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.