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.
Unbelievably research shows that 6 in 10 adults don’t have a will.
Why does this matter?
Why making your will is so important Research shows that six in 10 adults don’t have a will. Many people believe that it doesn’t really matter because when they die, their family and friends will decide who benefits from their estate. But nothing could be further from the truth. Dying without a will means you ‘die intestate’ so it makes no difference what promises you’ve made or who you want to receive your assets, it’s the law which decides who benefits, not you. All too often people put off making a will because they believe they don’t have enough money or that death is a long way off. But if you died tomorrow, who would have your home, your car, your jewellery, even your pet, for example? The point is, you don’t need vast sums of money or a portfolio of properties; as long as you’re over 18, you’re never too young, too poor or too busy to make your will. The Law Commission is currently reviewing the will making process to ascertain if it can be made friendlier and more relevant for a modern 21st century society, but that shouldn’t put you off making your will now. We’ve listed some reasons why it’s so important: • It doesn’t matter who you’ve promised what, if you have no will it’s the law which decides who benefits from your legacy • We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; money changes people. It’s an ugly truth, but making a will helps prevent family disputes and fall outs after you’ve gone • Dying without a will can leave your estate liable for inheritance tax • Beware the DIY will. They don’t take into account the complexities of the law and could come back to bite somewhere that hurts. Like your loved ones bank balance because they’ll have to pay to rectify any mistakes • Refresh it. Every few years take a look at your will to make sure it’s still current. Have you married or remarried? Had children or got divorced? If so, you’ll need to update it • If you’ve remarried and you have children from a previous relationship, unless you stipulate it in your will, your estate will go to your spouse, which could mean that your children are bypassed when you die • If you’ve split from your partner and have entered into a new relationship with someone else, it doesn’t matter if you live together; if you’re not married, or in a civil partnership, you’re new partner isn’t legally entitled to anything • Worse still, if you’ve split from your ex acrimoniously, but haven’t divorced yet, it’s irrelevant if you can’t stand the sight of each other, they’re still in line to inherit everything if you haven’t changed your will because technically you’re still married. Think on • It’s not as expensive as you might think, especially if you’re planning to draft a joint will (also known as a mirror will) as they’re often discounted • Make sure you use a legal professional, they’re regulated and insured • If you like, a solicitor can store the original version of your will and you can keep a copy of it. Just make sure you tell your family where it is • After all that, please, please, please make sure you sign it. Without your signature on the dotted line, your will isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on If you’re thinking about making or changing your will, Russell and Russell can help. We offer a free consultation where we can talk through your circumstances and advise on what’s best for you. Better still, Canal Street card holders receive a 10% discount on our probate fee.
Resolution, the national organisation of family lawyers committed to non-confrontational divorce, separation and other family problems, is holding its annual awareness week between 27th November and 1st December.
This year, the focus is on issues surrounding cohabitation and how many unmarried couples living together are unaware of their lack of rights should they separate.
When couples move in together, the last thing on their minds is the consequences of what happens if their relationship breaks down. If it does, all too often they can find themselves arguing over whom gets what when splitting the equity in their home.
Cohabitees don’t have the same rights as people who are married. This is particularly relevant if you’re living together and you’ve invested more money than your partner when purchasing the property as the starting point for dividing up the asset is 50/50.
In a situation where the house is in joint names, it doesn’t matter whether you’ve paid more into it or not; if there’s no cohabitation agreement in place, or proof of an arrangement regarding the financial split, the equity in the home will be divided equally.
If the property you live in is owned solely by your partner, but you contribute to the mortgage payments, bills or home improvements, you may want to claim some of the equity in the house. Although it’s possible, it’s a complex area of the law, so we’d strongly recommend you seek legal advice on your rights.
If you already own a house and your partner moves in with you, or is planning to move in, we’d also recommend you enter into a cohabitation agreement to ensure that your partner doesn’t assert in interest in your property should your relationship break down.
Cohabitation agreements set out how the finances are to be divided up on separation and the intention of you both with regard to the equity in the house. They identify any assets you bring to the relationship – money, property, possessions and the ownership of the same.
If you’d like some guidance on how cohabitation agreements work and what you can expect from them, our solicitors can talk you through it.
Transgender parent takes right to see children to Court of Appeal
A parent who left a tight-knit ultra-Orthodox Jewish community to start a new life as a woman has taken her fight for access to her five children to the Court of Appeal. The transgender woman , referred to as J in an earlier court case, is contesting a ruling that her children faced greater psychological harm by being excluded from the Haredi community for having contact with her, than not having contact with her at all. During the case, which was heard at Manchester family court in January, J explained that she hadn’t seen her children for around 18 months and wanted to be reintroduced to them sensitively. However, the children’s mother said that direct contact with J would lead to the children being ostracised at community festivities and family events. This led the judge to rule with “real regret” that the children shouldn’t see J, but be allowed to communicate through letters and cards, citing: “These children are caught between two apparently incompatible ways of living, led by tiny minorities within society at large … It is painful to find these vulnerable groups in conflict.” “In the final analysis, the gulf between these parents – the mother within the ultra-Orthodox community and the father as a transgender person – is too wide for the children to bridge. “This outcome is not a failure to uphold transgender rights, still less a ‘win’ for the community, but the upholding of the rights of the children to have the least harmful outcome in a situation not of their making.” J believes she’s the first person in the UK to leave a Haredi community after receiving help from an LGBT support group. We’ll report on the outcome of the appeal when the ruling is made.
Throughout November Russell and Russell Solicitors is running an initiative to support local homeless charity, Bolton Young Persons Housing Scheme (BYPHS). The practice is acting as a drop off point for anyone wishing to donate items of food to help ensure young homeless people don’t go hungry this winter. Donations can be left at any of the Russell and Russell branches to be sent on to the charity. Buying just one extra item of food in the weekly shop will help BYPHS provide hot meals to around 100 homeless youngsters. All donations will go towards BYPHS’s annual #10TinChallenge which enables young people to ‘eat and heat’ because they can’t afford both when it’s cold. Established in 1992, BYPHS was set up in partnership with Bolton Council and Irwell Valley Housing to counteract the growing number of young people who found themselves with nowhere to live. Each year, around 350 homeless people access the charity’s service, making it a vital lifeline. Based at Breightmet Street in Bolton town centre, the charity provides temporary support and accommodation to 16-25 year olds. It also runs eight other projects across Bolton and the surrounding areas. Sadly, the number of people who are homeless is growing and as winter approaches we want to help do our bit to support those who find themselves in this awful position. So, next time you’re out shopping, spare a thought for those less fortunate and pop an extra tin in your trolley.
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