January 30

Facing separation or divorce? How mediation can help?

A new initiative to provide free family mediation will give many couples in England and Wales a non-confrontational way of resolving their own problems after they separate. A free government-funded mediation session for both people involved in a separation was made available from 3rd November 2014. The session will be provided free even if just one of the couple qualifies for legal aid.

January 19

Unmarried couples and inheritance – the law

At our offices in Chichester, West Sussex and Alton, Hampshire we often hear of the term “common law husband or wife”, however it has no legal meaning or standing whatsoever. You are either married or you are not.

If you are not married and your partner dies without making a Will (‘intestate’) or making sufficient provisions for you in their Will then you, as the survivor, will have no right to any inheritance from his estate under the existing intestacy rules. This is despite how long you have lived with one another.

January 12

Stamp Duty Reforms – Slice not Slab!

In December 2014, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced overnight radical Stamp Duty Land Tax reforms. Under this new scheme it is anticipated that 98% of buyers will pay either the same or less than before. The change has effectively removed the ‘dead zones’ which occurred for properties just above each threshold and is intended to revive the housing market.

Previously, Stamp Duty was calculated on the entire purchase price and fell into different brackets. This caused vast problems for those with a property to sell worth around £260,000 as it meant that Buyers found themselves in the 3% band and liable for £7,800 or more in Stamp Duty. If buyers could negotiate the price to £250,000 then they would only be facing a £2,500 payment. And how do you add enough value to your house to make it worth people wanting to pay the extra tax?

December 2

Why you should make a power of attorney sooner, rather than later

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides a framework to empower and protect people who may lack capacity to make some decisions for themselves. The Act also allows people to plan ahead to a time where they lack capacity and to specify who should make deci- sions for them in this instance.

No one knows what tomorrow may bring and preparing a Power of Attorney gives you comfort and control by appointing whoever you wish to look after your affairs. Where there is no Power of Attorney in place the Act states that no one, not even a spouse, can have access to the assets and accounts in the individual’s name. Not even a joint account!

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