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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

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.

A Court 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.

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Published on - Wed, 24 Apr 2019

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.

No fault 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 other.  

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 Secretary, David Gauke who said the changes would help put an end the “blame game”.

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”.

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Published on - Fri, 12 Apr 2019

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, for example.

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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Published on - Tue, 02 Apr 2019

This week and infographic around the area of Power of Attorney

As ever, more here

Published on - Thu, 07 Mar 2019