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Prince Harry and his £30m fortune

Muntech Kaur
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If you have not yet heard of the royal engagement, where have you been?! For followers of the fairy-tale story of a Prince marrying Hollywood royalty, you may have seen the press coverage that Prince Harry has indicated that he will not be entering into a...

65 Court hearings, 13 sets of lawyers... could this be the longest ever divorce?

Lisa Collins
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As a divorce lawyer, I have seen my fair share of acrimonious divorces but I have yet to come across one quite as extreme as this….65 court hearings, with more still to come. It involves Michelle Young and her ex-husband, Scot. They married in 1995,...

When contact is not in the best interest of a child

Muntech Kaur
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For a little girl named B , the court process has spanned almost all of her life and continues to be ongoing.  In the matter of F v H & Anor [2017] EWHC 3358 (Fam) , the court is concerned with B, a little girl aged four and a half. B’s...

The importance of having adequate Partnership Agreements

Katie Gibson-Green
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The recent case of Sergeant V Sergeant highlights the importance of having adequate Partnership Agreements in place for farming families. The widow of a Farmer, Mary Sergeant, made a claim against her late husband’s estate under the Inheritance...

New rules prohibiting sexual portrayal of under 18's in advertising

Stephen Avila
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Advertising on non-broadcast platforms, for example; online and print, is governed by the UK Code of Non-Broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (“CAP Code”).  The Advertising Standards Association (“ASA”) has...

What constitutes "needs" in financial divorce cases?

Melanie Loxley
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Needs are one of the factors that is taken into account by the divorce court when determining how to divide the assets of a marriage between the parties. In smaller money cases, needs are often the paramount and sometimes the only factor the court will use...

Careful planning pays off for Hugh Hefner

Caroline Woodham
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For many people, after they pass away a grant of probate is needed as authority to release their assets. I doubt dealing with probate is a task many executors look forward to but, if a grant is needed, dealing with the probate process is necessary. ...

Did you get engaged over the Christmas period?

Francesca Cozens
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The New Year is a great time to start planning for the big day. Planning a wedding is one of the most exciting times but there is lots to think about before the celebrations begin.  Some couples are marrying for the first time, some the second or...

So money can't buy you love

Philip Hoddell
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A local couple who won £148m on the Euro Millions Lottery in August 2016 are reported to have separated, despite having two young children and previously having said that the huge win would bring them closer together.   Recent reports claim...

The importance of protecting a child's welfare during separation or divorce

Lisa Collins
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When determining any case involving children, the welfare of the child(ren) is the paramount consideration of the court. When dealing with separated parents it is usually (although as you will see below, not always) considered that in the event of a dispute...

Inheritance Boom from the Baby Boomers

Jennifer Ward
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The Resolution Foundation recently reported that inheritances passed to the “millennial” generation would more than double over the next twenty years. Whilst heirs to “baby boomers” are likely to benefit from much larger inheritances...

How can I support my children through our separation or divorce?

Francesca Cozens
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One of the biggest worries for parents who are thinking about separating or divorcing is the potential impact on their children. How will the children adapt to change? How do you talk to your children about the forthcoming changes, whilst also managing your...

Is common law marriage a myth or reality?

Lisa Collins
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I am often told by clients that they are in a common law marriage. In other words, they live together with someone as “man and wife” but are not married. They believe this provides them with an entitlement to make various financial claims against...

Fending off corporate insolvency

Kevin Sullivan
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With increasing numbers of companies becoming insolvent, those on the edge financially may well be wondering if there is anything they can do to stop themselves from falling into the abyss. According to statistics from the Insolvency Service, corporate...

Will forgery

Lisa Cox
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Paul Coppola of Edinburgh, Scotland was sentenced to two years in prison for forging the will of his late cousin, Desiderio Coppola, days before his death in 2011.    Desiderio Coppola made a will in 2010 leaving specific gifts to family and...

HMRC iTunes Gift Card Scam

Jess Elwell
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HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) and Apple have warned of a recent scam targeting older and vulnerable people.  How does the scam work?  Victims are cold-called by the fraudsters who pose as staff from HMRC. They tell them that they owe large...

New Year, new start?

Muntech Kaur
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As the clock strikes 12, New Year’s Day is a time when we all contemplate the year ahead, setting ourselves resolutions and goals to improve on the year that has passed. New Year is also a time when we make important decisions relating to our work and...

Matrimonial Survey 2017

Melanie Loxley
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Global Accountancy firm, Grant Thornton LLP have produced a matrimonial survey for 2017 in which they canvassed opinions from 80 of the UK’s leading family lawyers on current issues facing family law. The survey highlights some interesting results and...

Couple forced to spend Christmas apart after 7 decades together

Daisy Murfin
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Recently in the news there was a story about an elderly Canadian man and his wife, who were living together in a long-term care facility, but were told that Mr Goodine had to move into a nursing home. This story has sparked outrage across the country, and a...

Farming dispute goes to Court of Appeal

Katie Gibson-Green
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Last year I wrote an article about the contested estate of Farmer Roger Moore, who had dementia, and the claim his son made in respect of proprietary estoppel (in this case, a promise that “all of this will be yours one day”). Mr Moore’s...

Common law marriage myth

Melanie Loxley
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The Office of National Statistics (ONS) published statistics in November which show that cohabiting couples are the fastest growing family type and also the second most common family type, accounting for 3.3 million families in the UK. This is worrying when...

David Cassidy excludes daughter Katherine from his will

Rachel Leech
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It has been announced in the news recently that David Cassidy, who recently passed away aged 67, has specifically excluded his daughter, Katherine Cassidy, from his will. David’s will states ‘it is my specific intent not to provide any benefits...

Do cohabiting couples and married couples have the same legal rights?

Katey  Stephenson
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Results from the Office for National Statistics show that there are currently 3.3 million cohabiting couples in the UK. This is a dramatic increase from the 1.5 million people cohabiting in 1996, but while this popular flexible living arrangement is on the...

Financial abuse of the elderly - the Tonight programme

Amanda Smallcombe
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ITV’s Tonight programme aired last night, highlighting the growing problem of elderly financial abuse. Statistics quoted are that, in the last three years, there have been 90,000 cases of elderly financial abuse crimes reported to the Police. Most...

How to enforce that judgment

Andrew O'Brien
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The courts have a power that is not often used, but can be very effective for creditors. It is the power to require a debtor to attend court for questioning under oath. Under Part 71 of the Civil Procedure Rules, a judgment debtor or, if the claim is...

Disputing a will: Larke v Nugus requests

Rachel Leech
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If you are considering disputing a will and are concerned about the circumstances in which a will was prepared, you may want to raise questions with the solicitor who prepared it. Usually, the solicitor would not be able to disclose any information, as to do...

Do we need a new family law system?

Philip Hoddell
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The engagement of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle has got all the press talking about weddings and marriage. It coincides with a campaign by The Times to introduce so called ‘no fault’ divorces to this country and also provide better legal...

Concerned about the validity of a will?

Rachel Leech
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Enter a caveat to stop the probate process If you are concerned about the validity of a will, one of the most important things you can do is enter a caveat. A caveat is a short document which you send to the Probate Registry, and stop a grant of probate...

How to Avoid the Dementia Tax

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On Monday 19th November 2017, Channel 4 aired a great programme "How to avoid the Dementia Tax." They showed a number of genuine situations. It is true that the rules surrounding ‘elderly care funding’ are a postcode...

Robot divorces: the future?

David Feakins
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Artificial Intelligence is on the rise. More and more jobs which have traditionally been carried out by us mere humans appear to be at risk. In most supermarkets you no longer receive service with a smile from another human being, instead you hear a recorded...

Do I need a will?

Katey  Stephenson
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When someone dies without a will, the intestacy rules are used which set out who receives your estate. What are the intestacy rules? The intestacy rules take effect when a person has not made a will or if the will is not legally valid. The...

Lack of knowledge and approval

Rachel Leech
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As discussed in my previous blog post, ‘Ways to challenge a will’ , one of the circumstances in which a will may be contested is if the testator (the person making the will) lacked knowledge and approval of its contents. When a will is...

Divorce and separation: Why choose collaborative law?

Francesca Cozens
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In a collaborative law process, a couple instructs a solicitor each, but instead of negotiating with each other via letters, on the phone or in court, the couple and their solicitors meet face-to-face to discuss and agree a way forward.  What are the...

Divorce and separation: What is collaborative law?

Francesca Cozens
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In the collaborative law process, both separating parties have a solicitor. Rather than conducting negotiations by letter, telephone or through the court, discussions take place face-to-face by way of four-way meetings. Collaborative law requires a shared...

A happy divorce?

Francesca Cozens
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Things are amicable and I want them to stay that way – what are my options? When people talk about divorce the stories are usually of a horrifying nature where we hear of acrimonious battles that go on, sometimes for years. Thankfully, these types of...

Psst do you want to know a secret?

Martin King
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Recently published research has highlighted a long standing problem, that a substantial number of UK adults have not made wills. It is perhaps even more worrying that apparently 40% of UK adults have never even discussed matter of inheritance. This research...

Challenging a will - the weird and wonderful world of wills

Lisa Cox
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In order for a will to be valid, it must comply with the formalities laid out under s.9 of the Wills Act 1837. These conditions include that it must be in writing, signed by the testator or on their behalf in their presence by their direction, it must appear...

Ways to challenge a will

Rachel Leech
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Challenging wills is becoming increasingly common, but what are the grounds for doing so? The main grounds for challenging a will are: The will did not comply with the necessary formalities; Lack of knowledge and approval of the contents of the will; ...

Is it fair to share only one inheritance?

Philip Hoddell
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In a surprising judgment, the Court of Appeal has recently ruled that it would be fair to share the inheritance of one spouse but not the other.  After a 14 year marriage and three children (the eldest of whom was sadly disabled), Mr Radwan and Ms...

IS UR TXT A WILL?

Leah Woodnott
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This month the Brisbane Supreme Court in Australia has held the wording of a draft unsent text message on a deceased’s phone as valid and as an official will. The text message indicated who the deceased wanted his possessions to be left to, how to...

Inheritance Tax - it pays to plan ahead

Katey  Stephenson
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Just over a week ago, news hit that the late Duke of Westminster had avoided paying inheritance tax (IHT) on his staggering £8bn fortune. However, unlike the many stories on tax evasion reported over the years, the measures the Duke had taken before...

The cost of disagreements in Children Act proceedings

Melanie Loxley
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In a recent relocation case entitled S v S, the parties managed to incur legal fees of £938,000. The Judge was rather scathing of the way the case had been conducted and, most unusually for Children Act proceedings, ordered the father to pay some of...

I'm late, i'm late - get quickly down the rabbit hole for inheritance claims

Leah Woodnott
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If you have recently lost someone and feel that the provision left for you in their estate was not enough to meet your needs, the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 may provide you with an avenue of redress, however, you must be...

Why are we waiting? The story of the executor's year

Leah Woodnott
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To the annoyance of many beneficiaries, executors are not bound to distribute the estate of the deceased before the expiry of one year from the death; this is commonly known as “the executor’s year”. Despite its name, it applies to...

2017 Legal 500 results!

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Another successful year for Birkett Long in the 2017 Legal 500, ranked as a Top Tier firm in Essex! Claire Read and Melanie Bache have again been listed in the elite leading lawyers list for another year running! Comentary of our teams from Legal 500...

No fault divorce - the saga continues

Melanie Loxley
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It seems that efforts to get the Conservative Party on board with the idea of no-fault divorce have bombed at a recent Conservative Party conference.  Over two thirds of the delegates present indicated that they favoured the status quo over the prospect...

While you're waiting...

Caroline Woodham
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Hospital waiting times are once again back in the news. This time it is the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust being criticised for the length of time patients are waiting for treatment in the cardiology and ophthalmology departments. Unfortunately while waiting...

Work Experience -Roshni Pandya

Liz O'Mahony
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‘Will’ we go electronic? After my exciting, wide-ranging and practical work experience placement in the Wills, Trusts and Probate department at Birkett Long in Chelmsford, I had a desire to research more about the latest developments in this...

Birkett Long in the driving seat for charity wills at Ford

Zara Fletcher
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Six Birkett Long colleagues attended Ford at Dunton and Warley last week to provide seminars on wills and lasting powers of attorney. The importance of having a will, what happens if you die without a will and the significance of lasting powers of attorney...

The strangest of all funeral plans

Martin King
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Whilst on holiday in Dorset recently, I was reminded of a somewhat disturbing story about the funeral arrangements of one of the county’s most famous novelists and poets, Thomas Hardy. Hardy died in 1928 after a long and venerable career. Some of...