New-year-2019

What are your New Year’s Resolutions for 2019?

Every year most of us make New Year’s Resolutions. Maybe yours are often the same – to go to the gym more, lose that weight you’ve put on over Christmas, eat more healthily and so on.

This year how about adding a new one?

‘I want to give myself and my family total peace of mind’

You can do that by making a Will, Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs), and/or by purchasing a pre-paid Funeral Plan.

Are you certain that if something happened to you, for example you had a serious accident, all your affairs would be in order – even if you lost mental capacity? Wouldn’t you like to be sure that your family would be able to access your bank accounts and deal with all your financial affairs without having to deal with any costly and lengthy court proceedings?

The only way to do that is to make a Financial LPA. People often don’t realise that even joint accounts would be frozen if mental capacity is lost, and partners would have no access to accounts unless there is an LPA in place. If you don’t have an LPA, then the only way of accessing money or selling property etc. is via the court. This takes months and ultimately could cost thousands of pounds. A simple LPA, costing just £175* for A R K to prepare for you, can save a lot of money, and perhaps more importantly, anguish for your loved ones.

What about health? The Finance LPA obviously covers all your financial affairs, but who would be able to speak on your behalf about health-related matters? Having an LPA for health in place means that if you weren’t well enough, your nominated Attorneys could speak to doctors and all other health care professionals on your behalf, as if they were you. They can also have the final say regarding life-sustaining treatment. You and your family can then be sure that your wishes would be respected.

What about a Will? Of course, everyone should have a Will, however it is particularly important in the following circumstances:

  • If you have children who are under 18. You need to appoint guardians in your Will, otherwise a court would decide who looks after your children should anything happen to you while they are young.
  • If you have a partner that you are not married to, then without a Will they are not going to inherit anything.
  • In these days of blended families with children and stepchildren, many people are not aware that stepchildren do not inherit anything unless there is a valid Will specifying that they should inherit. The only way to be certain that the people you would want to inherit your estate, actually do so, is to make a Will.
  • If you are separated but not divorced, your estranged husband or wife is still your next of kin in the eyes of the law, and therefore they could end up with everything unless you’ve made your wishes known by making a Will.

A Funeral Plan is the ultimate peace of mind for your family. There has been a lot of publicity recently about families ending up in debt because they can’t afford to pay for a loved one’s funeral. If you purchase a Funeral Plan now then whenever you die your funeral is paid for in full, and your wishes are also documented. A client of ours whose mum passed away recently said ‘I can’t believe how easy and stress-free everything was.’

One call to the Funeral Plan Company and everything is taken care of for your family. Anyone of any age can buy a Funeral Plan and prices start at £2,795. Our Dignity Plans currently have an offer of up to £340 discount on every plan. This great offer is running until April 2019. We also offer Safe Hands Funeral plans if you would prefer a Funeral Director who isn’t part of the Dignity Group. Your Funeral Plan Consultant will help you decide which plan would be best for you.

Don’t put off giving your loved ones peace of mind any longer! We understand that you may not be able to afford everything at once, so at A R K we can help you decide what is the priority for you. Make 2019 the year you get organised!

Remember we offer a clear and transparent pricing policy, and we’ll give you as much free advice as you need to help you take the worry out of those ‘what if’ situations.

Contact A R K now on 01438 746977 or email us at info@arkpowers.com to action one of your New Year’s Resolution. Probably one of the easier ones to achieve…

*An additional fee of £82 has to be paid to The Office of the Public Guardian in order to register an LPA for use.

Funeral-plans

Financing your funeral in advance – why is this a good idea?

It’s ALWAYS a good idea to arrange a pre-paid Funeral Plan, but in some circumstances it’s a REALLY good idea.

There are many circumstances that make it especially important to have a pre-paid Funeral Plan in place. For example:

• You may have children with specialist needs who would find it very difficult to cope with making your funeral arrangements.
• If you have very few or no living relatives then it will give you the peace of mind of knowing you’ll have the funeral you want. Plus, you avoid burdening your friends with your funeral costs and the second-guessing of your wishes.
• Maybe money is tight and you are concerned about your – or your spouse’s/partner’s – funeral would be paid for when one of you passes away? With both our Dignity and Safe Hands Funeral Plans you can pay for one plan and use it for the funeral of whoever passes away first. You can always take out a second plan later when you can afford it.

How Funeral Plans Can Help
We recently sold a Funeral Plan to a lady in her early forties. She owns a small business locally and is a single mum of a teenage daughter. Her own mum had sadly passed away a few months earlier, and she was very worried about how her young daughter would cope with all the arrangements, as well as the grief, if anything happened to her.

We were able to reassure her that if she arranged a pre-paid Funeral Plan then a single phone call would be the single action needed to arrange the funeral. It means that all her funeral wishes are now documented, and the funeral is paid for in full. She now has peace of mind that everything will be taken care of and her daughter will have one less thing to worry about. Hopefully it will be a very long time before the plan is needed, but that’s the best thing about having a pre-paid Funeral Plan – even if our client lives another 40 years her funeral will still be paid for in full. There’ll be no extra costs for her family, no matter how much the funeral costs will have increased by then.

A Sensitive, Friendly and Professional Approach
A R K specialises in dealing with more challenging situations. Our friendly approach and home visits are timed to suit you. Even if someone is unwell or has specialist needs then we can help them – whether this is with a Funeral Plan, a Will or a Lasting Power of Attorney.

Sometimes, a terminally ill person wants a Funeral Plan. This is obviously a very difficult situation for the person concerned and for their family. Recently, we helped a client who had been diagnosed with terminal cancer. They had been told that they only had a very short time to live. By handling the situation in a sensitive manner and visiting at times when client felt well enough to talk to us, we could get everything arranged and finalised very quickly; so the client and his family had peace of mind and one less thing to worry about.

To give our customers more choice we now offer Dignity Funeral Plans alongside our existing Safe Hands plans. They are similar prices and you can choose from a range of options. Your A R K consultant will help you select the provider and plan that best suits your needs.

We carry out appointments in the privacy of your own home, or by telephone if you prefer. We can then offer you that same peace of mind that our existing clients have.

Please visit our Funeral Plan page for more detailed information or contact us on 01438 746977 or email info@arkpowers.com  to discuss your requirements. We you offer our expert advice for free – with absolutely no pressure to buy.

The Business Case for a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)

All business owners should consider a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) as the final piece of the business protection jigsaw puzzle.

Have you considered what might happen to your business if you:

• lost your mental capacity through illness or injury?
• were stranded abroad because of delay or extreme weather conditions?

Who would take over the running of the business on your behalf to:
• sign contracts?
• pay salaries and suppliers?
• write cheque?
• make the important day-to-day decisions to keep the business going?

Even if your bank account is held jointly with your spouse, it can be frozen until a Deputyship Order is produced by the Court. Business accounts can also be frozen, even where these are held jointly in the names of business partners or directors. How would your business cope with no funds? Many businesses in these circumstances fail.

If you suddenly lose mental capacity and haven’t made a Business LPA, it may become necessary to make an application to the Court of Protection for the appointment of a deputy to act on your behalf. The process can be expensive, and there’s no guarantee that the Court of Protection will choose someone who you would have chosen. It could also take more than six months before a deputy is appointed, during which time your business may be vulnerable and at risk.

The Business LPA and lack of capacity…

Most businesses have a Key Person Insurance Policy and crisis management plans in place, but the issue of lack of capacity is often overlooked. You might think the options are obvious, but there is no automatic legal right to deal with another person’s financial affairs. Don’t assume that a family member or a business colleague will gain the authority to make these decisions on your behalf – this assumption could leave your business exposed to risk.

To protect your interests, and those of your business, you should consider making a Business LPA.

Having a Business LPA in place allows someone that you trust – someone who understands your business – to take over the day-to-day affairs as soon as they are needed. Your attorney might be given the power to pay suppliers and staff, access and manage bank accounts, invest assets, handle tax matters and enter into contracts. Of course, you can limit your attorney’s power, but you need to ensure that the company can continue to operate with any limits in place.

The aim of all business owners is to make their business a success and to provide for their families and their loved ones. You work very hard, commit time and money to your business and have employees and suppliers who are depending on you. You have families who need your financial support and security.

It is natural to hope you will never need a Lasting Power of Attorney but why take the chance?

Business continuity…

A Business LPA should be an essential element of your business continuity plan, and the cost of setting one up is a small price to pay for the continuing success of the business you have worked so hard to build. It’s a one-off cost as well (as long as you don’t change your mind about who you have appointed as your attorney).

A Business LPA is a type of ‘insurance’ that all business owners should have, and it truly is the final piece of the business protection jigsaw puzzle!

Next steps…

Our fee to arrange a Business LPA for you (including registration of the document with the Office of the Public Guardian – so that is ready to be used immediately should it be necessary) is £175 (no VAT to pay). It’s a tax-deductible expense for your company, and the only additional fee to pay will be £82 to cover the Office of the Public Guardian fee.

Contact A.R.K. Lasting Powers & Wills today for a chat about how easy it is for us to assist you with making this document that could be vital for your business. It can be arranged at a face to face meeting, or by phone/email if you prefer. Call us on 01438 746977 or email info@arkpowers.com.

funeral plan

Do I really need a Funeral Plan? I’m not intending to go anywhere anytime soon!!

The answer to this question is that, sadly, you never know when you are going to need it.

A Funeral Plan is like an insurance policy which protects you against the rising costs of funerals. Unlike most other forms of insurance, you know that one day you will definitely benefit from having the policy. Hopefully a long time in the future, however we will all need a funeral one day.

A Funeral Plan gives you peace of mind and security, and support for your family when they most need it. Your money will pay for your funeral costs – whenever the time comes. The money held in the plan is guaranteed to cover the cost of your funeral, even if that is 50 years away. It is safely invested in an independent Trust Fund, until your family needs it.

At A.R.K. Lasting Powers & Wills, we regularly highlight the cost of the average funeral. We know about how these costs have increased hugely over the years; and how they will no doubt continue to rise at a similar rate. We always advise our clients that buying a Pre-Paid Funeral Plan is the equivalent of buying your funeral at today’s prices, as in, say 30 years, the average cost of a funeral could be around £30,000!!

How Funeral Plans can help…

A.R.K. consultant, Julie, recently lost a close friend to cancer. He was only 60 years old and sadly died in January this year, just a few short months after being diagnosed with this horrible disease. His funeral was a real example of how costs can mount up. Without any following cars, the final bill for his simple cremation service came to over £4,500.

If there had been a Safe Hands Funeral Plan in place it would have cost £3,355 for the equivalent funeral (even with one car following the hearse it would have only have been £3,595). Hindsight is a wonderful thing – and Julie’s friend did not expect to die at 60; so he didn’t have a Funeral Plan in place. If he had purchased a plan, his family would have saved money, stress and the need to make most of the arrangements. (These have been made automatically by the Funeral Director, following the instructions contained in the Funeral Plan.)

Peace of mind re your funeral cost and wishes…

Funeral costs will only continue to increase. Please do consider arranging a Funeral Plan sooner rather than later. You and your loved ones will have complete peace of mind, knowing that the costs are covered and will know what your wishes are.

Contact A.R.K. now on 01438 746977 to discuss your requirements or to arrange a no-obligation home visit. Alternatively you are welcome to email us: info@arkpowers.com. There is absolutely no pressure to buy, and you can even pay interest free over a 2 year period (a small handling charge will apply if you wish to pay over a longer period of time). There are no hidden costs and we will explain exactly what is covered in each of the different types of plan.

 

“It’s a Family Affair…”🎵

From the moment a baby is conceived our natural instinct as a parent is to protect that tiny little foetus – and that protective feeling lasts forever.

Think of all the ways we protect our children; the loving, caring, teaching and nurturing we do from the moment they are born until they officially become adults at 18 (and far beyond that)! The feeling of wanting to look after our children never fades. They may become independent, responsible adults who no longer need our day to day support and care, but we would still do anything for them!

Some of the things we do to protect our children are very grown up things – most of us make sure we have insurance in place so that if something was to happen to us while our children are young, there would be money there to pay for their upbringing. Where we can, we save money for their future; to help with buying their first car, their university fees, their wedding or their first home. If we can afford it, we might choose to pay for private healthcare insurance for them. We do our absolute best to make sure that whatever happens, our children would be ok.

There are other very grown up things that we should all do to help protect our children:

We should make a Will (appointing guardians to look after them if we can’t while they are young) and to make sure they inherit what we want them to inherit.

We should seek financial advice as we get older to try to avoid our children’s inheritance being lost to pay Inheritance Tax after we are gone.

We should make Lasting Powers of Attorney to make sure that if something happened to us which meant that we weren’t well enough to look after our own money, they would be able to step in and help us easily without a long expensive court process.

We should consider making a Funeral Plan as we get a bit older (perhaps 50+) – this is sensible for 3 reasons:

1. To save your family money! The average funeral today costs around £4,000 but funeral costs are increasing rapidly. In the last decade they have risen by 70%, so that average price funeral could cost around £30,000 in 30 years if costs continue to rise at the same rate. If you buy a Funeral Plan today (plans range from £2,275 to £3,900) you will potentially save your family many thousands of pounds.

2. So that your family will be in no doubt about what you want at your funeral – they will have less difficult decisions to make when they are trying to cope with the grief of losing you.

3. So that the money to pay for your funeral will be immediately available. One call to the Funeral Plan company and everything will be taken care of – the Funeral Director will be contacted, and everything will be dealt with in accordance with your wishes. The money will be paid direct to the Funeral Director so there will be no need for your family to find the money to pay for everything.

So basically; by making a Funeral Plan you would be protecting your children’s inheritance (saving money so that it ultimately goes to your children, rather than to a Funeral Director to pay for an expensive funeral). You would be protecting them from the stress and upset of second guessing what you would have wanted at your funeral and finally you would protect them from the hassle of having to work out how to pay for your funeral while they are trying to come to terms with the fact that they have lost you.

A.R.K. Lasting Powers & Wills is a family business based in Stevenage; various members of the family are involved in the business in one way or another – and all those people are Stevenage people with extended family and many friends in the town. We have a passion for helping other families protect each other – be that other Stevenage families or families in all our neighbouring towns and villages.

We do this by meeting our clients (usually in their own homes so they feel as comfortable as possible discussing sensitive matters), listening carefully to people’s concerns, offering advice and recording people’s wishes. We offer jargon-free explanations and information and we give our clients time to decide what they want. What we DON’T do is pressurise anyone to do anything they are not comfortable with.

It was on a family holiday recently, that we discussed our aim to help other families to be organised, prepared for the worst – hoping that some of those horrible situations won’t occur, but wanting people to be prepared in case they do. We realised that we could link up with other professionals who provide the services we aren’t able to offer ourselves. So, if you are an A.R.K. client and during our conversation about your Will, we discover that you need some advice about your pensions, or life cover, or investments or health insurance we will be able to recommend people we trust to assist you with those matters. So that the whole spectrum of services needed to protect your family can be covered. Again, there is absolutely no pressure for our clients to use the companies we recommend, but we are pleased to be able to provide options and information to enable them to make informed choices. We also have links with the amazing charity Home Start (Stevenage) who offer a range of support to families who are struggling with the demands and challenges of being a parent. More information about their services can be found at: www. home-startherts.org.uk

The point of this blog was to explore all the ways that we may protect members of our families. There are probably many other ways that we haven’t thought of, but hopefully we have made you stop and think; to take stock and consider actions you could take that might make everything easier for your loved ones, to protect them as best you can – no matter what life throws at you and your family!

If you would like more help or advice with making a Will, creating Lasting Powers of Attorney or making a Funeral Plan, contact us today to make an appointment with one of our consultants.