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.
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.
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