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.
Make Your Lasting Power of Attorney or Risk More Expense Later;
As we age, thoughts about how we might cope if we’re diagnosed with a
debilitating condition can become more persistent. Suffering a physical
impairment is bad enough, but when your mental health starts to fail you, it
can feel overwhelming.
News reports of celebrities, such as Barbara Windsor have highlighted
the importance of making arrangements should you lose mental capacity, and with
the number of people being diagnosed with degenerative illnesses like dementia increasing,
it’s more important than ever to make plans. You need to make sure that should
anything like that happen to you, arrangements will be in place to care for
your health and wellbeing, and your finances.
This is where a lasting
power of attorney comes in to its own. It’s a specifically designed legal
document that allows you to select an individual to act on your behalf should
you lose mental capacity due to an accident or illness. The person you choose is
known as your attorney and can be anyone you like as long as they’re over the
age of 18 and haven’t been declared bankrupt. When setting up a power of
attorney you need to bear in mind that timing is everything; you have to be of
sound mind when you do it, otherwise it won’t be valid.
Deciding who will be your attorney is key.
All too often people choose their children, but this can be a terrible idea.
Being an attorney is a job that comes with a great deal of responsibility, so
if your children are not good at managing money or there’s a possibility they
may steal from you, they’re the last person you should elect. It’s a hard
decision to make, but at the end of the day, it’s your money and your welfare
and they both need to be looked after by someone who will respect that.
If you prefer, you can have more than one
attorney, but if they don’t see eye to eye it may end up in a conflict about
what’s in your best interests. To alleviate this, you can stipulate whether
they all need to agree on decisions made on your behalf or if they can act
independently of each other.
Alternatively, to save any falling out or
ill feeling, you may want to appoint a solicitor to act as your attorney. Of
course, they’ll charge you for it, but the advantage is that they’re neutral
and are accountable for any wrongdoing.
There are two types of power of attorney; one covers property and
finances while the other deals with health and welfare. A property and affairs
LPA allows your attorney to handle your finances, such as any property and
savings you may have, paying for care fees or arranging the sale of your home
if necessary. A health and welfare power of attorney addresses your personal
well-being. It outlines what medical treatment you should receive, where you
live and can even give your attorney the power to accept or refuse
life-sustaining treatment on your behalf.
Whether it’s the expense or the time needed to do it, failing to
make provisions like a power of attorney can cost much more than you think. In
the event that you haven’t put any arrangements in place, your loved ones will
need to apply for a Court of Protection to be legally responsible for you.
of Protection is a specialist document which grants permission to safeguard
someone who has lost the ability to look after their own affairs. It allows
those who apply for it – a deputy – to make decisions about finances and
welfare on your behalf if you can no longer do it yourself.
Applying for a Court of Protection can be a
complex and lengthy process, which requires specialist assistance from a
solicitor. The application fee to be a deputy is £400 and
it takes around six months to complete. The solicitor’s fee, which is fixed by the court, is
£950 + vat and a medical report can cost in the region of £150 -£250. On top of
this, there are ongoing supervision charges from the Court of Protection
to safeguard the vulnerable person; you. There may also be care fees to pay
while the deputyship is being processed. So, when you weigh up the price of
setting up a power of attorney against applying for a Court of Protection, it’s
not difficult to see which is the most cost effective and least time consuming.
At Russell &
Russell, we have a team of qualified lasting power of
attorney experts. We also offer a free, no obligation consultation where we can
talk you through the process and answer any questions or problems you may have.
No fault divorce set to come in to force.
How might this affect you?
Divorce laws in England and Wales are set to undergo the
biggest shake up of the last 50 years.
divorces which allow couples to split without the need to place blame are
set to be given the go ahead by parliament.
It’s claimed that current rules cause unnecessary animosity
and additional stress because the only way divorce proceedings can be started straight
away is to cite adultery or unreasonable behaviour by one party against the
The new no fault approach enables couples to state that the
marriage has broken down irretrievably. It will also prevent one partner from
refusing a divorce if the other party wants one.
The proposals follow the well documented case of Tini Owens
from Worcestershire. Mrs Owens claims she is unhappy in her marriage and wants
a divorce from her husband of 40 years. Her husband, however, has refused to
agree to it – a view that has been upheld by the Supreme Court. She now has to
remain married until 2020.
Critics of the move have argued that no fault divorces will
enable people to ‘divorce on demand’ but this has been dismissed by Justice
Gauke who said the changes would help put an end the “blame
Under the new rules, couples will be able to apply for a
divorce jointly. There will be a minimum timeframe of six months from petition
stage to the decree absolute (the legal document that ends a marriage) in order
for couples to reflect on their decision and provide the opportunity to stop
proceedings if they have a change of heart. Finally, before the divorce is
granted, the applicant will be required to reaffirm their decision to divorce. This
is in contrast to the current situation where divorces can take as little as
three to six months in cases where allegations of adultery or unreasonable
behaviour are petitioned.
Amanda Connor, a partner in Russell & Russell’s family law
department, said: “This is a huge change for the matrimonial legal system.
Divorce is always an enormously emotional and stressful period for anyone and
the current fault based process does little to alleviate it.
“More importantly, however, is the strain it can put on
children. The impact of ongoing conflict between their parents, both during and
after divorce proceedings, can put untold amounts of pressure on a child.
“Ironically, it’s also in contrast with the wider elements
of family law which aims to resolve issues in a non-confrontational way. Using
blame and placing fault, that only serves to create feelings of hostility and
bitterness, at the centre of the legal process to end a relationship is in
direct opposition to how the family justice system tries to achieve amicable
outcomes, especially where it concerns children.”
The intention to make no fault divorce legal follows a
12-week public consultation which showed widespread support for it. Although no
time frame to introduce the new law has been given, Mr Gauke has stated that it
will be as soon as possible, “when parliamentary time allows”.
Often, there is a perception that writing your will is a time consuming, expensive process. But failing to make your will can prove far more costly – both financially and emotionally – further down the line.
Read more here;
Making your will
Family dynamics are changing from the
traditional model of mum, dad and 2.4 children and financial arrangements are becoming
increasingly complicated. A will helps to define what you want to happen to
your assets as and when something happens to you.
Making your will avoids the problem of your
loved ones having to apply for probate after your death, which can be costly
and time consuming. It also ensures that your wishes about who you want to
inherit are being carried out.
While you may feel uncomfortable about
making your will, a good solicitor will ensure that you’re put at ease and will
explain things in plain English so that you’re not overwhelmed or confused at
any of the legal terms.
Whether your first point of contact with a
solicitor is over the phone, via email or in person, the starting point to
making your will is to answer some straightforward questions, such as whether
you’ve made a will before or if there’s any urgency in your situation – illness,
Your solicitor may email you a set of
questions for you to complete at home, but it’s always advisable to meet with
them face to face to avoid any ambiguity in your circumstances or objectives. Some
solicitors specialise in older client law and are trained to deal with the specific
requirements of older people. They may also be able to visit you at your home
to take instructions if you find it difficult to get out.
It’s important to give your solicitor all
the necessary background information they’ll need. This might be whether you’ve
been married before, if you have any children, whether you’re widowed etc.
They’ll also need to know what assets you have so make sure you dig out all the
documentation and don’t forget to include any online accounts or policies as
these often get overlooked. All this information will help your solicitor to
outline your options, explain about any inheritance tax implications or whether
the will needs to include a discretionary trust.
If you’re planning on disinheriting any of
your children or making any non-family members a significant beneficiary of
your estate, make sure you mention this to your solicitor so they can account
for it when making your will. There are a growing number of successful claims
against estates by children who have contested a will under the Inheritance
Provision for Family and Dependents Act 1975. As a consequence, if your will is
challenged, a judge can make an informed decision based on your explanation as
to why they have been left out of your will in the event a claim is made. If
you don’t do this, a judge doesn’t have any evidence that you consciously made
this decision and could potentially overturn your will.
Making your will is not as difficult or
complex as you might think. What is does do, however, is give your executor
clear instructions as to how you’d like your estate divided and helps those
you’ve left behind come to terms with the fact that you’re not around anymore.
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