SLS Wills and More

Author name: Dolores Dixon

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Common Myths About Wills

Having practised in private client for so long I’ve heard just about every excuse and reason why people don’t need or haven’t got a Will. Here are some of the most common and frustrating myths.   I don’t need a Will – My partner will get everything… Not True. If you don’t have Will your estate Will pass in accordance with the rules of intestacy. Under these rules, the first £270k will pass to your spouse or civil partner after which any surviving children will benefit in conjunction with your spouse. Other friends and family are likely to receive nothing so it’s best to write a Will to ensure your wishes will be carried out.   My family can sort everything out This is often a poorly executed plan. The loss of a loved one combined with the complexities of managing the affairs of a loved one can place all sorts of untold stress upon a family. Additionally, we’re more likely to see an increase in the number of disputes where people feel they have a right to inherit with no Will.   I can update my Will myself Whilst not untrue, this can cause all sorts of problems. Anyone can write their own Will but having someone who knows the law is crucial. That’s where we come in. We can help you with updates to your existing Will. Making changes to your Will yourself can result in your Will being invalidated. Marriage revokes a Will This isn’t a Myth but a common misconception. Well-meaning people may not realise that marriage revokes a Will. If you’re planning on getting married then you can write a Will in contemplation of marriage. After you’ve got married, consider writing or re-writing your Will to take into account the life change that’s taken place. Wills and LPAs aren’t the same things Wills detail what you would like to happen to your estate after you’ve passed away. A Lasting Power of Attorney deals with matters whilst you’re alive. Both are vital components of a good estate plan. We can help you put both in place. Making a Will is expensive and complicated This is the one Myth that frustrates us at SLS. We offer affordable Estate Planning that doesn’t cost the earth. We always provide a detailed plan and solution to your estate planning needs with transparent costs. You’re then free to decide whether or not to go ahead. My debts die with me When you pass away your executors will administer your estate and one of their responsibilities will be to pay off any liabilities (debts) prior to the distribution of the estate. This means any money you owe will be paid prior to any gifts being distributed. Only old people need Wills Your Will deals with every aspect of your estate. It details funeral wishes. It allows you to appoint guardians for minor children, it deals with digital legacies, and it also deals with your cash and property. All of which are not exclusive to people at a senior age. We could pass away at any time and not having prepared could leave all sorts of trouble for those you leave behind. Creating a Will is the best way to provide instructions about how your estate should be administered, who should look after your children, and how your funeral should be conducted. Additionally, if you’ve got digital assets that you’d like passed one, your Will can make provision for this too.   When you’re ready to make a Will, speak to us. At SLS Wills and More, we make the process of writing your Will as simple as possible. We remove any legal complexities and provide you with a solution to ensure that your estate will pass to those you choose at the appropriate time.

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Will Writing in East Kent

Will Writing in East Kent   If you’re looking for a trusted Will Writer in East Kent then look no further. SLS Wills and More is run by founder Sara Sheppard who has more than 35 years of experience in estate planning and estate administration.   As well as being incredibly experienced she is also a member of The Society of Will Writers (and sits on their Professional Standards Board) and she is a member of STEP.   For those that don’t know, STEP is the global professional association for those advising families across generations. Their mission is to inspire confidence in families planning their assets across generations by setting and upholding high professional standards, informing public policy, promoting education, and connecting practitioners globally to share knowledge and best practice.   Additionally SLS hold professional indemnity insurance to ensure that clients are adequately protected.   That means that clients can be sure that they’re working with a trusted professional.   Traditionally SLS Wills and More work with clients across East Kent but Sara and her team are routinely asked to support clients further afield and this is rarely a problem.   Sara can host a 1-2-1 meeting with clients via telephone or video conference, or through a face-to-face meeting.   If that wasn’t enough, Sara uses her experience to mentor other estate planning professionals and helps them by providing guidance and support on cases with varying degrees or levels of complexity.   Sara encourages prospective clients to do their due diligence on SLS before contacting her to book in a consultation and those researching will see that she’s trusted by countless professionals who refer their clients to SLS and will see lots of reviews from satisfied clients.   If, after reading, you would like to book in a meeting to discuss your Will, to have your Will reviewed or to look at a full estate plan then feel free to send us a message or an email.   Typically, we have a three to four week waiting list for appointments but if your need is urgent then please let us know when messaging us.

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Commercial/Business Lasting Powers of Attorney – What are they?

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document through which you authorise a chosen person to make certain decisions on your behalf. The decisions that you authorise your chosen person to make can be either in relation to your finances, for which an LPA for property and affairs will be created, or in relation to your personal life, where an LPA for personal welfare will be created. An LPA is a very important document, as it ensures continuity in the management of your life and your finances, should you become unwell or lose the capacity to make decisions. You may feel that an LPA is not necessary, and assume that family members can step in, when necessary, to make decisions. But this is not the case; family members do not have the automatic right to make decisions on your behalf.   LPAs for business As a business owner, it’s important to consider what would happen to your business if you were unable to make decisions. This may be if: In such circumstances, who will authorise the payment of bills, sign cheques, service a business loan or pay salaries? 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.   Can you make an LPA covering your personal and business affairs? It may be possible to have just the one LPA appointing attorneys to manage your personal assets and your business assets. However, it may not be appropriate for the same person to make both personal and business decisions, due to a potential conflict of interests. You could consider making an LPA appointing certain attorneys to manage your personal assets, and others to manage your business assets. Fortunately, it’s possible to make more than one LPA. You could consider making one for your personal affairs and a separate one for your business affairs. Often, people like to keep their business affairs separate from their personal affairs, so this option tends to appeal. If you are considering making two LPAs, each should contain specific instructions limiting the scope of the attorneys’ powers – for example, a personal LPA should specify that your attorney will have general power in relation to your personal affairs, except for the relevant business assets in respect of which you have executed a separate business LPA. Your business LPA should contain specific instructions in this respect, too. Your attorneys will then be clear about their powers and will not encroach on each other’s responsibilities and decisions.   What happens if I don’t make a business LPA? If you’re unable to make business decisions in the future, and have not 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 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. To avoid disruption, it should be part of any business owner’s continuity plan and crisis management strategy to consider making a business CLPA.   If you or someone you know would like some advice on setting out an CLPA, Will Writing, Power of Attorneys and how we can help you, you can call Sara on 01304 577998 or email sara@slswillsandmore.co.uk. You can also download our CLPA FAQ information here, so you can read over this in your own time – Download here.

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Football and Estate Planning

Many of us have lost our partners or husbands to the sofa over the last week with the start of the euros and it got us thinking. We were looking to find a tenuous link between football and estate planning and we found one… (not ideal of course)…   Initially we were going to do a piece about how footballers (many of whom are very handsomely paid for their craft) need to protect, preserve and pass on their wealth and then the sad instance occurred in the Denmark game when, Christian Eriksen sadly collapsed in an off the ball incident and needed urgent medical attention.   The incident has been seen by many and whilst we won’t be commenting on whether or not we believe the cameras should have panned elsewhere, it was no less troubling to hear about.   Christian Eriksen was only 29 and had no history of heart conditions according to medical professionals so his collapse on the pitch came as a shock to many. It has prompted many conversations across our profession from both estate planning professionals and by life insurance specialists about how we must plan for the unexpected.   I wanted to echo these sentiments in light of the events that shook the footballing world this weekend.   Better to have documents in place and not need them for years than not to have them at all when needed.   It also raises the point about needing income protection perhaps and life insurance…   We’re not insurance specialists but we are the go-to estate planning firm and can help you put your Will and LPAs in place.   Contact us today to book your appointment.

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The un-married partner scenario

“I’m not married, do I need a Will?”   I have lost count of the number of times I have been told that I don’t need a Will, when in reality, this is not the case.   We have written lots of articles about reasons why people need a Will but addressing this point is important for a number of reasons.   We will start with a story which demonstrates perfectly the importance of Will planning when not married.   The story:   About 7 years ago I had a conversation about estate planning with a couple (not married) who were relatively young (in their early fifties). The couple had been married before and had children from their respective previous marriages. They lived in his home together and she didn’t own property. The gentleman told me that he didn’t have anything to do with his children and told them not to expect anything from him in the future. Both also told me that they would never marry again and were content living together. The truth is, it is not an uncommon scenario and becoming more prevalent in society today.   We discussed estate planning and putting Wills in place and the couple said that they would be putting something in place over the next few months.    Sadly, and despite my best efforts they didn’t get around to planning and the gentleman died unexpectedly meaning that he died intestate (without a Will). This meant that his wishes for his partner to benefit and his wish to exclude his estranged children were disregarded. The property and his estate passed by intestacy to his children and his partner was ‘disinherited’. She no longer had a place to live and the children benefited instead.   This could have been avoided if they had taken the time to put some planning in place. This is just one example of how Wills need to be put in place to benefit our unmarried partner but it also demonstrates that Wills are needed to make plans for excluding people from your estate too.   At SLS Wills and More we believe in complete transparency. We offer a no-obligation appointment. We share information about costs prior to the need for a decision and will provide advice enabling clients to make an informed decision, but, as the old saying goes “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink’.   Our advice is to seek professional advice whether or not you think you have a simple estate and to keep documents up to date.

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Business LPAs explained

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a fundamentally important legal document through which you authorise a chosen person to make certain decisions on your behalf. The decisions that you authorise your attorney to make can be either in relation to your finances, for which an LPA for property and affairs will be created or in relation to your personal life, where an LPA for personal welfare will be created. An LPA is a very important document, as it ensures continuity in the management of your life and your finances, should you become unwell or lose the capacity to make decisions. You may feel that an LPA is not necessary, and assume that family members can step in, when necessary, to make decisions. But this is not the case; family members do not have the automatic rights to make decisions on your behalf.   LPAs for business As a business owner, it’s important to consider what would happen to your business if you were unable to make decisions. This may be if: In such circumstances, who will authorise the payment of bills, sign cheques, service a business loan or pay salaries? 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.   Can you make an LPA covering your personal and business affairs? It may be possible to have just the one LPA appointing attorneys to manage your personal assets and your business assets. However, it may not be appropriate for the same person to make both personal and business decisions, due to a potential conflict of interests. You could consider making an LPA appointing certain attorneys to manage your personal assets, and others to manage your business assets. Fortunately, it’s possible to make more than one LPA. You could consider making one for your personal affairs and a separate one for your business affairs. Often, people like to keep their business affairs separate from their personal affairs, so this option tends to appeal. If you are considering making two LPAs, each should contain specific instructions limiting the scope of the attorneys’ powers – for example, a personal LPA should specify that your attorney will have general power in relation to your personal affairs, except for the relevant business assets in respect of which you have executed a separate business LPA. Your business LPA should contain specific instructions in this respect, too. Your attorneys will then be clear about their powers and will not encroach on each other’s responsibilities and decisions.   What happens if I don’t make a business LPA? If you’re unable to make business decisions in the future, and have not 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 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. To avoid disruption, it should be part of any business owner’s continuity plan and crisis management strategy to consider making a business CLPA.   If you or someone you know would like some advice on setting out an CLPA, Will Writing, Power of Attorneys and how we can help you, you can call Sara on 01304 577998 or email sara@slswillsandmore.co.uk.

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Health and Welfare LPAs

A Brief Re-Introduction There are two types of LPA; a Health and Welfare LPA and one governing your Property and Financial Affairs. Both equally important but serving two different purposes. In this short article, we’ll explore the importance of a Health and Welfare LPA. Health and Welfare LPAs In a recent report from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG), it was reported that only 10% of all registrations of Lasting Powers of Attorney are for Health and Welfare.  This is quite concerning to me as I am fully aware just how much an LPA for Health and Welfare is needed. Why do I need an LPA for Health and Welfare? Most people mistakenly believe that their spouse and/or children have the ‘right’ to make such decisions as they are ‘next of kin’. Traditionally, we have all believed that our closest relative can be our next of kin, but in fact under UK law, there is no legal definition.  This means it can be different according to the context being used. Under the Mental Capacity Act 2005, which is the legislation which sets out the principles and the use of Lasting Powers of Attorney, no one has the ‘right’ to make decisions on behalf of any adult who lacks capacity – this applies to both financial and to health and welfare issues. What happens if I do not have an LPA for Health and Welfare? Essentially it means that if you lack capacity to make decisions about your health and welfare, then doctors and/or social services will assume responsibility of taking the decision under the Best Interest decision principle of the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Under this principle and the guidance under the Code of Practice of the Mental Capacity Act 2005, this means that in reality a meeting will be called between professionals, and with a family representative (it is usually recommended that only 1 or 2 are involved), to discuss the options and to seek the views of those involved as to what might be best for you. If you have a family member who is happy to act as your representative then they will ask that person to try and seek your views (not always possibly – especially if you are unconscious), as well as providing your past wishes, values and beliefs. If there is no family, or there are serious divisions amongst family members, then it might be in your best interests to have an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) appointed to act on your behalf, who will then gather such information and bring to the table on your behalf. The discussions can be in-depth and a decision may not be made immediately – and in some cases, I have known these to take several months for a decision to be made. Without LPA’s for Health and Welfare, the NHS may refuse to provide hospital records which are absolutely necessary as evidence to support Continuing Health Care (CHC) eligibility, or prepare challenges/reviews of any adverse CHC decisions (such as no they won’t pay, despite there being a clear clinical need for nursing care rather than social care) made by CCG’s.  Your attorneys (and your Executors) can ask for a review of such decisions, but your family, as next of kin, cannot without the legal authority to act on your behalf. I would therefore encourage everyone to make an LPA for Health and Welfare so that you know that you have someone who is able to legally deal with these issues on your behalf.  I would also encourage everyone to seek proper advice about LPAs in general so that you can be assured that your attorneys will be able to deal with everything that you may need.  Without proper advice you may find that your attorneys actions are restricted. If you have made your LPAs already, I am happy to review and advise you whether they are sufficient and cover your circumstances.  Remember, if they haven’t yet been registered there is a chance they could be rejected by the Office of the Public Guardian so it’s better to be safe than sorry.

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What happens if I can’t find a Will? (lost Will)

Talking to loved ones about preparing a will may seem grim, but the reality is without a will, things could potentially become complicated and stressful. When a person dies without leaving a valid will, their property must be shared out according to certain rules. These are called the rules of intestacy. A person who dies without leaving a will is called an intestate person. Only married, civil partners and some other close relatives can inherit under the rules of intestacy. If someone makes a will but it is not legally valid, the rules of intestacy decide how the estate will be shared out, not by the wishes expressed in the will. Married partners and civil partners Married partners or civil partners inherit under the rules of intestacy, only if they are actually married or in a civil partnership at the time of death. So, if you are divorced or if your civil partnership has been legally ended, you can’t inherit under the rules of intestacy. Partners who separated informally can still inherit under the rules of intestacy. Cohabiting partners who were neither married nor in a civil partnership can’t inherit under the rules of intestacy. Jointly owned property Couples may jointly own their home. There are two different ways of jointly owning a home. These are beneficial joint tenancies and tenancies in common. If the partners were beneficial joint tenants at the time of the death, when the first partner dies, the surviving partner will automatically inherit the other partner’s share of the property. However, if the partners are tenants in common, the surviving partner does not automatically inherit the other person’s share. Joint property and money that the surviving partner inherits automatically does not count as part of the intestacy allowance, although it does still need to be valued for Inheritance Tax purposes. Close relatives Children of the intestate person will inherit if there is no surviving married or civil partner. If there is a surviving partner, they will inherit only if the sole estate is worth more than £270,000. If there is no surviving partner, the children of a person who has died without leaving a will inherit the whole estate. This applies however much the estate is worth. If there are two or more children, the estate will be divided equally between them. If there is a surviving partner, the partner will receive the first £270,000, with the balance being divided into two equal shares – one half will go to the partner and the other half between the children equally. All the children of the parent who has died intestate inherit equally from the estate. This also applies where a parent has children from different relationships. Adopted children (including stepchildren who have been adopted by their stepparent) have rights to inherit under the rules of intestacy. But otherwise you have to be a biological child to inherit. A stepchild who has not been formally adopted has no rights to inherit under the Intestacy rules. Parents, brothers and sisters and nieces and nephews of the intestate person may inherit under the rules of intestacy. This will depend on a number of circumstances. Other relatives may have a right to inherit if the person who died intestate had no surviving married partner or civil partner, children, grandchildren, great grand-children, parents, brothers, sisters, nephews or nieces’ grandparents. If there are no surviving relatives If there are no surviving relatives who can inherit under the rules of intestacy, the estate passes to the Crown. This is known as Bona Vacantia. The Treasury Solicitor is then responsible for dealing with the estate, including checking whether there are any living relatives. If you are not a surviving relative, but you believe you have a good reason to apply for a grant, you will need legal advice. For more information about Bona Vacantia, visit the GOV.UK website at www.gov.uk.   A Will and Funeral Plan are two of the most important decisions you will ever make, so we would advise you to do everything you can to make sure they are done properly. If you would like some advice on Funeral Planning, Will Writing, Power of Attorneys and how we can help you, you can call Sara on 01304 577998 or email sara@slswillsandmore.co.uk

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Famous Wills and Estates

Jimi Hendrix Rock star Jimi Hendrix died 50 years ago in 1970 but is a perfect example of the importance of having a Will. The battle over his estate raged on for more than 30 years because he had no Will. What makes matters more complicated is that musicians often generate money through royalties after they’ve died. William Shakespeare The famous playwright’s Will is an interesting one and is even more fascinating because it’s signed 3 times. Most notably he left his wife his second-best bed, but according to the national archives, he left the bulk of his estate to his elder daughter, Susannah Hall and he left £300 to his younger daughter, Judith. Robert Louis Stevenson Well renowned novelist Stevenson, famous for works including Treasure Island and Jekyll and Hyde sadly died of a stroke in December 1894. One gift that the writer left was to a young girl who he befriended. As she was born on Christmas day, she remarked that she felt cheated out of a ‘real birthday’ so, on his death, RLS left Annie his own birthday (November 13th). Harry Houdini The escape artist’s death is a sad tale. He had a ruptured appendix and could have received medical attention but instead, decided to continue his show. The 4 blows he received to his midriff ultimately lead to his death and have been explained at the following link: https://www.thegreatharryhoudini.com/death.html. His Will is an interesting one. As an escape artist and dare-devil, he had the foresight to plan ahead and to write his Will. In his Will, he also planned to be able to communicate from the afterlife, instructing his wife to conduct a seance every year on the anniversary of his death. Dusty Springfield The famous singer is a perfect example of how a Will can be used to make provision for our pets. In her Will, she wanted to ensure that her cat Nicholas would be provided for and kept in the life of luxury. As such she expressed her wish that he would be serenaded to sleep with Dusty’s hits on a stereo system (this was 1999)… She also instructed that his food be imported from the USA and she expressed her wish that Nicholas (the cat) marry the cat of the person she placed him in the care of. Michael Jackson It’s amazing to think that the king of pop died 11 years ago in 2009 7 years after he had written his Will. Whilst the legislation governing his Will differs somewhat from the law that we work to, there are some interesting and valuable lessons we can draw from it. Michael had 3 minor children and he appointed his mother as the guardian of them. Guardianship is key to ensuring that people we trust will be able to look after our kids if something happened to us. Another valuable lesson we can learn from MJ is that he had three Wills prior to this document all of which are revoked by the ‘Last Will and Testament’. Arguably the most valuable lesson we can learn is that the singer used trusts to provide for the intended beneficiaries and these are important estate planning tools for maximising the inheritance we can leave as well as making sure that the sums or property within them are protected against misuse, abuse, or neglect. George Michael Another sad tale here. George Michael was found dead on Christmas Day in 2016 by his boyfriend. We now know the legacy that the Wham star left behind extends beyond his Will. Prior to his death George Michael was happy to give away huge chunks of his wealth to good causes, charities, and fans but much of this remained a secret until after his death and was recently reported in the Mirror. Gifting to charities that you support is a great way to leave a lasting legacy but also reaps benefits for those with Inheritance Tax issues. George’s Will left a few surprises and again, a Mirror article tells all about who got what.   There are a few valuable lessons here about why estate planning is important, the scope of your Will works beyond just leaving money to family and how famous people have highlighted these lesson, sometimes unknowingly.

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Films / Movies about Inheritance

Best Movies Dealing With Inheritance There are a number of movies about money and more specifically about an inheritance. Here are some of the best movies dealing with the important subject of writing your Will. Its worth noting that some of the messages get a little confused… For clarity here are a couple of key messages before we list the movies Now onto the movies. Richie Rich Born into wealth, Richie’s parents are super wealthy. He has staff, luxury but no real friends except for his butler who look out for him. A plot is unveiled to kill his parents so that the family business can be controlled by a villain and Richie works to prevent this corruption. Light-hearted and fun! The Descendants A land baron tries to reconnect with his two daughters after his wife suffers a boating accident. This film deals with an inheritance, trusts, living Wills and all manner of estate planning whilst also being an -award-winning film with George Clooney in it. Big, Steal Little If you can get past Andy Garcia playing a pair of twins, this movie highlights the pain money brings to a waring family and the greed and jealousy an inheritance can bring. Inheritance This is a new movie (2020) where a patriarch of a wealthy and powerful family suddenly passes away, leaving his daughter with a shocking secret inheritance that threatens to unravel and destroy the family. Simon Pegg is one of my favourite actors and plays his role well. Rather far fetched and the film hasn’t had the best reviews. It’s not too bad in my opinion. The Weekend Murders This is an older movie where a family heads to a British Estate to hear the reading of a Will but while there, they are murdered one by one. Brewster’s Millions One of the most classic inheritance movies and had to make the list! Well worth a watch and it’s a real rags to riches story! Rainman Another award winning film. This time Charlie, a selfish automobile dealer, kidnaps his autistic brother Raymond and tries to manipulate him into giving up his inheritance from their late father. Dustin Hoffman at his finest! The Ultimate Gift Jason Stevens (Drew Fuller) lives a life of wealth and privilege. When his grandfather (James Garner) dies, Jason expects to receive a hefty inheritance. Instead, however, Jason must set out on a journey of self-discovery to earn the true gift his grandfather meant for him to have. Howards End This one has a star studded cast. A true inheritance movie in which Helen Schlegel falls for Paul Wilcox, but is rebuffed. Her sister Margaret becomes friends with his mother, who promises her the family house, Howards End. Unfortunately, after her death, the Will disappears and it appears the inheritance will disappear. Until the widower, Henry Wilcox, becomes attracted to Margaret. The Batchelor With a number of well-known actors, this light-hearted and dare I say fun film is about a gent who learns that if he doesn’t get married by 6:05pm on his 30th birthday, which is the next day, he misses out on his inheritance. He sets out tracking his past girlfriends in a bid to find a wife. The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh Not for the feint hearted. This one is a horror film in which an antiques collector inherits his mother’s house and discovers that her involvement with a mysterious cult of angel worshippers might have led to her death. How many of these have you seen? Which was your favourite and are there any films we have missed from our list?

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