Why are Wills important?

It’s important to make your own will, and we at Ascroft Whiteside can help and support you through your journey of creating one. Here are some reasons for why it is important to have a will –

•    Making a Will ensures that your wishes are carried out and that your loved ones are provided for after your death.
•    Dying without a Will could result in your family suffering from legal problems as well as trying to cope with the loss of a loved one.
•    If you die without a Will the laws of intestacy determine who will inherit your money and property, meaning that it may not go to the person you want it to.
•    A lot of married people automatically assume that their possessions would go to their partner, but this is not always the case and in some circumstances could be left with nothing.
•    If you have children it is especially important to make a will so you can appoint legal guardians in the event of your death.

What do I need to know about making a Will?

•    You can write your own will but it is important to get legal advice and to set up a meeting with a solicitor to take you through what you need to know, as well as making sure that your will is interpreted the way you want it to be.
•    You also need to get your will formally signed and witnessed in order to make it legally valid.
•    Think about who you want to make a benefactor and whether you want to give a gift to an organisation or charity.
•    It is important to think about who you want to look after your estate and carry out your wishes after your death as well as what you would want to happen if the benefactor you have chosen dies before you do.
•    Sometimes complexities of life make wills not as straightforward and this is when you need legal advice to help make your wishes clear.
•    It is important that you keep your will safe and that the person who you want to carry out your wishes knows where it is kept.
•    It is important to review your will every five years or after any major life changes such as divorce or getting married.
•    If you want to make an alteration to your will, you have to do this through something called a codicil, and again this must be witnessed and signed.
•    If you need to make major changes to your will you need to make a new will outlining why you have revoked the previous will in order to cancel it along with your new wishes.

If you need our help writing or updating your will, get in touch with us via our website or call 01253 766866

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What happens when cohabiting couples break up?

Many couples make the decision to pool their resources and move in together to increase their buying power. This is great! But what many cohabiting couples don’t realise is that they have very little legal or financial protection relating to their property if the relationship breaks down.
Cohabiting couples do not have the same legal protection as married couples, no matter how long they have been together. The terms “common-law” and “de-facto partner” don’t exist in the eyes of English law, no matter how long the relationship. This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the rights of unmarried couples that live together – people think they have rights that in fact don’t exist in current law.

If an unmarried couple living together split up and the property is in one person’s name, the first step is to work out whether the other person has an interest in the property – for example, by paying towards the mortgage, helping with repairs or even having contributed to the deposit. However, if these contributions are not reflected within a written agreement setting out the respective shares of the property, the partner who is not named on the title deed may find themselves struggling to establish the extent of their share if they separate and, in extreme cases, without any rights to the home they have shared with their former partner.

There are ways to avoid this and so, ultimately, unmarried couples need to take extra care and obtain legal advice when purchasing a property to ensure that their arrangements are fair, and legally recognisable.

If you need advice about anything covered here, just call us on 01253 766866.

 

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Where there’s a will…

When dealing with a Probate, we often heave a sigh of relief when we see that the person created a Will.

Usually, the Will clearly sets out who the deceased wanted to have as their Executors (people responsible for dealing with their estate) and who they wanted as their beneficiaries

However, we’re coming across more estates where there is either an outdated will or a ‘Do It Yourself’ Will and there are issues with both.

Outdated wills

When you create a Will, you tend to do so based on your current circumstances which is good- we advise our clients to tell us what they would want to happen to their estate should they pass away the next day! But, it’s also important to consider the future. You might choose to leave everything to one person, but if that person predeceased you and your will doesn’t specify a substitute beneficiary then your estate will pass via the intestacy rules. This may mean it’s distributed to people you wouldn’t have chosen or it is given to the Government if you have no surviving relatives. It can be morbid to consider the ‘what if?’ dilemmas, but it will provide you with peace of mind knowing you have included a back up.

Another way a Will can be outdated is if you name a spouse who you then go on to divorce. Once a Decree Absolute is granted your spouse is treated as having pre-deceased you, so any reference to them in your Will is invalid. Similarly, if you create a Will and then enter marriage or a civil partnership this revokes any Wills previously made. As a rule of thumb, you should consider reviewing your Will after a life event and every 5 years.

DIY wills

Sometimes these estates are dealt with easily and without issue. However, we have encountered Wills where the wording has caused confusion and ambiguous interpretations. We have also dealt with Wills where the layout has not been accepted by the Probate Registry meaning additional documents have then had to be produced to prove the validity of the will.

Conclusion
This is just a brief introduction to the some of the problems encountered when dealing with Wills and estates. Hopefully, you will agree that it is important to create a will and seek legal advice from an experienced solicitor when doing so.

If you would like to create a Will or review your existing one, please do not hesitate to contact us.

 

 

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Separating? Consider your options…

When separating with your partner or spouse, it is not always possible to resolve matters between yourselves, without assistance – don’t worry and don’t be too hard on yourselves. There’s no need to be nervous either, the alternative is not always Court proceedings. There are numerous options available to separating couples; the trick is to find the one that is best for you.

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Mediation

You could always start by trying mediation. A mediator is independent, will give you all of the information you need, support each of you in discussing whatever you need to sort out and help you to find solutions. You, your former partner and the mediator will have several meetings and when you reach an agreement, the mediator will recommend that you ask your lawyer to advise you further and draw up a document recording that agreement.

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Mediation on a “shuttle” basis

If you don’t like the idea of meeting with your former partner face to face, but mediation sounds appealing, it might be worth considering whether you can try mediation on a “shuttle” basis, where the mediator meets with each of you in separate rooms, moving between the two of you throughout your appointment.

Arbitration

If this isn’t working, but you would still like a solution without having to go to court, you could agree to seek advice from a collaboratively trained lawyer or attend arbitration. Arbitration is like a private court hearing at which the arbitrator will make a decision which will usually then become a court order, or legally binding decision. Further information can be found here: http://ifla.org.uk/

Court proceedings

If these fail and negotiations through lawyers have not worked either, court proceedings may be issued. Although proceedings are in process, your lawyer may continue to negotiate on your behalf. Most of the time, an agreement will be reached at some point during the process. If not, there will eventually be a final court hearing and a judge will make a final decision, providing the parties with a court order.

 

Will Aid At Ascroft Whiteside 2014

Firstly, let me ask you a couple of questions:

1) Do you need to make a Will/update your Will?
2) Do you want to benefit a charity but leave all your assets to your loved ones?
3) Have you got a couple of hours to spare in November?

If you have answered yes to the above, then it’s time for you to make an appointment with us during Will Aid!

Will Aid at Ascroft Whiteside 2014

During the month of November, you can make a Will with a solicitor partaking in the scheme and rather than pay your solicitors fee you make a donation to Will Aid which in turns benefits 9 UK and global based charities. The charities range from NSPCC to British Red Cross, with the full list at willaid.org.uk.

On average you will have 2 appointments to make your Will. The initial appointment at which your instructions are taken and the second at which the Will is signed and witnessed and therefore becomes effective. The suggested donations for this year’s scheme are £95 for a basic single will and £150 for a pair of basic ‘mirror’ wills.

Appointments for Will Aid get taken very quickly so if you wish to take advantage of the scheme, please contact myself or one of my colleagues on 01253 76686.

Last Year Will Aid at Ascroft Whiteside 2014Last year Ascroft Whiteside raised £2426.25 and together I would love for us to beat that!

Scarlett Stephens - Ascroft Whiteside Solicitors

A blog post by Scarlett Stephens
Trainee solicitor

 

The Myth of the Common Law Marriage

Statistics show that property prices have leapt 11.7% this year across the country, with rental prices following close behind.

As a result, more couples are making the decision to pool their resources and move in together to increase their buying power. This is great! But what many cohabiting couples don’t realise is that they have very little legal or financial protection relating to their property if the relationship breaks down.

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Cohabiting couples do not have the same legal protection as married couples, no matter how long they have been together. The terms “common-law” and “de-facto partner” don’t exist in the eyes of English law, no matter how long the relationship. This is one of the biggest misconceptions about the rights of unmarried couples that live together – people think they have rights that in fact don’t exist in current law.

The Myth of the Common Law MarriageIf an unmarried couple living together split up and the property is in one person’s name, the first step is to work out whether the other person has an interest in the property – for example, by paying towards the mortgage, helping with repairs or even having contributed to the deposit. However, if these contributions are not reflected within a written agreement setting out the respective shares of the property, the partner who is not named on the title deed may find themselves struggling to establish the extent of their share if they separate and, in extreme cases, without any rights to the home they have shared with their former partner.

There are ways to avoid this and so, ultimately, unmarried couples need to take extra care and obtain legal advice when purchasing a property to ensure that their arrangements are fair, and legally recognisable.

Ice Bucket Solicitor

The life of a solicitor is one of hard work, dedication and lots of reading. Being a firm that delivers family, employment and business law to name a few we are quite used to getting involved. However, when we accepted a recent ice bucket challenge we did not expect our director, Fiona Read, to be involved with a challenge of such an epic scale.

ascroft_whiteside_charity_event

What Is The Ice Bucket Challenge?

If you do not use Facebook you may have missed this recent trend that took billions of Facebook users by storm. In fact this challenge was one of the largest viral campaigns on social media during July/August of this year.

“The challenge encourages nominated participants to be filmed having a bucket of ice water poured on their heads and then nominating others to do the same. A common stipulation is that nominated participants have 24 hours to comply or forfeit by way of a charitable financial donation” Ice Bucket Challenge on Wikipedia.

Originally the challenge was developed to increase understanding of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclorosis (ALS) more commonly known in the UK as Motor Neurone Disease. However the challenge later became a public endorsement of charitable donations.

Why Was Our Ice Bucket Challenge Epic?

Firstly we must give a huge thank you to Coral Horn from Pink Link who invited Fiona to take part in the challenge. It was Coral who organised the event and it’s her JustGiving page we recommend you donate upon.

Firstly this challenge was epic because instead of the usual bucket of ice cold water this involved 600 gallons of water. In fact the challenge took place at Sandcastle Waterpark Blackpool. To see what happened next please watch the video below.

How Can I Join In/Help Out?

We ask that if you enjoyed this blog and the video above please donate to Coral’s JustGiving page. Simple click the image below:

justgiving_icebucketchallenge

Alternatively you can donate via text message from your mobile phone. Text “CORA98” followed by the amount you would like to donate to 70070