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New government proposals signal substantial increase in costs following death

In many cases following a death, it is necessary to make an application to the Court for a Grant of Representation (often known as Probate) in order to administer a deceased’s estate. The government has recently announced plans to increase the fees payable to the Court when applying for a Grant.  Previously, the Court has not charged a fee to extract the Grant for estates with a value of less than £5,000 and a fixed fee of either £215 for personal applications or £155 for applications made through a solicitor for all estates over £5,000.

Probate

The new proposed fees, which are subject to parliamentary approval, will be based on the value of the estate, rather than any increase in the administrative role and responsibility of the Court.

The planned structure will result in Estates with a value below £50,000, being charge no fee and those valued between £50,000 and £300,000 the fee will increase to £300.  In the case of estates valued between £300,000 and £500,000 the fee will now be £1,000 and between £500,000 and £1 million £4,000.  The increase in fees continues, with estates valued between £1 million and £1.6 million paying £8,000 and between £1.6 million and £2 million £12,000.  Over £2 million the fee is £20,000.

The reform to the fee structure has been met with much disdain from the legal sector, with feelings of this being nothing more than an additional “death tax”.

Practitioners are frustrated with the proposal which will see the estates of more wealthy clients being subjected to a much higher fee for what is largely the same application.  As the level of work required by the Court does not change there seems to be little justification for changing the fees to a value based structure.  It is claimed that it is to bring it in line with the fees charged for other Court applications; in particular civil claims. It seems to be an opportunity to fund the Court system as a whole by charging those who are presumed as being able to afford it.

In many cases an estate (in particular any which involve a property) cannot be administered and assets passed into the hands of beneficiaries without the Grant. Therefore, estates are being charged high Court fees for what is a compulsory application, a principle which is not reflected in many other applications to Courts.

There are also practical difficulties with the hike in fees.  The fee must be paid before the Grant is issued and in many cases, assets in the estate are frozen until the Grant is issued.  This creates a “catch-22” situation of needing the funds to get the Grant but needing the Grant to get the funds.  In response, the Court has suggested that the Court fee be funded by the executors or beneficiaries personally, who will be reimbursed once assets are available.  Some executors or beneficiaries will be unable or unwilling to find these fees in advance.

The proposals add a new burden to the responsibilities of an Executor, and may result in an unwillingness of executors to accept the role.  Furthermore, creditors may see a delay in settlement of debts while funds are made available to apply for the Grant.

For those families that have recently suffered a bereavement and need to obtain a Grant, it would be worth applying to the Court before May this year if the estate is over £50,000.  It is recommended that legal advice is taken on this issue as soon as possible.

Consideration should also be given to structuring assets to enable flexibility to meet the fees rather than relying on an executor or beneficiary to subsidise an estate until there is sufficient liquidity to repay them.  Anyone opposing the new fee structure can sign a Petition at https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/188175

For further information please contact Charlotte Pritchard & Jennifer Kitchener who are both Solicitors in our Private Client Department.

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The Great Legal Bake

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North Ainley Solicitors will be taking part in this year’s Great Legal Bake, as supported by The Oldham Law Association Committee.  We will be baking cakes and raising money for pro-bono legal services on Thursday 23 February 2017 at our office at 34-36 Clegg Street Oldham OL1 1PS between 9:30 am and 1:00 pm.

We would like to invite all of our clients, family and friends to this fantastic event.  We will be turning one of our meeting rooms into a “pop-up” cake and coffee shop for your enjoyment.  All of the cakes and coffee will be donated by North Ainley staff, friends and family.  We ask simply that you make a donation as all money raised will be shared between the North West Legal Support Trust and Oldham CAB; 50% each.

Access to legal advice and services is hugely important.  For the poorest and the most vulnerable people in the community, access to justice is out of reach.  Free legal advice can make a huge difference to their lives.  In recent years, poverty has increased and support services decreased.  Meanwhile, funding for specialist advice centres has reduced; particularly since the 2013 removal of much of the legal aid previously available for humanitarian or social welfare legal advice.

The list of people helped by this free legal advice includes;

  • Families living in terrible housing conditions
  • Elderly people who need support to stay living independently
  • Women and children who have been trafficked to the UK to become domestic or sex slaves
  • People who suffer disability or illness and their carers
  • People who have been unfairly dismissed or who are discriminated against at work
  • Men and women who are working for less than minimum wage

We look forward to welcoming you to North Ainley to support this fantastic event.

For further information, please contact Charlotte Pritchard, in our Private Client Department on 0161 624 5614 or [email protected]

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Save the Children Christmas Jumper day

Christmas jumper 16bOnce again everyone at North Ainley have sported their most festive knits to raise money for the Save the Children Christmas Jumper Day.

Millions of people up and down the country will be joining in and donating £2 to wear their Christmas sweaters for the day.  Yet amidst the glitter, baubles and wacky jumpers there’s a serious side to all the silliness – the money raised will help to save children’s lives.

It can help to bring the bare essentials like food, healthcare, education and protection to millions of children around the world who are missing out on the most basic support.

This year we have raised a fantastic £72.00 which staff have generously donated towards this wonderful cause.

For further information on Save the Children, the amazing work they do and how you can help click on the link below.

save the children

 

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Mission Christmas 2016

Mission Christmas16North Ainley believes that Christmas is a time for giving, helping those less fortunate and contributing towards the community.

Once again our staff have shown immense generosity in supporting Key 103’s Mission Christmas by donating a variety of toys and gifts for the children of Manchester.

Last year Cash for Kids Mission Christmas raised over £13 million in gifts and donations which were distributed to more than 300,000 disadvantaged kids across the UK.   Of this Key 103 raised over £2 million in gifts and cash and supported over 51,500 local children.

1 in 3 children are living in poverty this December and for many families Christmas is a struggle.

Please join in by buying an extra gift or donating cash to help make a child’s Christmas a happy one.  For further details click on the link below to visit the Key 103 Mission Christmas website.

mission christmas 16 logo

 

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Christmas – A time for putting the children first

broken bauble turquoiseWhilst Christmas is usually the most exciting and magical time of the year for children, for parents who have recently separated, it can be a difficult and challenging time with the arrangements for the children being an additional source of stress and anxiety.  Although for most parents Christmas is about making sure the children have a wonderful time, separated parents can unconsciously allow their own feelings to cloud their judgment about what is best for the children.

Sadly, Christmas can become an opportunity to use contact as a weapon to hurt or punish a parent who has left. One parent may feel strongly that they have earned the right to have the children with them at Christmas after working hard to provide for them throughout the year.  The existence of a new partner can also add fuel to the fire. These issues and many more can lead to parents being unreasonable about the arrangements.

Although an unreasonable stance will undoubtedly hurt the other parent, it will also hurt the children who are caught in the middle.

In most situations, whatever the circumstances for the breakdown of the relationship, children will continue to love both parents unconditionally.  Many children harbour secret hopes that their parents will get back together, probably more so at Christmas than any other time particularly with the emphasis on families spending time together during the festive season.  Imagine the sadness and distress children will therefore feel if they are aware of the conflict about the arrangements or if they are prevented from seeing one of their parents over the Christmas period.

For children whose parents cannot be together, it is hugely important that they feel loved by both parents and that they can feel safe and secure in the knowledge that they will be spending time with all of the family with their parent’s blessing and agreement.

If the Christmas arrangements have not yet been made, now is the time to do so.  Here are some tips to help:-

  1. Be fair in your approach and be prepared to agree to an alternate year arrangement, so that both parents have the chance to experience the excitement of Christmas Eve and Christmas morning.
  2. Be creative about the arrangements and consider whether the children should effectively have two Christmases, spending Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with one parent and Boxing Day and 27 December with the other, with this arrangement alternating in the following years.
  3. Be child focused and make sure that the children will be happy with the arrangements, and that they will have time to play with their presents and see extended family members.
  4. Be prepared to talk and listen to each other. You continue to have a relationship as parents and therefore a continuing responsibility to make joint decisions for the benefit of your children.
  5. Avoid asking the children to decide the arrangements but instead tell them about the arrangements (together if possible) once they have been agreed. This way the children have certainty and can look forward to spending Christmas with both their parents without worrying that either parent may be upset.
  6. Avoid gift competitions by sharing the children’s wish list and agreeing who will get what.  You could even consider giving the main present as a joint gift from you both.

It is better for children and better for parents if all arrangements, following separation, can be agreed without costly and stressful Court proceedings but sometimes this is not always possible.  We offer an initial free consultation at which we will discuss the various options to help you move forward and resolve any issues with the least amount of upset as possible.  If you need advice or help in this regard contact Alison Winterbottom who heads our Family department.

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Oldham Food Bank

foodbank Dec16Throughout November we have been collecting items to fill a hamper for donation to the Oldham Food Bank.

Oldham Food Bank provides emergency food to people in crisis in the Oldham area.  This community run group offers a lifeline to local families who will be finding this time of year very difficult.

For further information about the Food Bank and how to offer support visit –

oldham food bank

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Join us for cake – Friday 30 September 2016

MACMILLAN COFFEE 2 16 We are holding a coffee morning once again this year to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.

Last year’s event was a great success and we hope you will join us to help to make this year’s event even better!

Our staff have their aprons at the ready and look forward to sharing their bakes on

Friday 30 September 2016 between 10.00am – 2.00pm.

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Lights…Camera…Oldham – Did you find us?

legally blondWe have been delighted to take part in the recent Movie Trail running through the town organised by the Oldham Town Centre Partnership to mark the forthcoming opening of the Odeon cinema in the old Town Hall.

Working closely with Saddleworth artist Claire Louise Mather, we proudly displayed Claire’s bespoke installations in our windows which used her trademark mixed media textile interpretation of a movie poster from a famous film.

bruiserOur film was appropriately ‘Legally Blonde’ and used locally produced materials with a multi layered and machine drawn stitched imagery.  We couldn’t have been happier with the artwork and the interest it created within the community.

The competition ran from Saturday 16 July 2016 to Saturday 13 August 2016 with one winner due to be selected at random from the successful entries who will win a family ticket for four to a screening of their choice when the cinema opens later this year.

Good luck to all who entered!

 

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Oldham Hulme GS -v- Marylebone Cricket Club

cricket mcc hulme 010716North Ainley are happy to sponsor the annual cricket match between Hulme Grammar 1st 11 and the MCC once again this year.

Always keen to put something back into the community by supporting local sport, the MCC match with Hulme Grammar has been a fixture we’ve supported for over 15 years at Werneth Cricket Club.

Each year the MCC takes part in over 500 matches around the world of which no less than 280 of these games are against schools from both the public and independent sectors.

The aim of MCC is to give talented young cricketers the chance to receive top-level coaching and playing opportunities whilst furthering their education by providing schools with quality experienced opposition who can act as role models and as ambassadors for the great game and the ‘Spirit of Cricket’.

cricket mcc hulme 010716b

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Thames House Summer Fair

thames house 120616The staff at North Ainley have been busy baking again but this time it was to help raise funds for Thames House in Rochdale.

Thames House is a 20 bedded care home that provides specialised nursing care for adults with complex physical and neurological conditions.  Particular specialisms include Huntington’s disease and acquired brain injury.  Huntington’s disease is a devastating neurodegenerative disease which is hereditary and life expectancy varies between 10 and 20 years.  Thames House is only one of two specialist homes in Greater Manchester.

We was delighted to support their Summer Fair which received a great turnout despite the rain and raised much appreciated funds for the home and the associated charities.

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