Increases to Probate Fees from May 2017

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In order to deal with a person’s estate following their death it is usually necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration.   The current fee payable to obtain the Grant of Representation (‘the Grant’) is £155 if the application is made through a solicitor, or £215 if made personally.

The Government is proposing to increase the fee to obtain a Grant substantially for estates worth more than £50,000. The proposed new fees mean that an estate worth between £50,000 and £300,000 would pay £300, an estate worth between £300,000 and £500,000 would pay £1,000 and an estate worth between £500,000 and £1,000,000 would pay £4,000.  The fees above that rise to a maximum of £20,000 for an estate worth more than £2,000,000.

The work involved for the Court Service to process an application for a Grant is the same whatever the value of the estate.

At present the costs of running the Probate service are covered by the fees currently payable. However, the Government are proposing these fee increases so that they will raise additional revenue to cover the costs of running other Court services, so the Probate fees will subsidise those Court services.

The Government carried out a consultation exercise and the vast majority of responses opposed the proposed increased fees on the grounds that increases of that amount were unnecessary to fund the service provided and amounted to another form of taxation.

We believe that the proposed increases are unfair and could lead to hardship for people at a difficult time.  If you agree please sign the petition to reconsider these proposals following the link below.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/188175

We need 100,000 signatures to get the proposals debated in Parliament. Otherwise they are almost certain to be approved.

Help for domestic abuse victims

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A barrier to victims of domestic abuse accessing legal aid has been removed by the Government. Until recently there has been a time limit of five years on the evidence of abuse needed to obtain legal aid. That time limit has now been removed completely so that if you have evidence that you have ever been a victim of domestic abuse you may be entitled to legal aid for related family cases.

The changes were welcomed by the Law Society who have been campaigning to remove the time limits. A spokesperson said, “These changes will help domestic violence victims who have previously been deprived of valuable legal advice, support and representation to access essential family law remedies.”

If you are or have been a victim of domestic abuse and need help with sorting out arrangements for your finances or children give our family department a call: Rebecca at Thorne 01405 813108 or Jean at Goole 01405 720850.

 

Help with Child Maintenance

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Here at Kenyon Son and Craddock we know that it’s sometimes useful to have some information before you come to see us. One of the most useful websites we have found for separating parents worried about child maintenance is the Child Maintenance Options website, which you can find here  http://www.cmoptions.org/

Child Maintenance Options is a free service that provides impartial information and support to help separated parents make decisions about their child maintenance arrangements. On the website you can find out about family based arrangements, calculate maintenance with the online calculator and find lots of useful links to help you navigate your separation.

Once you’ve done your research we can help you draw up agreements or advise you on the next step along the road of your separation. Whatever stage you are at give us a call and arrange a free information appointment on 01405 813108 (Rebecca at the Thorne office) or 01405 720850 (Jean at the Goole office)

Lasting Powers of Attorney and the Government’s risky online legal tool

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A number of organisations representing older and vulnerable people have joined together to raise serious concerns around the Government’s online tool for creating Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs).   An LPA is a powerful legal document that allows a person to appoint trusted individuals to make important decisions about care and finances on their behalf, in the event of a loss of mental capacity through an accident or illness such as dementia.

In May 2014, the Government’s Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) launched its online LPA tool, which it claims allows people to create the documents without the need for professional advice from a solicitor.   But a new report, published by a coalition of organisations led by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) warns that anyone creating an LPA without taking specialist legal advice faces a significantly higher risk of being left with an ineffective legal document, incurring additional application fees, and even becoming a victim of fraud or coercion.

The report also raises concerns around the potential of a completely digital system proposed by the OPG, whereby ‘wet signatures’ – the physical signing of the document – would no longer be required.

Sarah Littlewood, who is a Full Accredited member of SFE believes that “The prospect of being able to submit an LPA application entirely digitally is extremely concerning, and raises some serious questions around the potential for fraud and financial abuse.”

During a study conducted for the report, participants were invited to create LPAs using the OPG’s online tool and other ‘DIY’ methods. The study revealed that:

  • Some of the forms did not accurately express the way in which participants would want their affairs and welfare to be handled in the future
  • Documents made using DIY methods were more likely to contain elementary mistakes, rendering them ineffective and requiring additional application fees
  • Following consultation with a solicitor, most participants made significant changes to the permissions of their documents regarding how and by whom their affairs were managed

June McSparron, a 75-year-old who participated in the study, said: “You’re exposing yourself to a lot of risk by filling this form in on your own. There are so many bits that you can get wrong, and you can easily be pressured into making choices that you’re not entirely comfortable with.”

The number of LPAs being registered has increased steadily since the launch of the online tool, with over half a million registered in 2015/16 alone. The OPG is actively trying to convince more people to apply for LPAs online, having set a target for the service to comprise 30% of all applications from April 2016 to March 2017.  In its latest Annual Report, the OPG even admits it is willing to take ‘risks’ in striking a balance between ‘empowering and safeguarding’.

With the OPG already receiving over 1,000 calls to its contact centre every day, the organisations behind the campaign say the Government body is potentially exposing people to unacceptable levels

An LPA is by far the most powerful and important legal document an individual can have, because it allows you to pass potentially life-changing decisions about your affairs on to a third party.  It is absolutely right that people should be planning ahead for the future with LPAs, but granting someone this sort of authority over your affairs is an extremely big responsibility for all parties involved. This is a specialist area of the law it is recommended that anyone considering an LPA goes to a legal expert to ensure they get the right advice, consider all the options, and safeguard themselves for the future.”

If you would like to discuss making an LPAs please contact Sarah Littlewood or Laura Scott who will be happy to help

 

 

Kenyons support Good Divorce week

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I’m a proud member of Resolution, a community of family justice professionals who work with families and individuals to resolve issues in a constructive way.

Resolution membership is about the approach I take to my work. This means that as a Resolution member, I will always seek to reduce or manage any conflict and confrontation, support and encourage families to put the best interests of any children first and act with honesty, integrity and objectivity.

I know from my twenty years working as a family law professional, that clients reach the best outcomes when they are helped to understand and manage the potential long-term financial and emotional consequences of decisions. This is why I use experience and knowledge to guide my clients through the options available to them.

As a Resolution member, I have signed up to a Code of Practice that will demonstrate to clients the approach I will always take. The Code promotes a constructive approach to family issues and considers the needs of the whole family, in particular the best interests of children.

If you decide to work with me, this means:

  • Listening to you, being honest with you and treating you with respect.
  • Explaining all the options and giving you confidence to make the right decisions.
  • Helping you focus on what’s important in the long-term.
  • Helping you balance financial and emotional costs with what you want to achieve.
  • Working with others to find the right approach and the best solutions for you.
  • Managing stress in what can be an already stressful situation.

Because I’m signed up to the Resolution Code, I work with a network of other like-minded professionals, including mediators, financial planners and family consultants, to make sure I’m helping my clients find the right approach for them.

Please give me a call to discuss how I can help you on 01405 813108 or email me rebeccak@ksandc.co.uk

Rebecca Kershaw

Solicitor and Family Mediator

 

Half Marathon success! Worksop Hallowe’en completed, what’s next?!

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Sarah Littlewood, Laura Scott, John Bysouth and Tony Henshaw all successfully completed the Worksop Hallowe’en half marathon run last weekend. For all concerned this was our first, and perhaps for some last, competitive half marathon. Far from being an easy half marathon this was even in the organisers words, an “undulating” course, although the scenery of Clumber Park help distract from the side splitting pain and blistered feet!

We would like to offer our thanks to all our supporters who have so far helped us to raise £435.00 with gift aid yet to be added to the total for the Eve Merton Dreams Trust. Just to remind our faithful readers The Trust is a Cancer Charity set up to help create a dream or wish for a serious or terminally ill cancer patient in Doncaster.

Tony Henshaw, partner at Kenyon Son & Craddock said:-

It was a great team effort.”

John Bysouth added:-

“We are delighted to see our efforts have raised the profile of the Charity in our local area and some vital funds to help such a worthy cause.”

Money has continued to pour in even after the event took place. Our donations page is active until 30 November. Kenyon Son & Craddock has pledged to match the final sum raised and we therefore urge anyone who wishes to donate to do so as soon as possible.

So what next for the intrepid four?

Sarah Littlewood was quoted this morning in defiant mood saying:

“This is the start of many. We are now in deep discussions for our next gruelling challenge, watch this space!”

Any suggestions will be gratefully received, and perhaps discarded depending how difficult they are!half marathon pic

Kenyons Family Mediation supports Mediation Awareness Week

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If you and your partner are separating or divorcing, family mediation can help you to settle practical issues, such as dividing your assets and arranging access to your children, in a way which works for everyone. It removes the need for these decisions to be settled in court or through solicitors, which can be stressful and costly; indeed, even if your case has already gone to court, mediation can help resolve any additional issues you might have.

In family mediation sessions, you and your partner will meet (first separately, then together) with an impartial and specially trained family mediator. You’ll explain what needs to be settled, explore the options available, discuss your individual and collective concerns, and consider ways of reaching agreement on the issues you need to resolve.

Your mediator will help you and your partner to reach well-informed decisions that are practical and seem fair to both of you, without taking a side or trying to influence your decision in any way. When you reach an agreement, the mediator will write it down in a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ so that all parties are clear on the outcome. If your decision needs to be legally enforceable, the terms worked out in mediation can be made legally binding in court.

Call Rebecca for a no obligation chat on 01405 813108 or email rebeccak@ksandc.co.uk

Mediation week

Charity Halloween Worksop Half Marathon

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Tony Henshaw, John Bysouth, Sarah Littlewood and Laura Scott have dusted off their running shoes (or bought their first pair!) to start training for the Worksop Half Marathon which is taking place on 30th October 2016. With just 11 weeks left they are all training hard to make sure they cross the finish line.

We have decided to raise money for a local Doncaster charity The Eve Merton Dreams Trust. The Charity do amazing things for people suffering with Cancer.  The Charity aims to help patients by funding essential illness related materials, granting a wish or fulfilling a Dream.

If you would like to sponsor us then please click on the link below. We appreciate any amount donated as it is all going to a fantastic cause.

Visit my fundraising page on BT MyDonate

For more information about the charity and to see examples of how your kind donations could be spent then please visit their website:

http://www.evestrust.co.uk/

Common Law Marriage – It’s a MYTH!

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There were 3.1 million opposite sex cohabiting couple families and 90,000 same sex cohabiting couple families in the UK in 2015. Together, cohabiting couple families account for 17% of all families in the UK which is an increase on previous years (Office of National Statistics).

Despite the increasing trend of cohabitation, many people still believe that cohabitants have the same legal rights as married couples. This is not the case and in fact they have almost no rights at all when it comes to inheritance. The main difficulty that arises with cohabitating couples is when one partner dies without leaving a Will.

When any person dies without a Will then the rules of intestacy apply. If you are not married to your partner then you have no legal entitlement to any of the assets held in their sole name.

It is also important to consider how the family home is owned. If the property is owned by you partner in their sole name, when they die, you will not be entitled under the rules of intestacy to any share of the property.

If you own the property jointly and believe that should one of you die the other inherits the property automatically, this may not be the case. There are 2 ways to own your property jointly ; as Joint tenants which is where the property will automatically pass to the surviving owner, or  as Tenants in Common where each owner owns a specific share in the property and it doesn’t automatically pass to the surviving owner. It will pass in accordance with the Will or if no Will under the rules of intestacy. You may want to check the ownership of your property if you are unsure.

It is therefore extremely important that both cohabitants make a Will expressing their wishes should one of them die.

If no Will is in place and the surviving cohabitant believes they should be entitled to some or all of their partners estate then they can bring a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.  There is no guarantee that a claim would be successful and in order to protect your loved one from any unnecessary worry and costs our advice is to make a Will to ensure that your wishes are carried out.

If you would like to discuss making a Will then please call either Sarah Littlewood who works between our Thorne and Wakefield offices or Laura Scott who works between our Goole and Thorne offices on 01405 813108.