MBMG International Ltd.
Nominated for the Lorenzo Natali Prize
Where there is a will there is a way, Part 2
The new coalition
government in the UK has not yet managed to raise inheritance tax (IHT) to
£1,000,000, so the single persons IHT Nil Rate Band (NRB) threshold remains at
£325,000 for 2010/11. Once that threshold has been hit, so will your estate for
40% on everything thereafter. Married couples or civil partnerships are allowed
to pass their possessions and assets to each other tax-free and, since October
2007, the surviving partner is now allowed to use both tax-free allowances
(providing one was not used at the first death) giving a total of £650,000.
Making a Will gives you
the opportunity to ensure that the effects of the tax system can be minimized,
and can maximize the benefits for those whom you leave behind. Keeping an
up-to-date and well drafted Will should be seen as a fundamental and essential
part of any Inheritance Tax Planning.
A small example of IHT at
You leave behind £600,000.
The first £325,000 Nil Rate Band (NRB) is tax free. The rest is taxed at 40%
(£110,000 - this example is for a single person). However, if you have your
permanent home in the UK when you die but your spouse or civil partner is a
non-UK domicile, then you can only leave them the NRB and a further £55,000
In Thailand there is no
death tax...yet! However, the UK Government will tax you on your worldwide
Here is a Top 10 ten run
down of how to pay less IHT:
No. 10 - Do Mention the
War! - If
injuries suffered during military service are a factor in anybody’s death, then
that person’s estate may become IHT free.
No. 9 - Buy some farmland
and rent it out -
Agricultural land that is let out can become IHT-free after 7yrs and could be
IHT-free after two years if you play a part in farming it.
No. 8 - Spend, spend, and
spend some more -
Sounds silly, but if you don’t have it, they cannot tax it!
No. 7 - Give to charities
and political parties -
That’s right! Leaving money to a charity will leave it IHT free on the amount
you leave, give it to the politicians for the Christmas party and again its tax
No. 6 - Use up the smaller
allowances, they all add up! -
£5,000 from each parent to each adult child when they marry, the annual
exemption, this is an amount that can be gifted free of IHT, currently £3,000per
year, you can also carry forward the exemption for a year so you can give £6,000
per person so if you’re married; the total maximum you can give is £12,000 every
No. 5 - Money to spare at
the end of the month? -
As long as they are regular, made out of income and do not reduce your standard
of living, these gifts are IHT free.
No. 4 - Start you’re
giving now! -
All gifts made more than 7yrs before you die are free of IHT.
No. 3 - Become a Non-Dom -
However, you must leave your country of birth and have nothing to do with the
place to try and prove that you are Non-Domiciled.
No. 2 - Keep it in the
family - A
discretionary trust can be set up, up to the Nil rate band of IHT of £325,000
per person or £650,000 for a married couple/civil partnership to be sheltered
from IHT, so long as you survive 7yrs and unlike gifts, this will let the donor
retain control of the assets.
IHT No. 1 - Make a will -
This is the
first step to avoiding IHT nightmares; get sound legal, tax and financial advice
and do it right.
Also known as Advance
Decision, it provides an opportunity for people to lay out their wishes
regarding medical treatment and intervention in the final stages of life. Every
adult with mental capacity has the right to refuse or agree to medical
treatment. The sorts of treatments usually covered by Living Wills are
artificial feeding, mechanical ventilation, antibiotic therapy and
resuscitation. Like a normal Will you can include personal details and demands,
how you want your remains to be disposed of, you might want to put in how and
where you might want to spend your final few weeks. These can be cancelled at
anytime, either verbally or in writing, just as long as you have the mental
capacity to do so.
Whether it is a Living
Will or a Last Will & Testament, make sure you have one in place because if you
do not then there is no way your beneficiaries will get what you want them to
have as quickly as they should have done.
Meanwhile, have a good
look at the flow chart to see what happens to your estate in England and Wales.
The above data and research was compiled from sources
believed to be reliable. However, neither MBMG International Ltd nor its
officers can accept any liability for any errors or omissions in the above
article nor bear any responsibility for any losses achieved as a result of any
actions taken or not taken as a consequence of reading the above article. For
more information please contact Graham Macdonald on firstname.lastname@example.org
Snap Shots: by Harry Flashman
Snaps or art?
is nothing wrong with taking snapshots. Firing away with your DSLR or
point and shooter is something like Russian roulette. You might get
lucky, or on the other hand …
What I hope to do this week is to show you just how
you can move from snaps to actually produce “art” and an artistic
portrait is the goal. With shots of people, we are looking at the
difference between pictures and real portraits. The two styles of
resulting photographs are poles apart. ‘Portraits’ comes from the word
‘portray’ and means to make a likeness of. Portraiture is even described
as the ‘art’ of making that likeness, and that is where the difference
We have all got, or have seen, passport photographs.
These are the archetypal picture. They show what your face looks like.
Nothing more, nothing less. However, when you have a portrait taken, the
photograph should do more than just show what your face looks like, but
also give some inkling as to what you are like. Sort of ‘value-added’ if
you will. I describe it as making a likeness of the ‘person’. Somehow
you have to get the personality into the picture, and that way you have
a real portrait.
It is for this reason alone that you cannot walk into
a photo studio and get your portrait taken. At best you will get an
adequately lit picture of yourself. You will not get a portrait. For the
photographer to understand the sitter takes time in getting to know the
sitter. Likes and dislikes, hobbies, anxieties, a wife or mother - a
whole thumbnail sketch of the person, and then and only then, should the
sitter get in front of the camera.
So let’s make you, the weekend photographer into a
portrait photographer. To portray the person, you first need to know how
the sitters perceive themselves. People who consider themselves to be
happy, spontaneous people should be photographed laughing, head back,
open mouthed, smiling, tossing the hair around - you get the concept,
I’m sure. More studious people should be shown in that manner. A book as
a prop is a great idea to convey the mood and make the sitter feel
relaxed. Having already found out a little of the sitter’s likes and
dislikes, you can also add some props, and have the subject begin to
relate to them, like the book in the studious portrait. This also helps
them to relax.
I have mentioned before in this column that the first
rule with all sitters is to get your subject to relax. If your favorite
lady is standing rigidly to attention, I can guarantee that the end
result will not be pleasing to either the sitter or the photographer.
When photographing Thai people in particular, it is even more important
to get them relaxed and happy, as they do tend to “stand to attention”
with arms held straight at their sides, looking as if they are on army
The pose to avoid at all costs is the subject
straight on to the camera. This is unfortunately the commonest pose -
but it is the most un-glamorous pose as far as women are concerned. That
is why it is used in passports! Here’s what to do to get over this
problem. Start by sitting your lady in a chair, and then turn it 45
degrees away from the straight ahead position. Now ask her to slowly
turn her head and look at the end of your camera’s lens. Look through
your viewfinder - see? It looks better already. Now ask her to gently
raise the shoulder closest to the camera and smile. Guess what? You are
starting to get a portrait image.
That basic pose can be modified by turning to the
left as well as to the right, shoulders up or down, open mouthed smile
or shy grin. Each shot will have a different look. Try to get the
subject relaxed by talking to them, cracking jokes or anything that will
get them to relax. From there you try to get the personality of the
sitter to come through.
Try your hand at portrait photography this weekend.
by Dr. Iain Corness, Consultant
A weight loss diet - that works!
This particular article has been requested so many times, it
has almost become and annual event all on its own. Obesity is the scourge of
the developed world, and I am not pointing fingers at any one country in
particular. Our diets are far from healthy, and the death rate from heart
attacks is intimately related to diet.
The interest in this diet came after I noticed a friend
of mine had dropped some weight. “Fifteen kilos in two months,” was his
proud reply. He had done this by following a diet - and one that had
obviously worked! This is put forward as a seven day diet, and although I am
not always in favor of ‘crash’ diets, this one does merit some study. It is
reputedly from Sacred Heart Memorial Hospital and is used in their cardiac
care unit for overweight patients to lose weight prior to surgery.
It states the first no-no’s as being bread, alcohol, soft
drinks, fried food or oil. Agree totally. Unfortunately, for a number of
people, those no-no’s are their everyday dietary items!
After that there is a concoction called Fat-Burning Soup
(FBS) which you make up and keep in the fridge. You can have as much FBS any
time you feel hungry and have as much as you want. You are also advised to
drink plenty of water - 6 to 8 glasses a day along with tea, coffee, skim
milk, unsweetened juice or cranberry juice.
The physiology of hunger works that when the stomach is
empty, messages are sent to the brain to send down food. Fill the belly with
non-fattening food and the hunger pangs will be less, but the weight does
not go on.
Here is the recipe for the Fat-Burning Soup:
4 cloves garlic
2 large cans crushed tomatoes (810gms)
2 large cans beef consomm้
1 packet vegetable packet soup
1 bunch spring onions
1 bunch celery
2 cans French beans (or fresh)
2 green capsicum
10 cups water
Chop all veggies into small pieces. Boil rapidly for 10
minutes stirring well and then simmer until veggies are tender. Add water if
necessary to make a thinner soup.
Now the other downside to dieting if food boredom. A week
of FBS, water and cranberry juice will sap the resolve of most overweight
people, so what this diet does is allow you to add different items on a
daily basis. Here are the suggestions.
Day 1, any fruit except bananas. Eat only soup and fruit
Day 2, all vegetables. Eat as much as you like of fresh,
raw or canned vegetables. Try to eat green leafy vegetables. Stay away from
dry beans, peas, and corn. Eat vegetables along with soup. At dinner reward
yourself with a jacket potato and butter.
Day 3, eat all the soup, fruit and veggies you want
today. Don’t have the jacket potato today. If you have not cheated you
should have lost approx 3 kg.
Day 4, bananas and skim milk. Eat at least 3 large
bananas and drink as much milk as you can today. Eat as much soup as you
want. Bananas are high in calories and carbohydrates, as is the milk but you
will need the potassium and carbohydrates today.
Day 5, beef and tomatoes. You may have 600 gm of beef or
chicken (no skin) and as many as 6 tomatoes. Eat soup at least once.
Day 6, beef and vegetables. Eat to your hearts content of
beef and veggies. You can even have 2-3 steaks (grilled) if you like with
leafy green vegetables. No baked potato. Be sure to eat soup at least once.
Day 7, brown rice, vegetables, fruit juice. Be sure to
eat well and eat as much soup as you can.
By the end of day 7, if you have not cheated, you should
have lost 7 kg. The theory is good, but I caution against losing too much,
Heart to Heart with Hillary
I read on a blogging site about a Thai bar girl who went to
the UK and then stole her child away from the husband and went to live in a
village up-country. Does this happen a lot? Surely it is against the law?
Don’t be amazed, my Petal. Remember the difference between unlawful and illegal
- one is against the laws of the land and the other is a sick bird. There are
also differences in the laws between the UK and Thailand, and also differences
in the ways the laws are applied (vigorously or otherwise) and ways to
circumvent those laws. It is also dangerous to be too sweeping with the
description of the mother as being a “bar girl”. There are too many such stories
going around the ‘net community, but with no guarantee of actually being
factual. When two people break up, irrespective of their race or the country
they are in, it is sad. Breakups occur in every country, so it is not a “racial”
phenomenon or an “occupational” phenomenon. I would treat most items you read in
the blogosphere as being amusing fiction, rather than ‘amazing’ information.
Thank you for giving us the brighter side of life in Thailand. We certainly
appreciate the Thai smiles you bring us. For me, it is certainly refreshing to
see Farang / Thai marriage success stories. Yes, there are many who share in the
wonderful experience of being married to a Thai woman. It is the same as for any
other prospective long term union irrespective of nationality - yes, there are
many differences in culture to overcome and the cultural rules are not quite the
same. But a good Thai woman with some education and a sensible Farang man who
can listen and try to understand can match just perfectly - it is after all only
the fool and his money that are soon parted, but parting with a little here
there occasionally to help the family is expected and is not so bad, is it?
You certainly make much sense, but I wouldn’t restrict the eligible Thai women
to those “with some education”. There are many women in Thailand who have not
had a complete education, but this does not mean they are stupid, or
untrustworthy in any way. In a good partnership, both the man and the woman can
learn from each other. Both culturally and educationally. Both grow together and
are more likely to stay together. And you are correct, some family assistance
does not need to cost much, but helps in crossing the cultural divide.
If the Thai women are as grasping as it would seem, reading the letters on your
page, how come they are still in the business? Surely if they were all that bad,
word would have gotten out by now. I get the impression that they’ve been given
a bad name and it has stuck. Sure there has to be a few rotten apples, but am I
correct that the bad ones are a small percentage only?
It is not correct of me to comment on the bar girls as a group, but there is
certainly a good percentage of them out for what they can get. Certainly these
are the ones whose men ‘friends’ end up writing to me. Provided the male
holidaymaker understands the ground rules, everyone is a winner. But it is the
men who mistake financial arrangements for romance who fall for the “I lub you
too mut, tee rak.” There are enough books out there, there are enough internet
sites out there about this side of a Thai holiday, and the heart-rending advice
from yours truly as well. Nobody should be puzzled, Petal. Not even you.
I have become friends with a couple of Thai girls through Facebook and we are
contacting each other every day, and they seem to have excellent English. I have
never been to Thailand but I am now looking at a holiday there. Both the girls
say they want to “look after” me when I come over. This is a bit of a problem I
think. I don’t want to disappoint one of them, and honestly I don’t know which
to choose as they look drop dead gorgeous in the photos. Any suggestions?
Dear Facebook Fred,
I don’t know just how old you are, but I’ll guess at late teens or early 20’s.
It would seem you are not aware of the way Thai women work, especially at long
distance. Would it surprise you to know that there are not many Thai women with
“excellent English” who are using Facebook to meet foreigners. I also suggest
that you take the photographs with suspicion as well. They might indeed be drop
dead gorgeous, but then on the other hand, that might not be their own photo.
Please do come over for a holiday, but keep your options open, and I would
advise that you do not let either of them “look after” you until you have become
more aware of the dating scene in this country.
Let’s go to the movies:
by Mark Gernpy
Now playing in Pattaya
RED: US, Action/ Comedy –
Oh, well, this is a delight! I had more fun at this one than any movie
in some time. It even made you muse over a few things as you sped along,
but not too much and not too deeply. Mostly it’s just glorious nonsense,
with actors that you have come to love to watch, doing their stuff. Just
his idyllic life is threatened by a high-tech assassin, a former
black-ops agent (Bruce Willis) reassembles his old team in a last ditch
effort to survive. “RED,” by the way, stands for “Retired,
Extremely Dangerous.” Starring Bruce Willis, who, as they say, is “Still
Armed, Still Dangerous, Still Got It.” Also with Helen Mirren, Morgan
Freeman, John Malkovich, Karl Urban, and Mary-Louise Parker great cast!
“Frank, Joe, Marvin, and Victoria used to be the CIA’s
top agents - but the secrets they know just made them the Agency’s top
targets. Now targeted for assassination, they must use all of their
collective cunning, experience, and teamwork to stay one step ahead of
their deadly pursuers and stay alive. To stop the operation, the team
embarks on an impossible, cross-country mission to break into the
top-secret CIA headquarters, where they will uncover one of the biggest
conspiracies and cover-up in government history.” (Studio blurb).
Mixed or average reviews. Thai-dubbed at Big C.
My Best Bodyguard: Thai, Action/ Thriller –
Starring HRH Princess Ubolratana as a dedicated reporter fighting a
villainous pharmacy organization that secretly runs an experiment
involving a deadly virus which can kill a whole city.
Cats & Dogs: The Revenge of Kitty Galore (3D): US/
Australia, Action/ Comedy/ Family – The age-old battle between cats and
dogs, in live-action with animated mouths that spout talk that’s meant
to be cute. It offers little more than the spectacle of digitally
rendered talking animals with celebrity voices, all in 3D – in those
cinemas with 3D, of course. Generally unfavorable reviews.
Red Eagle / Insee Dang: Thai, Action/ Thriller –
Ananda Everingham is really terrific as the red-masked crusader in this
re-launch of an action franchise from the 1950s and ’60s that starred
the legendary Thai leading man Mitr Chaibancha. This one is set in 2016,
and shows Bangkok as a city threatened by not only the usual crime and
corruption, but also now in danger from a deadly nuclear plant about to
be built. In the midst of the dismay, a mysterious hero called Red Eagle
steps forward to do battle with the evildoers. However, he has to face
his dangerous enemy Dark Devil, the elite killer hired to hunt him down.
Rated 18+ in Thailand. At Pattaya Beach, it’s in Thai only (but I’d
It’s quite an enjoyable Thai action movie. There are
flashes of director Wisit Sasanatieng’s trademark wild use of color and
his antic imagination, all here in the service of a comic book masked
crusader much along the lines of Batman. In fact his icon, the spread
eagle, looks much like the spread bat-wings of Batman’s symbol. The
film, really, is a sort of Thai Dark Knight. Be warned, the film
is horrifically bloody, too much so for my taste. Several scenes got me
to squirming, and there are way too many beheadings, and wild and
extended beheading sprees they are – though I did find amusing the one
head that continued smoking a cigarette.
For the whole, Wisit was mostly having fun and I found
his enjoyment infectious. There’s a lot of imagination at work, in a
wild and impossible comic book style.
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (3D):
US/ Australia, Animation/ Fantasy – The animation is superb: the
textures of the feathers, the motions of the owls, and particularly the
expressiveness of the faces and the life in the eyes. Quite marvelous,
and with beautifully done voice work by excellent actors. It’s a dark
and dense and highly detailed world these owls live in, and it fairly
captured me. Some very scary parts, so young children take note!
The use of 3D is superb, and the scenes of flight are
giddy with exuberance and excitement. Shown in 3D at Pattaya Beach, and
please note: the 3D is real 3D, and is a true step
forward in the art. If you at all appreciate animation, don’t miss it!
Shown in 2D at Major, and in 2D and Thai-dubbed at Big C. Mixed or
Reign of Assassins / Jianyu: China, Action/ Drama
– A martial arts film co-directed by John Woo. Set in ancient China
during the Ming Dynasty, Michelle Yeoh plays a skilled assassin who
finds herself in possession of a mystical Buddhist monk’s remains. She
begins a quest to return the remains to its rightful resting place, and
thus places herself in mortal danger because a team of assassins is in
deadly pursuit to possess the remains, which legend says holds an
ancient power-wielding secret. Assassins had its premier in
September at the 67th annual Venice Film Festival where it met with
general acclaim from the critics. Shown in a Thai-dubbed version only,
and at Pattaya Beach and Big C only.
E Hed Sod Pa Ded Suek: Thai, Comedy – Outrageous
Thai comedy routines involving a bride who happens to have a penis, and
is shown in the trailers raping her bridegroom by riding roughshod over
his sensibilities with her inflamed member. Just the usual Thai hijinks.
The studio describes the plot thus: “Captain Muengman who suffers from
losing his virginity to his ladyboy bride is assigned to do a
challenging mission. When the unusual ladyboy terrorists are rising,
Captain Muengman is chosen to defeat them. To complete the mission
Captain Muengman and his team have to disguise themselves as one of the
ladyboys in order to trick Golden Flower, the ladyboy leader of the
terrorists who has painful memories about guys.” That should clear it
all up. It’s noisy trash, to be blunt, but it’s served up with English
subtitles for your pleasure at all three locales. Rated 18+ in Thailand.
Grown Ups: US, Comedy – This film, starring Adam
Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, and David Spade, is a
comedy, or so it wishes, about five friends and former teammates who
reunite years later to honor the passing of their childhood basketball
coach. I can’t imagine why anyone would deliberately want to see this
picture. It’s pretty ugly, full of pretty ugly Americans, living ugly
lives, tearing each other down in typically American ways. Enough, one
could say, to re-emphasize why one would prefer to live in Thailand.
Looks sort of like home movies of the people involved. I find no real
humor in it at all. However, it’s up to you. Apparently, there are some
people who actually like the humor of Adam Sandler. Thai-dubbed at Big
C. Generally unfavorable reviews.
Yai Sang Ma Yai / I Am Grandmother: Thai, Comedy –
Two brothers have been separated since childhood. One is brought up in a
slum and gambles to live, and the other stays home to care for their
grandmother. When an accident causes her to lapse into a coma, and much
more money is needed for her treatment, the brothers join up to try to
raise the money in a gambling house. Wise move, huh? The usual Thai
comedic nonsense. In Thai only, and not at Pattaya Beach.
Devil: US, Horror/ Thriller – A group of people
trapped in an elevator realize that the devil is among them. Produced by
M. Night Shyamalan, which the directors and crew are desperately trying
to live down, being that his name, post-Airbender, is as welcome
as the devil himself. Mixed or average reviews. Not at Big C.
Saturday Killer / Mue Puen Dao Phra Sao: Thai,
Action/ Comedy – About a troublesome gunman who kills for money to cure
his impotence, and a mysterious girl he has a crush on but whose heart
he can’t seem to win. This is the middle film in a trilogy of crime
films, Friday Killer, Saturday Killer, and Sunday Killer,
all with well-known Thai comics paired up with leading ladies. 18+.
Detective Dee: China/ Hong Kong, Action/ Crime/
Thriller – When the mysterious deaths of a series of loyal subjects
threaten to delay the 690 A.D. inauguration of Empress Wu Zetian, she
summons the infamous Detective Dee back from exile to solve the crime.
Based on a Chinese folk hero, and starring Andy Lau and Tony Leung.
Shown in a Thai-dubbed version only, and at Major only.
Bridge in Paradise:
by Neil Robinson
Suppose you are
playing in a pairs competition scored using matchpoints. Making even
ten more points than the opposition is critical, because then you get a
top. This is why, in matchpoints, you see a lot of no trump contracts
even when a trump contract would be much easier. After all, making two
hearts or two spades scores only 110 points, while making two no trumps
scores 120 - the critical extra ten points.
Imagine you are
sitting South. You deal and NS are vulnerable. The bidding and hands
are shown below:
S: 982 S: 76
H: J1095 H: Q83
D: A1073 D: J8654
C: 84 C: A53
South West North East
2N P 3N All pass
maxim of trying to make the extra ten points to get a top, North raised
you to 3N, rather than attempting to find an eight card fit in a major.
West leads the jack of hearts. You breathe a sigh of relief that the
defence did not start with their best suit, diamonds. East encourages
by playing the eight and you win with the ace.
Looking at dummy
you know that most other pairs will be in 4S. Four spades is most
likely to make ten tricks, losing only one heart and the aces of
diamonds and clubs. Now comes the decision. You have four spade
tricks, three club tricks (after forcing out the ace of clubs) and two
top heart tricks, making nine for 400 points. But this is a bottom
compared to those who make 4S and thus 420 points. What do you lead
Let’s say you
choose a club. East will win the ace and lead back the queen of
hearts. You duck one round and then win the king. You take your nine
tricks, but when you try to get a diamond trick, West pops up with the
ace and claims the last heart to hold you to your contract and a bottom
in matchpoints. You never make a diamond trick.
So how can you
make ten tricks for a top? Your only chance is to steal a trick early
on. At the second trick you lead a low diamond to the queen. West is
bound to duck (wrongly, but almost inevitably). Now you switch to clubs
and hope that, when East wins the ace he will continue hearts. Then you
can win the king and cash your spades and clubs for a total of ten
tricks - four spades, three clubs, two hearts and the diamond which you
stole on the second round.
The diamond play
endangers the contract, but you score 430 points and beat out all those
in 4S. You get the top, not the bottom. The moral of this story is
that sometimes it pays to lead your weakest suit in no trumps at your
earliest opportunity. You can often win that first trick and persuade
the defence to steer clear of their best suit until it is too late for
If you have bridge
questions, or to send me your interesting hands, please contact me at: