The False Economy Of DIY Probate ?

This is an interesting article from the Law Society Gazette by Catherine Baksi:

http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/5042430.article?utm_source=dispatch&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=GAZ290714

Should Divorce Cases Be Removed From Court Altogether?

Marriage is said to be the oldest institution and getting married is a serious contract to enter into with someone. The consequences of the marriage not working are to navigate a divorce, which often can be adversarial, long and complex. However, plans are moving forward to allow divorce to be carried out in a national processing centre, which will pave the way for divorce to become much easier and could be similar to applying for a new passport.

Sir James Munby, one of the country’s most senior judges is looking to take 120,000 divorces out of the court system each year and put them into a number of regional centres across the country in order to complete the paperwork instead of in a court. He says that the process of divorce should be removed from the issues connected to ending a marriage, like the division of assets or the custody of children.

Any divorce which is not contested and where there are no financial claims nor any claims over children will be included in these new plans, which will help to reduce the burden on the court and to make divorce cheaper and easier.

As non-contested divorces are largely administrative, Sir James says that this is a process which could lend itself to being completed in a central processing centre.

Whilst there is general support for the move from elsewhere in the judiciary, with Sir Paul Coleridge who founded the Marriage Foundation which champions stable relationships in marriage, saying that this simplified divorce process is already happening, albeit by a judge in the court system. He also commented that, whilst he supported the changes, there was a real risk that the general public may perceive that divorce was easier as a result.

Of course whilst there are many supporters of making the process of divorce less adversarial and easier for everyone involved, there are people who do not support these ideas. Ex Tory MP Ann Widdecombe has commented that the idea makes a mockery of marriage by making divorce too easy and that the decision to get divorced should be taken with plenty of thought.

We shall wait to see the outcome of these proposals, however any steps which can be taken to make uncontested divorce less acrimonious must be a positive step forward.

This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.

Shak Inayat
Solicitor
0207 183 2898

Intestacy Laws Are Changing

Intestacy is the law which governs anyone’s estate who dies without a valid Last Will and Testament in place and the intestacy laws distribute the deceased person’s estate between any surviving spouse, children or relatives.

These laws are quite outdated and have meant that spouses were often only given half of their partner’s estate, however changes to the law means that this will no longer apply.

So what does this mean for the family of someone who dies without a valid Will and does it mean that making a Last Will and Testament is now pointless?

In a word, no. It is very important to make a Will to ensure that your wishes are honoured, but also to protect your spouse and your children. A Will is particularly important if you are not married or in a civil partnership as the law of intestacy makes no provision for ‘common law’ partners.

In addition to making a Will, you should also ensure that your Will is regularly updated with any births, deaths, divorces or changes in family circumstances. Often, it is these small changes which are missed which can cause serious family disagreements after death and mean that your wishes are not accounted for.

So what do these changes to the intestacy law incorporate? The reforms to the law, which are being made by the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014, include the passing of the whole estate to the surviving spouse if there are no children. The legislation also seeks to simplify the distribution of assets between children and their parent and any remaining relatives who inherit under the law.

These reforms include changes to inheritance by children who lose a parent and are subsequently adopted and are also intended to assist unmarried fathers who lose out under current laws if their child dies intestate.

These changes are to be introduced on 1st October 2014, and whilst they go some way to making the process of intestacy less painful, this is no replacement for the provision of a Will which can be used to ensure your wishes are carried out, but can also be a powerful tool to reducing the inheritance tax burden on your loved ones.

This information provided in this article is not intended to constitute legal advice and each relationship breakdown requires careful consideration in our view by a fully qualified Solicitor before decisions are made and before you embark on a certain course of action.

Shak Inayat
Solicitor
0207 183 2898