inheritance-tax

Category Archives: Private Client

Is your Will tax efficient?

Most people are aware that when you die you can leave a certain amount to your family without paying Inheritance Tax.  This is called the Nil Rate Band (NRB) and it is currently £325,000 per person (provided no gifts over £3,000 were given in 7 years before death).

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In April 2017 the government introduced a new tax allowance called the Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) which can be claimed in addition to the NRB in order to limit or possibly completely avoid your estate paying Inheritance Tax.

The RNRB is an allowance that specifically applies to your home; it is currently £150,000 per person and is due to increase to £175,000 in April 2020.  This means that from next year a person can potentially leave £500,000 tax free upon their death.

This sounds like great news, however there are conditions to the RNRB.  Firstly the property must be left to a direct descendant e.g.  child, step-child, grandchild.  Other more distant relatives such as aunts/uncles or nieces and nephews do not qualify.

Secondly, the property must be left to the person directly without any conditions such as upon the beneficiary reaching a certain age, this is because it means the property is being held on trust, and is not a direct inheritance.  If there is a trust in a Will whether the RNRB is available will depend on the type of trust; if it is of a discretionary nature then the RNRB cannot be claimed.

Thirdly, if your estate is valued at more than £2 million then the RNRB will reduce by £1 for every £2 the estate is over this amount.  So, if your estate in total is more than £2.2 million then you do not qualify for the RNRB.

Finally, if the value of the house is less than the RNRB then the balance of the allowance cannot be used to offset against your other assets.  For example if your estate has a property worth £100,000 and cash assets of £400,000, the £150,000 RNRB would mean no tax is due on your property but the remaining £50,000 of the RNRB cannot be used to reduce tax on the cash assets.

As with the NRB the RNRB can be transferred between spouses.  This is because any gift to a spouse is tax free, so if a husband dies first leaving everything to his wife, there is no tax to pay no matter the value of the estate.  This means he is considered to have not used his NRB or his RNRB, so when the wife dies if she is leaving everything to the children, she can use her own NRB, RNRB and then claim her husbands unused NRB and RNRB, so she could leave a total of £1 million tax to free to their children.

It is important that your Will is written in a way to take advantage of the tax allowances available in order to make your estate as tax efficient as possible.  Seeing a solicitor to take advice and discuss your personal circumstances is the best way to ensure this happens.

For more information and advice contact a member of our Private Client team.

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Saddleworth Summer Show

Did you spot our Senior Partner John Ainley selling ducks in Uppermill yesterday?

Saddleworth Show

The duck race will be part of the Rotary’s Saddleworth Show 2019 next week which promises to be bigger and better than ever.

North Ainley Solicitors are proud to sponsor the event which raises thousands of pounds for local and international charities.

Get yourself down to Well-i-hole Farm, Greenfield from 1pm next Sunday 30 June 2019!

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Continuing Best Practice following a successful Lexcel Assessment

North Ainley Solicitors has once again successfully secured the Law Society Legal Practice Quality Mark, Lexcel.Lexcel

Lexcel is an optional, recognised accreditation scheme for Law Firms and in house Legal Departments which gives the public the assurance that a Practice meets high Client Care and Business Management standards.  North Ainley originally achieved the standard in 2011 and has successfully retained the accreditation at each annual assessment thereafter.

John Ainley the senior partner of the firm said “we are delighted to have retained the Lexcel Accreditation.  There have been a number of changes to the standards in the last year, particularly in light of the recent GDPR requirements.  It is reassuring to know that our procedures are up to the mark.  There is a lot of choice in the legal services market but being Lexcel Accredited demonstrates our commitment to Client Care and Best Practice.  The best interests of our clients and staff are at the heart of the way we work”.

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Dementia Action Week

This week is ‘Dementia Action Week’ across the country and we are doing our bit.  This Friday 24 May 2019 members of our Private Client team will be at the ‘Dementia Information Day’ at Oldham Library.

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Danielle and Jennifer from our Private Client Department will be set up, ready and waiting at the Oldham Library to provide you with more information about dementia and will be on hand to provide you with advice on how you can get your legal affairs in order, so please come along and see us.

To find out more and how we can help you please pop in between 11.00 am and 4 pm.

Click here for more information on Dementia Action week.

 

 

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Mahdlo Will Week

We are once again pleased to be supporting Mahdlo – Oldham’s annual ‘Will Week’ this week.

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We are working with Mahdlo to provide members of the public with an opportunity to access our Will preparation services, whilst at the same time raising funds to support Mahdlo.  The scheme is running from the 4th to the 8th March inclusive.

In return for a set donation to Mahdlo we will prepare your simple Wills.  A Single Will (£100) or Mirror Wills (£150).

We still have a few appointments left so be quick and call us to book in on 0161 624 5614 quoting ‘Mahdlo Will Week’.

For more information on Mahdlo visit their website on https://www.mahdloyz.org/

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Annual STEP Dinner

A team from our Private Client Department, along with partners John Ainley and Geoff Lamb, attended the Annual Dinner of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (STEP) at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester last night.  John Ainley is a former Chairman of the Manchester Branch.

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Our Jennifer Kitchener was selected to attend the Dinner and honoured as a high achiever having attained some of the highest marks in the recent STEP examinations.  Many congratulations to Jennifer who is a key member of our team dealing with Wills, Probate, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Trusts.

The STEP exams are a prestigious specialist qualification which carries international recognition across all sectors of the commercial world.  In addition to legal qualifications, North Ainley expects all our team to attain this high standard of academic and practical achievement.

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Choosing the right lawyer

It can be a big decision to instruct a solicitor and it could end up costing you a lot of money, so you need to get it right!

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Certainly, it can be tempting to go to the first firm you think of, drive past on the way to work or that has the fanciest offices but there are some things you should consider before parting with your hard earned cash:

Specialism – Often, high street practices try to be a jack of all trades, with the same Solicitor offering advice on all manner of problems. But, if you have an employment law issue why would you want advice from a Solicitor with a background in property law? Do your research and make sure the Solicitor you will see is a specialist in and has good experience in the area you need advice on.

Recommendations – from people you know and trust are always useful but if your friend recommends a firm because they did a good job of selling their business, it does not make them best placed to help you make a personal injury claim.

Attitude – Make sure you are on the same page. If you want to resolve your issue amicably, you do not want an aggressive lawyer who will rack up costs arguing over nothing. Likewise, if you want a robust approach, don’t instruct a wallflower. A good lawyer will explain the options and alter their approach based on your instructions and will be mindful of how their approach will affect your costs; even if that means telling you what you don’t want to hear.

Alternatives – Does the firm promote and actively engage in other ways of resolving legal problems; such as ACAS Conciliation for employment problems or Mediation or Collaborative Law for family matters? Again, a good lawyer who isn’t just interested in taking your money will encourage these approaches where appropriate.

Likeability – Believe it or not, not all solicitors are cut throat so it’s important that you feel comfortable speaking with your legal adviser and that you feel able to build a relationship of trust and confidence. That said, just because you might want to go for a pint with them does not mean they will give you quality legal advice.

Fees – Make sure you have a very good estimate of what it’s likely to cost and when you will be billed. From 6 December 2018, all Solicitors websites must display prices and service information for residential conveyancing, probate, unfair & wrongful dismissals, debt recovery and licensing applications.

Choice – Remember you don’t have to use any firm which may already have been ‘assigned’ to you – perhaps by your employer when handling a settlement agreement or your car hire company when dealing with an Road Traffic Accident.

At North Ainley, we have been advising the people of Oldham since 1901 but that doesn’t mean you will get out of date advice, just lots of experience! Our size allows us to combine a friendly, personal service with city professionalism from a team of specialist Solicitors and legal advisers.

For more information, please call Laura Campbell, a Solicitor in our Dispute Resolution team on 0161 624 5614.

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New Year, New Start

ChangeAre you buying a new house, starting a new business venture, getting married or expecting a new arrival this year?  However your life changes in 2019, make sure you keep your Will up to date to protect the ones you love.

Contact a member our legal team who can provide you advice and guidance on Wills, house sales or purchases, business advice and all family related matters.

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Maggie’s Oldham – Free Monthly Will Writing Service

Our Private Client Team are proud to announce their support of Maggie’s Oldham by providing a monthly Will writing service for their visitors and their loved ones.

Under the scheme straightforward Wills will be provided free of charge.

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The sessions will be held on the second Tuesday of each month between 2-5pm at the Maggie’s Centre, based in the grounds of the Royal Oldham Hospital.  The next session will be held on 11 December.

We are honoured to be able to be involved with such an amazing charity and to be able to offer some peace of mind and comfort to those affected in a time of need.

We understand that making a Will can be a daunting prospect to some people but it really needn’t be.  Everyone should make a Will and it is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and for our families.

Appointments at any of the sessions can be made by contacting Laura Tomlinson or Tom Hall at Maggie’s on 0161 989 0550 or by emailing [email protected] .

We cannot wait to start the scheme and to meet many of the wonderful people who visit Maggie’s.

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Dementia Awarness

Delighted to report that all North Ainley staff have become ‘Dementia Friends’ today, joining the UK’s biggest ever initiative to change the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about dementia.  Engaging and informative session by @MakingSpaceUK

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For more information visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk

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Alzheimer’s Society – Cupcake Day

North Ainley has again today joined in with organisations across the country for a day of fundraising by baking cakes, and of course eating them!

In addition to the baking of cakes and collecting donations we also had a few additional fun games together with a World Cup sweepstake to help raise further funds.

In the UK, someone develops Dementia every three minutes, and there is currently no cure.  With your support, we aim to change this.

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By hosting a Cupcake Day our staff not only get to enjoy some tasty treats with their colleagues, family, friends and clients, but help raise awareness and funds to help to find new treatments and, ultimately, a cure for Dementia.

Dedicated Cupcakers like us have raised £1.4 million since 2016 and this year we intend to raise even more together!

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Dementia Action Week 2018 (21st – 27th May 2018)

Dementia Action Week (DAW) is now in full swing with various events being held across the country.  The purpose of DAW is to raise awareness of dementia.  This week a staggering statistic has shown that there are currently 850,000 people with dementia in the UK.  By 2025 the number is set to rise to 1 million and by 2051; the number is set to rise to 2 million.

Given this statistic, dementia awareness is so important.  Everyone should educate themselves about dementia and there are plenty of helpful resources on the internet to help you in understanding more about dementia and how to care for someone with dementia.  You can also become a dementia friend by attending a session – search the internet for dementia friends sessions in your area.  We are in the process of arranging dementia friends training for all of our staff.dementia

With Barbara Windsor’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia, that has been in the press recently, and looking at the statistic above, it is so important to put things in place whilst you still can to ensure your loved ones can look after you, and your affairs, should you be diagnosed with dementia.  Everyone should have a Will in place and Lasting Powers of Attorney but, unfortunately, too many people in the UK do not.  Once you lose capacity you cannot make either so act now, or before it’s too late, to put them in place.

Having a Will means that you can ensure your assets pass to the people you wish to benefit on your death.  If you die without a Will (intestate), the law dictates who is to receive your estate.

Lasting Powers of Attorney allow your named Attorney(s) to look after and manage your affairs for you as and when you require assistance; whether that be whilst you still have capacity or if you should lose capacity.  Under a Lasting Power of Attorney, your Attorney(s) can ensure all of your bills are paid, your care home fees are paid and your affairs generally looked after.

Should you lose capacity and you do not have a Lasting Power of Attorney then your loved ones will not be able to manage your affairs and ensure your bills are paid.  They may have to in some circumstances pay your bills themselves for a period of time.  Your family, or an appropriate person, would have to apply to the Court of Protection to be appointed as your Deputy but, this process can be rather lengthy and expensive.

Act now to get your affairs in order and speak to a member of our Private Client Team.

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When is your home not your home?

What happens if you have lived with a partner for many years and your partner dies without making a Will?  What if the Will that your partner did make leaves little or nothing to you? In those circumstances, what rights do you have?

What, for example, happens to the property you shared with your partner?

What if your partner did not make a Will?

The Intestacy Rules will apply.  Co-habitees are not recognised under the Intestacy Rules.  A co-habitee would not benefit from a deceased partner’s estate.

What if the property is jointly owned?

If you owned the property with your partner on what is known as a joint tenant basis, the property would pass to you under established legal principles, whether or not your partner had a Will.

What if your partner owned the property?

If the property was in your partner’s sole name the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 allows certain categories of individuals (including those who have lived with a partner for more than two years) to make a claim against their partner’s estate, for what is known as reasonable financial provision.  The claim would be for such financial provision as it would be reasonable to receive for your maintenance.  Maintenance would include somewhere to live and may include a lump sum payment, dependent on your financial position.

“It won’t happen to me” In a recent case Thompson v Raggett (2018), a couple lived together for 42 years but never married.  Throughout the relationship, Ms Thompson was financially dependent upon Mr Hodge.  After suffering a stroke in 2006, she became physically dependent upon Mr Hodge and moved temporarily to a nursing home in 2015.  Mr Hodge purchased a cottage to be  adapted to Ms Thompson’s needs but he passed away before they could move into the cottage.  Mr Hodge made a will, leaving his £1.5m estate (including the cottage) to two tenants of a property he owned.  The will left nothing to Ms Thompson! She was effectively left homeless at the age of 79.

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Ms Thompson made a claim under the 1975 Act.  Often in these types of cases, Courts allow a cohabitee to live in a property during their lifetime and the property reverts on their death to the estate of the deceased partner.  Ms Thompson’s claim was successful and given the length of the relationship, she was awarded the cottage outright, c.£29,000 to cover costs of adapting the cottage to her needs and a lump sum payment of £160,000.

Don’t leave it to chance.  If any of these issues do or may affect you in the future, contact North Ainley for expert legal advice.

Johanna Nolan is a Solicitor in the Dispute Resolution team at North Ainley.  For advice on this issue or any dispute contact Johanna a member of our litigation team.

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Power of Attorney Fee Refund Scheme

On the 1st February 2018 the Ministry of Justice announced its Power of Attorney fee refund scheme.

The refunds are being offered to those who may have been charged more than was necessary to apply to register Lasting Powers of Attorney or an Enduring Power of Attorney between the 1st April 2013 and the 31st March 2017.  The reason for this is that during this period, the Office of the Public Guardian’s operating costs came down as more and more people were applying to register Powers of Attorney and the process of registering the same became more efficient.  However, the Office of the Public Guardian did not reduce the application fee in line with this.

To make a claim you can simply go online and use the quick and simple online service at www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney-refund.  This should take you around 10 minutes to complete.     You will need the donor’s UK bank account number and sort code to hand.  If the donor does not have a UK bank account then you will need to claim by telephone.  Similarly, if the donor has subsequently died or you are a court appointed Deputy, you will need to claim by telephone.

The Office of the Public Guardian have provided full guidance on their website and they have also set up a dedicated refunds service helpline.  If you do not have access to a computer or can’t use one easily, you can speak to the dedicated helpline.  To speak to the helpline you need to call the Office of the Public Guardian on 0300 456 0300 and select option 6.  The lines are open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9am to 5pm and Wednesday from 10am to 5pm.  Please visit the following website for details of call charges – www.gov.uk/call-charges.

If you believe you may be entitled to a refund you should visit www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney-refund.  You can make a claim if you are the donor (i.e. the person who made the Power of Attorney) or an Attorney appointed within the Power of Attorney.  Any refund however will be paid to the donor.

The refund you receive depends on when you paid the fees.  There will also be 0.5% interest added on top.  If you cannot remember how much you paid you can still make a claim; the Office of the Public Guardian will work out the refund for you.  Only one form needs to be completed for each donor as the Office of the Public Guardian will be able to find all application fees paid by the donor during the qualifying period.

Below is a table of the possible fees you may receive back.

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If you paid a reduced fee (“remission”), you’ll get half the refund.

Once you have submitted your claim it takes up to twelve weeks for it to be processed.  If your claim is approved, the refund will be paid directly into the donor’s bank account.  If your claim is rejected you can appear this decision by contacting the refunds helpline.

For more information or advice, please contact a member of our Private Client team.

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Where there’s a Will there’s a way!

A Will is a written document created during your lifetime which determines how any property you own or money that you have at the date of your death will be shared out.  In the event that you do not have a Will the law stipulates who will receive your assets after your death and this may not be the same as your wishes.

There are very strict rules concerning the procedure around creating a Will to ensure that it is valid.  This is currently being reviewed and considered by the Law Commission who has said “The law around wills should be updated and brought into the “modern world””.  Consideration is being given to whether or not more modern forms of communication such as email or text message should be permitted forms of communicating your wishes in exceptional circumstances.

As the law currently stands a Will document must be in writing and signed by the person making the Will, in the presence of two witnesses, who must also sign the Will in the presence of the person making the Will and each other.  If these steps are not followed the Will is not considered valid and your wishes may not be carried out after your death.

Many of our clients comment that had they attempted to make a Will at home, without the assistance of a solicitor, they would have encountered problems or made mistakes.  Our clients also benefit from advice relating to maximising the use of their tax allowances, care home fee planning, protecting their assets for and from relatives and future generations.  Unmarried couples do not have the same automatic tax reliefs and other rights as married couples, regardless of how long they have lived together, a common mistake made by our clients.

We invite you to contact our experienced Private client team to arrange an appointment to discuss making a Will.

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What is a Lasting Power of Attorney – why might I need one?

Do you know someone who has dementia, Alzheimer’s or has had a stroke? They may have some other illness or problem that means they need help with their day to day life.  Have you ever seen a family struggle to handle someone else’s affairs and come up against confidentiality and data protection, and be able to go no further? Other issues may involve difficulties in paying bills or having to pay expenses out of their own money while they wait to be able to access the accounts of their loved ones. Care decisions may have been made by social workers and doctors instead of by their partner or family.  If you do know someone who has experienced any of these issues you will know that the challenges they face in these circumstances are upsetting and make an already difficult time harder.

It is possible to plan ahead so that should the worst happen to you then your family will not have to worry about how they manage to pay any bills or who will be making decisions about your care. The way to do this is by executing a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) whilst you are well enough to do so.  Under an LPA you are choosing who you would like to manage your affairs and make decisions on your behalf if you are no longer able to do decide for yourself.

There are two types of LPAs; property and financial affairs and health and welfare. You can choose to do just one of these but to be fully prepared we would recommend that both are put in place.

Your choice of attorney(s) (you can name up to four) is an entirely personal decision but it is crucial that you trust them as they will be making important and sometimes life changing decisions for you.  It is especially important if you are unmarried and want your partner to have decision making powers in relation to your health care as they do not have any legal standing as a family member and would not be considered your next of kin.  In any event, no person is permitted to deal with assets held in your sole name, should you lose mental capacity, without an order of the Court or an LPA regardless of whether or not they are your next of kin.

You can include guidance or restrictions for your attorneys in the LPA so you can have an element of control over the decisions they make later in your life.

If you are not well enough and have lost mental capacity then an LPA cannot be signed.  This means someone will need to apply to the Court of Protection on your behalf and asked to be appointed as your Deputy (another type of attorney) in order to be able to look after and manage your finances.  It is a costly and lengthy process. There is no guarantee that the person you would choose is the one that will be appointed, especially if your family cannot agree and the court has to decide.  Please note they rarely make Court of Protection appointments for health and welfare, so if you do not have an LPA, those decisions may be made by professionals instead of those who know you best.

The process is fairly straightforward but there are some technicalities involved which makes it important that professional advice is taken in order that the formalities are complied with.

Making an LPA now does not mean it has to be used straightaway and you will not lose control of your assets or your decision making powers by signing it. Instead you are ensuring that you are prepared should your circumstances change so your loved ones will be able to take over straight away.

Making an LPA may seem unnecessary if you are fit and healthy, but things can change unexpectedly and in an instant so the opportunity to prepare an LPA will be lost.  Preparing now is the key for you having the peace of mind that in the future you will be well looked after by people of your choosing.

To discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney further, please contact our Private Client Department.

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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.

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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  • A very professional service both in the sale of my property and purchase of my new property. Careful consideration of my needs was made and every effort taken to ensure that I was kept up to date on the transactions.  Very satisfied with the service and staff and in particular Mr Vinesh and his assistant Cassie Stafford.
    Mrs A Gouldbourn - Carmanthenshire
  • Lisa Wright
    Lisa Wright
    15:05 25 Feb 19
    Cassie was fantastic throughout our sale and would recommend North Ainley if selling or buying a house.read more
    Lynn Findlater
    Lynn Findlater
    18:55 01 Dec 18
    I have used North Ainley for a number of years. They have successfully dealt with my parent's wills and more recently the sale of 2 properties. The staff are exceptional and imparticular Cassie who took care of the whole process from start to finish whilst I was overseas. She diligently chased all third parties and kept me informed at all times. I would recommend North Ainley as they have proved themselves time and again over the last 10 years in all of my family's legal affairs.read more
    Idnan Ahmed
    Idnan Ahmed
    12:57 30 Nov 18
    Excellent service. handled my latest commercial purchase professionally. Would recommend to anyone who is looking for a solicitors who are proffesional and easy to work with. Top service.read more
    Lucy Hoy
    Lucy Hoy
    16:39 27 Nov 18
    Excellent! Very friendly and fantastic communication throughout. Nothing was to much trouble. Thankyou Vinesh and Cassie. Would definitely recommend.read more
    Anil M
    Anil M
    15:11 04 Nov 18
    Fantastic Solicitors firm. Very professional. Close to Oldham Town Centre. Answer all your questions and concerns. Keep you upto date at every stage. I have used this firm for many years in buying and selling property. You can not go wrong using North Ainley Solicitors.read more
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