Proposed probate court fees increase – scrapped for now!

21st Apr 2017
In a surprise U-turn last night the Ministry of Justice have scrapped for now the … ...
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Proposed probate court fees increase – scrapped for now!

21st Apr 2017

In a surprise U-turn last night the Ministry of Justice have scrapped for now the proposed increase in probate fees. They have stated that there is not enough time for the proposed legislation to go through parliament ahead of the general election.

Nothing has been said as yet on whether scheme will be brought back if the government are re-elected.

Further Reading:
BBC News

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Are you interested in becoming a Dementia Friend?

25th Jan 2017
Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of … ...
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Are you interested in becoming a Dementia Friend?

25th Jan 2017

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.

Our colleague Dawn, is a trained Dementia Friends Champion volunteer. As a volunteer she runs free 1 hour information sessions where people learn some key messages about dementia and commit to turning understanding into action. In our commitment to support Dawn and the Dementia Friends initiative we are now running regular Dementia Friends training sessions from our offices.

The sessions are open to all and the next session will be at 9.00 am on Friday 17th February.

If you are interested in attending, you can book the session via the Dementia Friends website or alternatively contact us.

If there are several of you who wish to attend a session then it maybe possible to run the training at your offices. Please contact Dawn directly to discuss this.

Further sessions will be arranged, so if you can’t attend on the 17th then please register your interest with us and we will inform you of new dates.

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New STEP adviser joins the Pavilion Row team

17th Jan 2017
We are delighted to announce that Dawn … ...
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New STEP adviser joins the Pavilion Row team

17th Jan 2017

We are delighted to announce that Dawn Plant has joined our team as a qualified Trust and Estate Practitioner (TEP).

Dawn has 15 years’ experience working in private client law and as well as a full member of STEP she is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and a Dementia Friends Champion.

Having started with us in November she has already brought many benefits to our clients and introducers through her extensive experience dealing with Wills, Powers of Attorney and Trust and Estate Administration.

As a Dementia Champion Dawn has a passion for Dementia care and also has tremendous practical knowledge and experience dealing with the workings of the Court of Protection and Powers of Attorney.

See our team here.

 

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Angus shares his views on regulation

17th Nov 2016
For sometime now there has been on going debate discussing the pros and cons of … ...
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Angus shares his views on regulation

17th Nov 2016

For sometime now there has been on going debate discussing the pros and cons of regulation in the Will industry with the Legal Services Board commissioning a number of research projects looking at this area.  Angus shares his views on this topic in the STEP journal this month, read the article here.

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Pavilion Row has become the latest firm to join the Opera North Business Partners scheme.

19th Jul 2016
Pavilion Row, has chosen to become a member of the Business Partners scheme to highlight its commitment to … ...
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Pavilion Row has become the latest firm to join the Opera North Business Partners scheme.

19th Jul 2016

Pavilion Row, has chosen to become a member of the Business Partners scheme to highlight its commitment to Yorkshire’s thriving artistic life and, in particular, to celebrate the work of Opera North, the only national opera company based outside London.

Angus Houston, Pavilion Row’s Managing Director, said:

“At Pavilion Row, we pride ourselves on our individual, flexible approach and value this chance to join forces with an arts organisation that is as committed as we are to creativity, innovation and excellence and to presenting the very best of what the North has to offer locally, nationally and internationally.”

Opera North launched the Business Partners scheme in 2015 to build connections with and between those business leaders who value the role the arts play in enriching life in the North and who are keen to further Yorkshire’s vast cultural, social and economic potential. It enables businesses to get closer to the Company and to gain an insight into all of its activities, including its projects with schools, young people and the wider community. Pavilion Row becomes a member of the scheme alongside such companies as Yorkshire Building Society, Yorkshire Water, KPMG, William Jackson Food Group and Land Securities.

Jo Graham, Opera North’s Business Development Manager, said:

“Opera North is a unique cultural and economic asset to Leeds and the wider Northern region. A registered charity with a £16m annual turnover that contributes significantly to the region’s economic and cultural wealth, it is at the forefront of the Leed’s burgeoning international reputation.

“The Business Partners scheme gives organisations the chance to get to know us better and also to work with us to promote everything the North of England has to offer. We are delighted to welcome Pavilion Row on board.”

 

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Are LPAs an essential part of an income drawdown pension arrangement?

8th Jun 2016
The new pension freedoms introduced in April 2015 have given retirees the option to keep … ...
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Are LPAs an essential part of an income drawdown pension arrangement?

8th Jun 2016

The new pension freedoms introduced in April 2015 have given retirees the option to keep investing their pension pot and draw an income directly from it, as well as the option to pass their pension pot on to their beneficiaries when they die.

While this greater flexibility is very attractive to some retirees, there is one obvious risk.

What will happen if their health deteriorates and they are no longer able to manage their income drawdown arrangement?

What if they need to adjust their income level (for example, to pay for care costs) or adjust their underlying investment choices? Who will make these decisions and instruct the pension company?

Obtaining authority to act on an individual’s behalf can be complicated, time-consuming, expensive and require a court intervention – even for a spouse or close relative.

Of course this risk isn’t new, but it is accentuated by the new rules and the fact that more and more people are likely to opt for income drawdown and keep their pension pots invested until the day they die.

In the ‘old days’, the vast majority of people retiring took out an annuity, whose terms (and income) are fixed for life and, therefore, incapacity was not such a risk as there are no decisions to be made.

Fortunately, a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a simple but highly effective solution. This legal document provides for one or more people to make decisions on an individual’s behalf if they are unable to manage their own affairs.

An LPA should arguably be an essential part of the financial planning process for any person opting for income drawdown when they retire. Currently, there seems to be limited usage of LPAs alongside income drawdown arrangements, which could be a recipe for problems in the future for those without an LPA.

Putting an LPA in place is a sensible step for anyone considering an income drawdown arrangement.

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Do you have a Will with HSBC?

1st Sep 2015
HSBC has sold their Will and Probate business to Simplify. ...
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Do you have a Will with HSBC?

1st Sep 2015

You may have seen the news over the summer that HSBC has sold their Will and Probate business to Simplify. The transfer is due to take place on 30th October.

This will not affect a Will that has been done previously by HSBC but if HSBC has been appointed as an executor in the Will they will no longer be able to offer the service.

Simplify are not able to act as Executors unless they are appointed via the Will and so they have contacted HSBC’s Will customers to offer their probate services.

Their letter contains pre-populated codicils (or amendments to the Will) and provides the following three options:

  • complete a Codicil to appoint Simplify as executor, after which they will hold your Will assuming the transfer goes ahead, or;
  • complete a Codicil to appoint an alternative executor, in which case HSBC will retain the Will, or;
  • inform the bank that the Will they hold is no longer valid and has been replaced. HSBC should then return the Will, if they hold it.

The first thing to note is that the codicil does not need to be signed within the deadline stated in the letter. An amendment to a Will can be made at any time.

Secondly, before doing anything all options should be considered carefully. In most cases we would advise people to appoint family or friends as executors as they can always choose to get professional help later if they wish. If a professional executor is appointed the family will be tied to using the firm and paying the associated fees.

If you have received this letter and are concerned or have any queries we are happy to discuss the options with you. If you have already signed the Codicil but are now unsure on whether it was the correct decision then again we are happy to speak with you. A new Codicil can always be made changing the position or alternatively you can create a new Will revoking the existing one.

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Do I really need an LPA?

25th Aug 2015
We believe an LPA is an important part of a client's overall planning. ...
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Do I really need an LPA?

25th Aug 2015

Recently there has been an article in the financial press by Fiona Heald of Moore Blatch Solicitors stating that she believes that Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) are an essential part of the new pension reforms.

But do you really need an LPA?
An LPA is something that we always highlight to a client when discussing their Will as we believe it is an important part of their overall planning.

This recent article highlighted, that unlike with an annuity, drawdown requires a person to manage their financial affairs throughout retirement until death. However, it is conceivable that a person may lose capacity, whether short-term or long-term, at some point during their retirement.

If this does happen then without an LPA there will be no one immediately able to manage their affairs and make decisions for them legally.

The article goes on to state that if an adviser is recommending drawdown then the client should be strongly advised to put an LPA in place.

There are of course two types of LPAs; one to deal with property and finance, which would be used for the circumstance highlighted above, and one that deals with health and welfare decisions.

It’s easy to understand the need for the finance one and dismiss the Health and Welfare LPA. However, we are starting to see more and more anecdotal evidence of the need for both. As care agencies, local authorities etc become aware of LPAs they are more insistent of an LPA being present before allowing family members to be involved in care decisions.

In a recent review of LPAs by the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) it was widely expected that both LPAs would be merged into one document. However this has not happened. The reason, probably, is that the two documents are for very different things which often mean that you want different people involved in making different types of decisions for you.

An LPA should be seen as an insurance policy. You really hope that you won’t ever need it but if you do, you will be delighted that you have one in place!

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Can I still disinherit my Children?

30th Jul 2015
Despite the recent ruling, it is still wholly possible to disinherit children. ...
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Can I still disinherit my Children?

30th Jul 2015

You may have seen the prominent news story regarding Heather Ilott and her successful Court of Appeal judgement. If not the full details can be read here.

The key theme behind this case remains, as always, to ensure that clients receive professional advice when making a Will, that the Will is revisited regularly and that the Will is structured and produced with their priorities in mind.

In the case of Mrs Ilott, who claimed against her mother, Melita Jackson’s, Will there are several specific factors that bear mention.

Despite the ruling, which would seem to make it easier for disinherited children to appeal against the estate, it is still wholly possible to disinherit children.

The key is being clear as to the reasons why you plan to disinherit. Pavilion Row, for example, automatically include a ‘letter of explanation’ detailing this in such cases. Whatever the approach, it is important to realise that the client’s children’s own particular circumstances will be examined, as will the client’s link with the Will’s beneficiaries. In this case Mrs Ilott was receiving state benefits, so additional funds were seen as particularly beneficial. Mrs Jackson, meanwhile, chose charities as beneficiaries but a previous link between Mrs Jackson and said charities could not be shown. The gift to the charities was therefore seen as being done out of spite.

These two elements, the disinherited child’s circumstances and the link to the new beneficiaries were seen as key factors, as the judge ruled in favour of Mrs Ilott.

Although the ruling is likely to encourage appeals by disinherited children, and potentially give them a greater chance of success, we still believe that testamentary freedom remains and in most cases, where children are being excluded we tend to find clients wish to miss a generation and pass to grandchildren instead. As always, the advice needs to start with the client intentions and go from there and, as mentioned, an up to date Will together with a “letter of explanation” providing full details of the reasoning along with our own detailed file notes. All of these would come into play if the Will was contested. Proper, qualified advice is a must.

There will be further commentary and analysis of this case over the coming days and beyond and we will keep you updated on any further insight we think could have an impact in the future.

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New Intestacy Rules – What do they mean?

1st Oct 2014
Today new rules come into force for the laws covering people who die without a will. ...
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New Intestacy Rules – What do they mean?

1st Oct 2014

What are the new Intestacy Rules and who do they affect?

Today, sees new rules come into force for the laws governing what happens to someone’s assets when they die without a Will (intestacy law) and who can make a claim against an estate.

One of the controversial parts of the new rules is around the modern family i.e. who receives what if you were co-habiting. Many professionals were pressing for those in unmarried relationships to receive a portion of their partner’s estate if they die without a Will.

At present, unmarried partners are legally entitled to nothing even if they share children or have cohabited for many years. The new laws do not change this. Die without a Will and your partner receives nothing. Their only recourse is to make a claim against your estate.

Having covered what is not changing, what actually does change?

One of the biggest changes is for married couples and civil partners without children. Under the old rules the survivor received the first £450,000 plus half the rest. The other half was split between blood relatives according to strict rules. Under the new rules the survivor receives everything.

For married couples and civil partners with children the theory of “life interest” is now eradicated. The new rules are significantly simpler, with the survivor entitled to the first £250,000 plus half the remainder. The children share the rest. Previously the spouse only got a life interest in half the remainder i.e. they received the income from their half but the capital was protected for the children.

Finally, one of the other significant changes is to the scope of people who are entitled to claim against your estate. As well as redefining who is classified as a dependant the new rules now recognise the ‘blended family’. For example, your partner’s child can now claim against your estate as if they were your child. Even if your partner died before you! Although, it’s worth mentioning that, this doesn’t automatically mean they will be successful if a claim is made.

The changes to the intestacy laws once again highlight the importance of making a Will. If you want to choose who inherits you need to have a Will. Furthermore make sure it’s up to date and relevant.

Above is just an overview of the main changes that will affect decisions when making a Will. There are other technical changes, including certain powers of Trustees, that we have not mentioned.

Please let us know if you or your clients require any further information.

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NEW code of conduct for Will preparation

15th Jun 2014
In response to the UK government’s decision not to regulate Will writing STEP has launched a new Code of conduct for Will Preparation. ...
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NEW code of conduct for Will preparation

15th Jun 2014

In response to the UK government’s decision not to regulate Will writing STEP has launched a new Code of conduct for Will Preparation that all STEP members who prepare Wills MUST adhere too.

Only STEP members can claim to be compliant with the code which sets out standards of transparency and service that a client can expect when using a member. This reassures a client that they are getting the best level of advice and service when doing a Will.

Some areas addressed in the code include;

  • Pressure to appoint the Will company as executors in the Will
  • Selling of unnecessary complex Wills
  • Misrepresenting the consequences of not making a Will
  • Obtaining advance payment for probate plans
  • Inadequate storage facilities

All Pavilion Row‘s Will advisers and Will drafters are members of STEP and are therefore bound by the new code.

When STEP announced the launch of the Code Geoffrey Shindler OBE TEP, STEP President , commented: “The Code will, I hope, become the hallmark to which all aspire when drafting wills. It is a condition of membership that we all adhere to the code, but it should be seen less as a burden and more as a positive benefit. It will demonstrate to clients, the public, to the government and to regulators that we are of a gold standard when it comes to preparing wills for individual clients.”

Pavilion Row see this as a very positive move forward to improve the quality and level of service within the Will industry. It will, we hope, help to eradicate ‘cowboy Will writer’ behaviours, practised by a very small minority, that are currently tarnishing the industry.”

Since the launch of the STEP Code the SRA have launched new non-mandatory guidelines for solicitors who prepare Wills.

The guidance has a focus on professional ethics and behaviour and includes;

  • NOT misleading a client to believe they have to retain a solicitor to write their will, or that it is the norm.
  • NOT as a default position appointing themselves as professional executors
  • The solicitor not encouraging the client to appoint them as executors unless there is a clear reason to do so e.g. it is likely to be contentious or complex

Whilst only STEP can guarantee a true level of qualification in this niche part of law we see that the STEP Code and the SRA guidelines are setting the path to creating a much fairer and transparent service for the clients

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Minimising the Risks of Inheritance Feuds

2nd Apr 2014
It is a simple fact that the number of probate claims continues to rise year on year. There are, in my experience, four major reasons for this. ...
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Minimising the Risks of Inheritance Feuds

2nd Apr 2014

Why do estates become contentious?

Guest Article – Martin Holdsworth, Jones Myers LLP

It is a simple fact that the number of probate claims continues to rise year on year. There are, in my experience four major reasons for this:

  • Too many people die either without a Will or an out of date Will. The Intestacy Rules then rarely allow for the distribution of an estate to provide for a family in the way which the deceased wanted. Without any kind of agreement between ALL the beneficiaries (assuming they are all over 18 years), an application to court is inevitable.
  • Many family units now include step-parents and step-children (the blended family unit). Extra care is needed when advising members of blended families as to the obligations that may exist across the whole family unit and perhaps most importantly how those obligations are met after the first parent’s death.
  • Individuals are now, on average, living longer. Figures from the Office of National Statistics demonstrate that life expectancy over the next 50 years will increase by an incredible 8 years; to 87 for men and 90 for women. With an aging population the incidence of dementia increases and with it allegations of failing capacity and Will challenges.
  • The final significant factor is the reality that, due mainly to house price increases, estates are now worth more than ever before. An inheritance or lack of one can make a huge difference to someone’s financial and emotional wellbeing and it is no surprise, that in a more litigious society, claims are investigated to challenge testamentary provision.

It follows, therefore, that when someone makes a Will, the person they use must give careful consideration to areas where claims are likely.

“With care and knowledge, it is possible to identify and minimise the risk of post-death litigation.” Martin Holdsworth – Jones Myers LLP

The best start point for this is undoubtedly to know your client and understand not just the extent of their personal wealth but also their family dynamics. From this the client must be made aware of the consequential obligations of their circumstances which arise in all manner of ways, some of which may not be obvious.

Whilst testamentary freedom exists, consideration must be given to anyone where the will maker has created a financial obligation. Some are obvious – a spouse, cohabitee or any children still in education for example. However, some are not. I have been involved with claims by ex-spouses, ex-cohabitees, tenants (living rent free in a property owned by the deceased), adult children, mistresses and other individuals who were maintained financially in some form. Seeing a client away from their spouse can make disclosure easier.

Before full advice can be given in regards to a Will it is crucial that proper instructions are taken and recorded. The instructions given must be comprehensive, the Will Adviser must be satisfied that the person has appropriate mental capacity and consideration must be given to the person’s various obligations.

There is little doubt that probate litigation will continue to increase but by ensuring your clients seek proper advice when doing a Will they will have awareness of where claims can lie and reduce their chances of such litigation.

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