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What Types of Assets Are Subject to Probate?

In this article, private client and Will solicitor, Chris Strogen, looks at what types of assets are subject to probate. ​Cheshire Probate Solicitors For legal help with probate or estate planning call Chris Strogen at Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.What is probate? Probate is the legal term used for sorting out the financial affairs of the deceased after someone has died. In essence, probate gives the persons dealing with the deceased’s estate the legal authority to sell assets and pay debt and distribute the estate to the beneficiaries of the Will. If you appoint a private client solicitor in your Will as your executor and trustee they will still need to apply for probate in the same way as if you appoint a family member or friend as your executor. Probate is designed to protect your estate and to make sure that the estate passes to the people named in your Will and only those authorised to do so in your Will (or a solicitor appointed on their behalf) can action the requesting of probate and then administer probate. Is probate always necessary? Probate isn’t always necessary. For example, if the estate is very small and the estate doesn’t comprise of property or land, you may not need to obtain a grant of probate. It is best to ask a specialist probate solicitor if a grant of probate will be needed and how long it will take to secure probate. What assets are subject to probate? When a person dies their assets are referred to as their ‘estate’. The vast majority of assets are subject to probate. However, some assets may fall outside the estate and therefore not form part of probate. For example , a life insurance policy or pension may not form part of probate, depending on the wording. If assets were jointly owned by the deceased and another person then they may not form part of the grant of probate if the property was owned by the deceased and the co-owner as ‘joint tenants’. That’s because if a property is owned as joint tenants, on the death of the first co-owner the property passes to the surviving owner. This is referred to as the ‘right of survivorship’. The property therefore does not pass by the Will and accordingly doesn’t form part of probate. The situation is different if property or land is owned by co-owners as ‘tenants in common’. When making a Will it is important to understand the different types of legal ownership of property and land so you can make the best decision for you on whether to buy as joint tenants or tenants in common and the legal implications of doing so. If you bought a property with a co-owner and want to convert your joint ownership from tenants in common to a joint tenancy or from a joint tenancy to tenants in common, then it is possible to do so. If an estate includes assets that are overseas, such as a holiday home, it is best to take specialist legal advice on whether those assets will form part of probate. What do you do if an asset is subject to probate? If an asset is relevant to probate then it will form part of the estate for the grant of probate. It is the grant of probate that gives the executors (or the probate solicitors appointed by them) the power to: Discharge any inheritance tax due. Inform banks and other relevant institutions about the death and close any accounts. Sell or transfer assets, such as listed shares, a property or land or shares in a family business. Sort out any leases, such as leases of land or farm or equipment. Pay any debts. Distribute the remaining estate in accordance with the Will. Cheshire Probate Solicitors For legal help with probate or with a Will or estate planning call Chris Strogen at Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Whitefield, North Manchester but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Latest From Our Wills & Probate Blog:
Chris Strogen
May 06, 2021   ·   4 minute read
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How Often Can a Father See His Child?

One of the most emotive topics after a separation or divorce is whether the children should live with their mother or father. Other key questions are whether the care of the children should be shared equally, and if the children are going to live with their mother, how often can the father see his child or children. In this blog, children law solicitor Louise Halford examines the law on child contact after a separation or divorce and answers your question ‘how often can a father see his child?’ ​Manchester and Cheshire Children Law Solicitors Evolve Family Law specialise in separation, divorce and children law matters. For help with contact and childcare arrangements after your separation or for representation in a child arrangements order application call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law has offices in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but the children law solicitors are experienced in working remotely and offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Do children always stay with their mothers after a separation or divorce? It used to be the case that after a separation or divorce most children lived with their mother and the father had contact. In many families that remains the position. However, instead of it always being assumed that a child will live with their mother nowadays all options are on the table, including the child living with his or her father and the child having contact with the mother or a shared care arrangement. It isn’t so much that the law has changed but societal attitudes and working practices have changed. For a long time, the court has focussed on what children law order is in the best interests of the child when determining child custody and contact applications. When, in the past, a father traditionally went out to work and the mother was a housewife or worked part-time, it was often thought best that a child should continue to live with the primary care giver or the parent who was available to meet their day-to-day needs. With both parents now often working full-time or with a father being able to work from home, the best interests of the child may be best served by the child living with their father or a shared care arrangement. Is a father entitled to shared care if he wants to co-parent his child after a separation or divorce?  Although much is written in the media about shared parenting being the norm or ideal, neither a mother or father is ‘entitled’ to share the care of their child after a separation or divorce. That’s because if parents can't agree on the childcare arrangements for their child and the court is asked to make a child arrangement order, the court will assess what order is in the child’s best interests.  Shared care (whether that is an exactly equal split of time or a sixty-forty split of time or other percentage) may be the best option for the child but not necessarily. For example, shared care may not be likely to work if: Parents don’t live, or are not intending to live, relatively close to one another to ensure that the child is able to get to school from both homes. The child prefers to have one home base, rather than moving between homes. One parent’s work commitments mean that if parenting was shared the reality is that the child would be looked after during that parent’s parenting time by professional carers or through use of school clubs. The parents don’t get on at all and won't cooperate over parenting, making frequent handovers for the child disruptive and distressing. Shared care can be the ideal but it isn’t practical for every family and therefore it is not in the best interests of every child whose parents separate or divorce. When looking at childcare arrangements it is best not to think of ‘entitlement’ but what arrangements are likely to meet your child’s needs. Most children experts say that spending an equal amount of time with a child isn’t the key to successful parenting but ensuring that the time you do spend with your children is ‘quality ’ time. For time to be quality time it doesn’t have to be expensive outings, but being able to set aside time to read with younger children, help with homework, or transport to football practice or ballet club or just talking and taking an interest in what your children are doing at school or when they are with their other parent. How often can a father see his child? Fathers often want to know the worst-case and best-case scenarios of how often they will be able to see their child after a separation or divorce. So much depends on your personal circumstances.  For example, contact will be restricted if a mother successfully applies for a relocation order to enable her to move overseas with the child or contact will be more limited if a father has to move to a new area in the UK because of his work commitments. Many parents agree to split the week so children get to spend a roughly equal amount of time with each parent. For other families, the better option is for a child to live with one parent during the week and have midweek and alternate weekend contact. Contact with the child every weekend would mean that the residential parent of a school age child would not get to spend any quality time with the child. There is therefore no set rule about how often a father can see his child. That can be frustrating for some fathers who want certainty after a separation or divorce but not having set rules means that parents can work out what child contact arrangements or co-parenting works best for their family or the court can be asked to make a child arrangement order after assessing what is best for your child rather than following a fixed formula.    Manchester and Cheshire Children Law Solicitors If you need help with your separation or divorce or representation in a child arrangements order application call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our children law solicitors offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Louise Halford
Apr 29, 2021   ·   6 minute read
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Can You Be Legally Separated and Live in the Same House?

For those who have decided to separate or divorce, either because of COVID-19 related pressures or the global pandemic has reinforced the decision to go your separate ways, the next step is for one of you to move out of the family home. You should not permanently leave the family home without first taking legal advice. However, as Manchester and Cheshire divorce solicitors we are receiving an increasing number of enquiries where neither the husband nor wife can easily move out of the family home. Enquirers want to know if they can be legally separated and live in the same house as their estranged spouse. ​Manchester and Cheshire Divorce Solicitors   Evolve Family Law can help you with all aspects of family law from your separation to divorce proceedings, agreeing child custody and contact arrangements and financial settlements to representation in financial and children law proceedings. For help with your family and private client law needs call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by telephone appointment or video call. ​What is a legal separation? A legal separation is where a husband and wife obtain a decree of judicial separation from the family court. If you haven’t heard of judicial separation it isn’t surprising as applications for judicial separation are rare because: If you obtain a judicial separation you will still need to get divorced at a later stage, for example, if you want to remarry or if you want a clean break financial court order preventing any further financial claims between husband and wife. You don’t need a legal separation for official purposes. You can just tell agencies, such as the Inland Revenue or the Local Authority, that you are separated. Do I need a legal separation? People often assume that they need a legal separation or judicial separation decree, but they don’t unless they have a religious or cultural objection to a divorce and want to formalise their separation. If you plan to get divorced later, you don’t need a judicial separation first as you can sort out your financial affairs by signing a separation agreement. Can you separate and live in the same house? You can separate or even divorce and still live in the same house. Some couples think that if they continue to live together, they can't get divorced but that isn’t correct. Under current English divorce law, you can get divorced if you have lived ‘separate and apart’ for two years provided your husband or wife consents to the divorce. It is best to take some legal advice about the grounds for divorce proceedings as you may not need to wait two years before being able to start divorce proceedings. Living separate and apart in the same household, for the purposes of divorce proceedings, means that there must be a degree of separation between husband and wife. For example, you can't cook for one another or do the other person’s laundry or ironing or shopping. Separating and your spouse won't leave the family home. If you have taken the decision to separate and your husband or wife won't leave the family home then if things become impossible in the one house there are options, such as: An application for an injunction order – an occupation order can give you the right to occupy the family home to the exclusion of your partner until long term ownership or sale of the property is determined by agreement between you or by the court in divorce and financial settlement proceedings. An application for spousal maintenance so that you can afford to leave the family home and rent somewhere until long term ownership or sale of the family home is decided. It is best to take specialist legal advice from a divorce solicitor before leaving the family home and moving into rented accommodation. Separating and can't sell the family home. Most people would agree that it is a tricky housing market so whilst you may have decided to separate or divorce you may not be able to sell the family home. You can be separated or divorced and still be living at the family home though for some it won't be a very comfortable experience. Even in the best situations where you are splitting up amicably it can still feel as if you are in limbo with your life suspended until you can achieve the sale of the family home. One thing that can reduce the stress of waiting for the sale of the family home is to have a financial agreement in place so you know who will get what when the property does sell. Although you may have concerns about having to drop the sale price on the family home, a fair financial settlement can still be reached if you don’t agree to accept a fixed amount from the sale proceeds but instead you each agree to receive a percentage of the net proceeds of sale. That way you are both protected, whether house values move up or down. In divorce proceedings a financial settlement can be reached by agreement or after financial settlement proceedings but in either scenario you should obtain a financial court order that records how all your assets will be divided, including the equity in the family home, savings, and pension provision. If you are separated but don’t want to start divorce proceedings yet it is still best to record the financial settlement that you have agreed to avoid one of you changing your mind about how much you should get from the sale proceeds when you have found a buyer for the house. A document, called a separation agreement, should be prepared to formalise the agreement reached.Manchester and Cheshire divorce solicitors The team of specialist divorce solicitors at Evolve Family Law can help you with your separation and divorce proceedings, as well as child custody and contact and your financial settlement. For advice on your family and private client law needs call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form.   The Evolve Family Law offices are in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but we also offer remote meetings by appointment by video call or telephone.Latest From Our Wills & Probate Blog:
Catherine Hazeldine
Apr 22, 2021   ·   6 minute read
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What is a Grant of Probate?

When you have suffered a bereavement, it can be hard to navigate what you need to do to sort out a loved one’s estate and their financial affairs. In this article we look at what a grant of probate is and whether you will need to obtain one.Manchester and Cheshire Will and probate solicitors Evolve Family Law specialise in private client law advice. For advice about probate or making a new Will call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law have offices in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our private client and Will solicitors are experienced in working remotely and meetings are available by telephone appointment or video call.What is probate? Probate is the legal process of administering the estate of a deceased person so that assets are gathered in, any debts paid and the estate distributed. If the deceased left a valid Will their estate will be distributed in accordance with the terms of the Will. If the deceased didn’t make a Will their estate will be distributed in accordance with intestacy rules. If there is an intestacy, the legal process of administering the estate is called ‘letters of administration’. Who deals with probate? The task of an executor named in a Will is to deal with probate. Most executors don’t deal with the probate personally but instead ask a probate solicitor to deal with the legal work for them. As an executor they retain overall control of the administration of the estate and give instructions to the solicitor. If the deceased died without making a Will, they died ‘intestate’ and the intestacy rules say who can apply to administer the estate and who will receive the estate. An administrator can ask a probate solicitor to administer the estate on their behalf. What is a grant of probate? A grant of probate is the legal document that gives the executor of a Will the legal authority to act. Without a grant of probate most third parties won't act on the instructions of an executor as they need evidence that the deceased has died and that the person contacting them is the authorised executor or administrator of the estate. How do you apply for a grant of probate? In most situations the grant of probate follows a set path, namely: The executor, or the probate solicitor instructed by them, gets information about the estate, including the assets and any debts The grant of representation is applied for An inheritance tax form is completed and, if necessary, any IHT can be paid The grant of probate is received The assets of the estate are gathered in (for example, shares or property may be sold depending on the terms of the Will) Any debts payable by the estate are discharged (for example, outstanding care home fees or utility bills on a property) The estate is then distributed in accordance with the Will or intestacy rules. Estate accounts are prepared to show the monies and assets received, debts and taxes paid and how the estate was distributed. Some grants of probate are straightforward but others can be complicated. For example: If the named executors in the Will do not get on If the beneficiaries of the Will are potentially going to challenge the speed or work of the executors in securing the grant of probate and distributing the estate If the validity of the Will is challenged If there is a dispute over the Will and questions over whether it made fair financial provision for a dependant of the deceased If there are likely to be complicated inheritance tax, CGT, trust or sale issues because of the size of the estate or the nature of the assets. For example, if the deceased died within a short time of making lifetime gifts or where the estate consists of a large buy to let property portfolio or some assets are overseas, such as a holiday home The family want to change the Will provisions through a deed of variation. Who pays for probate? Some people think that if they are named as an executor in a Will that they have to undertake the obtaining of the grant of probate personally. That isn’t normally the case as Wills enable an executor to instruct a probate solicitor. The costs of the grant of probate and the probate solicitor come out of the estate before it is distributed to the beneficiaries. The probate solicitors’ cost will depend on the size and complexity of the estate. Fixed fee or hourly cost quotes should be made available. At Evolve Family Law we believe it is very important that fees are transparent and publish a price guide on our website. The guide says for work up to and including grant of probate, for a non-taxable estate, our probate solicitor fees are £1060 inclusive of vat. For a bespoke quote please call us and we can look at the work you would like us to do. Is a grant of probate necessary? In some family situations, an executor or a loved one or beneficiary will question if a grant of probate is necessary. Probate solicitors say this question is totally understandable as no one wants to go through unnecessary processes. In situations where the estate is very small a grant of probate may not be needed. Whether you need a grant of probate or not doesn’t depend on whether there is a Will or not or whether a husband or wife is inheriting the entire estate, but rather depends on the size and nature of the assets in the estate. If there is a property to sell, a grant of probate will always be required. If you aren’t sure whether a grant of probate will be needed or not our Manchester and Cheshire probate solicitors are always happy to advise you on if a grant of probate is needed and, if so, the likely probate solicitors’ fees for securing probate for the estate.Manchester and Cheshire probate and Will solicitors Evolve Family Law specialise in private client law advice. For advice about a grant of probate or your responsibilities as an executor or whether you can challenge a Will call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law have offices located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our private client and Will solicitors are experienced in working remotely and offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Latest From Our Wills & Probate Blog:
Catherine Hazeldine
Apr 15, 2021   ·   6 minute read
Can My Ex Take My Child?

Can My Ex Take My Child?

If parents are honest about their fears surrounding coming out of a bad relationship one of their biggest worries is whether their ex can take their child. Sometimes it is just a fear as your ex has no interest in seeing the child or providing child support. In other family scenarios your ex-husband, wife or partner may want to take the child as they know that is the one thing that will really devastate you or they may genuinely want to look after the child as much as you do but the two of you can't agree on the child care arrangements. In this blog our specialist children solicitor looks at whether your ex can take your child and your options.Manchester and Cheshire Children Law Solicitors Evolve Family Law specialise in separation and children law matters. For help with concerns about childcare arrangements after separation or for representation in child arrangements order proceedings call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our children law solicitors are experienced in working remotely and offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Will the police help if my ex takes my child? If your child is taken your first thought may be to call the police and, in any situation, where you fear that your child is at risk of harm then that is the best thing to do. Risk of harm is always a balancing act so whilst you may think that your child is being harmed by staying with their other parent the police may not think so unless there is some evidence that the child is at risk.   The police won’t remove a child from a parent’s care to police a family court order over child care arrangements if there is no apparent risk of immediate harm as generally the police will say that other than in an emergency situation family and children law matters should be sorted out by the family court. That should not stop you from calling them though in situations where you do have genuine welfare concerns, such as a parent with anger management issues where there were domestic violence issues in the relationship or a parent who appears under the influence of drink or drugs and incapable of safely caring for the child.   There are some family scenarios where it is best to get a family court order so that you can show the order to the police. For example, if you fear that your ex-partner will take your child overseas without your agreement you can make an application to the family court for a prohibited steps order to prevent the child being taken abroad. If you are concerned that you or your child is at risk of domestic violence then you can apply to the court for an injunction order. If you are worried about the safety of contact you can ask the court to make a child arrangements order. A child arrangements order can stop direct contact or say that contact should only take place if supervised or can set limits and conditions to the contact.  Take legal advice if you are worried that your ex may take your child As every family situation is different it is best to take legal advice on your circumstances and best options for your family. For example, you may be worried about your ex-husband or ex-wife planning to move within the UK for work reasons and taking your child with them, thus preventing regular contact visits. Alternatively, you may fear that your ex-partner wants to return overseas to their country of origin or where relatives are already based, taking the children with them so at best you can only get to see the children once a year.   Children law solicitors say that if you are worried about your ex taking your child it is best to take specialist legal advice as quickly as possible because: A children solicitor will be able to tell you where you stand legally and often knowing what your rights are can help manage your worries It may be necessary to apply for an urgent court order, such as an injunction order or action to prevent child abduction to an overseas country with the making of a prohibited steps order A solicitor’s letter to your ex-partner or an application for a child arrangements order may be needed to formalise the child care arrangements and ensure that your ex-partner is aware of the consequences of breaching your agreement or the child arrangements order.   What happens if a parent breaches a court order and takes a child? If a parent breaches a family court order, such as a child arrangements order, prohibited steps order or specific issue order, enforcement action can be taken. It can be tempting to apply straight to court to enforce an order but it is best to take children law legal advice before doing so. For example, if a parent has returned a child home late on one occasion starting enforcement action for a breach of a child arrangements order may not be appropriate. However, if the late return on a Sunday night is affecting schooling and is a regular occurrence despite requests and letters, it may be appropriate to take action.   Children solicitors say that if an order is breached you may need to take speedy action. For example, if a parent keeps a child after a contact visit was due to end you don’t want to leave things so that the other parent can then argue that the status quo of the child living with you has changed and that the child is now happy and settled with them. In cases where child abduction overseas is feared then it is vital that speedy action is taken to avoid the child being taken abroad. That is because if the child is taken to a country that isn’t a signatory to the Hague Convention it may be hard to get an order for the child’s immediate return to the UK.   Whatever the nature of the breach of court order, the court can enforce the order and impose penalties on the parent who breached the court order. The penalties will depend on the court’s view about the circumstances of the breach of court order as well as the severity and frequency of the breach. The court can: Impose a community service order and order a parent in breach of a child arrangement order to carry out up to 200 hours of community service Fine the parent in breach of the court order In rare cases a prison sentence can be imposed on the parent in breach of the court order Order a parent to pay the other parent compensation if the breach of the court order led to loss, such as unpaid time off work.   As every breach of a court order has a different impact on a family it is best to take legal advice before applying to enforce an order as it may, for example, be preferable, to apply back to court to vary the existing child arrangements order or other type of children order.Manchester and Cheshire Children Law Solicitors Evolve Family Law specialise in separation and children law matters. If you are worried about your ex taking your child or need representation in child arrangements order proceedings call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law offices are located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our children law solicitors are experienced in working remotely and offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Latest From Our Children Law Blog:
Louise Halford
Apr 09, 2021   ·   7 minute read
Couple with divorce contract and ring on desk. Divorce

The Impact of Divorce on Your Income

When you take the decision to separate you may not realise just how big an impact your divorce may have on your future income. The financial services company, Legal and General has revealed that women’s income falls by a third and men’s income by 18% on divorce.  In this blog we look at the impact of divorce on your income.Manchester and Cheshire Divorce Solicitors Evolve Family Law specialise in separation and divorce proceedings and resolving financial settlements . For help call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law have offices in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our family law solicitors are experienced in working remotely and offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call. The divorce statistics You may be shocked by the divorce statistics and question why a woman’s income on divorce should reduce by more than men’s income.   The Legal and General research suggests that there are several factors behind the statistics, such as: The reality is that many women earn less than their male counterparts during the marriage because of career choices and childcare In divorce financial settlements women are more likely to ask her for and get a financial settlement that includes the family home or more than half the equity in the sale proceeds of the family home. If you get a greater share or all the equity in the property, then you are less likely to be awarded spousal maintenance or to receive a share of their husband's pension fund and the making of a pension sharing order.   Will a divorce impact on my income? When a couple separate it is usual to go from a two-income household to a one-income household with a consequent reduction in income.   If a reduced income means that you can’t manage to pay your reasonable outgoings, the court can make an order that the other party to the marriage pay spousal maintenance. The payment of spousal maintenance can continue indefinitely until terminated by death, re-marriage of the receiving party or further order. Alternatively, the court can order that spousal maintenance is paid on a time limited basis.   What amounts to reasonable outgoings will depend on the standard of living enjoyed during the marriage as well as the affordability of the current outgoings considering: The ability of one spouse to afford to pay spousal maintenance and still meet their own reasonable outgoings and The ability of the other party to the marriage to either find work or increase their earnings capacity so they can meet all or a greater proportion of their own reasonable outgoings.   Divorce solicitors will tell you that when it comes to income on divorce and whether your respective incomes will be shared (through a spousal maintenance order) comes down to a range of factors, such as: Whether you have young children to support and whether the care of children impacts on your earnings capacity Whether any disability or age impacts on your ability to seek employment or increase your income Your income and earnings capacity The extent of your reasonable outgoings The length of the marriage Other factors, such as the existence of a prenuptial agreement that sets out whether and how long spousal maintenance should be payable on separation and divorce.   Perhaps, just as importantly, parity of income on divorce can come down to a question of priorities. You may want to forgo a pension sharing order on divorce as your priority isn’t income on retirement but instead getting the equity in the family home so you can rehouse yourself without a mortgage. Alternatively, you may want the capitalisation of your spousal maintenance payments so that you get a cash lump sum instead of ongoing monthly payments.     Whatever your priorities it is best on separation or divorce to take legal advice from a specialist divorce solicitor so you can understand the range of options for your financial settlement and work out which one is best for you and your family. Without expert legal and financial advice, you may not appreciate the value of the pension fund belonging to your spouse and how a pension sharing order could be to your financial advantage.   The divorce solicitors at Evolve Family Law will not only look at your financial settlement options but they will also reality test them with you. For example, if your priority is to keep the family home and you are willing to forgo a pension sharing order or spousal maintenance to keep the property then this may not be a realistic or best option if you can’t afford to pay your reasonable outgoings on the property as you aren’t getting spousal maintenance or a pension sharing order. Manchester and Cheshire Divorce Solicitors Evolve Family Law specialise in separation and divorce proceedings and resolving financial settlements .Call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form for expert legal advice with your financial settlement. Evolve Family Law have offices in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our family law solicitors are experienced in working remotely and offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call. Latest From Our Divorce Blog:
Robin Charrot
Mar 25, 2021   ·   5 minute read
Male notary working with mature couple in office

What are the Grounds for Contesting a Will?

Private client solicitors will tell you that enquiries are rising about whether Wills can be challenged by family members and loved ones. In this blog we look at the grounds for contesting a Will.Private Client and Contesting a Will Solicitors  Evolve Family Law specialises in Will preparation and advising on whether you have the grounds to contest a Will.  For advice on contesting a Will call Chris Strogen at Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Our offices in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Whitefield, Manchester are open with social distances measures in place for face to face meetings, however an appointment is required. We also offer remote meetings by appointment by video call or telephone for those who prefer not to travel. ​​Can I contest a Will? When a family member passes away it is a difficult time. Your grief and distress can be increased if you don’t think that your loved one’s Will is correct. If that is the case, then it is best to take legal advice on the Will and whether you have the grounds to contest it. Our contesting a Will solicitors provide discreet, sensitive advice about your options.       What are the grounds for contesting a Will? You may be able to contest a Will if: The Will maker lacked testamentary capacity or The Will was not executed properly or The Will maker was unduly influenced to make the Will or The Will was fraudulent or forged.   In addition, if you’ve been left out of a Will or you haven’t been left as much as you need and you were dependant on the deceased, you may be able to bring a claim against the estate. This is different to challenging a Will on the above grounds.   Contesting a Will because of lack of testamentary capacity If the Will maker signed their Will at a time when they had lost their mental capacity to manage their own affairs (referred to as a lack of testamentary capacity by contesting a Will solicitors) then their Will isn’t valid. That’s because you must have testamentary capacity in order to make or change your Will.   Loss of mental or testamentary capacity means that the Will maker didn’t have the mental ability to understand what they were doing when they signed their Will and the impact that their actions would have on their estate.  If the person executing the Will doesn’t have mental capacity at the time that their Will is executed then, if the Will is successfully challenged, the estate will pass and be administered in accordance with their most recent valid Will instead. If the deceased hadn’t made an earlier Will then their estate will be divided under the rules of intestacy. It is therefore important to understand what would happen to the deceased’s estate if a Will is challenged as intestacy rules can produce unexpected results.   Contesting a Will because the Will wasn’t executed properly A Will may not have been executed properly as it wasn’t signed by the Will maker or their signature wasn’t properly witnessed by two witnesses. As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic the government has introduced temporary remote witnessing of Wills if certain criteria are met. That has raised additional concerns if the Will maker is vulnerable. If the Will wasn’t executed properly then the Will is invalid and the deceased’s estate will pass in accordance with any earlier validly executed Will or, if there is no earlier valid Will, under intestacy rules.   Contesting the Will because the Will maker was unduly influenced to make the Will If the Will maker was under undue influence or was pressured or coerced into making a Will then the Will may be invalid. There may be a red flag over whether there was undue influence if the deceased was elderly or vulnerable and left their estate to someone they only met shortly prior to their death and the deceased had always said that they would leave their estate to family members or friends. Any challenge to a Will on the basis of undue influence has to carefully look at what evidence there is of undue influence, other than suspicion on the family member’s part, because to contest a Will on the basis of undue influence you need to be able to say that the deceased would not have made the legacy in the Will without being subject to coercion or undue influence.   Contesting a Will because the Will was fraudulent or forged If a Will is fraudulent or forged then it is invalid. Examples include forging the Will maker’s signature to make sure the Will is executed or destroying a Will so that an earlier Will is thought to be the valid Will or because under intestacy rules the fraudulent person will get the lion’s share of the estate.   Should I contest a Will? If you want to contest a Will on one of the above grounds because you have concerns about a Will then it is best to take legal advice. That is because challenging a Will can create tensions between family members or bad feeling. A contesting a Will solicitor can assess the grounds for challenging the Will, the evidence and your options.    How do you contest a Will?  If you want to contest a Will it is important to take action and obtain legal advice as soon as you are able to do so. That’s because there are time limits to contest a Will. For example, if you are bringing a claim as a dependant of the deceased the time limit is six months from the issue of the grant of probate.   If you decide to contest a Will then you can make a claim, referred to as a ‘caveat’, to the Probate Registry office. The claim means that the probate won't be completed and therefore the estate won't be distributed without your being notified and able to pursue the claim. The caveat lasts for six months but can be renewed if an extension is justifiable.   If during the period of the caveat you are not able to resolve the Will dispute by agreement then you have the option of starting court proceedings to contest the Will. When determining the application the court will weigh up all the evidence and that’s why it is best to take specialist legal advice before starting the litigation. That way you can make informed choices on whether pursuing the court case is in your best interests.Private Client and Contesting a Will Solicitors  Deciding whether or not to challenge a Will isn’t an easy decision to make. For sensitive, pragmatic advice on contesting a Will call Chris Strogen at Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Our offices in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Whitefield, Manchester are open with social distances measures in place for face to face meetings, however an appointment is required. We also offer remote meetings by appointment by video call or telephone for those who prefer not to travel.Latest From Our Wills Blog:
Chris Strogen
Mar 11, 2021   ·   7 minute read
I love you. Amazed surprised positive African American couple sitting in the cafe and being covered with a blanket while getting engaged

Are Prenuptial Agreements Legally Binding in the UK?

The short answer to the question ‘are prenuptial agreements legally binding in the UK?’ is no but please read on as prenuptial agreements can save you a lot of money. They are the financially prudent and the sensible, if unglamorous part, of wedding planning.Prenuptial Agreement Solicitors Evolve Family Law specialises in prenuptial agreements. For advice on your prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement options call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Our offices in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Whitefield, Manchester are open with social distances measures in place for face to face meetings, however an appointment is required. We also offer remote meetings by appointment by video call or telephone for those who prefer not to travel.​ What is a prenuptial agreement? A prenuptial agreement is an increasingly common document that an engaged couple enter into prior to their marriage. If someone isn’t sure what a prenuptial agreement is or what it does then they can be more wary about signing the document so it is best not to make assumptions about your partner’s understanding of what a prenuptial agreement is and will do.   In essence a prenuptial agreement will govern how a couple will regulate and resolve their financial affairs in the event of a separation. The prenuptial agreement is bespoke to the couple and can be as detailed or as simple as the couple prefer.   Prenuptial agreements and UK family law Now is a good time to answer the question ‘are prenuptial agreements legally binding in the UK?’ That’s because the leading family law case report on prenuptial agreements was ten years old in October 2020. The case remains good case law that is followed by family law judges when they are asked to consider a prenuptial agreement in divorce and financial settlement proceedings. The judges follow this case report, and later decided cases, in the absence of any UK legislation on the status of prenuptial agreements in UK divorce law.   The leading family law case on prenuptial agreements remains the 2010 UK Supreme Court decision of Radmacher v Granatino.   What is the legal status of prenuptial agreements?  A prenuptial agreement doesn’t have any statutory or legislative basis and isn’t a binding contract in the same way as a commercial contract. However, that doesn’t mean that a prenuptial agreement doesn’t have legal status. It gets its status from case law, particularly from the leading court case of Radmacher.   Prior to the case of Radmacher prenuptial agreements were thought to be contrary to public policy because they might encourage separation, though the reality was couples wanted to enter into prenuptial agreements, not with a view to separation, but to cover that eventuality, in the same way couples organise life insurance, Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney. The Radmacher case acknowledged the importance of couples being able to freely enter prenuptial agreements.   The status of prenuptial agreements after the Radmacher court case In the Radmacher case a French husband and a German wife entered into a prenuptial agreement three months before their marriage. In essence, the prenuptial agreement said that neither the husband nor the wife would make a claim on the other’s property if they separated and got divorced. The couple had two children together but eventually separated. The husband made a financial claim and the wife said the prenuptial agreement should be binding on him.   During the financial court proceedings the court had to assess the relevance of the prenuptial agreement. The wife, who was heir to family wealth, said the prenuptial agreement should be binding but the husband argued that it wasn’t. His argument was based on the fact that he did not have legal advice when he agreed to the prenuptial agreement, there had been no financial disclosure or negotiations before the agreement was signed and the couple had children after entering into the agreement.   The court case went all the way to the Supreme Court and that’s why it remains a leading case on the status of prenuptial agreements in financial court proceedings. The Supreme Court said that ‘’the court should give effect to a nuptial agreement that is freely entered into by each party with a full appreciation of its implications unless in the circumstances prevailing it would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement."   The key points from the Radmacher case is that your prenuptial agreement must be freely entered into and should be fair.   What is a freely entered into and fair prenuptial agreement? As it is ten years since the Radmacher decision not only are more couples choosing to enter into prenuptial agreements but the family court is also being asked to look at the relevance of prenuptial agreements in divorce and financial proceedings.   If you are looking at signing a prenuptial agreement then it is important to ensure that your agreement is drafted by a prenuptial agreement solicitor who knows what the court will look at when deciding whether to enforce the agreement or to give it weight in any financial court proceedings.   Whilst prenuptial agreements are not currently automatically enforceable as a contract the family court will either enforce it or give weight to the terms of the prenuptial agreement (thus potentially reducing the size of the financial settlement that would otherwise have been awarded in divorce and financial proceedings ) if the following formalities are met: The terms of the prenuptial agreement must be fair to both parties and must meet the needs of any children There must have been financial disclosure so that the husband and wife each had an understanding of the other’s financial position so they could make informed decisions about the content of the agreement and whether to sign it The prenuptial agreement should be signed at least twenty one days prior to the marriage ceremony or civil partnership The agreement should be freely entered into with no duress or undue influence or misrepresentations about signing the prenuptial agreement Both parties to the prenuptial agreement should take their own independent legal advice before signing the document.   Is a prenuptial agreement a good idea? Since the Radmacher case prenuptial agreement solicitors have seen a substantial rise in enquiries about both prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements. That is because, in today’s age, couples want to plan and feel financially secure, whatever the future holds for them. To a family solicitor that is just sensible and prudent planning from a committed and switched-on couple who don’t want to engage in expensive court litigation should they decide to separate at a later date.Prenuptial Agreement Solicitors For help with your prenuptial agreement or postnuptial agreement call the friendly, specialist prenuptial agreement solicitors at Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Our offices in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire and Whitefield, Manchester are open with social distances measures in place for face to face meetings, however an appointment is required. We also offer remote meetings by appointment by video call or telephone for those who prefer not to travel.Latest From Our Nuptial Agreements Blog:
Robin Charrot
Feb 18, 2021   ·   6 minute read
side view of concentrated couple reading contract during meeting with lawyer in office

Why You Need a Will if You Are Living With Your Partner in an Unmarried Relationship

Nowadays we like to think that every type of relationship is valued and that whatever the nature or status of our relationship we are all treated fairly and without any form of discrimination. If you are in an unmarried relationship the world has changed from a generation ago where there was still a social stigma if you were unmarried or had children ‘out of wedlock’. Although the attitude of society has changed to unmarried relationships when it comes to the law on Wills and estate planning the law hasn’t caught up. That’s why it is essential that if you are in an unmarried relationship you understand why you and your partner each need a Will.Manchester and Cheshire Will Solicitors Evolve Family Law specialise in family law and private client law advice. For advice about a new Will or changing your existing Will call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law have offices in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our private client and Will solicitors are experienced in working remotely and offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Wills and married and unmarried relationships When it comes to Wills and married and unmarried relationships unless you are a private client solicitor, or have had advice from one, you probably won’t appreciate just what a difference a piece of paper makes, namely your marriage certificate or civil partnership certificate.   If your relationship has the legal status of marriage or civil partnership then as a spouse or civil partner you have: Intestacy law rights if your husband, wife or civil partner dies without leaving a Will The right to bring a claim against your husband, wife or civil partner’s estate if they leave a Will but the Will doesn’t make reasonable financial provision for you Inheritance tax concessions as a spouse or civil partner Capital gains tax exemptions on transfers between spouses and civil partners.   If you are in an unmarried relationship then on your partner’s death: If your partner dies without a Will and intestacy rules apply then an unmarried partner will not get an automatic share of the estate. That means you could be left with nothing unless you are able to make a court claim against the estate An unmarried partner can only bring a claim against the estate of their partner if the partner died intestate without leaving a Will or they left a Will but reasonable financial provision wasn’t made for them in the Will and they fall within one of two categories, namely, a person who for two years prior to the death of their partner was living with the deceased as spouse or civil partner although not married or if the unmarried partner was being maintained by the deceased prior to the deceased’s death. That means an unmarried partner has to either prove a two-year relationship or dependency on the deceased If an unmarried partner receives an inheritance or lifetime gifts there are no specific inheritance tax or capital gains tax exemptions or allowances.   As cohabitation is an increasingly popular form of relationship and because many adults in the UK don’t have a Will there are many people in unmarried relationships who will be left in a financially vulnerable position on their partner’s death.   Some people assume that they won’t have this problem as they are a ‘common law’ husband or wife or because they have been in a relationship with their partner for over three or five years. These are all myths. There is no legal concept of a common law husband or wife as, in the law, you are either treated as married or unmarried.   What happens if my unmarried partner dies without leaving a Will? If your unmarried partner dies without making a Will then their estate will pass under intestacy provisions. These are set out in statute and the intestacy rules say that the deceased’s estate will pass to: The deceased’s child or if there is more than one child the estate will be shared equally between the children (or their descendants). The child or children (or grandchildren) can get their inheritance when they reach the age of eighteen or If the deceased doesn’t have any children or grandchildren then their estate will pass to their parents or if the parents have already passed away to any siblings or, if none, to more distant relatives.   The intestacy rules can be challenged if you were in a cohabiting relationship for at least two years or you were financially dependent on your partner but that means court litigation against your children or your partner’s relatives.   What happens if an unmarried partner makes a Will? A Will sets out who should receive an estate or be left a gift out of the estate. If your partner leaves his or her estate to you as you are in an unmarried relationship then the Will makes things a lot less complicated and far less stressful. Instead of having to make a court claim you are entitled to the estate or gift. The legacy can only be challenged if another person successfully brings a claim against the estate, for example, saying that your partner did not have capacity to make the Will at the time that the Will was executed by them because of a dementia diagnosis.   Will solicitors say that if you are in an unmarried relationship it is best to have a conversation with your partner so that you both know where you stand and to make Wills so that you and your family are protected in case your unmarried relationship is brought to an end by the death of your partner.Manchester and Cheshire Will solicitors Evolve Family Law specialise in family law and private client law advice. For advice about a new Will or changing your existing Will call Evolve Family Law on 0345 222 8 222 or complete our online enquiry form. Evolve Family Law have offices located in Whitefield, North Manchester and Holmes Chapel, Cheshire but our private client and Will solicitors are experienced in working remotely and are offer meetings by telephone appointment or video call.Latest From Our Wills Blog:
Chris Strogen
  ·   6 minute read