Grieving Families are again facing a substantial increase in Probate Fees which is due to take place next month (April 19). In 2017 the Government announced similar increases. The increases were not to assist the running of the probate service but were to be utilised throughout the Court and Tribunal system, the increases were therefore seen as an unfair tax on death. The increases became known as the “Death Tax” but these were pulled at the 11th hour. The increases again have become resurrected and we are told they will come into existence in April 2019 (the exact date still not being know at the time of writing this article).
Currently there is a flat rate for probate fees £255 (for those applying without a solicitor) and £155 (for those applying through a solicitor. This fee remains the same regardless of the size of the estate. However the new reforms will exempt people with estates worth less than £50,000 from and fees at all but will significantly increase the fees on a sliding scale.
For Estates valued between £50,000 and £300,000 the new fee will be £250. If the estate is valued between £300,00 and £500,000 the rises by 384% to £750. Then between £500,000 and £1million the increase is 1513% to £2500 but the hefty increase will be for estates in excess of £2million where the probate fee increases by 2690% to £6000. Is this actually a stealth tax on our wealthier citizens?
Now we may all be cynical and say that if an estate is worth millions then more should be paid by way of fees, but why? As the probate office process is the same as in producing a Grant of Probate then if it was dealing with an estate worth £51,000. For higher valued Estates there may be additional works for the Executors to value the estate, and more works to complete for the full Inheritance Tax for forms, but neither of these impacts the works of the Probate office or the Court System so there is no justification for the increase.
We all know that increases in Tax do not increase popularity for politicians and any tax rise has a stringent parliamentary process to be followed, debated and voted upon by both Houses. However, by classifying the increase as a fee allows the passing of the increase by a “statutory instrument” which allows for lesser parliamentary scrutiny as a result the changes were approved by the delegated legislation committee and are pending implementation and national rollout. It is estimated that the increase in fees will raise £145 million in the next financial year.
There is petition currently running to attempt further debate
Increasing the Probate Fee is not popular move and the Law Society has been urging its members to lobby MP’s, however given the current political climate Probate Fees are not at the forefront of peoples priority and unfortunately the impact of the fees will only become apparent after the loss of a loved one.
For further information or help and assistance with all aspects of the Probate, Dawsons Law can provide one off advice or assist you through the whole probate process. Call 01603 327280 to book an appointment and gain peace of mind, locally. Dawsons Law is proudly a firm at the heart of your community.
25thMay is the day that seems to have crept upon many people, but during the last couple of weeks, unless you have buried yourself in a bunker with no connectivity or social media access, you will know from the volume of emails you have received, asking you do “Click to Keep in Touch”, that there is a sea change happening regarding data protection and privacy laws.
Any business, large or small, is beholden to the new GDPR regulations. Therefore, as of today, do you know the following:
1) Do you know the basis for which you are processing data? From 25thMay, there are six lawful reasons why you are processing data which allows you to be in the possession of the data you hold. These are consent, contract, legal obligation, vital interest, public task and legitimate interest. If you are holding or processing data, and you are not aware as to the reasons why, and they do not fall into one of the above categories, you could be in breach. Therefore, I would recommend that you understand your lawful basis for processing data.
2) Who is it that is responsible for monitoring your compliance and obligations under GDPR? If you are a sole trader, this is an easy question to answer. However, if your organisation is more than one person, who has the responsibility of being the Data Protection Officer, and how do you communicate who is responsible for any such enquiries to those outside of your business or organisation? If you are a small business, there is not a legal obligation upon you to appoint a Data Protection Officer, but it may be good practice to do so.
3) GDPR enhances individuals’ rights, relating to the data you hold upon them. Such rights could include the right to erasure, the right to be informed, the right to object, along with strict criteria regarding subject access requests. From today, are you clear as to what processes you have in place to ensure that requests are dealt with in accordance with GDPR regulation. If you have a Data Protection Officer, they will need to be familiar with the process and adhere to them.
4) Do you encrypt the data you hold? Although you are not under a legal obligation to do so, how are you going to protect the data you hold from third parties, in the event that the data is stolen, your systems are hacked, or maybe your laptop or phone is stolen. Although you cannot protect for every circumstance, you can put tools in place that will protect you against the probability of fines being landed, in the event that your data becomes breached. If you do not already do so, we will advise that you have a conversation with an IT Specialist regarding password protection and encryption emails.
5) In the event that data is breached, have you put in place a process in reporting the breach? Do you know who to notify, what time period you need to notify in, and who would be the contact of the organisation?
If not, Dawsons Law can provide such a policy, bespoke to your organisation, for a Fixed Fee price. Please do not hesitate to contact Salena Dawson at our Watton Office on 01953 883535.
You may pride yourself in providing an inclusive workplace environment and despite your best efforts of being Employer of the year, sometimes those individuals around you, employed by you, may conduct themselves with such behaviors that are undesirable and make another Employee feel they have been treated unfavorably. Such behaviors may not occur within the office or the workplace but could occur on a works social such as the Christmas party and may present itself as banter which causes an Employee to feel devalued. If such offensive comments or conducts are made by one Employee to another and the recipient of such comments feels that they are being treated less favorable, then you as the Employer could find yourself vicariously liable for the actions of your Employees, which could lead to a claim against you under the equality act 2010 for discrimination if such comments relate to a person’s age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or beliefs, sexual orientation or sex.
Part of an Employment Tribunal claim for discrimination could include compensation for Injury to Feelings.
From the 11th September 2017 the Presidential Guidance has allowed for an increase to be made to the Injury to Feelings bands. The lower bands can increase compensation between £1,000 to £8,000, this is usually the less serious cases. There is then the middle band of £8,000 to £25,000 and an upper band for serious cases of between £25,000 and £42,000 and exceptional cases being for £42,000 plus. You should be aware that this is an increase on top of other compensatory elements which are awarded upon successful Discriminatory Claims.
Be advised that Employers have their policies in order and that your Employees are made aware of the existence of those policies. There is no point whatsoever in having a policy if there is no monitoring of that policy or indeed if there is not a clear and direct line for Employees who feel that another Employee is being discriminatory and is able to bring that awareness to the Employer for direct action to be taken.
We appreciate that Employers can find navigation through these processes and procedures daunting. It is for this reason that Dawsons Law can offer Employers a Fixed Fee for advice, a Fixed Fee for preparing policies and advising upon the implementation of those policies and monitoring thereof.
Further Dawsons Law provide a monthly retained service for Employers whereby Employers can contact Solicitors under that scheme as and when advice is required.
To find out more information please contact Salena Dawson on 01953 883535.
New offences came into place on the 30th September 2017. You, your Employees, Agents of you or people performing services for you and on behalf of your business would be deemed committing the new offence if they facilitate Tax Evasion. The fine for such an offence is unlimited and it is to be deemed a strict liability offence, which means you will have no possibility to blame others, even if they are the ones committing the primary Tax Evasion offence. You will not be able to distance yourself from your Employees who may have facilitated the Tax Evasion. Be aware, your business will still have committed an offence under the act.
So, what is Tax Evasion Facilitation?
Here we will deal solely with the UK but you should be aware that the new offence also relates to offences allowing evasion to take place abroad. In the UK, you or your Employees etc. will be deemed to have committed an offence if you are knowingly concerned in taking steps to commit fraudulent evasion. If they aid, abet, counsel or procure the commission of a UK Tax Evasion offence, if they are knowingly concerned in taking steps with the fraudulent evasion of Tax.
This legislation is now going to ensure that Employers business owners can no longer turn a blind eye to the Tax arrangements of your customers or actions of Employees.
To avoid liability, businesses must now look at putting in place prevention procedures reasonable to their business. Despite the fact this legislation came into place on the 30th September, we are not likely to see the provisional government guidelines as to what such guidance should look like. We are hopeful that this will be privileged in October 2017.
To facilitate the procedures, we would suggest currently you look at:
a) Undertaking your risk assessment and ensure that Senior Managers etc. are aware of the new legislation.
b) Take an internal look as to your bonus and profit offerings, are these compliant?
c) Communication, it is time to let your Employees know about the changes in law and make it clear that you have a business zero tolerance policy for the facilitation of Tax Evasion.
d) As with all new procedures, monitor and review them and put into place a policy which shows how concerns can be reported to management for investigation.
Salena Dawson at Dawsons Law can offer Employers advice in relation to reviewing your procedures in light of the new legislation.
Please do not hesitate to book an appointment on 01953 883535.
Discriminations Laws in the UK extend responsibility to Employers towards disabled applicants.
The duty not to discriminate is prevalent at each stage of the process and includes Advert for recruitment, the interview process and the decision process to offer the position.
It is unlawful under the Equality Act to ask the Applicant about their health or disabilities. However, there are exceptions to this and Employers can ask if there are adjustments which need to be made for the interview process. This may be accessibility of the room or maybe longer period to allow for dyslexic applicants to undertake a written test.
Only after an Employer has been offered the position can they ask for a medical to access the ability of the Applicant to be able undertake the duties required of the employment position. Such offer of Employment should be based on the condition of successfully being medically accessed of being able to meet the Employment duties criteria. The position may require night work, lone working or strenuous work and if the applicant does not meet the criteria due to medical reasons the Employer may be able to withdraw the Employment offer. But first reasonable adjustments should be considered.
To consider reasonable adjustments the Employer should consult firstly with the successful Applicant and consult on what may be required to help the applicant to fulfil the role. Employers may need the assistance of professional experts such as Occupational Therapist, Health and Safety Advisers or maybe their Legal Representative.
The Equality Act tells us that considerations for denying making reasonable adjusts could be factors such as cost, practicality of implementation of the reasonable adjustment and the adjustments effectiveness.
Employers if you require guidance contact Salena Dawson on 01953 883535. Onsite advice is available and reasonable retainment packages for small businesses which give peace of mind at affordable prices. City Expertise, Locally.
If you are an applicant wo believes they have been discriminated against telephone for a free initial appointment. No Win No Fee may be available thereafter.
Supreme Court has ruled that fees for those bringing Employment Claims are unlawful, this will now lead to the Government repaying Claimants the fees paid for bringing Employment Tribunal Claims. So if you bought an Employment Claim between 2013 to date and paid a fee – it will be returned to you.
The Supreme Court ruled that the government was acting unlawfully and unconstitutionally when it introduced the fees. Justice Minister Dominic Raab said the government would cease taking fees for Employment Tribunals immediately.
If you believe you have been unfairly dismissed, suffered a breach of your Employment Contract, been subjected to discrimination in the workplace please do book a FREE appointment with Salena Dawson. Some claims thereafter may be eligible for No Win No Fee. 01953 883535
1.) Business Rates
From April 1st, the changes after revaluation of the business rates could enter in full. If your business rates have increased, you may be eligible for a temporary reduction. Contact your local authority for assistance.
2.) Changes to appealing business rates
If you believe your business rates have been overvalued, there is now a three-stage process in appealing the increase. To appeal, there is a £150 upfront charge, which is refunded if you are successful with your appeal.
3.) Introduction of the Lifetime ISA
From April 6th, the government introduces a new individual savings account, the Lifetime ISA. There are, however, limitations. Savers need to be under 40, and then they can put up to £4000 pounds a year into the new ISA, and this will be topped up by the government with a 25% bonus.
4.) The National Living Wage
If you are aged 25 and over, the Living Wage increased from the 1st April, to £7.50. For a full list of the increase of National Minimum Wage, look at the government website.
5.) Water Market changes
Businesses in England can now choose which company they want to supply their retail water service. You are no longer tied to a regional water firm, and therefore, may look around for a potentially cheaper service.
6.) New £1 Coin
The 12-sided £1 coin has arrived. Be aware that the old ones can be used up until the 15th October 2017. Thereafter, you will not be able to give out the old pound coins as change. There will be a limited amnesty, where any coins you have will be able to be deposited into your business bank account, after the 16th October. Do check what your bank’s policy will be.
7.) VAT Flat Rate Scheme
There are changes to the tax rates, and eligibility criteria, for some small businesses. Do check with your accountant, as to whether or not changes affect your business.
If you want further advice as to whether or not legislated changes affect your business, or your business practice, appointments can be booked with Salena Dawson, on 01953 883535.
IHT is payable within 6 months, from the end of the month in which a person has died. If an Executor fails to pay the Inheritance Tax during this time period, then interest becomes accrued. If the Executors are having difficulties in securing the monies to pay the due IHT, they can make monthly payments to HMRC on account of full payments.
IHT becomes available when somebody dies, and their Estate is over £325,000 (April 2017).
The tax payable is 40% above the Nil Rate Band (£325,000). This reduces to 36%, if more than 10% of the Estate is given to a charity.
There are ways, during your lifetime, that you can seek to reduce your Inheritance Tax liability, so that more of your Estate goes to those loved ones left behind.
1.) If you are married or in a civil partnership, your Estate will sweep to your surviving spouse. This means that there is a spousal exemption, and Inheritance Tax is not payable whilst your spouse survives you.
2.) Unused IHT allowance can be transferred between spouses, and this transference happens upon the second of you passing. Note, however, that only the part of the IHT that has not been transferred upon the first person’s death can be used. For example, if your husband or wife or civil partner transferred £100,000 on their death, upon you also passing, your Nil Rate Band would be £550,000, not £650,000.
3.) If, during your lifetime, you make gifts, this can potentially be an exempt transfer. However, you do need to survive these gifts. If you survive a gift for 7 years, there is no IHT payable. Thereafter, there is a tapering affect. If you die within the first 3 years, 100% IHT is payable. Then, after 3-4 years, 80% becomes payable. At 4-5 years, 60% is payable, and so on.
4.) You could also make a £3,000 a year gift. You can carry this forward to the next tax year, and therefore, if no gift was made in the previous year, you can make a one-off gift of £6,000.
5.) Gifts can be made upon marriages, and, depending on whether or not it is to your child or grandchild, will be dependent upon that sum.
We have all heard the headlines that changes are due to come into effect from the 6th April 2017, which eventually, by 2020, will give a residence Nil Rate Band of up to £1,000,000. However, this is a gradual Band. On the 6th April 2017, every person will receive £100,000 Resident Nil Rate Band, only if you leave your property to your children or grandchildren. The total amount of the rise by 2020 will be £175,000, on top of the current Nil Rate Band, and if you are married, this gets you to the million-pound mark.
If you would like further advice on how to protect your Estate, do contact 01953 883535 to book an appointment with one of our solicitors. Dawsons Law also provides advice and assistance on Wills, Probate, and Lasting Powers of Attorney, all for competitive fees, which are transparent.
Say you’ve made a Will, it’s your Will, it’s your money, presumably if you have mental capacity you can leave your money to whomever you wish. This is what the late Melita Jackson believed when she left most of her Estate to charities but not a penny to her daughter, Heather Illot, who challenged the Will.
The estranged daughter was initially warded £50,000 by the Judge, the mother’s Estate which she was cut out of, was worth in the region of £500,000. The ward was then tripled on Appeal, the Charities challenged this increase saying people should be free to choose who they wish to leave their monies to, the Court agreed and Mrs. Illot then received only the original amount.
The story after death creates the drama there was in life. Mrs. Illot, the only child, says she was rejected by her Mother at the age of 17 after she left home to live with her boyfriend whom she later married. They never reconciled their differences, there was no contact and therefore Mrs. Jackson left nothing to her daughter but almost everything to the Blue Cross, The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. It seems in 2007 when Mrs. Illot appealed her Mothers Will she was living on State benefits and had no pension. The sum was increased in 2015 in order to allow Mrs. Illot to buy her own Council property. The Court ruled that Mrs. Illot would otherwise face a life of poverty because she was on benefits and could not afford to go on holiday or buy clothes for her children. The award was given despite that fact that Mrs. Jackson, who died in 2004, made it crystal clear she did not want her estranged daughter to have a penny of her money. This was reiterated to Mrs. Jacksons solicitors by a letter she wrote prior to her death. She explicitly instructed the Executors to fight any claim made by Mrs. Illot after her death. The Supreme Court Justices were told that the Appeal against that increase had been brought by the animal charities largely on principle because of the possible impact on other cases. The Supreme Court re-established the original award of £50,000.
The claim was brought under the Inheritance Act which allows provision for family and dependants in reasonable circumstances. If you are seeking to exclude a family member from your Will or seeking to dispute non-provision in a Will GET ADVICE. Contact us on 01953 883535.
It seems that many believe that Divorce is a simple application to the court where a person relies on one of the five grounds for divorce to evidence the irretrievably breakdown of a marriage, and the belief remains the family court will simply grant the Divorce. This is not the case as Tini Owens aged 66 has recently found out.
Tini to the Court “she is desperately unhappy” in her 39-year marriage. But court has refused to grant her a Divorce on the written evidence she has provided. The court heard Mrs Owens arguments as to why her marriage had broken down but her husband Mr Owens disagreed and believe that the couple “have more years yet to enjoy”.
Mrs Owens initial application to the Family Court, last year for a Divorce was ruled against with the Judge stating “her allegations were of the kind to be expected in marriage”. Mrs Owens appealed that decision and on Tuesday three Appeal Judges analysed the Family Courts decision. It seems that Mrs Owens had made 27 applications about the way her husband had treated her, including that he was “insensitive in his manner and tone” and she was “constantly mistrusted”. She also was suggested that there was no chance of reconciliation. It seems her husband disagreed and denied the allegations made against him. It was for the judges to consider if the “cumulative effect” of what might be classed as a long list of trivial matters would indeed lead to the grounds of unreasonable behaviour allowing for the Divorce.
Her husband’s legal representatives argued that “at the moment as the law stands, unhappiness, discontent disillusionment are not facts which the petitioner can rely upon as fact which prove irretrievable breakdown.”.
We now await a decision of the court and therefore Mr & Mrs Owens continue to be married.
If your Relationship, Civil Partnership or Marriage has broken down and you seek advise you first initial appointment with Sophie Mitchell would be free. Telephone the office on 01953 883535 for further details.
This Valentine’s Day Employers may be forgiven for feeling somewhat “humbug” regarding romance as this day of love triggers individuals to take that additional step and ask the person they have had a crush on for some time out on a date. Given that the majority of individual’s time is spent in the workplace it is not unusual that such a declaration of intent to want to date or declaration of love are not announced within the workplace. Rather than encourage such workplace romances Employers should be encouraged to look towards their relationship at work policy to establish if there are any breaches by the pending love birds.
As an Employer when you reach for that Work Handbook and note that there is no such policy, a wave of dread might wash over you. Having two Employees form a personal relationship can have a huge impact within the workplace. As an Employer, what are you going to do in relation to kissing or holding hands between the “lovebirds” in the workplace, what about those e-mail communications that are sent via your e-mail system and if the relationship breaks down how will the atmosphere between the parties effect your other employees and what happens when all those “lovey dovey” e-mail messages start becoming a cause of concern.
If one of the love bird’s behaviour becomes inappropriate what, as an Employer would you do to bring the employee back into line?
The truth is the impact of relationships to a small business can be huge and so can the fines that small business owner could have to pay out if sexual harassment is established.
Even solicitor’s firms are not immune to large pay-outs for sexual harassment. In August 2015 Bolton based AA Solicitors Ltd was ordered to pay £20,000.00 to a younger female Solicitor after the young female Solicitor was dismissed when she declined his advances. More recently a small business owner has been ordered to pay £4,500.00 for persistently informing a male colleague that he should ask a female colleague out on a date. This made the male employee feel extremely uncomfortable at work especially given the female colleague had already got a boyfriend. £4,500.00 for many small business is a large sum to pay and therefore we would strongly encourage business to ensure a workplace policy dealing with purpose of relationships.
Our colleagues over the pond are now introducing “Love Contracts” which require Employees in relationships at work to confirm that they are both in a consensual relationship and signs them up to dos and don’ts within the workplace. Thankfully such contracts here are not required and certainly not encouraged by us and actually depending on the restraints that play upon the individuals could be deemed as a breach of human rights and certainly such contracts are not enforceable within the Employment Tribunals currently.
If our Employments Services department can help you with the preparing of policies and procedures, please do contact Salena Dawson for a transparent quote.
Wishing you all a very happy Valentine’s Day.
Separation and Divorce often leads to uncertainty, arguments, disagreement and some very difficult discussions between the parties.
Even through the conciliatory act of mediation, separating couples find themselves talking about how the break will affect them in the short and long term and that fine detail can seem like a vast ocean to cross especially as it comes under the header of “Negotiation”.
The PM’s long awaited speech set out the objectives for the UK’s divorce from the EU. Like many couples who begin by believing that holding on to some aspects of the assets may be beneficial, as time moves it becomes more apparent a Clean Break is Desirable and the time has come just to get on with.
The New Global UK’s ambition has been set. It intends to leave the EU single market, Gain Control Over Immigration, Be in Control of its Own Laws and seek a new Custom Arrangement. Although these are big factors, couples make a similar list at a domestic level: house, bank accounts, cat, kids, shed, holiday home?
You could be forgiven for thinking of Bridget Jones throughout Mrs Mays speech, the part where empowered music plays and Bridget takes back control of her life. Mrs May was clear to Europe and her opposition, its time to do what’s right for the nation. Like parents on separation – its time to act in the children’s best interests.
The PM’s pledge is ambitious and only time will tell if it is achievable. However Sometimes in separation it is difficult to appreciate there is life around the corner. What you must do is rely heavily on the support you must stay strong professional and other wise.
Dawsons Law pride themselves in assisting couples get that position of co-operation after separation and divorce. Perhaps the PM should give us a call 01953 883535
The laws on children car seats is soon to change with the new regulations set to be in force from March 2017. But do you know what these changes are? Are YOU ready?
The rules on children travelling on backless booster seats are set to change.
At the moment, it is usually children who are over the age of three years and by law must weigh more than 15 kilograms who can travel in a car on a backless booster seat.
From March the rules will state that a child may only travel on a backless booster seat if they weigh more than 22 kilograms and they are more than 125 centimetres tall. It is believed that these new requirements will improve the safety of children travelling in a car in the event of a side on crash.
These changes will affect the whole of the United Kingdom.
DON’T PANIC! Although these changes are due to be enforced from March, if you already have a car seat for your child you will not need to buy a new one to comply with the new rules. The car seats available now do meet the current safety standards required.
The consequences for not having a child travel on the correct car seat can be a £30.00 fine for the driver of the vehicle. If the case goes to court, the maximum fine is £500.00.
Dawsons Law is your Solicitors Firm; we are here to serve you. If you require legal advice in relation to your children or family, put your mind at ease and contact us on 01953 883535 or 01603 813920.
The causes of dementia have been linked to where people live, with research indicating that approximately 11% of dementia cases in people who live within fifty metres of busy roads could be due to the volume of traffic. The study found that the further away from a busy road you live the lower the risk of dementia.
Of course, this is new information and further research will be conducted on these findings. There are many risk factors for dementia such as ageing, genetics, smoking, physical inactivity and unhealthy diet to name a few…
In fact, nearly 50 million people suffer from dementia worldwide.
So how can you prepare for the unthinkable in case you brain and mind does not work in later years as it does now? BY PREPARING LASTING POWERS OF ATTORNEY NOW!
Appoint the people you trust to make future decisions on your behalf and in your best interests to protect you if you are no longer able to make those decisions. Did you forget to make a New Years Resolution for this year? Why not speak to your family and friends and make these decisions now so you are prepared for what the future brings your way. Plus, it will be a tick off the list of things to do you had been putting off last year!
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney; Health and Welfare, and Property and Financial Affairs so all aspects of your personal care and your financial matters can be dealt with if the unimaginable happens by having both types prepared.
We are able to prepare Lasting Powers of Attorney for both Health and Welfare, and, Property and Financial Affairs, for a Fixed Fee price of £350.00 plus VAT which includes our work to register them with the court. There is also a registration fee payable to the Office of Public Guardian of £110.00 per document which may be payable to the court. Fee Remission may apply in some circumstances.
Get ahead and prepare for your future this New Year, book an appointment by calling either 01953 883535 or 01603 813920.
Christmas is a time for family, friends and loved ones but families are never straightforward…
It is not uncommon for Clients to prepare Wills and have close family members who they wish to exclude from their Will. Sometimes there are family members you may want to benefit more than others from the Will, for example, by leaving unequal amounts to children, grandchildren or siblings.
Recent challenges being made to Wills by family members have been receiving media coverage;
v Heather Ilott’s late mother Melita Jackson left the majority of her estate to three animal charities. Mrs Ilott challenged the Will and was awarded a six-figure payout. The charities are now challenging the payout to Mrs Ilott.
v Iain Hayward recently disputed his father’s Will after he was left a harp and the rest of the estate was left to his sister and his father’s grandchildren. Mr Hayward argued that his father was not capable of making a Will at the time he signed the Will. His father had predicted that the Will would be challenged by Mr Hayward and had seen his doctor who confirmed he had capacity to make a Will at that time. Mr Hayward’s challenge to the Will was unsuccessful as a Judge this week ruled that his father had capacity at the time the Will was made.
You can prepare a Declaration under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 to give the reasons why you have excluded a particular person from your Will. Although the Declaration cannot prevent a challenge to your Will, it shows clear intention that you do not want that particular person to benefit from the Will itself and makes it harder for your Will to be challenged.
Despite the government recently refusing to cut divorce court fees, this does not mean that you cannot afford a divorce.
You don’t have to be a rich Hollywood A lister to be able to commence divorce proceedings like Brangelina!
The new divorce fee of £550.00 was introduced on the 21st March 2016 which increased the previous fee of £410.00 by £140.00. This was a shocking 34% increase to the divorce court fee. This rise in fees was done to generate income for court services as funds have been taken away from court services by the government cuts in recent years.
The government have recently stated that ‘there is no evidence so far that the fee increase has led to a fall in applications for a divorce’, and therefore it will stay at £550.00 for the time being despite the huge surge in price.
If you are on a low income and are worrying about the court fee we can assist you in making an application for the fee to be reduced when starting divorce proceedings. If successful, this application can reduce the fee by a certain amount depending on your financial circumstances.
We are able to assist you through the divorce process and offer Fixed Fee divorce prices whether you are the Petitioner or the Respondent to the divorce proceedings. Further, we offer interest free monthly payments as an alternative way of paying our costs to make divorce more affordable.
If you are separated or thinking of getting a divorce do not hesitate to contact the office to make an appointment with Sophie Mitchell, our family law solicitor, on 01953 883535 or 01603 813920.
***DON’T FORGET – WE HOLD FREE 20 MINUTE FREE GENERAL ADVICE SESSIONS ON WEDNESDAY MORNINGS AT OUR WATTON OFFICE – CALL THE OFFICE FOR MORE INFORMATION AND BOOK A SLOT TO AVOID DISAPPOINTMENT***
It has been reported that in the last ten years the number of whiplash claims have risen by 50%. This as a statistic on its own is shocking, but even more so is the fact that one in nine claims for whiplash are thought to be fraudulent.
Whiplash is a common injury claim which motorists can apply for through their insurance company, with the AA reporting that 750,000 of the 800,000 small claims made through the courts last year were regarding whiplash. Insurance companies have called it the ‘whiplash epidemic’.
This week car insurers have announced that they plan on doing either one of the following;
1. To cap the amount of compensation that can be claimed by someone who suffers from whiplash. The suggested maximum compensation pay-out is £425.00. With the current average pay-out being £1,850.00 this would be a huge reduction in money available.
2. To completely cut the compensation to those who suffer whiplash injuries in England and Wales.
Hand in hand with this statement car insurers have also said that with these proposals car insurance could be reduced by £40.00 per year.
But what about those who are genuinely hurt and suffering from whiplash because of an accident and want to claim? The Association of British Insurers say the proposals will ‘give honest motorists a better deal’. Those who suffer from whiplash may need to provide a medical report by a medical expert before claims are paid out, and, a staggered payment system may be established for injuries suffered in a vehicle accident which would place whiplash on the lower end of the pay-out scale.
If you have suffered an injury, whether in a road traffic accident or elsewhere, and require legal advice give us a call on 01953 883535 or 01603 813920 to speak to our friendly team.
On the 3rd November 2016 the High Court ruled that Parliament must vote on whether Britain can begin the process to leave the European Union (EU). But what does this court ruling actually mean?
Put simply, the Government cannot currently begin exit negotiations with the EU. However, this does not now mean that Britain will not be leaving the EU.
Lets start at the beginning…. On the 23rd June 2016 a Referendum was held to decide whether Britain should leave the EU. The results were incredibly close, with 52% of voters wanting to leave compared to 48% of voters who wanted to remain. Britain therefore voted to leave the EU.
In order to begin the process of leaving the EU, Article 50 would need to be triggered which would give Britain and the EU two years to agree the terms of Britain’s exit.
Campaigners who opposed the Referendum outcome to leave the EU back in June 2016 say that it is unlawful for Britain to leave the EU without MPs voting on the decision. They therefore challenged the Prime Minister, Theresa May’s, right to trigger Article 50.
The High Court ruled in favour of the campaigners yesterday and stated that Britain could not leave the EU without the MPs agreement that the Prime Minister can start the Brexit negotiations. Although this could mean that the MPs can decide not to allow negotiations to start, it would be unlikely due to the Referendum result and the fact that the majority of voters wanted to leave the EU.
The court challenge could delay the start of the process to leave the EU as the Prime Minister had planned to begin exit talks with the EU by the end of March 2017.
The Government is appealing the High Court decision, with the next Hearing expected to start in December 2016.
Although the outcome of Brexit is still unknown, we can guarantee that we are open for business to serve you in our community. If you require legal assistance do not hesitate to call us on 01953 883535 or 01603 813920 for a quote today.
Its October, and that means one particular legal update for businesses to be aware of; changes to the National Minimum Wage. Are you paying your staff the correct wage in line with the National Minimum Wage?
For businesses and Employers, and I am sure Employees too, you are probably aware that there have been changes to the National Minimum Wage on the 1st October 2016. The National Minimum Wage has increased for all workers under twenty five, with the wage staying at £7.20 an hour and not increasing for workers aged twenty five and over. This being the current Living Wage implemented last year.
The new National Minimum Wages are as follows;
From 1st October 2016
Age 25 and over - £7.20
Age 21 to 24 - £6.95
Age 18 to 20 - £5.55
Age 16 to 17 - £4.00
Apprentices - £3.40
The government have also decided to amend the Minimum Wage Calendar, so these rates set on the 1st October 2016 for minimum wages will only be current until the 31st March 2017. Therefore, from April next year the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage will be reviewed at that same time each year.
The Low Pay Commission, an independent body who advise the government on the National Minimum Wage, have recently suggested that the National Living Wage will be £7.64 by April 2017.
Further, the Low Pay Commission predict that by 2020 the National Living Wage will be over £9.00 an hour.
Whether you are an Employer or Employee, we can advise you on your employment issues. For Employees, we offer free general advice appointments on employment matters*. Contact the office today to make an appointment to receive city legal expertise, locally.
*Subject to Terms and Conditions
England is a nation full of football fanatics – do you know a household without a football fan?
It may have come as a shock to England fans when Sam Allardyce’s reign as the Senior England Men’s Football Team Manager ended earlier this week, after only 67 days in charge and having managed only one international game during that time.
According to the Daily Telegraph, Sam Allardyce advised undercover reporters posing as businessmen how to "get around" player transfer rules. This was before he had even taken charge of his first England training session!
The Football Association and Sam Allardyce mutually agreed to terminate his contract with immediate effect soon after the allegations and footage was published. It has been stated that he was not allowed to resign but had to leave by “mutual consent”. It was reported that if he had not agreed to that terminology, he would have been sacked.
If your employment has recently come to an end and you are negotiating your exit with your Employers, come and seek advice and clarification.
Perhaps you have been given a Settlement Agreement? Settlement Agreements are legally binding contracts which can be used to end an employment relationship on agreed terms. We can advise you on the terms of your Settlement Agreement.
Are you living with your partner? Are you married? In recent years there has been a significant increase in cohabitation, that is living together as a married couple without having married or formed a civil partnership. In fact, The Office of National Statistics recently published that they have found that approximately 10% of adults are not married but living with a partner in England and Wales. Between 2004 to 2015, cohabiting couple families have been the fastest growing family type in Britain.
Although society has changed its attitude towards marriage and cohabitation, the law surrounding the breakdown of cohabiting relationships has failed to reflect this progression.
“But we have been together 20 years, I am a common law spouse so I must be entitled to something?” This is a question we hear a lot and to clarify there is no such thing as a common law spouse. If you are not married and your relationship ends, separating cohabiting couples are not eligible to the same rights and entitlements as divorcing couples notwithstanding how long you have lived together. This can often lead to one partner of the cohabiting couple which splits in financial difficulties.
Divorcing couples, or civil partners whose relationships ends, will have a right to a share of the assets including pensions and savings gained throughout the marriage or partnership. This division of the assets determined by the legal system is not available to cohabiting couples.
There are some court applications available but these are not as straightforward as an application on divorce. If you jointly own the property that you live in your interest will be protected. If the property is in one parties name only the other may have a claim against the property which is dependent on a number of factors, if you have children together there may be claims that could be made under the Children Act and it is important you get legal advice on these complex areas of the law.
Perhaps you are engaged? Until you are legally married you are simply seen as cohabitees, and in law you are treated the same as an unmarried couple living together.
Its not all doom and gloom though, it may seem unromantic, but did you know Cohabitation Agreements are available?
Cohabitation Agreements put into writing who owns what and how everything is owned and can offer protection and security to both parties in the relationship.
A Cohabitation Agreement can set out living arrangements for both of you, for example, how much each of you will contribute towards the various bills, including the rent or mortgage, of the household.
Importantly, if things turn sour in your relationship you can also set out how everything is to be divided, such as your Property, belongings and monies in the bank. If you have children, you can provide for how you will support your children should the relationship end.
Provide clarity for you and your partner from the beginning of your cohabitation by preparing a Cohabitation Agreement with us or get advice on the breakdown of a cohabiting relationship. All you need to do is contact us to book an appointment with our Family Solicitor, Sophie Mitchell, at either our Watton (01953 883535) or Hethersett Office (01603 813920).
Shockingly, even in the 21st century, pregnancy discrimination is not uncommon. The EOC’s (Equal Opportunities Commission) investigation into pregnancy discrimination in 2005 found that over the next five years one million pregnant women were likely to experience discrimination at work.
Are you a new mum with a Court Appearance looming? Is the Hearing near to your birth date?
So, how does the court review consider the status new mums at court?
The court has gone some way to tackle this by introducing the Equal Treatment Bench Book in 2013. Significantly, these are only guidelines for judges, magistrates and all other court staff, and not rules which have to be followed. Therefore, the courts are merely ‘recommend’ changes for pregnant women in courts and tribunals.
The guidelines suggest that pregnant women and new mothers should always be considered in any proceedings either as parties, witnesses or representatives. Therefore, the court should factor in additional breaks.
1. Women who are breastfeeding should be accommodated in any case management decisions.
2. A woman who is heavily pregnant or has just given birth should not be expected to attend a court or tribunal unless she feels able to do so. This would be at least one month before the birth and at least two months after the birth.
3. Breaks should be allowed for breastfeeding.
4. It may be possible to conduct a hearing with a baby or child in the court provided the baby or child is not disrupting the hearing, for example, by crying or making noise. This is a decision for the Judge who has to decide whether it is appropriate for the child to see and hear the proceedings.
So, if you are a new mum and due to attend court, make the court aware of your situation as soon as the court date is listed. Further, make sure your needs are considered by the court. If you feel that you are not be heard by the court, please do not hesitate to contact us today on 01953 883535 or 01603 813920 for advice.
Are you in a common law marriage? Does your friend say that she is a common law wife? Have you been with your "common law husband" for decades? Have your parents said they are in a common law marriage? Contrary to widespread belief, common law marriage does not exist.
In an ever changing world where relationships are varying and evolving, it has become the norm for couples to cohabit rather than marry. This is quite a shake up from the 1970s and earlier when it was a taboo subject. What is arguably even more shocking than this change in the norm are the statistics relating to common law marriage. A survey from Advicenow found that over 68% of 25 to 34 year olds believe cohabiters have the same rights as married couples.
This is not a new concept. Common law marriage has not existed in England since the 1500s!
Unless you are married to another person, when a relationship ends, regardless of the years you have spent together, you do not have the same laws to rely upon as divorcing couples when dividing your finances and will find that you may have to seek a solution by implementing trust laws.
‘What if my partner dies without a Will?’ Regardless if you have been together for months, years or decades, if you are unmarried and there is no Will in place you will not be entitled to their estate. This is true even if you own a Property with your partner as Tenants in Common (in separate shares), you would not be entitled to their share. To try and secure a part of your partners estate, when there is no Will, you would need to make an application under Inheritance Laws, which could be very costly. Do make a Will.
Although there is no such thing as common law marriage, if your relationship with your partner has come to an end, whether you are married or not, Dawsons Law can give you straightforward advice to put your mind at ease. We also can prepare your Will on a fixed fee basis.
Uniquely, if you are seeking general advice relating to the end of your relationship we do offer Free 20 Minute Appointments at our weekly sessions at the Watton Office (terms may apply). Alternatively, if you require more specific advice, we do offer competitively priced Fixed Fee Appointments.
We can help you see things more clearly. All you need to do is give us a call on 01953 883535 or 01603 813920.
So, the results from the EU Referendum are in and the British public have decided to leave the European Union (EU).
The Referendum drew the highest number of voters in a UK-wide vote since the General Election in 1992! In Breckland, which includes Watton, there was a turnout of 74.3% and in South Norfolk, which includes Hethersett, there was a turnout of 78.5%. Both in Breckland and South Norfolk, a higher number of constituents voted to leave than remain in the EU.
Nationally it was a close result, with 51.9% voting to leave and 48.1% voting to remain, but what does this mean for the future of Great Britain?
The Referendum outcome has had some immediate effect; following the announcement of the result the pound fell to its lowest level against the dollar since 1985.
However, the exit process and the long term outlook for Britain is somewhat unknown as no member of the EU has ever left the Union. Further, negotiations are unlikely to commence until October 2016, following the resignation of David Cameron as Prime Minister earlier today.
Leaving the EU will not happen in the blink of an eye; it will take some time for Britain to leave. Therefore, EU Law will continue to apply in Britain until we complete the exit process. Whilst deciding the withdrawal agreement Britain will not be able to take part in any decision making.
Britain can leave the EU through one of two options; negotiation between Britain and the EU to make an agreement, or, not implementing an agreement which would lead to Britain’s membership of the EU ending two years after informing the EU that Britain wants to leave.
Who knows what form the BREXIT will take? But what we do know is we are here and open for business. Our service to you will not change. We are proudly solicitors at the heart of your community whether that be in or out of Europe.
The RSPCA found that every one in two households own a pet, and there are an estimated 8.5 million pet dogs and 7.4 million pet cats in the UK.
We all love our pets and see them as family members, bringing joy to our lives. But, have you considered what would happen to your pet if you were no longer around?
Did you know that you can include your pets in your Will? So amongst leaving your mothers wedding ring and your fathers vintage car, you can leave your pet as well! You can choose who or where to leave your pet to; either family or friends, or a charity, there is somewhere you can leave your pet.
We would always advise that it is best to speak to the person or charity you plan to leave your pet to before you have your Will prepared.
Do not worry if you already have a Will. You can have a Codicil prepared to ensure that you look after your pet after you’re gone. A Codicil will add a clause to your Will ensuring your pet is cared for just as a Clause in your actual Will would do. Preparing a Codicil will not affect the provisions in your Will.
If you wish, you can leave money to the person or organisation you leave your pet to for its upkeep, insurance and veterinary bills. All you have to is decide the amount!
If you do not make any plans for your pet in your Will then you risk leaving your pet without a home and someone to care for it. So there is no confusion about your wishes and for peace of mind, plan for the future of your pet now.
Here at Dawsons Law, we can prepare Wills or Codicils for you on a Fixed Fee basis. During your appointment we will take your instructions – all you need to do is tell us what you would like to have happen to your pet. It’s simple, just give the office a call on 01953 883535 or 01603 813920 to make sure your pet is looked after if you are no longer able.
The Queen’s Speech in Parliament this week announced the laws that the government are planning to be introduce in the next twelve months. We would like to update our Clients of the government’s plans for the new laws which may be of particular interest to you.
The government propose to introduce laws giving local communities an opportunity to say more over their neighbourhood planning. They also plan to make compulsory purchase planning orders "clearer, fairer and faster," for the seller. The aim of the government is to change the planning laws to address the housing crisis whilst at the same time listening to the local community in their cry for the building of infrastructure to support the new housing areas being developed.
During the Queen’s Speech it was also suggested that a new law will be introduced ensuring there is a broadband connection for every household, and there will automatic compensation paid out if the connection goes wrong. Further, the government has proposed that new laws will be introduced to protect consumers from spam emails and nuisance calls by ensuring consent is obtained for direct marketing. Companies who do not seek your consent will be fined.
The government have several plans for the law regarding children in care. They plan to prioritise permanent adoption over short-term placements. The aim of this proposed law is to get children out of the care system and permanently adopted rather than sending children to live with relatives for short periods of time. Further, it has been proposed during the Queen’s Speech that the government want to make sure that children leaving care have better support. They plan to introduce a new social work regulator to focus on training and professional standards, and all care leavers are to have the right to have a personal adviser up to the age of twenty five. The government is clearly looking to improve the standard of support for those leaving care as they progress in to their adult life.
If you are driving with with young children, it has recently been announced that backless booster seats will banned for children below a certain height and weight. If your child is under 22 kilograms and under 125 centimetres in height, they will not be allowed to travel in a car on a backless booster seat. This will mean that smaller children will need a car seat, with a seat and supportive back, rather than just the booster seat element to sit on. This law is due to come in to force in December 2016. Experts have stated that small children are much better protected in a car crash when they are travelling in a booster seat with back support rather than a backless booster seat.
We will of course keep you updated with regards to the new laws being introduced via our website, on Facebook and on our Twitter @dawsonslaw.
Dawsons Law is your Solicitors Firm at the Heart of the Community; we are here to serve you. If you require legal advice, do put your mind at ease and contact us on 01953 883535 or 01603 813920.
On the 23rd June 2016 YOU can vote to decide whether Britain should leave or remain in the European Union (EU). It’s simple, all you need to do it go to your local polling station (or vote via post) and answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Obviously YOU must be Registered to Vote First.
But is it that simple? Your vote will shape the future of Britain as a nation (We are led to believe by both sides). If you are unsure of what to do on the day and need to know more about the referendum read on!
A referendum deciding Britain’s status in the EU has not been held since 1975 when Britain decided to stay in the EU. Therefore, this referendum is arguably overdue (And Argue the Politicians are); it is the first vote deciding Britain’s position in the EU for over forty years.
The EU is a political and economic union of European countries, allowing people and goods to move between the countries as if the member states were one country. The EU has its own parliament and its own currency which the majority of member states share.
You need to make sure you have registered to vote by the 7th June 2016. If you do not register you cannot vote and your opinion will not be heard. You can vote if you are over eighteen and are a British, Irish or Commonwealth citizen who resides in the UK. UK nationals living abroad can vote if they have been on the electoral register in the last fifteen years.
If Britain stays in the EU some changes to Britain’s position in the EU have already been agreed. Britain will keep the pound, and other members of the EU will not discriminate against Britain for not taking on the euro. Migrant welfare payments will be reduced so when low paid workers arrive in Britain they will not be entitled to claim for all benefits immediately; instead the workers will be able to claim more benefits the longer they stay in Britain. Britain will not be moving towards a closer union like many of the member states will be, in fact, it will be easier for the government to block unwanted laws under the new system.
Why leave the EU? Those wanting to exit believe the EU has restrictive laws on British businesses, and they say the EU does not benefit the British economy as Britain pays more in to the EU budget than they receive from it. They want stricter border control and they want the number of people coming to work in Britain reduced.
Why remain in the EU? Those wanting to stay believe that selling products to other EU members will be easier if Britain remains in the EU. Further, they encourage the movement of people stating that these people boost the British economy and help pay towards public services. They believe Britain would be better in the EU than out as a sole nation.
What about the result? The outcome of the referendum will be announced after the closing of the polling stations at 10.00pm on the 23rd June 2016 once the votes have been counted.
Ok, So this is very small snapshot. Further impartial information for business owners can be found on www.fsb.org.uk and on for all on websites such as www.bbc.co.uk It is important to become informed because the truth is what we decided in June will shape the future for generations to come, politically, economically, legally and socially.
Make sure your opinion is heard and vote on the 23rd June 2016 in the EU referendum!
We all want to grow old gracefully, or disgracefully, but whichever way we choose, we all would want to grow old with our marbles intact. But what would happen if you did lose your marbles?
Statistics provided by the Alzheimers Society show that 1 in every 79 people in the UK aged under 65 years and 1 in every 14 people in the UK suffer from dementia. This figure does not take into account other diseases which also affect a persons mental capacity. Therefore joking aside it is really important that as individuals (whilst we can) we act to assist Loved Ones to assist us, if the time comes when we can't help ourselves. The truth is the sooner, the better to start having this conversation with yourself and the ones you want to be your voice when you can longer act in your best interest.
So Lasting Powers of Attorney are available just in case you do lose your marbles… Or in the case of Property and Finance (with marbles in tact) you want to give permission to another to act upon your behalf.
Lasting Powers of Attorneys are legal documents which can be created to protect you and your affairs. By being prepared when you have mental capacity, if you should lose your mental capacity, you can ensure that the people looking after you know your wishes. You can make sure decisions about you are made in your best interests.
You appoint ‘Attorneys’, who are the people you choose to make decisions on your behalf if you lose your capacity.
There are two types of Lasting Powers of Attorney;
- Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney allow your Attorneys to make decisions about your day to day care. It allows your Attorneys to help make decisions about your medical care. It allows you to decide who you would like to make decisions about life sustaining treatment. This Lasting Power of Attorney can only be used by your Attorneys if you lose mental capacity.
Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Powers of Attorney allow your Attorneys to speak to your bank or building society on your behalf. It allows your Attorneys to pay your bills and collect any benefits or pension payments on your behalf. This Lasting Power can be used as soon as its registered or if you lose mental capacity; the decision is yours.
Within your Lasting Powers of Attorney, you can give instructions and state wishes of what you would like to happen should you lose capacity.
Dawsons Law prepare Lasting Powers of Attorney for a fixed fee price of £250 plus VAT (or £350 plus Vat) OPG fee may apply. We do NOT charge and additional amount for the application for registration.
Free Home Visits available in Watton or Hethersett
You can book an appointment with Victoria Holland now by telephoning 01953 883535 or 01603 813920, and prepare for your future.
Are you married? Divorced? Separated? Engaged?
Many of you reading this may be in one of the above, and you may be surprised to know that the status of your relationship affects the validity of your Will. Has there been a significant change in your life? Perhaps you have never made a Will. Whatever your relationship status is, it can affect your Will in variety of ways.
Getting married or forming a civil partnership will automatically make your Will invalid if not made in contemplation of these events. If you have made a Will and have since married, this Will is not legally enforceable.
Contrary to common belief, divorce does not make your Will invalid. However, divorce does cancel any provisions in the Will relating to your ex-spouse. If you named other people in your Will other than your ex-spouse in your Will, your estate will pass to these people as you directed in your Will. If you only named your ex-spouse to benefit from your Will, your estate may be distributed as directed by the law rather than how you wish it to be. It is therefore always recommended that you make a new Will once your divorce has been finalised by the court.
Unmarried couples and couples who have not registered their civil partnership cannot automatically inherit from each other unless there is a Will. This can lead to serious financial problems for the surviving partner.
Are you and your partner waiting to get married? Did you know you can make a Will if you are intending to get married? You are able to make a Will when you are planning to get married so long as it is clear in the Will that you would like your Will to be valid once you are married. This can be done by naming the person you are planning to marry. This is known as making a Will ‘in contemplation of marriage’.
Looking for a wedding gift for the newly married couple why not buy them a Mirror Will Voucher with Dawsons Law? Or Married couple to be put a Mirror Will with Dawsons Law on your Wedding Gift List.
Whether you are worried about the status of your Will or have never made a Will before, please do not hesitate to call the office to make an appointment now on 01953 883535 or 01603 813920.
How is the budget going to affect you? Are you a small business owner? Are you an Employee? Read here to see how the budget will impact on your life. This afternoon George Osbourne the Chancellor announced the budget that will impact small business owners and employees alike for the next year. Below are just some of the decisions that have been made.
For those of our Clients who work, the tax-free personal income allowance is being raised to £11,500 in 2017. The government have stated that they plan to increase this to £12,500 by 2020. This will reportedly give approximately 31 million people a tax cut. The rate at which workers start 40% income tax is to be raised from £42,385 to £45,000 from April next year.
For those of our Clients who are business owners, there will be reforms to business rates which will mean 600,000 small businesses will pay no rates from April next year and 250,000 will have their rates cuts from April 2017. It has also been announced that a new threshold for small business rate relief is to increase from £6,000 to £15,000. Further, cooperation tax is to be reduced to 17% by April 2020. A further announcement was made regarding commercial stamp duty. This reform will benefit small firms with approximately 90% of small firms paying less stamp duty or being unaffected, however 9% of firms will pay more. The commercial stamp duty will be set at 0% on purchases up to £150,000, 2% on next the £100,000 and 5% top rate above £250,000. This will be effective from midnight tonight.
For our Clients who are saving, the yearly annual ISA limit is to increase next year from around £15,000 to £20,000. It has also been announced that anyone under the age of forty will be able to open a lifetime ISA. For every £4 you save, the government will give you £1 until you are fifty. The money can be used to save for a pension, or for a home. If you have already starting saving in a help-to-buy ISA, you will be able transfer this ISA into this schemes.
Fuel duty has been frozen for the sixth year in a row. This reportedly saves the average driver £75.00 per year.
Turning to food and drink, a sugar tax is to be introduced to the drinks industry from 2018. This will be a tax on the manufacturing companies, but no doubt this tax will be passed on to the consumers by increasing the prices. The money is to be used to spend on sports in schools, schools will be able to apply for money to extend the school day and fund more sports activities.
If you seek business advice or assistance from start-ups to taking on employees, dealing with disputes or collection of debt then contact Salena Dawson @dawsonslaw
Cats those independent furry animals who purr their way into our homes, wake you from a deep slumber, come and go as they please and only want fuss at their demand. But Yet we still love our cats. We are a nation of cat lovers. Cats are the second most popular pet in the UK, over the next few days we are going to be giving advice everyone who is looking after or is thinking about looking after a cat needs to know.
We know they come and go as they want. We know they are Independent so Do cats have legal owners?
Contrary to common belief, cats are the property of their owner. You may believe that you simply share your home with your cat, which is your companion and friend, but it does legally belong to you. Even if your cat has strayed or is lost, you are still its owner and therefore responsible for the actions of your cat.
It is illegal to abandon your cat. If you can no longer look after your cat you would need to contact a rescue centre which would then become the owner of your cat.
To see the Dawsons Law Cat - Charles Judas Magoo - Look on Twitter @dawsonslaw.
Tomorrow We shall let you know what to do if your cat is stollen.
The Court of Protection opened up to the public and media for the first time this year.
The Court of Protection hears cases for those people who do not have mental capacity to make their own decisions. The Court can decided on issues of welfare and financial matters. Although opening up the Court to the public and media, will allow for a better understanding by the public as to the decisions the Court of Protection can, make it is incumbent upon it to ensure that privacy of individuals is protected.
To apply for the Court of Protection to decide what should happen to a family member or friend, because that person can no longer make such decisions themself is costly, but luckily with the onset LPA's we have a solution to save the need for the Court of protection to get involved.
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA's) are designed to reduce the number of persons needing to make applications to the Court of Protection. LPA's allow individuals to decide (whilst they still have mental capacity) who should make decision upon their behalf on matters of health, welfare, property and finance. For example you can make decisions about your daily care, medical care, sale of your property if you no longer are able to live there, if your attorneys should get paid, life sustaining treatment....... A person entering into an LPA can appoint family, friends or a professional to be an attorney for them and therefore can have the peace of mind that it is the actual person of their choosing, who has agreed to take on the role of attorney, if it is required.
LPA's are an inexpensive way to to get the ducks all in the row you desire.
If you would like more information on LPA's or Court of Protection please contact Victoria on 01953 883535
The Supreme Court has shown that it will not stand for dishonesty in Matrimonial Financial Settlement cases and the consequences of being dishonest will mean the Courts can reopen matrimonial financial cases for re-negotiation.
In the recent cases of Varasha Gohil and Alison Sharland the ex- spouses were given the right to challenge their divorce settlements due to findings that their ex-husbands had misled the Courts at the original hearings. This may lead to both ex-wives receiving an increase in Matrimonial Financial Settlement. So is your Matrimonial Financial Settlement Order open to challenge?
From 1st October Smoking in vehicles carrying children under 18 years has come into force.
The ban is a restriction on drivers and passengers who will face a £50 fine if caught.
Opening a window or sunroof will not be a defence. However smoking would be allowed if in a convertible car with the roof down.
The ban will not apply to e-cigarettes
Employers will not be liable for the act of their employees smoking in company cars with children present
The term Zero Hour Contracts has gained more usage over the passed few years but you may have a contract called a Casual Hour Contract instead.
As a result of the popularity of the use by employers of Zero Hour Contracts, legislative measures have been required to stop employers exploiting employees through the use of Zero Hour Contracts.
So what are the recent changes and how could they effect an employee with a Zero Hour Contract?
In the first survey conducted since the 2015 UK General Election, The Federation of Small Business (FSB) reveals its results as to what small firms want from the next government.
The ten issues small business want new Government to focus on in the next five years are:
1. Reduce Regulatory Burden
2. Introduce a more simplified Tax System
3. Reform Business rates
4. Improve Employability Skills of young people
5. Deliver Improved Broadband/Mobile Connectivity
6. Help UK Business to Crate More Jobs
7. Tackle Late Payments
8. Lower Energy Costs For Businesses
9. Ensure better Access To Finance
10. Increase Investment in Infrastructure
Further information of this survey can be found at www.ibacksmallbusiness.com/website
Salena Dawson is an active member of the FSB Mid-Norfolk Branch and actively seeks ways to bring skills to local rural community's.
"The value to me in being a member of the FSB is the wealth of knowledge it gives on a range of national and local issues. As a member of the FSB I have been able to forward my want and desire to have the voice of local business heard. The FSB to me is not about the financial savings on banking or card services it can provide a member. The true value to me is being able to lobby on issues important to small business, its about having my voice heard, its about seeing change occur, its about being able to engage with our politicians to tell them what we need to grow"
Dawsons Law is a business. Its a small community business which offers legal services. For this reason we appreciate the needs, wants and struggles of local business, this is why when local business come to us for Legal, Employment or HR advice we are able to give the straightforward solution we know you desire.
Dawsons Law is proud to support the #ibacksmallbusiness campaign.
Long Term Sickness Absence (LTSA) can have a huge impact on a business and more so if that business is a small to medium enterprise or indeed a rural business where skills to cover the LTSA are hard to come by. Therefore managing the workplace due to an individuals long term sickness absence is important, this needs a robust policy which can be followed to ensure minimum impact other employees and the needs of the business.
What is long term sickness absence? There is no statutory definition but healthcare guidance suggests this is absence from the workplace for 4 weeks or more weeks.
Dawsons law advise Small businesses to look at defining within the Sick Policy or Handbook a lesser time period than 4 weeks being LTSA (For Example two weeks away from the workplace due to Sickness being defines as LTSA). The benefit of a robust policy and procedure being Employers will intervene sooner by seeking cover to replace the individual whilst absent.
A Written policy and procedure dealing with LTSA focusses Employers. This prevents the absence drag on without internal action. Waiting to find a solution to the absence could impact the other employees potentially causing a snowball of absence effect as those left behind may find the increased workload for the long-term too difficult to deal with.
Intervening earlier and managing the individual on LTSA can also help Employers consider the individuals needs on returning back to the workplace. A phased return may require consideration. Again the sooner this is established and managed the easier the transition back to the workplace will be for both the Employee and Employer. Changes in role or responsibilities of the individual may need to be considered depending on the reason for the sickness absence. If sick absence is due to age related sickness, the considerations for intervention will differ to that of an Employee with depression. Your business needs clarity on how to deal with individuals on LTSA.
Do you know in your business whose responsibility it is to manage LTSA? And do they know what procedures to follow? Do you have any procedures to follow?
Employers should consider securing a medical report for the individual in order to understand and best assist the transition back to the workplace. Use the support of Occupational Health services and those who know the law to help with reasonable adjustments that may need to be made. We can advise as to when, how and from who, a Medical Report should be requested.
Should you keep in touch with an individual on LTSA? Yes, it keeps the individual connected to the business and keeps communication alive. Sometimes individuals feel isolated from the workplace due to LTSA. keeping in touch is off course dependent on the circumstances of the absence. Dawsons Law can advise on what is appropriate given each individual circumstance.
In order to retain the Employee, Employers may look to alternatives to ensure the individual is able to return to work, these could be reduced hours, flexible hours, home-working, reduction of responsibility.
In the event the employee is not able to return the Employer may consider dismissal on Capability Grounds. Alternatives could be a Settlement Agreement or early Retirement
If you require advice do call for an appointment. We undertake onsite appointments or you could attend our office in Watton or Hethersett.
The recently reported case of Wyatt v Vince in the Supreme Court is a timely reminder that without a clean break order in place you continue to be at risk of an ex-spouse making an application for financial remedies at any time after your divorce has been finalised in this case the application was made after 22 years and according to the Supreme Court the Applicant Wife should be allowed to proceed with her application.
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