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Wills, Trusts and Probate Team - South Essex

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We provide practical solutions, in an easy to understand way, by bringing together specialisms from different legal areas for a joined-up approach.

We are always happy to speak to our clients about their matter, without them feeling afraid of charges being incurred immediately. We put the client first and ensure that we can help them before we charge!

Claire Read
    • Claire Read

    • Partner, Head of Private Client Department
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Trustees: beware the personal risks you are taking

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Being an executor and trustee of a will or a trust is a very personal appointment. However, a recent case highlighted the importance of knowing what you are letting yourself in for and the personal risks that you are taking. That may sound dramatic,...

Dealing with wills and LPAs whilst social distancing

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The experiences I have had with dealing with wills and LPAs whilst social distancing... If you need it changed or otherwise just let me know. There is no change in sight for the relaxation of the rules regarding the witnessing of wills or Lasting...

McDonald's or KFC anyone?

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A Canadian court has recently upheld that instructions written on a McDonald’s napkin was a man’s last will and testament.  So, could you do the same? In theory, yes you can, provided that the will is properly signed by you and two...

Power of attorney abuses reach new high

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Power of attorney abuses have reached a new high, according to the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) figures. This is quite disturbing, but in our view is not that uncommon and is a salutary lesson to ensure that you choose the right people to help you...

Women in law: Partner and Head of Department

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One hundred years ago, the Sex Disqualification Act was passed and this allowed women to become solicitors and barristers. The women that fought for this change were pioneers and, because of their determination, I have been able to undertake a job that...

Legal aspects of assisted dying

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Assisted dying is a contentious issue ethically. However, it can also provide problems from a legal point of view. Most will be aware of the possible criminal implications that can arise, but there are also issues regarding who inherits the...

The forgotten demographic - Those with no children

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A group called AWWOC (Ageing Well without Children) has been formed, with the aim to raise awareness of issues that can arise where vulnerable or elderly people do not have children, or children nearby, to help them with care or financial matters. ...

A cunning ploy?

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As you will have read in many recent articles and blogs, it is highly likely that the probate fee will increase substantially very soon. You may recall a couple of years ago that the proposed fees to deal with a person’s estate (to obtain a grant of...

Over 55s' dream bucket list revealed

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The Mirror listed an over 55’s dream bucket list and quite a lot of the list involves either finding love, lust or divorce. These are very personal things that can have a huge impact on one’s life and needs careful planning all round to ensure...

What's on your bucket list?

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Wow, skydiving is on the Mirror’s over 55’s dream bucket list. I can really recommend this, it is amazing and you feel like you are flying rather than falling. Now, not to put a dampener on the adrenaline rush, but if you are thinking of...

Care fee ticking time bomb?

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In a recent report , 35% of those surveyed disagreed that their home should be used to fund care in the future. However, in a 5 year period the percentage of people who thought that the state would pay for future care dropped from 51% to...

Grenfell disaster and the effects of dementia.

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I was watching the news last night and saw that one family is still awaiting accommodation a year on from the Grenfell tower disaster. The report stated that the process had been slowed because unfortunately the leaseholder had Alzheimer’s and did...

Facts about wills and civil partnerships or marriage

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Entering into a civil partnership or marriage revokes a will. From the moment that you have signed the register you will no longer have a will and the automatic laws of intestacy apply UNLESS: You made a will in anticipation or expectation...

Great friendly service in plain English, whoever you are.

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On more than one occasion when writing wills and giving tax planning advice, my LBGT clients have said to me; ‘We were very nervous and thank you for being so friendly and understanding’. I found this comment unusual, not because I am not...

Dying matters week: Interesting funeral wishes

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Dying Matters is an important week and there are many serious articles and things that everyone should consider. However, I thought I would share some interesting funeral wishes and sayings. Some familiar sayings: To kick the bucket: There...

Meghan and Harry - happily ever after

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Did you know that marriage revokes a will? Not a lot of people know that (to coin Peter Sellers’ impression of Michael Cain). Whilst a marriage, such as Meghan and HRH Prince Harry’s at the weekend, can bring lots of joy, it can sometimes...

Dying Matters Week: jargon buster

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The area of wills, trusts and probate is littered with difficult and technical jargon. At Birkett Long, we are aware how confusing the terminology can be and this blog explains some of the common words or abbreviations used. Here is a quick breakdown of some...

Wonder Woman & Sylvia Pankhurst, the real Superheroes.

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I recently watched Wonder Woman with my daughter. For those that have not seen the latest film, it is set in World War II and accordingly the military aspect of the film is male orientated. However, my daughter was confused by one of the scenes. It...

Advice for attorneys under a lasting power of attorney (LPA)

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I googled “carer jailed for theft in Essex” and was quite horrified at the number of entries that came up. There was a case last week that I blogged on regarding a carer who was jailed for stealing from an elderly lady, (read it here) ...

Financial abuse of the elderly

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It is so sad to hear of carers (or anyone in a position of trust) taking advantage of elderly and vulnerable people, and yesterday a news report where a Chelmsford carer was jailed for stealing highlighted to me the importance of ensuring that there is...

Hugh Hefner's wife 'won't inherit anything'

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Recently in the news, it was announced that the playboy editor has died, aged 91. His third wife, Crystal Harris, is reported to have signed an “ironclad” prenuptial contract which prohibits her from inheriting any of Hefner’s fortune....

GDPR - Strengthens your right to privacy

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As a Trustee of the Essex Community Foundation, I am very mindful that there are new regulations coming into force in May 2018. Today, whilst I was live on the Ronnie Barbour BBC Essex Radio show it was raised that some charities...

Charities to ensure that they are raising donations ethically

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I have just spoken on the Ronnie Barbour BBC Essex Radio show ( listen here ) about charities and making gifts in wills. The Fundraising Regulator has warned charities to ensure that they are raising donations ethically because charitable donations in wills...

New GDPR regulations and charities

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As a Trustee of the Essex Community Foundation, I am very mindful that there are new regulations coming into force in May 2018. Today, whilst I was live on the Ronnie Barbour BBC Essex Radio show it was raised that some charities had...

Wills in a second marriage - make a life interest trust

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This morning I spoke on BBC Essex radio about the problems that can arise when married couples who are in a second marriage create mirror wills leaving everything to each other. Often people do not fully understand that the surviving spouse can...

Can you really decide who inherits your estate?

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In the UK we have what is called testamentary freedom. This means we can leave our money and estate to whomever we wish (most European countries don’t allow this and a proportion (if not all) pass in accordance with set rules and pass to blood...

The Law Commission - possible reforms to making a will

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The Law Commission has released a 300 page consultation about possible reforms to making a will. Wow! Does it mean that change is upon us? And will this change be for the better? Over the next few weeks we will do a series of blogs on the Law...

Ensure you are protected

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I was watching the news at lunch time and there was an item on a care home being investigated for neglect of its residents. It really was quite distressing, and it got me thinking about ways in which those who are vulnerable can be protected. Most...

Probate fee update

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Only a couple of weeks ago, the Law Society Select Committee reported that it was their view that the Lord Chancellor had gone beyond her powers in proposing to increasing the fees by such a great amount. The reason for this is that the probate fees...

New tax on bereaved families?

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You may have seen that probate fees are going to increase from £150 up to £20,000. I am gobsmacked by this because the responses to the consultation were overwhelmingly against such a high increase, but the government has just ignored those...

Make a gift to charity in your will

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You may have read about Take That doing a private gig for a fan and the fan paid £1m which will go to charity. Well, you don't need to be super rich to benefit charity and did you know that most charities rely on legacies in wills to continue doing...

Risky schemes to cut care bills - get the right advice!

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By giving away assets, you limit your own choice as to the sort of home that you should go in. Nice care homes are very expensive and if you do not have the money, you have no choice. You will be at the mercy of your family or the Local Authority. This is...

Rule changes affecting care fees

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The Daily Mail, at the weekend, stated that pensioners have been betrayed by the government with regard paying for their future care costs. New rules were to be introduced such that those that had paid a certain amount towards their care could then...

What happens to your Gmail when you die?

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Google is leading the way in planning for your digital assets on your death. They have launched a new feature that makes it easy to tell Google what you want done with your Gmail messages and data from several other Google services when you die or can no...

Business Property Relief...on a caravan

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Have you always fancied owning a caravan at a holiday home site? Well if you do, there is some excellent news for you. In a recent case ( Pawson (deceased) v HMRC [2012] UKFTT 51 (TC )) 100% Inheritance Tax relief (called Business Property Relief) was given...