Private Client

WILL WRITING

Do you wish to make a Will to have the peace of mind that your affairs are in order and your loved ones will be taken care of ? This means that you will stop worrying and get on with enjoying your life!

A Will lets you determine who will inherit everything that you own (“your estate”).

If you don’t make a Will you will die “Intestate” and will not be able to choose who inherits your estate. Unmarried partners, friends, step-children or charities will not benefit from your estate unless you name them in your Will.

You can appoint people you trust as your Executors to deal with your estate after you’ve gone. By appointing Executors you prevent uncertainty and worry amongst your family after your death as, if you die without a Will, administrators can be appointed on a “first come first serve” basis. You may leave a very valuable estate and it is natural that you would wish your Executors to be individuals that you trust and are capable of dealing with the task in hand.

You can name Guardians to look after your children. If you have children under 18 you can use your Will to appoint Guardians to look after them if you die while they are still underage. You can make sure that there is no need for the Courts to get involved in what would already be an extremely distressing time for your children and ensure the Guardians you appoint share the same values as you do.

You can consider Inheritance Tax (IHT) planning so that you don’t pay any more tax than you have to. Having a Will professionally drafted means that you can be advised where exemptions and reliefs from IHT may be available to your estate and your Will can be drafted accordingly. New (and very complex) IHT reliefs on residential property come into force on 6 April 2017 and now is an excellent time to seek professional advice about IHT planning in your Will.

You can set out exactly what will happen at your funeral. In your Will you can give clear instructions for your Executors, from simply stating whether you wish to be buried or cremated, to what music is to be played or the content of the service. These wishes can be as brief or elaborate as you like and if needs be can be outlined in a separate “Letter of Wishes”.

You might feel confident writing a Will yourself, but be careful. For a will to be valid, you need to meet certain conditions. It’s easy to make a mistake, so be sure you are familiar with the rules.

We offer Will drafting service: Single Will, Specialist Wills – Right to Reside or Occupy, Protective Property Trust, Discretionary Will trust capped at the Nil-Rate Band, Disabled / Vulnerable Persons Trust, Flexible Lifetime Interest Trust, Business Asset Protection Will, Residue on a Life Interest, Letter of Wishes for a Discretionary Trust , Disabled Person Trust, Powers of Attorney & Living Wills, Lasting Power of Attorney, Deed of revocation.

FAMILY AND MATRIMONIAL

We understand the emotional distress that can be caused to our clients during the divorce process. We are on hand to sensitively guide individuals through the administrative process required to attain the final decree of divorce: the decree absolute. We work hand in hand with individuals to agree a settlement that best suits the family through alternative dispute resolution.

GETTING A DIVORCE 

Getting divorced or dissolving a civil partnership* can be an emotional, worrying and difficult time. At such a time you need someone on your side who will be there for you. A family lawyer will support you through the divorce process – and will give you advice that you can trust about the things that matter most – your children, your home and your financial security.

Your lawyer will listen to you and discuss your options with you. They will let you know where you stand, tell you what your rights are and help you to understand what your ex-partner’s rights are as well. They will try to make the divorce as simple and as stress-free as possible.
If you have been living together but were not married, a family lawyer can help you understand your rights on a break-up.

The process for dissolving a civil partnership is the same as for a divorce, with the exception that the legal definition of adultery relates to heterosexual sex only, so adultery cannot be a reason for dissolving a civil partnership. In a civil partnership, being unfaithful would instead be unreasonable behaviour which is a reason for a divorce.

You should seek legal advice as soon as you can if:
• you are at risk of having nowhere to live
• you are at risk of domestic violence or abuse
• your ex-partner is not giving you enough access to your children
• you are in a vulnerable financial position compared with your ex-partner
• you are unsure what a fair settlement between you would look like
• you have a lot of assets
• you got married abroad, or you, your ex-partner or your children have non-UK nationality

HOW CAN WE HELP YOU WITH GETTING DIVORCED?

We will:
• explain the divorce process and help you understand what you need to do at each stage
• start the divorce action for you by filing the necessary forms
• keep you updated and represent your best interests
• help you reach an agreement with your ex-partner wherever practical, without having to go to court
• if you do go to court, present your case
• help you to understand what the judge can and cannot do, and explain what the judge’s decision means for you
• record agreements
While a lawyer can help you throughout the divorce process and can help you with related matters such as writing a new will, you do not have to use a lawyer for every stage of the process if you do not want or cannot afford to. If you take a lawyer’s advice early, they can help you decide how much support you need, and at what stage in the process.

REASONS FOR DIVORCE 

You will be given a divorce only if you can show that your marriage or civil partnership has suffered an ‘irretrievable breakdown’. To do this you must show that your relationship is beyond repair because:
• your husband or wife has committed adultery*
• their behaviour is such that you cannot be expected to live with them
• they left you at least two years ago
• you have been separated for two years and they agree to the divorce
• you have been separated for five years or more
*Not applicable in a civil partnership
If a divorce is against your religion, your solicitor can give you advice about other forms of separation.

CHILDREN AND DIVORCE 

Where children are involved the law puts the welfare of the children before anything else.
Your lawyer will help you wherever possible to reach agreement with your ex-partner for your children’s sake. This might be about where the children live, how much contact they have with you both, how they will be provided for, and how decisions will be taken in future about things such as holidays and schools.

Whatever your circumstances, a family law solicitor has the knowledge and experience to make sure that the decisions you make are in the best interests of your children now and in the future.

Alternatives to going to court

Although you need a court order to get a divorce, you do not need to go to court to reach a settlement with your ex-partner about your children, home or money. One way of reaching agreement is to go to mediation. In fact, a judge will want to know that you and your ex-partner have at least found out about and preferably tried mediation before coming to them for a decision.
A mediator is trained in helping separating couples reach agreement even on difficult issues. They will not take sides but will listen to you both.
Your lawyer will be able to advise you through mediation as well and help you to arrange a meeting with a mediator. Legal aid is available for family mediation, although it is no longer available for most divorce cases, unless there are concerns of domestic abuse or violence.

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