Below you can find a selection of articles written by our lawyers.
In this article, Imtiaz Khan, our Private Client Solicitor answers the following questions:
1. What is a Will?
2. What happens if you do not make a Will?
3. When should you make a new Will?
What is a Will?
A Will is a legal document created by an individual that sets out instructions on who will inherit their estate and what should happen after they pass away.
A Will can:
• State the type of funeral you would like
• Determine how you would like your possessions distributed
• Help reduce the amount of inheritance tax that might be payable on the value of your property
• Identify who should look after any children under the age of 18
• Decide who you would like to settle your affairs and carry out your wishes. These people are known as executors.
• State who you want to look after your pets if you have any
• Protect your digital assets
• Support a charity or charities of your choice
What happens if you do not make a Will?
If you die without making a Will, the law will decide who gets what and how much. It is also important to note that the following rules will apply if you do not make a Will:
• Your partner is not legally entitled to anything when you die if you are not married or in a civil partnership.
• If you have children, the amount they are entitled to will depend on the value of the deceased’s estate.
• Your children may not be looked after as you would have wished
• Any inheritance tax that may be due could be higher than if you had made a Will.
• If you die with no living relatives, your whole estate will be inherited by the Crown.
When should you make a new Will?
If you already have a Will in place, you should consider making a new Will when or if:
• you have an unmarried partner who you want to inherit from your estate
• you have a child or any children under the age of 18
• you purchase a property or your financial circumstances change
• you get divorced
• you want to make provisions for step-children or foster children
• your spouse passes away and your previous Will has left your estate to them
• You have a Will that was created before you married.
If you need help and advice in relation to Wills then please contact Imtiaz Khan or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA)
In this article, Imtiaz Khan, our Private Client Solicitor answers the following questions:
What is an LPA?
An LPA is a legal document that lets you appoint one or more people to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf, if you are unable to or no longer wish to make your own decisions. In order to make an LPA, you must be capable of making decisions for yourself. This will give you greater control over what happens to you should you have an accident or illness and unable to make your own decisions.
How many types of LPAs are there?
There are 2 types of LPA:
(1) Health and Welfare
This LPA gives an attorney the power to make decisions about things such as:
• day-to-day personal care or health care
• who you should have contact with
• moving into a care home
• life-sustaining treatment This LPA can only be used when you’re unable to make your own decisions.
Property and financial affairs
This LPA gives an attorney the power to make decisions about money and property for you such as:
• managing a bank, building society and other financial accounts
• paying bills • investing money
• collecting benefits or a pension
• arranging repairs to property
• buying and selling property
This LPA can be used with your permission as soon as it is registered or when you are not able to make decisions for yourself.
Who can be my attorney?
Your attorney needs to be aged 18 or over and could be:
• a relative
• a friend
• a professional, e.g. solicitor
• your husband, wife or partner
Your attorney must be someone who has mental capacity to make their own decisions and does not need to live in the UK or be a British citizen. However for practical reasons, it is always best to have someone who lives near you.
When choosing an attorney, you need to think about:
• how well do they look after their own affairs such as finances?
• how well do you know them?
• do you trust them to make decisions in your best interests?
• how happy will they be to make decisions for you? If you are appointing more than one attorney you must decide if they’ll make decisions separately or together. Attorneys who are appointed jointly must all agree or they cannot make the decision.
If you need help and advice in relation to LPAs then please contact Imtiaz Khan or email email@example.com.
Applying for a Grant of Probate - do I really need a solicitor?
A Grant of Probate is a court order which details who is responsible for dealing with a loved one’s estate, once they have passed away.
There is a lot of information online and so you may wonder whether you really need to get a solicitor involved.
If your loved one has left a Will then it will name Executors. Underwoods solicitors can help the Executors to fulfil their responsibilities.
What does that process involve?
The first thing you need to do is find out what the value is of all of the belongings which can include property, cash and shares. You will need to pay any outstanding debts, complete the necessary tax forms, collect in any money and then pass this on to the beneficiaries, that is the people named in the Will.
Why should you instruct a solicitor?
The loss of someone close is an extremely difficult time and having to deal with a Will with no experience of having done it before can often be very hard.
At Underwoods Solicitors we can help take the stress and anxiety away and give you the peace of mind that everything is being handled correctly. We will find out how much the estate is worth, complete the necessary forms and distribute any money in the Will as quickly as possible.
Sometimes matters can be much more complicated and in these circumstances it is even more important that you have a solicitor rather than leaving yourself liable to making mistakes.
Underwoods Solicitors offer a free initial consultation for Probate.
Please do get in touch if you would like to consult one of our solicitors on 01442 430 900 or contact Imtiaz Khan at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prisons and Courts Bill: Cross-examination of witnesses in family law
On February 23 the government introduced the Prisons and Courts Bill which looks to put in place protection for vulnerable witnesses.
This is a long and overdue proposal which could see the end of face to face cross examination of witnesses in the Family Court. The court can put in place special measures under the current system but even video links do not offer enough protection.
The cutbacks in legal aid have led to an increase in the number of people representing themselves at trial. This means that alleged perpetrators of violence were cross-examining their alleged victims.
The National chair of Resolution, Nigel Shepherd has welcomed the proposed changes saying
"We welcome the MoJ's
proposals to prevent alleged abusers from being able to cross-examine the
person they're alleged to have abused. It is a reform that is long overdue in
family cases where the fear of such cross-examination can result in victims of
abuse not seeking the protection they need and, if they do go ahead, adds to
the trauma they have suffered.
"As ever with legislation, the devil will be in the detail and there is much hard work to be done to ensure these measures can be successfully delivered. Resolution looks forward to playing its part in this."
The proposed changes will mean that the court has the power to appoint a publically funded legal representative to undertake the cross-examination where they feel it is necessary in the interest of justice.
Although further details are awaited there are further calls on the government to review Legal Aid Funding but the bill is definitely a step in the right direction.
If you need help and advice in relation to a family law matter then please contact Imtiaz Khan or email email@example.com.
Legal Services Consumer Panel - A blot on the landscape
Here is Kerry Underwood's blog in relation to The Legal Services Consumer Panel's response to the Competition & Markets Authority's Legal Services Market Study.
Kerry Underwood would be interested to hear your thoughts on the response and can be contacted on 01442 430 900 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Litigants in Person
Litigants in Person is the name given to people who are dealing with a court case themselves, rather than having a lawyer.
Click here to see Kerry Underwood’s piece on the subject.
If you are a Litigant in Person dealing with a matter yourself or you are not sure whether to use a solicitor or not, then please phone Anna Patsalides on 01442 430 900 for a free telephone chat about your matter.
Silver Service Law
Here is Kerry Underwood’s piece on the standards we think law firms should achieve.
This piece has been used by the Law Society in its Risk and Management section newsletter and in its Managing for Success newsletter.
There is always room for improvement and so if you have any ideas as to how law firms can improve their service to you then please telephone Kerry Underwood on 01442 430 900 or email him email@example.com.
Court Fees and help with Fees
It is Government policy to make a profit out of court fees. This means that court fees have rocketed.
However, depending on your savings and income and outgoings you may be able to get help with these fees, meaning that you pay a reduced fee or nothing.
Please see here for Kerry Underwood’s article on this subject.
If you need further help please telephone Anna Patsalides on 01442 430 900 for a free telephone chat about your matter.