We are Dementia Friends and Age Friendly

Here at McCarthy Bennett Holland we want to ensure all our clients are looked after and feel comfortable and welcomed at all stages through their matter.

Our staff have recently undertaken training with Dementia Friends for the second time to ensure all our staff have a greater understanding of what it is like to live with dementia and are aware as to how to help those who are living with dementia. We want to ensure that we are able to assist people to continue to live independently and to raise awareness to others as to how they can help.

Wigan Borough has previously been named the most dementia friendly town in the UK and we want to ensure that this reputation continues in our local area; supporting local people with local businesses.

We have also been named as the first Age Friendly Solicitors in Wigan town centre. This means that we are able to provide a downstairs seat and meeting room to those who need it. We can make special adaptations to the documents we prepare, including large print. In our private client team specialising in Wills, Lasting Powers of Attorney and Probate matters, we are also able to arrange home visits to ensure our clients with additional needs have all the access they need to specialist legal advice.

If you need legal advice and you are living with dementia, or know someone who is, or if you or any family member requires any special adaptation to make the legal process smoother, we are here to support you and make it as simple and straightforward as possible. Please do not hesitate to contact our friendly and approachable team on to discuss your needs.

To arrange an appointment with our private client team, please contact Paul Aynsley or Kim Busby on 01942 206060.

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD

Twitter: @MBHSolicitors

Civil Partnership: a way to reduce the risks of just ‘living together’ ?

This month, legislation came into force which allows heterosexual (‘straight’) couples to enter into a civil partnership rather than marriage if they so wish. Until now, civil partnership has only been open to same sex couples.  As a result of a landmark case, this injustice was deemed by the Supreme Court last year to be discriminatory and it was always hoped that this ruling from the highest Court in England and Wales would persuade the Government to amend the Civil Partnerships Act (2004) to open it up to heterosexual couples. This has now happened.

What is the difference between living together (cohabiting), civil partnership and marriage? In the simplest of terms, the last two provide a legal formality around a relationship; a civil partnership is a legal contract entered into by both parties which carries all of the same benefits and obligations as marriage without the religious ceremony element.  Consequently, it is being viewed by some as a more ‘modern’, ‘business-like’ recognition of a relationship whilst marriage is deemed more traditional, steeped in culture and religion. From a legal perspective, there is no obvious difference between the two but there are significant benefits and obligations to having your relationship status legally recognised.

 

On the other hand, cohabitation has been the only alternative for heterosexual couples who have not necessarily wanted a religious endorsement of their relationship through marriage. The downside of course is that cohabiting couples do not necessarily benefit from the advantages of a legally recognised relationship whether this is during the happy times of living together, if they separate or indeed when one partner dies.  Some couples therefore enter into cohabitation agreements which is a contract drafted by solicitors that can regulate what should happen if they separate.  However, this does not protect them if one partner dies unexpectedly.

What are the issues that may drive couples to think about moving from cohabitation to civil partnership? A recent article in Wigan Today http://www.wigantoday.net/news/people/couple-could-have-first-heterosexual-civil-partnership-in-wigan-1-9761336) reported that a heterosexual couple from Wigan might be the first in the Borough to take advantage of the new civil partnership legislation. Having been together for many years, they have amassed significant joint assets and want to make sure that each is taken care of if their relationship is brought to an end one way or another.  For many, what happens to money, possessions and pensions following the death of one cohabiting partner is a real concern as the surviving cohabitee won’t necessarily ‘be the beneficiary of the estate’ unlike if they were married. Other issues which can be affected by the status of your relationship include: entitlement to occupy rented housing, caring for children, tax allowances and welfare benefits.

If you are thinking about entering into a civil partnership and need advice on any aspect including procedure, benefits and obligations, please contact us.

We offer 30 minutes free initial advice appointments and also offer payment plans. 

Please do not hesitate to contact our family solicitors Gillian Lavelle or Kim Busby if you wish to discuss any of the above further.

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD Twitter: @MBHSolicitors

HELP TO BUY ISA – TIME IS RUNNING OUT!

With effect from November 2019 you will not be able to open a Help to Buy ISA account.  However if you already have a Help to Buy ISA you will have until December 2030 to claim the bonus.

We find that some clients struggle with how the help to buy ISA’s work and we have therefore produced a guide as to the Help to Buy ISA below:

In order to claim the Help to Buy ISA bonus you must first qualify for it.   The following must be applicable:

  1. The property must be in the UK
  2. The purchase price must not be more than £250,000 ( or up to £450,000 in London )
  3. The property must be the only home you own
  4. The property must be your main residence.
  5. The property must be purchased with a mortgage

Once you have qualified for the bonus you can then continue to save and also continue to as well during the conveyancing (legal) process which you will begin once you have decided on a property to purchase.

Once the legal work has been carried out and you have signed your contract documentation we will then look to agree a completion date.  Before we are able to agree a completion date we must have received your closing statement which you will receive from your Bank once the account has been closed.    The Bank can take up to 10 working days to provide this to you and this can therefore delay completion.

Once you have provided us with the closing statement we will then be in a position to agree a completion date.  After the completion date has been agreed we will request your bonus from the Government. The 25% bonus will then be sent to us directly prior to completion.

After we have requested the bonus we will provide you with a completion statement which will show the full amount of the bonus that we are to receive prior to completion. You will then need to provide us with the balance of funds which will consist of the remaining deposit and fees.

The bonus must be used towards the purchase price of the property and we are therefore unable to provide this to you after completion. Therefore the bonus must be received prior to completion in order for this to be used.  Completion will then take place as any other transaction.

If you wish to discuss any element of a Help to Buy ISA please do not hesitate to give our offices a call and we will be happy to assist.

Contact Sammy-Jo Woodward, solicitor or Caroline Rooks / John Petrie, Partners at MBH Solicitors, to discuss your conveyancing needs at:

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD

Twitter: @MBHSolicitors

 

Who Needs a Will? EVERYONE!

Figures tell us that over 60% of the population do not have a Will. Of those people, over 80% have minor children.

Why are so many people without Wills? For the majority of people, it’s likely that we just don’t like to think about death. However, it may also be because of financial reasons, a perceived lack of urgency or just not being able to make our minds up about what we would like to happen to our estate or who we would wish to care for our children without us.

Sadly, the one thing which is certain in life is that we will die but we have no control over how or when this will happen. Whilst this may appear to be a harsh statement, it highlights that a Will at any age is extremely important for a number of reasons.

The main reason is to have control over what will happen to our assets. Many may believe that their assets will pass automatically to those they want to receive their assets, even in the absence of a Will, but this is not necessarily true. Here are some of examples:-

What if you are not married? Your partner will not inherit you estate in the same way as they would if you were married.

What if you are going through a divorce? Until such time of your Decree Absolute, you remain married and your spouse can still inherit even after separation. There are also other situations where your former spouse could inherit which is unlikely to be in line with your wishes.

What if you have step children? Your step children could inherit if you are married because your spouse would inherit your estate and the assets then pass down their line. Your own children could theoretically miss out depending on the value of your estate.

A carefully drafted Will can avoid these pitfalls. It can also allow you to provide your wishes in terms of cremation/burial, appointment of a guardian for your children and charitable donations as well as crucial tax planning.

From as little as £130 plus Vat and disbursements it will ensure that you can provide for the people who matter most to you in the way that you intended. A Will can also make the process much easier for your loved ones to deal with your estate during a difficult and upsetting time for them.

To arrange an appointment with our private client team, please contact Paul Aynsley or Kim Busby on 01942 206060.

 

Work Experience at MBH Solicitors

During the past week, I have been part of the team at McCarthy Bennett Holland. Despite studying law at college, I wasn’t fully aware of what being a solicitor meant.

I have learnt that being a solicitor is more than just following the law.  It is about supporting your client.  I have noticed that it is massively important to create personal relationships with the clients and so far in every appointment I’ve had the pleasure to sit in on each solicitor has taken time to know the client, to support their wishes and to make them feel comfortable.

Before I came to do my work experience here, many people said that it could change my mind and make me want to refrain from studying to become a solicitor.  However, I feel this week has encouraged me to look forward to my hopefully future career.

I have sat in client meetings (where allowed), I have read case files and I have even sat on reception.  However, the most important thing I have done this week is understood what being a solicitor actually means.

Written by Olivia Mills, Student at Winstanley College

DIVORCE ‘BLAME’ TO COME TO AN END?

At the moment to obtain a Divorce, the Petitioner (person issuing the divorce) has to prove that there has been an irretrievable breakdown of the marriage evidenced upon the ‘fact’ of adultery, behaviour, 2 years separation with consent, 2 years desertion or 5 years separation with no consent. This has meant that anyone wanting to divorce their spouse sooner than 2 years has had to ‘blame’ the other party for the breakdown of the marriage.

There have been calls for a number of years from many sources, including Resolution, to end the stigma of blaming each other (adultery / behaviour) to enable a Divorce to be obtained now rather than later instead of waiting the required 2 years. Therefore, the news that the Government is willing to end the ‘blame game’ is welcomed by our family law practitioners with open arms.

This introduction of a “no fault” system is huge. It represents the biggest change in divorce law in 50 years.

Irretrievable breakdown of a marriage will be remain as the sole ground for divorce. However, the requirement to provide evidence of a ‘fact’ in support of this will be replaced with a requirement to provide a more simple statement of irretrievable breakdown thus removing the concept of blame.

Further, we understand that the government is proposing to remove the ability of one spouse to ‘contest or defend’ a divorce in court and there are even plans to look at both parties providing notice jointly of their intention to divorce.

This will of course assist the parties to negotiate without the need for blaming each other and hopefully ensure that related children and financial issues following the parties’ separation can be less confrontational and stressful.

Read here what Resolution has had to say about the news: http://www.resolution.org.uk/news-list.asp?page_id=228&page=1&n_id=394

Gillian & Kim are both members of Resolution and will always try to help couples deal with the consequences of relationship breakdown with as little acrimony as possible.

We also offer initial FREE 30 minute appointments, payment plans and where possible ‘pay at the end schemes’.

Contact us today on 01942 206060 to arrange an appointment.

Are Millennials Refusing to Get Married?

Over many decades, the allure of marriage has evolved from a share of labour, financial arrangement and the ultimate fairy-tale to show commitment. However, this trend appears to be shifting with more and more millennials either putting off marriage or not getting married at all. There are many reasons for this, perhaps due to the costs of a wedding for those who are opting instead to try to get on the property ladder or perhaps this is a total shift in culture and tradition for the upcoming generation.

The most recent information from the Office of National Statistics tells us that the age of couples opting to marry continues to increase with the average age of women entering into marriage being between 35-37 years of age and for men between 37-40 years of age.

However, with statistics telling us that 42% of marriages in England and Wales end in divorce, is cohabiting the way forward and are millennials right to put off this tradition of marriage?

Studies tell us that marriage can offer a number of positives including tax benefits, improved economic security and health benefits (apparently the latter is especially relevant for men!). Financial security can also be offered in marriage and should the parties later divorce the Court will have to consider a number of factors to ensure that both parties are provided for, together with any dependent children, in an arrangement which is fair and reasonable to all. However, the same factors do not apply to cohabiting couples which can place couples who have been cohabiting for a long period of time in financial difficulty if their relationship breaks down (especially where one partner has never worked and has cared for the children and all assets are in their partner’s sole name).

The government do appear to be taking into consideration the change in culture and an update is also awaited in relation to offering heterosexual couples the opportunity to enter into a Civil Partnership rather than marriage which offers a compromise to those who wish to have the security of marriage without engaging in the tradition of a wedding ceremony.

But what if you do not wish to enter into any kind of ceremony? Is there any level of protection available? You could enter into a cohabitation agreement. Such agreement can deal with matters such as how property will be dealt with, how bills will be paid, how debts will be addressed during your cohabitation. Most couples will have this discussion in any event when they move in together. However, this type of agreement can create a legally binding contract setting out how you will share, or not share, with your partner in the event of a separation and provides both parties with security they would not otherwise have.

So do Millennials have it right? Are there more modern ways to show your commitment to another person? Are they learning from the mistakes of previous generations or suffering as a result of the divorce rates of their parents? It may be that time will only tell as to whether the balance has swung too far in the other direction from previous historic traditions.

The law surrounding cohabitation and separation when you are not married can be difficult and complex to understand. Therefore, our team of specialist family solicitors are on hand to assist you.  We offer 30 minutes free initial advice appointments and also offer payment plans. 

Please do not hesitate to contact our family solicitors Gillian Lavelle or Kim Busby if you wish to discuss any of the above further.

www.wigansolicitors.com Tel: 01942 206060 Address: 26 Bridgeman Terrace, Wigan WN1 1TD Twitter: @MBHSolicitors