April 2019 - MLP Law

Probate News

Brexit is having all sorts of knock on effects at present, one of which is creating uncertainty for those going through the process of applying for probate.

Earlier this year the Government announced that it wished to change the current probate fee structure from a flat rate fee to one based on the value of the estate.

Whilst the current system charges a flat fee (£215 for personal applications and £155 for solicitor applications) it is proposed to change this to a system which charges according to the value of the estate:

  • Estates worth less than £50,000, no rise  
  • Estates worth £50,000 up to £300,000 will pay £250, a rise of £95 
  • Estates worth £300,000 up to £500,000 will pay £750, a rise of £595 
  • Estates worth £500,000 up to £1 million will pay £2,500, a rise of £2,130  
  • Estates worth £1 million up Estates worth less than £50,000, no rise   
  • Estates worth £50,000 up to £300,000 will pay £250, a rise of £95 
  • Estates worth £300,000 up to £500,000 will pay £750, a rise of £595 
  • Estates worth £500,000 up to £1 million will pay £2,500, a rise of £2,130 
  • Estates worth £1 million up to £1.6 million will pay £4,000, a rise of £3,845 
  • Estates worth £1.6 million up to £2 million will pay £5,000, a rise of £4,845  
  • Estates worth more than £2 million will pay £6,000, a rise of £5,845
  •  Estates to £1.6 million will pay £4,000, a rise of £3,845 
  • Estates worth £1.6 million up to £2 million will pay £5,000, a rise of £4,845  
  • Estates worth more than £2 million will pay £6,000, a rise of £5,845

Initially the changes had been due to be implemented on 1st April however there has been widespread objections to this proposal on the basis that it is essentially a ‘stealth tax’.

Christina Blacklaws, president of the Law Society of England and Wales, has commented;

“The government’s proposed increases to probate fees have been unpopular with both consumers and the legal profession since the very beginning.The costs to the courts for granting probate does not change whether the estate is worth £50,000 or £2m. Making larger estates pay more is effectively just increasing the level of inheritance tax by stealth. It is inherently unfair to expect the bereaved to subsidise other parts of the courts and tribunal service, particularly in circumstances where they have no other option but to apply for probate. This is a tax on grief.”

In order to introduce the new fee structure the Government needs to put forward a Parliamentary motion which has not yet been proposed, presumably as Parliamentary time is currently being dominated by issues relating to Brexit.

Due to well organised campaigns by the Law Society and Solicitors for the Elderly amongst others, many MP’s have indicated that they will oppose the changes so it remains to be seen how this issue will be resolved.

This uncertainty, combined with this month’s introduction of a whole new IT system for Probate Registries, has resulted in significant delays in obtaining Grants of Probate, which can cause significant inconvenience especially if there is a property sale taking place.

Accordingly, the best advice is to try to get any current Grant applications to the Probate Registry as quickly as possible in the event that your estate will be affected by a possible increase in fees, but be prepared for a much longer wait than previously as the District Registries work hard to catch up on their current backlogs.

 For further information, please contact our Associate Kerry Blackhurst from the Wills, Trusts and Probate department on 0161 926 1533 .

How We Can Help With Your Care Home Queries

As trusted, expert legal advisors we have considerable experience in helping families with a relative in residential or nursing care. We have seen all too often how stressful it can be to navigate this system especially at a time of great concern for your vulnerable relative.

We are here to answer your queries, and to provide valuable advice and support.

Please get in touch if you have queries about any of the following:

Choosing a Care Home

  • What should I plan for and consider when deciding on a care home placement, especially when it is on behalf of someone else?
  • I need help to understand my care home contract.
  • What are the consumer rights of care home residents?
  • I don’t understand the discharge from hospital process. What should I be doing?

Funding Care     

  • How should I plan to meet the cost of care on a private paying basis?
  • What will my Council pay for?
  • What will the NHS pay for?
  • What is a ‘top-up’?
  • What is a ‘deferred payment agreement’?
  • How do financial assessments work?
  • Can I avoid paying for care?
  • What financial products are available to cover the cost of care?
  • I’m not happy with the funding of my care – do I have grounds for a complaint?

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA’s) & Deputyship Order

  • What is an LPA and why do we need one?
  • What happens if we don’t have an LPA?
  • What is a Deputyship and when is it needed?
  • I am an Attorney or Deputy and need help to understand what my responsibilities are for my relative in care.

Complaints about Care Homes

  • I’m not happy with the care provided by the care home
  • I’m not happy with the fees charged by the care home
  • How do I complain about a care home?

Kerry Blackhurst specialises in advising on care issues and is a full member of Solicitors for the Elderly, a member of the Court of Protection Practitioners Association and currently appointed as the Age UK Trafford care navigator.

   For more information, please contact our Associate Kerry Blackhurst from our Wills, Trusts and Probate Team on 0161 926 1533 

Top 5 things you need to know about our innovative product MLP Flex

  1. One size doesn’t fit all – MLP Flex is a tailored Legal retainer that adapts with business needs. We talk to you about your business and your needs and create your Flex
  2. Access to expert legal advice from a team of qualified solicitors who will give you both practical and specialist advice
  3. Access to all of our specialist teams – one file, one Flex, low admin for you and your business, peace of mind and reassurance. You can be safe in the knowledge that all planned and ad-hoc legal requirements are taken care of and advised on with no prior admin required.
  4. Pro-active approach and reactive when things come up. MLP Flex allows you to have a specialist legal team there to support you throughout your business journey.
  5. MLP Flex is billed monthly meaning it is good for cash flow and budgets. There is no monthly invoice, just an annual invoice at the outset and direct payments set up for each month. It really is that easy.

Ask us about MLP Flex – to discuss your Flex send an email to flex@mlplaw.co.uk and one of the team will get back to you #TogetherWeCan


Unmarried Couples and the Law

Marriage is becoming less and less common in the UK and co-habitation between unmarried couples is increasing.  Here are some lesser-known facts about unmarried couples and the laws relating to Wills and the administration of estates:

  •  Many people believe that, by living with your partner, you obtain the same rights as married  couples and have a ‘common law marriage’. This is not true, and there is no such thing as a  common law marriage in England and Wales.  If you are not married to your partner, it is vital  to get the right advice about your own personal situation, rather than relying on myths and    misconceptions;
  • If you and your partner make Wills, and then later marry, your Wills will be revoked on your marriage. Therefore, it is always recommended to make new Wills if you and your partner do marry;
  • The Intestacy Rules don’t make any provision for unmarried partners. If your loved one dies without leaving a Will, only certain types of jointly owned assets or assets falling outside of their estate for distribution purposes will pass to you.  Under the Intestacy Rules, none of the assets owned in their sole name will pass to you on their death.  It is essential for unmarried couples to make Wills to avoid this situation!;
  • If you are left out of your partner’s Will, or if you do not inherit from their estate under the Intestacy Rules, you may still be able to make a claim for reasonable financial provision from their estate on their death; and
  • Unmarried couples don’t get the same tax advantages as married couples. We’re not saying tax advantages are the reason to get married, but they are one potential benefit of walking down the aisle!

If you are co-habiting with your partner and have questions about Wills or your Inheritance Tax position, or if your partner has passed away and you need advice about the distribution of their estate or making a claim against their estate, please speak to one of our experts in the Wills, Trusts and Probate Team on 0161 926 9969.

 Blog written by our Solicitor Rachel Eley – Wills, Trusts and Probate Department.

Debenhams – How their recent announcement signals change in the retail sector and how this might affect you.

Debenhams’ recent announcement that it would be closing 22 stores, a decision affecting 1,200 staff, is the latest in a string of casualties of once-giant high street names struggling to keep-up with the changing world of retail in the 21st century.

Dubbed the ‘Amazon Effect’ more people buying online means that big names continue to close.  As a result, retail employees as a share of Britain’s workers has dived by 12% since 2003 and the sector is now suffering from a higher rate of redundancies than any other industry. This means that while headlines focus on the loss of big names from the high-street, continued redundancies in this sector have a huge impact on individual workers.

Redundancy can occur in three different circumstances; when an entire business shuts down, when one site or branch of a business closes, or when a business no longer needs work of a particular kind to be done. An employer may make redundancies for a huge variety of reasons. Whether dismissals can have the statutory definition of redundancy applied to them is extremely important, mainly because employees being made redundant may be entitled to a redundancy payment.

That being said, it can be extremely difficult to know if what your business or your employer’s business faces is classed as a ‘redundancy situation.’ This means that it is important in every case to consider what the law states on redundancy, as this is a common area of dispute between employers and employees. It is also vital that even if the situation does count as a redundancy, any termination of employment must be handled correctly in order to avoid any chance of an unfair dismissal.

If you own a business, in the retail sector or elsewhere, in which employees may face redundancy, or if you are an employee in the retail sector who fears being made redundant, please contact our employment team on 0161 926 1508.