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.

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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.

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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.”

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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

Russell and Russell Gets Back in the Saddle for the Eden Valley Epic Cycle Sportive

Once again Russell and Russell is sponsoring Epic Events Cycle Sportive, the Eden Valley Epic. Beginning at Penrith leisure centre on Sunday the 5th March, the 60 mile route will take cyclists towards the village of Orton before heading north to Appleby in Westmorland. The ride continues through the lanes of Dufton, Milburn and Langwathby before looping back to Penrith.

Starting between 8.00am and 10.30am, the sportive is expected to take anything between three and seven hours. Registration will be open from 7.00am with a maximum of 20 riders starting every two minutes. Places are limited to around 800 and entry is on a first come, first served basis.

On the day, all participants will be electronically timed and riders will be able to take home their own professional photo of themselves in action.

“The Eden Valley Epic is a fantastic event that can be enjoyed by serious cyclists as well as those who do it just for fun”, said Derrick Smethurst, head of Russell and Russell’s personal injury department.

The cost of entering the Eden Valley Epic is £25 and further information and can be found on the Epic Events website  And, for those looking to add to their kit, Russell and Russell is running a competition to win a Lezyne Mini GPS Computer. Head to our Facebook page,    to find out how to enter.

Wed, 22 Feb 2017 16:46:32 +0000

Published on - Wed, 22 Feb 2017

Dementia is on the Rise so Make Your Lasting Power of Attorney


Figures released by the Office of National Statistics have revealed that dementia, including Alzheimer’s, has overtaken heart disease as the leading cause of death in England and Wales.

More than 61,000 people were victims of dementia in 2015, equating to 11.6% of all deaths registered.

According to Alzeihmer’s Society, there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK with 225,000 people diagnosed with the condition every year; roughly one person every three minutes. Around one in 20 people (over 40,000) living with dementia are under the age of 65.

Dementia is an over-arching term used to describe the signs that appear when brain cells stop working properly. The symptoms include memory loss, confusion and disorientation, difficulty in communicating and changes in behaviour. Being diagnosed with dementia ultimately means there will be issues with maintaining your independence.

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document that gives someone nominated by you (your attorney) the authority to make decisions on your behalf. There are two types of LPAs. The first allows your attorney to handle your financial affairs, such as any property and savings you may have. The second addresses your personal welfare, such as the medical treatment you should receive or where you live, for example. You’re not obliged to take out both LPAs but if you do, you can have the same attorney for both or they can be different if you prefer. Don’t worry about giving up control of your finances or treatment suddenly, you can choose when your Lasting Power of Attorney becomes effective.

Although an LPA is a legal document, what it really gives you is peace of mind. Because you’ll have chosen your attorney, you’ll know they will have your best interests at heart and will make decisions based on what you want, rather than leaving it to a stranger or someone you don’t trust.

An LPA also prevents family or friends having to apply for similar powers in the future, which can be an expensive and time-consuming business. The thing to remember is that you can only set up an LPA while you’re well because the law won’t recognise it as a legally binding document once you’ve lost capacity.

If you’re interested in drafting your LPA, Russell and Russell offers a free no obligation consultation to guide you through the regulations and to discuss what’s right for your circumstances.

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Wed, 15 Feb 2017 16:29:44 +0000

Published on - Wed, 15 Feb 2017

Valentine sweethearts urged to update their will this February 14

Blissfully loved-up couples planning to tie the knot this year should change their will to reflect their new circumstances.

Many people aren’t aware that getting married automatically invalidates their will. Put simply, if you don’t update it, you may as well not have one at all as you’ll die intestate.

shockingly, two thirds of the UK’s adult population don’t have a will in place. Everyone should make drafting their will a priority or risk leaving a painful legacy for loved ones.

Although Valentine’s Day may be the most romantic day of the year, couples should come down from the clouds for a minute and focus on the practical matters.

No one likes to think too much about their own demise, but ensuring your final wishes are made clear and are legally recognised is the most romantic gesture you can offer a loved one.

Russell and Russell is a member of the Law Society’s Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme (WIQS), which provides a best practice quality mark for wills and estate administration advice that consumers can trust.

Call here for initial help 0800 103 2600


Wed, 01 Feb 2017 17:18:23 +0000

Published on - Wed, 01 Feb 2017