Questions of Cash: I can't get any response from Scottish Widows
Saturday 05 June 2004
Q. After my father died last year I chose to deal with the estate myself rather than employ a solicitor, believing that matters should be easily resolved.
Q. After my father died last year I chose to deal with the estate myself rather than employ a solicitor, believing that matters should be easily resolved. But I have haddifficulties with Scottish Widows, which misinformed me of the procedures for dealing with a dead person's accounts. One letter from Scottish Widows was addressed to me but answered another person's correspondence, and the company has lost my father's will. Six weeks ago I asked for the will to be returned, but I have had no answer.
A. Scottish Widows accepts that it has not "handled this affair with the level of care expected". According to its records, it returned your father's will on 29 January by normal surface mail. The company says that where customers send documents by recorded delivery it will return them in the same manner, but that in this case you used surface mail. We suggest that in future you send important documents by recorded delivery to reduce the risk of them being lost. Scottish Widows is sending you £50 as compensation for its poor handling of the matter.
Q. All my credit cards charge 2.75 per cent commission on foreign currency transactions, in addition to the buy/sell spread. Is there a card which charges a lower commission?
A. Moneyfacts, which compares financial products, confirms that 2.75 per cent is the average "foreign usage loading" charge. Not all cards make this charge. Nationwide Building Society's Classic card comes out top on the Moneyfacts comparison, making no charge for foreign use and only 1 per cent for cash machine withdrawals, compared with the 2 per cent levied by most rivals.
The next best option is the Liverpool Victoria Visa card, which has no foreign use loading inside the EU, but charges 1 per cent in the rest of the world. Neither card charges the lowest APRs available - 13.9 per cent APR on purchases with Nationwide and 16.7 per cent with Liverpool Victoria - but if you fully pay off your account each month and travel a lot you could make significant savings by switching to Nationwide's card.
Q. I am 70 and live in a property worth £700,000. I have been advised to sell my home to my two children and buy it back on a 30-year lease. Will this really take my home out of my estate for inheritance tax (IHT)?
A. You should be careful, as this could fall foul of the Chancellor's drive to eliminate artificial transactions entered into to avoid IHT. Nick Hilton, of accountants Moore Stephens, explains: "An arm's length transaction should be enough to take the asset out of the reader's estate for IHT purposes. However, the proposal will fall within the Government's proposed extension to the "gift with reservation" rules and the tax treatment of pre-owned assets where a person continues to enjoy a benefit from land. The legislation is going through Parliament and almost daily amendments are being tabled at committee stage."
The "strong advice" from Moore Stephens is to do nothing before the end of July, when there should be clarity on what is permitted.
Q. Can you confirm for me the rules on Capital Gains Tax on my house? I have moved abroad and want to gift my home, which was my main residence at all times up to three years ago. Am I right in thinking that the last three years can count as occupation, even if not in residence, and so the property will be CGT-exempt as eligible for private residence relief?
A. Stephen Pallister, tax and trusts partner at solicitors Charles Russell, says: "The reader is right about the last three years' ownership qualifying for CGT private residence relief, even if not in residence. If the reader established he was not 'ordinarily resident' for tax purposes there would be no CGT whenever he gifted or sold the property. But if he had not established he was not ordinarily resident within the three years, this 'period of grace' would mean he could still avoid CGT."
Q. I read the letter from "PC, Newcastle" (Questions of Cash, 29 May) and I am in a similar position, waiting for the free digital camera offered by American Express for applying for its blue card. I have complained repeatedly without success.
A. American Express has promised to resolve your problem. It has also asked us to clarify its position as it accepts that "a number" of digital cameras were despatched to the wrong addresses. Readers still waiting for the promised free cameras can phone AmEx on a special hotline it has established to deal with the problem, 0800 597 4466, or contact us and we will forward the complaints to AmEx.
Hooray, you're going to live longer! But what should you do to celebrate?
Debt in Britain: Numbers seeking help on how to cope with mounting bills goes up by more than half in three years
Bargain Hunter: BT improves its mobile reception with 'incredibly competitive' deals
Questions of Cash: Why was my case ignored by My Civil Service Pension?
Offset your mortgage and save thousands
- 1 Finland schools: Subjects scrapped and replaced with 'topics' as country reforms its education system
- 2 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 3 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 4 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
David Cameron calls Labour 'hopeless, sneering socialists' while announcing 7-day NHS plans
iJobs Money & Business
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: To provide a prompt, friendly and efficient se...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: You will be the first point of contact for all...
£18000 - £24000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: HR, Payroll & Benefits Of...
£35000 - £38000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: A highly successful, int...
Day In a Page
A four-bedroom apartment on the ground floor of a stunning period property in North Yorkshire, with two kitchens and a large south-west facing garden.
This high-spec two-bedroom home is part of a smart collection of new flats at Beaufort Park and has a large decked balcony that's perfect for summer drinks.
Capitalise on the fabulous views of Trevone Bay by taking two homes and creating one spacious boutique B&B. Just a cliff-top walk from Padstow.
Overlooking a golf course, this six-bedroom Edwardian detached home spans four storeys and retains many period features including the original, operational servants' bells...
On the edge of the city, this six-bedroom home comes with an outdoor swimming pool and a large garage block that has annexe potential.
In a Grade II-listed manor just outside of Bath, this three-bedroom home is arranged on two floors with a skylight in a vaulted roof line.
Open the living room's bi-fold wooden doors to reveal a retro-style kitchen, and a conservatory leading to a paved garden at this three-bedroom home.
A Grade II-listed, four-bedroom home, in a charming Somerset village, with a two-storey studio that could be converted into a holiday cottage
A modern four-bedroom Victorian home, within walking distance to the high street
A luxury apartment in the Gothic mansion of Wyfold Court in Kingwood, offers six bedrooms spread over three floors and a turret
This school conversion, near Stockwell Tube, oozes New York loft style. The one-bedroom flat features double height ceilings and exposed brick work
This six-bedroom Georgian home is on three floors with open fireplaces, a two-oven Aga, an annexe, and cottage gardens with outbuildings and a car barn
High Crest House covers an impressive 9384sq ft, with almost three acres of grounds including a tennis court and summer house enclosed by electric gates
A six-bedroom farmhouse with separate accommodation in converted stables. Situated in the village of Church Aston, within walking distance to the market town
A two-bedroom flat with under-heated walnut floors and bespoke built-in storage. The Tube and Clapham Common are a short stroll away
A refurbished seven-bedroom townhouse with staff quarters, cinema room, superb gym, steam room and plunge pool
A minimnalist four-bedroom home designed to the highest spec, featuring glass walls and a kitchen space lit by a glass roof
Hibernate during winter and make your living during the summer at this busy guesthouse with panoramic sea views, in the village of Lynton
A four-bedroom penthouse next to the Tate with direct views of St Paul's from two floors of luxurious living space
A four-bedroom detached home surrounded by spacious gardens and woodland, close to New Pudsey
An 18th-century, three-bedroom home near Langstone Harbour built from ships beams with vaulted ceilings and wood burning stoves
A five-bedroom semi-detached home with a mix of period and modern features in a popular and convenient location
This five-bedroom red-brick beauty overlooks the village green and sits in just under two acres of land
A three-bedroom villa with self-contained flat, minutes from Lake Windermere
A five-bedroom Victorian home with four receptions, superb gardens and paddock in Pembury
An eight-bedroom house on the south side of the The Green with cinema, wine cellars and summer house
This 17th century beauty is full of rustic cosiness, while the detached home office means you can also run a business
Four exclusive apartments in a Grade II-listed former medical school with 2,275 sq ft of living space and 18ft ceilings
A five-bedroom terraced house on the popular Peterborough Estate, ideally located for both Eel Brook Common and South Park
A state-of-the-art farm-building conversion on the former Cliveden Estate, with 11,420sq ft of internal space, cinema and wine cellar
Windsor Castle overlooks this three-bedroom Victorian cottage located on one of Windsor's smartest roads
A boutique mews house, set around a central courtyard, with three bedrooms and a private roof terrace
A four-bedroom farm-conversion with three bathrooms and two reception rooms
A two-bedroom detached house with ensuite bathrooms and a sun-drenched decked terrace, £750,000
A modern and spacious two-bedroom, penthouse flat with two bathrooms in a prestigious development
A beautifully renovated five-bedroom terrace with three reception rooms and a courtyard garden, £700,000
A four-bedroom period house which has been extended to provide almost 2,500sq ft of living space, £675,000
A pretty three-bedroom Georgian home with a 22ft drawing room and a master suite with a balcony, £525,000
A substanstial family home with five bedrooms and landscaped gardens in the much sought-after Branksome Park area
A well-presented three-bedroom house with front and rear gardens, close to White City station, £475,000
A handsome five-bedroom house in a sought-after location close to the city centre
A five-bedroom country home with valley views, equestrian stables and 27 acres of land, £725,000
A six-bedroom farm house with separate, detached cottages and 371 acres of land
A two-bedroom cottage with parquet floors, chunky beams and an open fireplace
A three-bedrrom flat with 2,733sq feet of living space, a beautiful private garden and 15 acres of communal grounds
A four-bedroom chalet bungalow with three bathrooms and a spacious garden, £525,000
A two-bedroom flat with an open plan kitchen and two balconies, close to Arsenal station