Legal Advice with Russell & Russell

Russell and Russell Solicitors can deal with all the legal aspects of your new life together. Whether you’re buying or selling a property, looking to protect your assets, thinking about starting a family or want to leave your possessions to those you care about, we can help.

We’ve nine offices across the North West; in Bolton, Atherton, Bury, Chester, Farnworth, Horwich and Middleton. And, because anything can happen at any time, we’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Call us on 0800 103 2600 or visit

Government faces revolt over probate fee hike..Read why below..

Plans to introduce a new fee structure for probate applications have suffered a setback after a parliamentary panel of experts claimed they are unlawful.

Applications for granting probate are currently charged at £215 on estates valued over £5,000, but lord chancellor, Liz Truss recently announced a new model that could see executors, and ultimately beneficiaries, being charged up to £20,000 from the beginning of May. For more details about this, see our news article from 21st March 2017 at

The findings of the report adds further pressure on Liz Truss to review the charges following overwhelming opposition from respondents of the initial consultation carried out by the Ministry of Justice. An online petition against the charges has already reached 300,000 signatures. The report also calls for the fees to “have the attention of both houses”, raising the possibility of them being delayed if not scrapped altogether.

The MoJ believes the new fee structure will raise £300m towards the cost of running the courts and tribunals service. The parliamentary joint committee on statutory instruments, however, questioned whether “the lord chancellor may use the power to prescribe non-contentious probate fees for the purpose of funding services (the courts) which executors do not seek to use”.

Judith Bromley, head of wills and probate at Russell and Russell and a member of Solicitors for the Elderly, said: “We’re delighted to see the Select Committee has confirmed what was clear from the offset – the Government’s probate fee hikes are nothing more than a backdoor tax and the MOJ has acted beyond its powers in enforcing these changes.

“Our hope now is that the Government re-evaluates these fees, and at the very least, finds a fairer way of structuring them”.


Tue, 18 Apr 2017 13:23:27 +0100

Published on - Tue, 18 Apr 2017

Judith takes on Everest base camp challenge

Judith Bromley, partner in charge of the wills and probate department at Russell and Russell, is set to take on one of the most physical challenges in the world in a bid to raise money for a local charity.

On 14th April Judith will fly to Nepal to prepare for the 12 day trek to Everest base camp. Her mission is to raise funds to mark the 25th anniversary of Bolton Hospice, which has been providing free care for adults facing life-limiting illnesses since it opened its doors in 1992.

Starting her trek from the southern side of Everest, Judith will put her 12 months of training into practice to take on the epic 17,600 ft hike. From Kathmandu, she will take a short plane ride to Lukla to begin a two day walk to the village of Namche Bazaar where she will begin her altitude acclimatisation. From there, she will trek for another two days to reach Dingboche, stopping to acclimatise again before making a further two day hike which will  take her to Everest base camp.

Anyone wishing to contribute towards Judith’s quest can make a donation via her just giving page at

Wed, 12 Apr 2017 10:12:38 +0100

Published on - Wed, 12 Apr 2017

Supporting the inaugural Bury LGBT Pride

Bury Pride 2017

Russell and Russell will be attending Bury Pride this weekend. As the main sponsor, the firm is excited (not to mention very proud) to be involved in the first event of its kind in the town.

We’ll be taking part in the walking rainbow parade led by the Mayor, Cllr Mike Connolly and his consort, Ian Hargreaves. Starting from the Town Hall main entrance at 10.30am, the parade will make its way down Silver Street, through the town centre and return to finish at the main entrance to the Elizabethan Suite on Knowsley Street.  

A ticketed after party is being held at the Elizabethan Suite with entertainment and speeches throughout the day. We’ll also have a stand there, next to the main stage.

The event has grown to be larger than first anticipated and it promises to be a great day out for everyone. So, if you’re out and about this Saturday, why not show your support by popping over to Bury to watch the parade. See you there!

Wed, 05 Apr 2017 17:37:02 +0100

Published on - Wed, 05 Apr 2017

Supreme Court Rules Against Daughter Cut Out of Will

Three charities have won a landmark case against a woman cut out of her mother’s will at the Supreme Court.

Heather Ilott, an only child, was excluded from her mother’s will after eloping in 1978 at the age of 17 with her now husband. Mother and daughter never reconciled and when 70-year-old Melita Jackson died in 2004, she left most of her £486,000 estate to The Blue Cross, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA), despite having any real connection with them.

Mrs llott, a mother of five, had been living on state benefits with no pension when she challenged the will under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act in 2005. In 2007 a district judge awarded her £50,000 after ruling she had been “unreasonably” excluded. Mrs llott applied for a larger share of the money and the figure was increased by the Court of Appeal in 2015, granting her £164,000.

The charities counter appealed the ruling, stating that people are entitled to leave their estate to beneficiaries of their choosing. The Supreme Court agreed, reducing Mrs llott’s inheritance back to the original £50,000.

The charities argued that the appeal had been brought as a matter of principle that people should be free to choose who will benefit from their estate. Judith Bromley, head of wills and probate at Russell and Russell, agrees, saying that: “The judgement was a sensible decision made for testamentary freedom”. The situation, however, has raised questions from some of the judges about how the current law surrounding the Inheritance Act should be administered in the future.

If you want to talk to someone about making your will, we offer a free no obligation consultation to discuss your situation and advise what’s best for you. Call us on 01204 399 299. We also offer a 10% discount on our fees for all Canal Street card holders.

Learn more here

Thu, 23 Mar 2017 11:26:22 +0000

Published on - Thu, 23 Mar 2017

Government Hikes Probate Fees Despite Opposition

The government has pressed ahead with plans to increase probate fees by up to £20,000, despite overwhelming opposition.

Probate fees are paid up front by executors in order to allow beneficiaries access to money and assets left to them. Currently, the charge of £215 is payable on all estates worth over £5,000. From May, however, charges on applications for grants of probate will be linked to the size of the estate.

 Although, under the new rules, estates valued below £50,000 will be exempt, those worth between £50,000 and £300,000 will incur a charge of £300, whilst assets valued at £300,000 to £500,000 will be billed £1,000 – a 365% increase on the current fee.

Probate charges increase further to £4,000 on assets of £500,000 to £1million, rising again to £8,000 for estates worth between £1million and £1.6million and those valued up to £2 million will be subject to a fee of £12,000. Finally, the highest charging band is a £20,000 probate bill on estates valued above £2 million, accounting for an eye watering a 9,202% increase on the current probate fees.

The news comes despite less than 2% of respondents, most of which were legal experts and firms of solicitors, agreeing with the new charges in a consultation carried by the Ministry of Justice.

Lawyers argue that the changes amount to a new form of taxation as the current £215 fee fully meets the cost of the probate service. Critics are also worried that the new rules could cause problems for executors as the fee required to obtain a grant of probate has to be paid in advance. Without it, executors are unable to administer a deceased person’s estate.

The legal profession is also worried that those who are asset rich, but cash poor will find it difficult to raise the money required for the new fees. In particular, it has expressed concern about the financial pressure put on older people who will have to find the money for probate fees to access their spouse’s estate.

While the government has acknowledged the concern, it claims that the rise is necessary to subsidise the rest of the court system in order to continue to provide access to justice in the long term.  

Judith Bromley, head of wills and probate at Russell and Russell, said: “It’s laughable that the government went to all the trouble of going through a consultation process, only to completely ignore the findings when it didn’t get the answer it wanted. Charging people up to £20,000 for something that costs £215 is disgraceful.

“Since the housing boom, many homeowners have seen an increase in value of their properties, which means the value of their estate has gone up, but that doesn’t mean they have the money to pay for probate fees. I could understand it if larger estates required more paperwork for the grant of probate, but that simply isn’t the case. Probate is a purely administrative role and the current fee more than covers the cost of doing it, so this is nothing more than a thinly veiled stealth tax.”

For more on this and all other services available, visit

Wed, 15 Mar 2017 14:40:51 +0000

Published on - Wed, 15 Mar 2017

So, what are the differences between civil partnership and marriage?

The recent news regarding Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan losing their battle to have a civil partnership, rather than marriage, has raised questions over whether it should be extended to mixed sex couples.

The pair, who live in London and have a 20-month old daughter, want to legally fomalise their seven-year relationship, but believe marriage isn’t suitable for them. Instead, they want a partnership that is: “modern, (which is) symmetrical and that focuses on equality, which is exactly what a civil partnership is".

Another couple, Kate Stewart and Matthew Cole, share the same view. They had a civil partnership in Gibraltar in June last year. Having been together 10 years they wanted a ceremony that recognised they are equal, stating that marriage “is very much unequal depending on your religion”. The couple paid for the ceremony in pounds and have a certificate, but their civil partnership isn’t legally recognised in the UK.

While they aren’t opposed to marriage, they weren’t comfortable with it as they feel it has hangovers of inequality from the past. Instead, they believe civil partnership should be a choice for both gay and straight couples.

So, what are the differences between civil partnership and marriage?

You can dissolve your marriage on the grounds of adultery, but not in a civil partnership.In a civil ceremony you don’t have to exchange vows and you can include songs, readings and music, however, you can’t have any religious content. Marriages need to be carried out publicly and can be conducted by a member of the clergy, while civil partnerships can be held in private.# Only the names of the fathers of each party need to be included on a marriage certificate in contrast to a civil partnership where both parents are named

All three judges at the Court of Appeal agreed that there’s a potential breach of human rights and that the status quo couldn’t continue indefinitely, but the government is still to decide whether to extend civil partnerships to opposite-sex couples, abolish them or phase them out.

Conservative MP, Tim Loughton, who recently introduced a Private Member’s Bill to give mixed-sex couples the right to a civil partnership, believes the government has “no excuse” for delaying a change in the law as the bill received cross-party backing. The bill is due to be debated on 24th March.

In the meantime, Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan, who have collected more than 72,000 signatures to an online petition calling for civil partnerships to be open to all, intend to appeal to the Supreme Court.

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Wed, 08 Mar 2017 11:22:55 +0000

Published on - Wed, 08 Mar 2017

Les Bi Con 2017

Wed, 01 Mar 2017 23:10:35 +0000

Published on - Wed, 01 Mar 2017