Category Archives: Helen Webster

Want to Avoid Care Home Fees? Beware of the Pitfalls

An estimated 1 million or more people have had to sell their home to pay the cost of care fees within the last 5 years; unsurprising given the average cost of a care home is over £700 per week. Many people who are worried about this are now taking drastic action to try and avoid paying care home fees. The results are not always effective, writes Helen Dandridge, solicitor at Ridley & Hall.

“Any schemes that guarantee to protect your home from being sold to fund future care home fees should be treated with extreme caution” says Helen; “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”

Helen has seen a recent case involving an elderly vulnerable lady which highlights the importance of obtaining independent legal advice from a trusted firm of solicitors before making life changing decisions.

This lady, who lived alone in the Huddersfield area, paid almost £3,000 for her property to be put into a trust. She did not need this service and undoubtedly did not understand what she was paying for. The idea behind the trust deed was to transfer the property out of her sole name, so that if she ever needed to go into a care home, her home would not have to be sold to fund care fees.

Ridley & Hall receive countless enquiries about creating trusts in relation to properties or transferring assets to a family member to protect against care home fees. Whether this option is appropriate to you depends upon your circumstances.

In this particular case, the elderly client went into a care home within weeks of signing the documentation. Her ability to understand complex legal transactions and to give clear instructions is debateable. Sadly, we will probably never know the true extent of what she was advised to do and more importantly, what she understood about the transaction she entered into.

The trust deed would never have achieved the desired outcome for this lady. It was not appropriate in her circumstances and she should never have been advised to sign the documentation. She was asked to pay the money up front and it is unlikely she will get it back.

Unfortunately, this is not an isolated case.

Many people wrongly assume that transferring their property to their loved ones will mean that the local authority will have to fund any care home fees if they need to move into a care home.

If you do not obtain specialist legal advice from a solicitor then you may have difficulties. Local firm Ridley & Hall are aware of companies who are cold calling elderly and vulnerable adults telling them they can protect their inheritance by putting their home into a trust.

If you need any advice regarding making or reviewing your will, inheritance tax planning or registering attorneys, please contact our Wills and Probate team on 01484 538421.

For further information, please see Age UK’s factsheet ‘Deprivation of Assets in the means test for care home provision‘.

Helen and some of her colleagues are running the Leeds 10km Abbey Dash in aid of Age UK on the 16th November 2014. If you would like to sponsor this worthwhile cause, please visit our JustGiving page.

End of Life Planning

Recent research shows that many of us fail to plan properly for death.  This causes problems and stress for those we leave behind, at a time when they will already be feeling bereaved and sad.

Imagine that you have just died.  Would your close family know if you had made a Will?  Would they know where to find it?  Would they know what your funeral wishes were?

It can be difficult to discuss end of life planning with those you love.  According to a recent study by the Dying Matters Coalition, 83% of people surveyed admitted feeling uncomfortable discussing dying.

Jill Waddington, head of Wills & Probate at Ridley & Hall, says: “Nobody likes thinking about death.  But neither do we want to make things difficult for our families.  So it’s important, for their sake, to plan ahead.”

Here are five practical steps you can take now to make things easier for your loved ones:

  • Make a Will and keep it up to date
  • Appoint someone to make decisions about your money and future health care in case the time comes when you can no longer make these decisions yourself – Ridley & Hall can set up the appropriate documents (lasting powers of attorney) for you
  • Consider signing up as an organ donor
  • Plan your funeral – you can set out your funeral wishes and leave them with your Will or, better still, plan it all in advance with your local funeral director
  • Make sure your loved ones know your arrangements

Ridley & Hall have an expert Wills & Probate team who can offer specialist legal advice in all end of life planning matters.

Dementia: A Little Help From Your Friends

Dementia seems to be a current hot topic, with celebrity endorsed advertisements on the television, the Prime Minister’s challenge, G8 summits on the issue and focus stories in the news, but it is not just a social issue for now, but also for the future.

Britain has an ageing population. There are currently 800,000 people with dementia in the UK with numbers set to rise to over 1 million by 2021. This will soar to 1.7 million by 2050. A shocking statistic to me is that one in three people over 65 will die with dementia. It is a terminal condition and there is no cure at present.

Dementia is an issue close to my heart on many levels. From a personal point of view, my beloved grandmother, who died 8 years ago this month, aged 87, lived the last few years of life with cancer and dementia. I cannot tell you which condition affected my grandma the most. Sadly, neither could she. She lost the ability to express herself and verbally communicate. I wish that there had been the spotlight on dementia then that there is now, and I wish that more people, myself included, had understood her needs. She received treatment and palliative care for her cancer. I don’t recall that any attention was paid to the dementia. Tellingly, the government invests eight times more in cancer research than it does in dementia research.

I recently met with a dementia support group, run by people who are living with dementia, for those who are living with dementia. This was an incredibly humbling experience that opened my eyes to something that I thought I knew about, but actually I had no idea. Listening to someone describe their self as shunned by society at large through no fault of their own, in the modern day, was utterly heart-breaking. The group explained that they felt patronised, misunderstood and outcast. I hoped that my grandma never felt that way, and hoped that I had never made her experience those feelings. I do know however that on reflection I did not necessarily help her enough or deal with her in the most appropriate way.

Fortunately, a lot is now being done to change the way that we as a population perceive dementia and deal with it on a day to day basis. A few months ago, I attended a couple Dementia Friend Information Sessions, which is an initiative being run by the Alzheimer’s Society, supported by Public Health England. A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action. The campaign’s objectives are to make the nation more aware of dementia and improve attitudes towards the disease, with the hope to create a more dementia-friendly society by encouraging one million people to become Dementia Friends. My chosen action was to train as a Dementia Friends Champion, meaning that I am now able to deliver the sessions myself.

I also got involved with my local Dementia Action Alliance in Kirklees. This was a newly formed group of various organisations in the area that all commit to make a difference within their organisation to try to become more dementia-friendly. They pledge to do this by taking various actions be it through raising awareness in their workforce, making their facilities and buildings more accessible to people living with dementia and helping their carers, or providing an enhanced or specialised service for those people to make them feel included and valued.

This year, Dementia Awareness Week ran from 18 to 24 May, with many events being run up and down the country to try and encourage the public to speak up if they had concerns about themselves or a loved one: not to bottle it up, as dementia can be difficult to talk about. People may feel scared, confused or even ashamed. People may also be hoping that the problem will go away so they don’t have to deal with it. Sadly there is still a lot of stigma attached to dementia and all of these campaigns and efforts are to try to get rid of those negative connotations and change society’s attitudes. I was privileged to help officially launch the Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance during that week and the hours of voluntary work I had spent all seemed worthwhile – that a large group of businesses and organisations all wanted to take positive steps to make a change.

I think that is where my professional interest comes in. I am a solicitor specialising in private client work. The majority of my clients are elderly and some have already been diagnosed with dementia, or are starting to have memory problems. These clients are just as entitled to put their personal affairs in order as any other client – in fact, it is these clients who should ensure that their personal affairs are in order at this time, before their capacity is lost and it is too late to sort things out. It is exactly the time that they should be ensuring that they receive all the state benefits that they are entitled to and undergo any relevant financial assessments, that their Will is up to date and that they have Lasting Powers of Attorney in place in case they do lose mental or physical capacity to deal with their own property and financial affairs or can no longer make their own decisions about their health and welfare.

Living with dementia does not automatically mean that the person does not have mental capacity to give instructions, and this is something I must assess in all my clients, without discrimination. Sadly, prejudice is something I think we are all guilty of to some extent however in my personal pledge as a Dementia Friend, I am trying to understand and appreciate that there is more to a person than the dementia. It is my job as a solicitor to take my client’s instructions and follow them in accordance with their wishes, and to be as helpful and supporting as I can throughout the process. Most legal documents are hard enough to understand as it is: jargon, lack of punctuation in Wills, valid execution of deeds. Whether my client has dementia or not should not really matter – I should be treating everyone with the same respect, without being patronising or making them feel stupid or small.

My attitude towards dementia has changed massively over the past twelve months, and it has affected my views on society as a whole and the way we all treat each other. Professionally, I hope it now makes me provide an improved service to my clients and makes a difference to their experience with a solicitor (we tend to get a bad press!). Ridley and Hall as a firm have also pledged their commitment to change by completing an action plan and signing up to the Dementia Action Alliance, so it is not just me but our staff as a whole who see this as a priority that needs to be addressed. Personally, I hope it makes me a better human being who is more understanding of others and their needs – particularly those with dementia – as statistically this issue will only become more prevalent throughout my lifetime. I also hope that if more people do become Dementia Friends, that the lives of the people I met at the support group and others like them can be improved as attitudes hopefully do change over time. People with dementia can take an active role in life and should not feel excluded or outcast.
I wish I’d have known all this ten years ago, so I could have made a difference in my grandma’s life when she needed me, but sadly I didn’t. All I can commit to is to trying to be more dementia friendly for the rest of my life – to my clients, loved ones and others who I don’t even know. I am optimistic that will start to change, and I sincerely hope that in the future, if I do become one of the statistics, that my solicitor, my neighbours and my grandchildren will all be Dementia Friends and help me get by.

For further information on any of the issues raised in this article please contact Helen Webster, Solicitor in the Wills and Probate department on 01484 538421 or by email

Helen joined Ridley & Hall’s private client team in September 2013 and she is a full member of both the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and the Private Client Section of the Law Society. Having been born in Huddersfield, Helen lives in nearby Saddleworth and has worked at firms in Leeds and Bury since qualifying as a solicitor in 2006, specialising in Wills, estate administration, powers of attorney and inheritance tax planning.

Ridley & Hall Supports Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance Launch Event on 21st May 2014

Adam Fletcher, Managing Partner at Ridley & Hall and chair of Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance (KDAA) would like to invite you to the launch of the new Dementia Action Alliance for Kirklees.

Whether you are an organisation dealing directly with those living with dementia and their carers or a sympathetic employer who is keen to support your staff who may well be caring for a loved one living with dementia and want to better understand dementia, then this event is for you.

Please further information, please see the formal invitation.

To book your place online, please follow this link to Eventbrite.

If you have any questions, please contact Elaine Bostock by e-mail.

Free Wills Month – Well Worth It For Charity

The Wills and Probate department at Ridley & Hall is pleased to announce the outcome of another successful Free Wills Month, having raised approximately £73,200 of future income for the Free Wills Month charities in the October 2013 campaign. The scheme works by simple Wills being prepared free of charge to the clients in the hope that the clients will include either a cash gift or leave a share of their estate to one (or more, if desired) of the participating charities. The results were processed and recently published by the participating charities: RNLI, Guide Dogs, WWF, National Trust, BHF, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, Arthritis Research UK, Blue Cross and Stroke Association, with fantastic results.

This was the department’s fifth consecutive year of participating in the Free Wills Month campaign and it has again proved to be more than worthwhile. The scheme proved so popular this time that the organisers had to end the programme a week early due to numbers of clients reaching saturation point for the solicitors taking part nationwide. Ridley & Hall’s PWills and Probate department, led by Jill Waddington, and assisted by Hilary Sisson and Helen Webster, were again pleased with the number of clients wanting to take part, and were humbled by the generosity shown.

The department has also just participated in the Calderdale and Kirklees Age UK Will Making Month. This is organised slightly differently, in that the Will is prepared free of charge by Jill, Helen or Hilary, and the client then makes a voluntary donation to Age UK in return. This took place throughout March 2014 and Ridley & Hall received over £500 in donations which was safely delivered to the Age UK team at their Huddersfield office.

These two distinct promotions have received overwhelming responses and Ridley & Hall hope to participate for many more to come (the paperwork has already arrived for October 2014!) In the meantime, Jill and her team would like to extend their thanks, and the appreciation of the charities, to the clients old and new who have made donations and legacies for these worthy causes during these drives.

For further advice on making a Will, please contact the Wills and Probate team on 01484 538421, or by e-mail.

The Trips and Traps of DIY Probate

With the UK economy still being far from flourishing, virtually everyone is looking to save money, with legal services being one area identified as being potentially expendable.

So when a relative dies, the increasing trend has been for the executors or administrators (known generally as personal representatives) to deal with the estate administration themselves. It is entirely possible to obtain probate and deal with the estate without ever having to see a solicitor, with personal applications to the probate registry costing approximately £100 – a noticeable saving on solicitors’ fees. This option also offers families the opportunity to deal with things between themselves, without the associated formality of going to a lawyer to discuss personal matters. The district probate registries are approachable and helpful, and can take some of the intensity out of an already distressing process. You can even now swear your documents at a local solicitor’s rather than having to attend at the registry itself.

However this route is not for the faint-hearted as it does carry some risks, as legal group Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) have recently highlighted.

Many professionally drafted Wills contain trusts to save tax, to avoid those who inherit paying care fees and to reduce the likelihood of potential disputes. SFE members have noticed an increase in ‘DIYers’ returning to them to seek advice when they have made a mistake or find the paperwork too tricky. Mrs A’s Will had included a tax saving trust, but when her husband administered the estate, he paid the whole estate to himself. The solicitor was thankfully able to sort out the matter and avoid future complications occurring when Mr A eventually dies. In Mr G’s case, he sold some shares that had made a gain during the administration of his late sister’s estate and had to pay tax. If he had transferred the shares to himself first, before selling them, he could have avoided the tax.

A specialist probate research company, Title Research, has also identified that DIY probates are increasing the risk of tax fraud and the incorrect distribution of assets. Having reviewed government statistics, they say that the share of probates undertaken by solicitors fell by 7% over the five year period between 2004 and 2009 from 72% to 65%. As the economy has floundered and the use of the internet has increased, the current figure is likely to be less again. In turn, an almost inevitable effect of fewer people using solicitors or other professional advisers is going to be the incorrect or even fraudulent distributions of estates and inheritance tax (IHT) evasion. The idea that relatives can save on solicitors’ fees might be an attractive one, but probate and IHT are incredibly complex areas and the chances of making a costly mistake are high.

It was also suggested that the rise in DIY probate could, in part, explain why there are an increasing number of legal disputes over inheritance that reach the courts and perhaps why HM Revenue & Customs are now so concerned over IHT evasion. There has been an 85% leap in the number of high court cases launched by claimants dissatisfied with their inheritance. Such disputes can dissipate the assets of an estate very quickly, so DIY probate can be a false economy.

A lot of these issues can be resolved over time, but it is obviously better that they be avoided altogether. As a personal representative carries a certain amount of personal liability in their role, they can be opened up to substantial legal claims. There are lots of ways to slip up, if corners are cut, or the personal representatives are unaware of the laws and their obligations, especially when the deceased did not leave a Will. The caveat should therefore always be that if in any doubt, seek professional advice, otherwise the £100 personal application may turn into a legal claim of thousands.

Here at Ridley & Hall, we have a qualified and experienced Wills & Probate team who can assist you deal with the administration of an estate as much as you need us to. We are always here to help you at a difficult and distressing time and can usually offer you a qu

Tidying Up Your Affairs

Most of our resolutions may be pretty much forgotten about, but it is still the beginning of a New Year and a good time to take stock of our personal affairs. Use the motivation of the fresh start to look at the arrangements you have in place, as it will be Easter, Summer Holidays, then Christmas again before you know it!

Far too often however, people do not consider the future, thinking only about today, this week or the next couple of months at most. This can mean people fail to take the appropriate steps to ensure that their various assets and affairs can be dealt with in the event that they cannot do this for themselves – either during their lifetime or on their death.

It is therefore important for each of us to think about how our families and friends would cope in sorting things out if we were not able to do so. During later life, where physical or mental incapability may prevent us from dealing with our day-to-day things, such as paying bills, transferring money or sorting out our benefits, we need to think about who could do that for us. With direct debits being a popular form of payment and The Pension Service now crediting bank accounts directly, it is all too easy to assume that these things would take care of themselves. This is not necessarily the case, but if you think about these issues in plenty of time, you have the option of making a lasting power of attorney (LPA) which is a document that appoints a person or persons of your choice (your attorney) allowing them to deal with your property and financial affairs or your health and welfare and make decisions on your behalf. These documents can be as flexible or as rigid as you dictate, but can be very useful if you become incapable of dealing with matters yourself. Also, because you have put these arrangements in place whilst you still have the necessary mental capacity, it is much more straightforward and cost-effective than if your loved ones needed to make an application to the Court of Protection for deputyship had you not done made an LPA and then lost capacity.

Similarly, the same applies for making arrangements to deal with your affairs on your death. By making a Will and appointing executors, and specifying how you wish your estate to be distributed, this again makes things a lot more straight-forward. If you were to die without making a Will, this means that the intestacy rules set down who is entitled to receive your estate and in what proportions and also who can administer your affairs. If you have made a valid Will, it removes this uncertainty. Sometimes people mistakenly believe that all their estate will be dealt with by their spouse, or their next of kin, but this is not necessarily the case. It is therefore far more sensible to leave a Will which outlines your precise instructions and leaves nothing to chance. You can also use a Will to mitigate inheritance tax or protect your estate from future care home fees, for example.

So when you soon have that thought that it’s time to start your “Spring Cleaning” over the coming weeks, don’t just think about having a spotless house, but think about the mess you could avoid for your loved ones by leaving your affairs nice and tidy too.

Should you wish to discuss either of these matters in greater detail, please contact a member of the Private Client department who will be happy to talk things through with you.


For more information about Wills, powers of attorney or Court of Protection, please contact the Private Client team on 01484 538421.

100 Not Out for Yorkshire and Humber Dementia Action Alliance

Ridley & Hall Solicitors have become the 100th member organisation to join the Yorkshire and Humber Dementia Action Alliance.

The regional Alliance was launched in November 2012 and has since attracted interest from organisations such as police forces, fire and rescue services, local authorities, professional services, care providers and health trusts, charities, high street shops, bus companies, taxi firms, faith groups, local associations and schools.

Simon Wallace, Project Manager for the regional Alliance, said, “I am really delighted to welcome Ridley & Hall as the 100th member of the Yorkshire & Humber Dementia Action Alliance. For many years the firm has supported age-related causes and they have introduced innovative services to support and advise older clients. Their commitment to become even more dementia friendly is simply the icing on the cake. What is more, they have been heavily involved in setting up Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance (KDAA) with Adam Fletcher taking on the role of Chair of this important community-focussed group.”

Ridley & Hall Managing Partner, Adam Fletcher, and solicitor, Helen Webster, have also been heavily involved in the creation of a Local Dementia Action Alliance for Kirklees.

Adam commented, “The enthusiasm of our staff during the preparation of our action plan to join the regional Alliance resulted in us taking a major role in the formation of an Alliance here in Kirklees. Surprisingly, the Alliance does not include many members from the professional services sector despite their regular interaction with those living with or supporting those with dementia. I would encourage all responsible organistations to consider how they can make not only the services they provide but also their general environment more dementia friendly.”

Helen Webster added, “The Alliance is a fantastic national movement trying to improve the lives of people living with dementia, by getting society to recognise their needs and to support them to live well with the condition, which in turn helps their carers and loved ones. This is an issue close to my heart, so to be part of that at regional level and in particular moving it forward in our own borough, is extremely rewarding both on a personal and professional level.

“Whilst the group is still in its early days, interest has been high and the response has been extremely positive. The KDAA are still looking for new members to bring a wider cross-section of the above organisations together, as the ethos of the KDAA is to involve as many people as possible in order to help make a ‘kinder Kirklees’ and a more compassionate community.”


(Helen Webster and Adam Fletcher receiving Ridley & Hall’s ‘Working to Become Dementia Friendly’ plaque from Simon Wallace)

If you care about people living with dementia, your organisation has an interest in helping to make life better for those living with dementia, or if your staff interact with or care for people with dementia, the Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance may be able to help you. For more information, please contact Adam Fletcher or Helen Webster on Huddersfield (01484) 558863 or 558878 or visit

G8 Discusses Dementia Today… Kirklees is One Step Ahead

At today’s G8 Dementia Summit, the Alzheimers Society Chief Executive, Jeremy Hughes, is anticipated to pledge at least £100million to dementia research over the next decade and David Cameron is to announce doubling the UK’s annual funding. This is the first time a Prime Minister has used the presidency of the G8 to take action on a single disease. It is hoped that the package of announcements to be made by the UK government will set an example to other G8 nations in international research efforts.

Adam Fletcher, chair of the Kirklees Local Dementia Action Alliance (KLDAA) and Managing Partner at Ridley & Hall commented “Today hopefully marks the dawn of a new era in dementia care and awareness. Whilst today’s announcement is clearly welcomed, the level of funding committed is still significantly lower than that committed to cancer research and care. According to the Alzheimers Society, 8 times more money is spent researching cancer than dementia. Recent statistics have revealed a sharp rise in the number of people living with dementia globally. Dementia is without doubt the largest social care and health challenge worldwide. Globally, 44 million people have dementia but no statistics are available about the number of carers and the challenges they face.”

Kirklees is taking a lead on raising the awareness of people living with dementia with a focus to improving the lives of people with dementia in the borough and is to officially launch the Kirklees Local Dementia Action Alliance in Spring 2014.

Adam went on to add, “Whilst we have little control over international policy and we are a relatively small region, I am encouraged by the individuals and organisations within Kirklees who are working tirelessly towards our community becoming dementia-friendly. As a small step, I would encourage everyone to become a dementia friend, which is an Alzheimers Society initiative launched by the Prime Minister in November 2012.”

If you care about people living with dementia, your organisation has an interest in helping to make life better for those living with dementia, or if your staff interact with or care for people with dementia, the KLDAA may be able to help you. For more information, please contact Adam Fletcher or Helen Webster on Huddersfield (01484) 558863 or 558878.