given enough to my grandchildren?' and 'will my spouse be adequately provided for?' are, obviously, very important matters to consider. However, the appointment of an Executor is just as important.

Who should I appoint?

Your Executor is responsible for dealing with the administration of your estate and ensuring that the terms of your Will are carried out, often with the assistance of a

Funeral Instructions - Do They Matter?

Funeral Instructions - Do They Matter?

One of the benefits of making a Will is that you can narrate your funeral instructions and let your family know your specific wishes for your funeral. However, as you will not be here to know if these wishes have been carried out, is it really worth stipulating what should happen to your body and at your funeral service?

The inclusion of funeral instructions in your Will is a guide to your Executors and family and can be as straightforward or as complicated as you

Changes to Land and Building Transaction Tax Come Into Effect

Changes to Land and Building Transaction Tax Come Into Effect
  1. The Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (First-Time Buyer Relief) (Scotland) Order 2018

The above Order came into effect from Saturday 30 June 2018. Subject to certain conditions, First-Time Buyer Relief is now available to first-time buyers in Scotland. The relief applies to qualifying transactions where the contract is entered into on or after 9 February 2018 and the date of entry is on or after 30 June 2018. It is therefore not available for any transactions with an effective date prior to 30 June 2018.

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