KCC’s Local Account

Have you heard about KCC’s local account?

If you have not heard about the local account which is being undertaken by KCC at the moment don’t worry nor have most people!

What is it?

The local account is a report that is prepared by Kent County Council to advise the residents of the county of its achievements, improvements and challenges within the Social Services department during the last year.  It also sets out their vision for the future of Social Services and social care in Kent.  All local authorities now have to produce a document like this which is completed in partnership with the residents of the county.  The 2014/15 account is now available from KCC for review along with an invitation to be involved for the future.

The 2014/15 account is the fourth annual report for Kent’s Adult Social Care.  It provides an update on all key areas which challenge social care in Kent and provides information which has been requested by the residents.

Top issues in the 2014/15 year were:

1.    Personal care packages
2.    Equipment
3.    Funding queries
4.    Case manager’s details
5.    Case manager’s response rates
6.    Who can help with what
7.    Options for elderly and vulnerable adults
8.    Whether individuals are known to Social Services

So here are some facts:
  • Of the 1.51 million people living in Kent 34,424 are known to Social Services.
  • Of these 21,902 are over the age of 65 and 10,160 are over the age of 85.
  • The population of Kent is ageing. The number of over 65 year olds is expected to increase by 43.4% by 2026.
  • In the West Kent clinical commissioning area (which covers Maidstone, Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Malling and Sevenoaks) there is a registered population of 466,063.
  • In the 2014/15 year Social Services assessed 23,971 people in relation to their care needs and assessed 19,216 carers.  They helped 12,356 people to remain in their own home with support and they helped 2,660 people with day care support.
  • Of the individuals who use Social Services 4,064 were placed in permanent residential care and 1,243 were placed in permanent nursing care.
What does this mean for you?

Based on the figures provided by KCC only 2.1% of the population of Kent are known to Social Services.

This means:

  • 98% of the population is not on the local authority’s radar.
  • For this 98% there is a lack of information available to them in relation to care as you get older and your health deteriorates.
  • Whilst the local authority has a legal duty to assess everyone for help and support it is clear that the majority of the county do not seek help from this source.
  • For the majority, you will not be helped with funding and support relating to staying at home or moving into a residential placement.  You will not be helped with equipment, grants or adaptations around your home to help you stay independent.
Where do you go?

Well that’s easy – Argo Life and Legacy !

We deal with the remaining 98% of the population who do not access Social Services.  We join the dots when Social Services does not.  We do not just simply write your Will or prepare your Lasting Powers of Attorney.  We do so much more.

We will advise you in relation to care funding and let you know whether you are entitled to help and support or have to fund your own care.  We will advise you of the best way to manage any financial support you do receive from Social Services.  We can help to build your care packages, co-ordinate your medical and health assessments and get you back on your feet again if you are struggling with managing your financial affairs.

And, whatever we do for you, we do it with a smile and a helping hand.  We care about our clients and want their lives to be as fulfilling and enjoyable as they can be.  Age has no boundaries and we help our clients see that it does not.

If you do not know where to go or what to do call us for advice, guidance and support – it’s what we do!

T: 01227 700 702

E: info@argolifeandlegacy.co.uk

W: www.argolifeandlegacy.co.uk

Published by Kelly Duke 8 June 2016

CILEx Regulation

We are now regulated by the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEx).

CILEx Authorised Entity

This is great news for us, not least because it took a fair bit of time and effort to put it all together,  but what does it all mean and why should you care?

In short, one way of looking at it means we’ve been checked over by a regulatory body and declared fit for purpose. In reality, that was the case already when we were members of the Institute of Professional Willwriters (IPW) though they are not a regulatory body.

In practical terms it means:

  • more peace of mind for our clients that they are dealing with a regulated company and qualified staff;
  • we can now conduct one of the 6 reserved activities: namely Probate applications which will enable us to provide a more seamless service in that area;
  • for our staff, it means they can continue being members of CILEx and enhance their qualifications further; and
  • for me, it means I can drop the confusing ‘non-practicing’ bit I had to put before solicitor (!)

When it comes to the provision of legal services, there is a huge difference between regulated and unregulated and between qualified and unqualified. When seeking legal advice it is essential you check that the people you go to are qualified to provide that advice – whether they are regulated or not.

If they are unregulated, make sure they are members of a body with a code of practice such as the IPW – IPW members have to put insurance in place to protect consumers and a complaint handling procedure.

Amongst our staff we have a solicitor, a Fellow of CILEx, an Associate of CILEx, and a student member of CILEx. Our Fellow of CILEx is also a full member of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners and Solicitors for the Elderly. None of us dabble in other areas of law – we are specialists with years of experience keen to help others.

For advice, guidance and support contact us – it’s what we do.

T: 01227 700 702

E: info@argolifeandlegacy.co.uk

W: www.argolifeandlegacy.co.uk

Published by Simon Crooks 19 May 2016

Living Wills

I am often asked “What are Living Wills?”

It would seem there is confusion about whether it is your Will that you do whilst you are alive leaving your assets to people or whether it is something else.  So I thought perhaps it might be sensible to set the record straight!

A Living Will, Advance Directive, Advance Statement are all the same thing.  Since the introduction of the Mental Capacity Act in 2005 these names have now been rolled into one, an Advanced Medical Decision.

An Advanced Medical Decision is a written statement containing details of medical treatment that are to apply if a person becomes terminally ill or mentally incapacitated.  It must be made when a you are over eighteen and have capacity. It can be as detailed as you wish.  The document applies to circumstances which may arise in the future at a time when you lack capacity to make decisions for yourself.

The Advanced Medical Decision protects your autonomy, allowing you to rely on it for medical treatment in accordance with your wishes and provides a voice at a time when you may go unheard.  It protects your dignity and privacy and gives you the power of planning how you want to grow old; whether it is gracefully or disgracefully!

Prior to the introduction of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, there was no legislation which established rules and regulations for making Advanced Medical Decisions.  Rules and regulations were contained only in case law.  This is now enshrined in the Mental Capacity Act which confirmed that an Advanced Medical Decision must be:

•    In writing
•    Signed by the person making the Advanced Medical Directive or by another person at their direction in the presence of witnesses
•    Witnessed by another person in the presence of the person making the Advanced Medical Decision

Medical professionals will consider the document to be valid if it has been signed in accordance with the above criteria and has not been revoked. An Advanced Medical Decision does not always have to be in writing however.  It is equally possible for verbal statements to be considered.

It is not wise to prepare and sign an Advanced Medical Decision without keeping it under review. As we all know, the world of medical science advances quickly and what was the most effective treatment at the time the Advanced Medical Decision was made may not be when treatment is required.

Caution must be exercised, however, in relation to life sustaining treatment.  An oral statement is not sufficient for these purposes.  Where wishes relate to treatment that would sustain life these must be written and signed in accordance with the criteria above.

With the introduction of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and Health & Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney, many thought the use of Advanced Medical Decisions would decline.  We regularly advise clients on not only making a Health & Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney but also an Advanced Medical Decision to accompany and compliment the Lasting Power.  This is particularly the case where clients have specific wishes in relation to specific conditions and want to be able to react to changes in medical treatment through the use of the Advanced Medical Decision.

Whichever document you choose to make either would be preferable to neither.  Just make sure you have a voice when you need one but cannot make yourself heard.

For further advice, guidance and support contact us – it’s what we do.

T: 01227 700 702

E: info@argolifeandlegacy.co.uk

W: www.argolifeandlegacy.co.uk

Published by Kelly Duke 12 May 2016

6 TOP TIPS WHEN GETTING DIVORCED

Divorce is, without doubt, one of the most difficult times that a person will go through. Having good advice and people around you that you trust is key to coming out the other side in one piece.

Mediators and family lawyers will advise you on the practicalities of divorce but are there other things that you should also think about. Here are six handy hints that could benefit you significantly:

  1. Make a Will: If you do not have a Will you need to make one. You need to ensure your soon to be ex cannot benefit from your estate. As your soon to be ex is still married to you if you do not have a Will the Intestacy Provisions state that a husband or wife are the first beneficiaries to inherit from an estate. Should you die before you receive your decree absolute they will inherit your assets.
  1. Or update your Will: If you have a Will you need to change it. You need to change your Will before you receive your decree absolute to ensure that your soon to be ex does not benefit. You can write him or her out of your Will and prepare a letter to sit with your Will to explain why they are not a beneficiary.
  1. Make Lasting Powers of Attorney (both of them): If you do not have Lasting Powers of Attorney you need to put them in place. Without a Lasting Power no one has any authority to act on your behalf should you lose the capacity to manage your own affairs. Putting these in place enables you to choose who you want to manage your affairs and provides clarity to all concerned.
  1. Review your Lasting Powers: If you do have Lasting Powers in place review them. Is your soon to be ex appointed as one of your Attorneys? If so this may complicate the operation of the Power(s). You should review them and make new ones if needed.
  1. Property Ownership: Review how you own your home. If you own your property with your soon to be ex as joint tenants you need to sever the joint tenancy to ensure that your share of your home passes to the beneficiaries under the terms of your will and not to your soon to be ex upon death.
  1. Review your income: If you are now a single person living at home you will be considered to be a single person for benefit and tax purposes. Check to see whether you are receiving all of the tax credits, housing benefits and council tax benefits you are entitled to.

For further advice, guidance and support contact us – it’s what we do.

T: 01227 700 702

E: info@argolifeandlegacy.co.uk

W: www.argolifeandlegacy.co.uk

Published by Claire Godwin 11 March 2016

Court of Protection becomes transparent

On 29 January 2016 a new pilot scheme was announced to make the Court of Protection more transparent.

This means that for the first time the media and press will have access to Court of Protection hearings whereas historically hearings have been heard in public, with reporting restrictions imposed to protect identities.

For many years activities undertaken by the Court of Protection in relation to the administration of the financial affairs and the health and welfare of individuals has been a mystery.  Whilst cases have been open to the public and cases have been reported this has been with the anonymity of those involved being protected.

The Court of Protection was established by the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It is responsible for:

  • deciding whether someone has the mental capacity to make a particular decision for themselves
  • appointing deputies to make ongoing decisions for people who lack mental capacity
  • giving people permission to make one-off decisions on behalf of someone else who lacks mental capacity
  • handling urgent or emergency applications where a decision must be made on behalf of someone else without delay
  • making decisions about a lasting power of attorney or enduring power of attorney and considering any objections to their registration
  • considering applications to make statutory wills or gifts
  • making decisions about when someone can be deprived of their liberty under the Mental Capacity Act

The Court of Protection deals with about 25,000 applications under the Act each year.

From 29 January a new pilot Practice Direction will apply to new hearings that pass through the Court.  Hearings set prior to 29 January will still be governed by the old reporting rules.  Under the new pilot scheme the media and public will be able to attend hearings, unless a specific exclusion is applied.

The pilot is expected to run throughout England and Wales for six months when analysis will be undertaken to assess the success of the scheme.

Court of Protection cases are of interest to each and everyone of us as the decisions made by the Court affect the way our attorneys behave and can act on your behalf.  A more transparent Court is in everyone’s best interest.

Published by Kelly Duke 26 February 2016

Care Home influenza outbreaks

Public Health England have written to all care home managers in Kent to remind them that we are entering the influenza season.

 

Flu can be extremely serious for our elderly friends and family and can be misdiagnosed.  GPs can provide free flu jabs and our elderly friends and family can receive these free of charge to help minimise the risk of becoming unwell, but what happens if there is an outbreak in the care home in which they stay?

Whilst the care homes may be aware of what an outbreak is and the procedures to deal with this, are you?

What are the symptoms of flu?

Fever of 37.8 C or above AND new symptoms or acute worsening of one of more of these:

Cough
Runny nose or congestion
Sore throat
Sneezing
Hoarseness
Shortness of breath
Wheezing
Chest pain

OR

A sudden decline in physical or mental ability without other known cause

What is an outbreak?

The definition of a flu outbreak is:

Two or more cases of flu-like illness within 48 hours

OR

Three or more cases within 72 hours

Which occur in residents and/or staff who are in close proximity to each other.

Care homes need to be aware of the residents who may become unwell and also their staff as they can act as carriers to the illness too.

If there is an outbreak of flu then the local health protection team must be notified as soon as an outbreak is suspected.  The local health protection team for Kent can be found in Ashford on 0344 225 3861 ext 1.  Visitors may be asked to stay away until the outbreak is contained or areas of a home may be closed to visitors if certain areas are experiencing problems.

If you have any worries that your friend or relative may be suffering with flu report your concerns to the care home manager who will take the appropriate action to minimise the spread and impact on the residents, staff and care home functioning.

Published by Kelly Duke 25 February 2016

Active versus Passive Management

In this guest post Colin Barrett, Investment Management Director at Brooks MacDonald, kindly sheds some light on investment strategies

There are two main strategies which investors can employ when creating an investment portfolio; an active strategy and/or a passive strategy. In terms of how the assets are managed, the two strategies are polarising, but both have their own merits and drawbacks.

What is the difference?

To summarise active and passive investing; active investment involves utilising the knowledge, skill and experience of a fund manager to try and achieve better returns than a benchmark. Conversely, passive investment generally involves using a tracking strategy to mirror the performance of a particular index, such as the FTSE 100.

There are benefits to each approach. Passive investment strategies generally incur lower charges than active strategies because there is no value-added research and analysis involved with this strategy. On the other hand, active strategies utilise in-depth research and analysis with the aim of capturing benchmark-beating returns. At Brooks Macdonald, we firmly believe in active investment management; with the aim of achieving above-benchmark performance for our clients over the long term.

How does this work in practice?

A passive fund has to invest in the same securities, and in the same proportions, as the index that it tracks. On the contrary, an active manager has a much greater degree of flexibility, as such they can avoid underperforming sectors and capitalise on rising sectors.

A contemporary example illustrates certain benefits of this autonomy; active UK equity managers were recently able to avoid both the mining sector, which has seen large declines over the past year amid concerns regarding China’s economic slowdown, and the energy sector, which has suffered due to the sharp fall in oil prices. Furthermore, active managers have focussed their attention on companies with varying levels of market share – they have invested the capital withheld from the energy and mining sectors in mid- and small-cap UK companies. Such companies tend to be more domestically focused than their larger counterparts and have therefore outperformed as the UK economy has shown improvement.

For more details and contact information for Brooks MacDonald visit our Partners page.

Published by Simon Crooks 15th January 2016

10 Reasons to make a Will….right now

Are you thinking you really should make a Will, yet it’s a job which you never get round to?

Is making a Will one of those which you keep putting off; something you’ll do one day but just not right now?

Here we look at 10 reasons why to consider just getting on and doing it.

1)      If not now, when?

The need to write a Will is rarely on your mind. However, you’re thinking about it now in reading this. If you don’t act now, when will you? Next year? In 10 years? Maybe 20? It is a job that needs doing but you never know when by.

 

2)     Writing a Will brings peace of mind

Peace of mind for you, knowing things are in order, but also to loved ones who are spared any added complications at a difficult time. A Will makes it easier for your estate to be distributed.

 

3)   You can create your Will at a convenient time

What works best for you? Would you like an evening appointment, a weekend one or even a home visit? One of the key benefits of Argo Life & Legacy is that we will work around your schedule.

 

4)     Leaving a Will shows you care

Creating a Will is more than just an important administrative task. Creating a Will shows you care and you love, that you are willing to take the time to document the many people who matter in your life.

 

5)     Parents with young children – you need a Will

Have you had a discussion with your partner about what would happen to the children if you both died? A Will sets out clearly who should look after your children if the worst were to happen.

 

6)      Not married yet?

If you aren’t married, your partner could miss out completely if you don’t make a Will. A Will is important even if you plan to marry, but it is essential if you don’t as otherwise your partner is left without any safeguard.

 

7)      Not divorced yet?

If you are in the process of getting divorced, your soon-to-be ex-wife could still inherit. This might not be what you want, so you need an Interim Will in this scenario.

 

8)      Minimise the taxman’s take

As the saying goes, the only two certainties are death and taxes. We can ensure you are taking advantage of any available tax relief to at least mitigate one of the certainties…

 

9)      Reflect what’s important in your life

How often do you get to think about your life, the people you love, the achievements and milestones? Creating a Will gives you a rare opportunity for ‘me time’ with the focus on what’s important to you.

 

10)   It’s neither expensive or time consuming

At Argo Life & Legacy, we agree a fixed fee with you prior to starting. And don’t forget we can work around your schedule – call us on 01227 700 702 today for an appointment.