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06 April 2020

Individual Matters: COVID-19 reflections in solitude (with internet and email access)!

In these troubled times we, and clients, are not only facing many new issues but are also having to confront pre-existing questions that now have an immediacy that they did not previously have. These briefings should give you pointers on a few of the most pressing. We will continue to put new material on our COVID-19 hub, so do follow us there. Or if you would like to receive our Individual Matters newsletter by email, please just email briefings@bdbpitmans.com with your details.

Does COVID-19 mean I should be updating my will, or making a will if I don’t have one?

Does COVID-19 mean that I should make a health decisions lasting power of attorney? Would it help to have an advance decision as well?

What is the impact on tax residence status if the coronavirus crisis has kept you in the UK longer than planned?

Heritage property and the current coronavirus situation

Beware of the scammers trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis by masquerading as HMRC

If you would like to discuss any issue, whether in this newsletter or not, please get in touch with your usual BDB Pitmans contact, or else with me. Readers who are based near Reading may prefer to communicate with my partner there, Sheilagh Magee; and my partner Emily Taylor would be the natural point of contact for those nearer Southampton and legal director Owen Byrne in Cambridge.

One impact of coronavirus is that people who had previously thought of their wills as only ‘rather out-of-date’ or ‘good enough for now’ are seeing things differently. Instead of their will, and tax and estate planning, being on their to do list for later this has now become an additional source of anxiety. For those who don’t have a will at all, it is even worse. Ironically, now that the time may finally seem right to turn to this, social distancing means that getting a will witnessed in accordance with the very strict requirements of the law (and it will not be valid otherwise) has become a serious problem for many. Careful legal / practical guidance on the specific facts is essential.

A feeling of being ‘too young yet’ to need a lasting power of attorney for health decisions has taken on a different complexion in this climate.

Non resident individuals who normally carefully count the number of days they are present in the UK, to make sure they do not become tax resident, may have found themselves stranded here and unable to leave.  As a result they may be in danger of going over the limit. HMRC has published a relaxation, but it needs to be read carefully for each particular set of circumstances because it is not a blanket statement that all days at the moment can be disregarded.

And among the many who see the future of their business imperilled by the epidemic, owners of heritage properties will have instantly been aware that their conditional exemption from tax was in jeopardy because they cannot expect to be able to be open to the public for the required number of days this year. Thankfully, HMRC were swift to offer some reassurance, but again this is not without conditions and needs to be approached carefully.

May I wish you, your families, and all you care about, well in these unprecedented times. If there is anything we can do to help ease the mental burden or give legal assistance on these or any other matters, do please get in touch.

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