The Role of Mediation in Contesting A Will

Mediation is a very important tool in inheritance cases. Due to the sensitive nature of a lot of cases involving inheritance, it provides a level of care in what can sometimes lead to a very messy situation.

What is mediation?

Mediation is defined as intervention in a dispute in order to resolve it. In legal cases, it is a procedure in which the parties discuss their disputes with a trained impartial third party, who assists them in coming to an agreement, or settlement. This often happens out of court and therefore can make the process of contesting a will much swifter. It is also less formal than a court setting, which can be daunting.

What are the benefits?

  • Cost- The process of mediation still involves costs, including solicitors and mediators’ fees. These costs, however, are very likely to be significantly lower than the cost of going to trial.
  • Time- you can start mediation at any point during the proceedings. It happens out of court, meaning that it can save the time it takes to go through a trial.
  • Effectiveness- mediation is effective in 80% of cases.
  • Control- in mediation, the parties involved have more control in the outcome of a case. The main part of mediation is negotiation, whereas in court, this will be decided by a judge.
  • Confidentiality- The discussions involved in mediation are completely confidential. This does not happen in a court, and the settlement agreement will include a confidentiality clause. This keeps the terms of the settlement confidential.
  • Preserving relationships- in inheritance cases, you are far more likely to have a personal relationship with the other parties, or at least know them. As mediation is a means of negotiation, you are far more likely to be able to keep a relationship with the other people involved.

The process of mediation

The process can be as short as half a day. The parties involved agree on an independent mediator and venue in which to have the mediation. At the mediation, each party usually has their own room, where they discuss their views. The mediator will then go between the two to discuss what the other has said. The mediator will then work with the parties to come to an agreement that is suitable for all involved.

If the parties fail to come to an agreement during the mediation, then neither party can bring anything forward to the court case. It is free from prejudice, and the mediator will not discuss anything with the other party that they have not been authorised to say.

Mediation is less stressful than a court case. It allows you to voice your opinion and be heard, but in a less formal environment than a court room. Will cases particularly suit this method, as the parties discuss subjects that are sensitive. While there is more of an element of compromise, you will usually receive a settlement that is more favourable than one you would receive in a court. You will also be more actively involved in the settlement that you get.

We know that mediation may not always work, and some cases will end up having to go to court. The solicitors we work with are experts in settling matters both in and out of court. Contact us today by filling in the form or calling us on 0161 413 8763 to speak with one of our friendly expert advisors about your potential claim.

Inheritance Act Claims: Who Can Make Them?

There have been many government provisions for England and Wales that enable people to make Inheritance Act Claims. To bring a claim, a grant of probate means that only certain parties will fit within the circumstances of the case for compensation.

Below, we list some of the leading laws governing inheritance provision for the family. We’ll then turn briefly to who specifically can make a claim under the inheritance laws.

Critical Inheritance Acts Over The Years

Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

This is the coup de graçe of all provisions regarding inheritance rights and claims. It attaches not just monetary assets as provisions of the deceased’s estate, but also any property and holdings.

Moreover, this can even include holdings disposed of in the six years prior to death.

Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1938

The 1975 act is an update of the Inheritance (Family Provision) Act 1938. The 1938 version effectively establishes persons that can apply to the court for financial provision. In essence, the Act states the following.

Without overruling the terms of the will, it gave the surviving spouse and the dependent children the right to apply to the court for maintenance out of a deceased person’s estate.

Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014

Time coupled with changing mores brought the law’s appreciation for modern family structures. The 2014 Act addresses matters equalising the rights of both a spouse/civil partner of the deceased to make a claim. It also tackles what had been more absolute rights of the spouse to the first £270,000 of an estate plus personal belongings.

Additionally, a child of the deceased gains additional rights to financial resources as a beneficiary of the estate. Now, the child does not need to enter into the parent/child relationship as a result of marriage.

Administration of Estates Act 1925

From the 1925 Act came many of the succeeding acts and amendments to modernise the law, too. Personal property (aka “Chattels real”) was finally coupled with real estate in the estate’s size and nature.

Here’s a relevant side note: This law repeals up to 12 different acts regarding estate circulation.

Who Can Make Inheritance Act Claims By Law?

According to the Inheritance Act 1975, certain people can offer claims according to their own personal obligations and responsibilities. These people are:

  • A spouse/civil partner of the deceased.
  • A former spouse/civil partner.
  • Children of the deceased, including children or adoption or those reasonably brought into a family.
  • Financial dependants of the deceased.
  • In certain cases, cohabitees, who nevertheless must meet certain criteria.

From spouses to children, many financial dependents can make inheritance act claims against a will

How Courts Review Inheritance Act Claims

In many circumstances, claims under The Inheritance Act can be resolved by mediation. Working together with all parties, you may not have to go to court.

That said, it’s not always true that your claim will avoid the court system. Accordingly, one question we often receive is about the procedure for inheritance act claims.

Basically, when someone makes these claims, there are several factors (aka Section 3 Factors) the court will weigh and judge.

  • First off, the court considers the claimant’s financial needs in both the present and foreseeable future.
  • Next, the court weighs the financial needs that any other claimant might have.
  • Additionally, they’ll look at the financial needs of any beneficiary of the estate.
  • Specifically, any financial obligations the late party had to any claimant/beneficiary under The Inheritance Act.
  • Another considerable factor is the size and nature of the estate left behind.
  • Not to mention, any eligible claimant/beneficiary who has a physical or mental disability.
  • Some other matters can become relevant. These include any so-called relevant behaviour(s) and conduct of the claimant or any other person.

Is There A Time Limit On Making Inheritance Act Claims?

Specifically, you have six months after the Grant of Representation (i.e. Grant of Probate) to make an Inheritance Act Claim.

Uniquely, it’s not out of the question that when this limit expires you cannot make a claim. First, you need to contact the court, who furthermore must grant your right to make such a claim. Of course, it’s much easier to stay within the half-year window and remove all doubt.

Speak With The Inheritance Experts

Speak today with one of our inheritance experts: we can help you build a solid inheritance act claims case. We can even help if you are an executor who is managing an estate under contest. Similarly, we understand Inheritance Tax and other financial affairs associated with the estate. For more on contesting a will and Inheritance Act claims, read about:

New rules of intestacy come into force

Regarding rules of intestacy, our panellists Hugh James Solicitors say that from Thursday (6 February):

the statutory legacy amount your spouse or civil partner can inherit if you pass away without leaving a will is set to increase from £250,000 to £270,000.

They will also still have entitlement to 50% of the estate above this sum, with the remaining 50% being split equally among your children.

In essence: if you have no children, your spouse or civil partner will inherit your entire estate.

This is because, if you die without leaving a will, your estate will be dealt with under the rules of intestacy. On this point, it is important to remember the following.

Say you have a partner but not by marriage or in a civil partnership with. Accordingly, they have no entitlement to inherit anything at all under the rules of intestacy.

In a situation where you have no children but do have a partner outside marriage or in a civil partnership with, the rules of intestacy state that the estate would go to your legal next of kin. Normally, this would be your parents if they are still alive. Alternatively, if you have any siblings, they would be next in line to inherit your estate. Otherwise, your estate would pass to increasingly more distant relatives, such as your cousins, nieces or nephews.

New rules of intestacy pondered in House of Lords

Similarly, it’s also worth noting that a proposal is currently going through the House of Lords regarding intestacy. In essence, it would change the rules governing inheritance tax for cohabiting siblings. Under the proposals, cohabiting siblings in all parts of Great Britain would be able to leave their estates to each other.

Moreover, they can do so without incurring any inheritance tax regardless of the size of the estate. To qualify, the siblings must live together at some point for at least seven years. Additionally, the surviving sibling would have to be over the age of 30.

We highlight this because it’s a long-overdue step in the right direction. In short, it acknowledges that many people are now unable to buy a home on their own. Accordingly, they have to pool resources with someone else (a sibling, perhaps) simply to be able to afford it

But these rules of intestacy don’t go far enough

In particular, these proposals would not change the inheritance tax rules governing cohabiting couples. Therefore, say you do leave a will that left your estate to your cohabiting partner. Regardless, they would still pay inheritance tax at a rate of 40% on the value of the estate above £325,000.

We now live in a society may choose to live together without marriage or entering into a civil partnership. We would argue that the law is not keeping up with and reflecting society. It should do.

Therefore, it is important to ensure you draw up a will to make sure that your estate splits how you want it to split. This is particularly important if you and your partner live together and the home is in your name. As such, your partner may then have no legal right to continue living there.

This would still be the case, even if your partner contributes to paying the bills and mortgage on the property. That’s because the law would only tackle the name on the deeds of the property. In addition, the rules on statutory legacy also mean that your partner has no right to claim any items of sentimental value either.

The Importance of a Clear Will

Avoid what would likely be a lengthy legal wrangle. In short, your partner would need to provide extensive proof that they made contributions towards

  • paying the mortgage and;
  • the upkeep of the property in order to simply recoup the amount they put into the estate’s value

It’s important then to draw up a will that details exactly who you want to have the different parts that make up your estate. You can even specify that certain people can certain individual possessions. Otherwise, your surviving family member, spouse or civil partner may end up in a legal dispute over who gets what.

If your partner dies intestacy or you feel that you have grounds to dispute an estate, act now. Just contact The Inheritance Experts by filling in the contact form on our website or by calling 0161 413 8763.

Have One of These Surnames? You Could Inherit a Scottish Castle!

There are a lot of legal aspects to consider when a loved one (testator) dies. But what exactly happens to assets and property when the testator fails to leave a will behind? Or to publicly name the next of kin who has the right to receive everything? Well, it can mean that you inherit a Scottish castle. Yes, it’s ready for claiming by an unsuspecting descendent, as well as that descendent potentially having the legal right to a host of other assets, too.

The Government has a long list of assets in Scotland no one yet claims. It not only includes significant property but monetary assets to the value of £370,000 for what the property is worth, too. Any individual with the right surname may be able to claim on this valuable opportunity.

What You Need to Know About the Estates

There are a total of 425 empty Scottish estates simply waiting for claiming. The Government’s list of these empty estates lack rightful claims due to:

  • the fact that their previous owners left no will, or;
  • while failing to identify the next of kin eligible for the estate.

Under the legal system in Scotland, if an individual dies without leaving behind a clear will dictating how they want their property and assets to go out to benefactors, the assets refer to the care of the Crown. It is the duty of The Office of Queen’s and Lord Treasurer’s Remembrancer to then care for these assets.

Claiming Unwanted Estates

The good news is that the Succession Act of March 2016 has actually made the process of claiming these estates significantly easier. The Scottish Parliament eliminating the necessity to gain the form of insurance known as a Bond of Caution helps this.

Claiming these estates begins with learning whether you have the same surname as the testator/previous owner.

Checking Your Surname

While certain surnames are distinctly common, it is always worth checking. The list includes straightforward surnames, as well as obscure ones like Carlin, Hunniball, Malone-Philbane and Raube. The full list is available here.

If you successfully prove that your right to claim, a variety of assets will be available, including land, money, mansions and castles. Due to the fact that the testator leaves no will, you can claim their belongings, possessions and assets. Along with these empty Scottish estates, it’s also possible that there are more than 8,000 open estates in England and Wales, too.

Think that you deserve property or assets from a family member, however distant? Suspect they didn’t leave behind a will? Require any other legal advice? Don’t hesitate to contact our professional team at The Inheritance Experts today.

DNA Test Ensures Care Work Can Inherit Country Estate

After a long battle, a care worker will inherit a 1,536-acre National Trust estate. This results after a DNA test for inheritance shows that he was the rightful heir.

John Adlard Rogers rightfully inherits the Penrose National Trust estate, one of Britain’s finest estates. Rogers, 31, was finally able to prove that he was the illegitimate son of the previous owner, Charles Rogers. The test confirms John Rogers’ long-held claim that he was Charles Rogers’ son.

A long line of owners uprooted by DNA test for inheritance

Charles Rogers was the last in a long line of aristocratic owners who had owned the estate for generations. Since he was eight years old, Jordan suspects that Mr Rogers was his father since the age of 8. However, his requests for a DNA test were always subject to denial.

But then Mr Rogers died due to health reasons involving drug use in August 2018 at the age of 62. Subsequently, Jordan was finally able to take the DNA test. The results prove that he was indeed the rightful heir.

Jordan admits to struggles with making ends meet on his salary as a care worker for many years. He has now moved into the large house, located between Porthleven and Helston in Cornwall. The Rogers family gave the property to the National Trust in 1974 in return for a 1,000-year lease so they could continue to live there.

The family’s Trust generates income by renting land to local farmers and by investing in stocks and shares. This produces a substantial income for the tenant of Penrose, which means Jordan no longer needs to work. Jordan Rogers has recently become a father for the first time.

With the new inheritance, he has already made a couple of notable purchases:

  • The installation of an outdoor gym.
  • A brand new Mercedes C63.

In a Facebook post, Jordan displays a photo of his brand new home. Rogers says that it has been, ‘a hard three months of fighting for what is truly mine.’

He also adds:

‘I’m sure there will be lots family barbecues in the future I also have a tennis court.’

‘Maybe then he might have taken a different path.’

Despite his new-found wealth, Jordan claims he would give it up if he could have been closer to his father. Perhaps owing to his care worker mindset, Jordan says he wishes he could have helped Charles turn his life away from the drug abuse which ultimately led to his death.

Charles Rogers waged a battle with drug addiction for several years. In the months before his death, he was neglecting to take care of himself in terms of both hygiene and nutrition. An inquest heard that the testator was sleeping in his car. This instead of his Grade II listed home in which he lived. The car is where he was found dead due to drug intoxication.

Jordan spoke of the issues that may have exacerbated his drug use.

‘There was always a pressure of him trying to match expectation,’ he says. ‘His brother was an RAF pilot and his dad a lieutenant commander in the Royal Navy. So he had big shoes to fill.’

‘Charles served in the Army in Northern Ireland, and I think this affected him greatly along with the death of his brother Nigel from cancer who he was very close to.’

Jordan adds:

‘People say I’m lucky. But I would trade anything to be able to go back and for Charles to know I was his son. Maybe then he might have taken a different path.’

Perhaps you would like to discuss an inheritance issue regarding a similar situation. Alternatively, this story might have an effect on you. Reach out to us: it’s in your best interest to get in contact with us at The Inheritance Experts where we can discuss your issue or requirement.

Write Your Own Will and Testament: A Guide

Think you’re ready to write your own will? In short, everyone should have an official Last Will and Testament. It’s the only way to ensure estate receive proper management, rather than the court deciding on who gets what owing to a few outdated parameters. Your children, for example, wouldn’t get anything from your estate if you have a surviving spouse or civil partner.

Having a will means that your wishes on how your estate is shared are honoured. Difficult estates and wills, by contrast, require the advice of The Inheritance Experts. But if your estate (the total value of all your assets) is small and your will is straightforward in nature, you can write your own will.

To do that effectively, you’ll want to follow this guide.

Write Your Own Will: Evaluate Your Estate

The first step to write your own will is to evaluate your estate. This means determining the total value of all you have, both in terms of liquidated assets and in terms of personal belongings. You can bequeath your beneficiaries items like furniture or jewellery, or you can give your beneficiaries a monetary amount.

When evaluating your estate, it is crucial to estimate your debt. All debts and taxes must be paid before the beneficiaries can get access to your account.

Set Out Who You Want in Your Will

The next step is to set out who you want in your will. Include details like who should take care of your children if they are under the age of 18, and who you intend to name an executor. Executors are the ones who carry out your will. You can name up to four.

You should also make exceptions. For example, if all of the beneficiaries you name die before you, you can donate your estate to a charity of your choice.

Explain Who Gets What

In essence, you set out who gets what. Ideally, take into account your debts and inheritance tax before you do this.

What if You Want to Update Your Will?

Codicils are official updates to a will. If the changes you want to make are complicated, however, it is best to create a new will. Generally speaking, you should update or at least check over your will every five or so years. If a significant change in your life has happened (like a grandchild), then update as soon as possible.

When You Write Your Own Will, Ensure It’s Valid

You will also want to make sure your will is legal and valid. Generally speaking, ensure you’re of a sound mind; over the age of 18, and do it in the presence of two witnesses who are not beneficiaries of your will.

When You Should Get Expert Advice

If your estate has multiple complications to sort out, it’s wise to contact The Inheritance Experts. Not only will this make your Last Will and Testament more explicit, but it also helps deal with complicated estates (perhaps you own a summer property in another country).

Store Your Will

You will want to pay either The Inheritance Experts or another official entity to safely and professionally store your will.

Paying Inheritance Tax: What Is Involved?

The Inheritance Experts offer some deep insights into paying inheritance tax (IHT)

It’s possible you have 99 problems, but paying inheritance tax (IHT) ain’t one. In short, you’ll only need to worry about IHT if your estate is large enough to incur the charge.

However, to ensure your loved ones receive their rightful share to an estate, consider IHT when writing your will. If you’re unfamiliar with inheritance tax, you might be unsure about what it is or what you need to do. Keep reading to learn more about paying inheritance tax and the processes involved.

Who Doesn’t Need to Worry About Paying Inheritance Tax?

By rule, IHT goes onto the estate of a person who passes away. In general, IHT’s impact stretches to everything from finances, property, and possessions. However, you will not need to pay inheritance tax if:

  • Your estate’s value is below the NRB of £325,000.
  • You have chosen to leave everything from above the threshold to either your spouse or civil partner.
  • Also, you’re leaving the above threshold to an exempt beneficiary (g. a charity).

However, your estate’s value is higher than the NRB. Accordingly, the sum above the threshold could be subject to a 40% tax rate. Ultimately, this could prevent your loved ones from receiving a lump sum or property left for them in your will. That’s a situation, in turn, that could lead to someone challenging a will.

Currently, the NRB rate is £325,000 until 2021 when it could be subject to change. However, the rate could rise if you are surviving civil partner or widowed. Yet, it is possible for couples to transfer available NRB to a surviving partner.

This is a Transferable Nil Rate Band (TNRB) and can double the amount to £650,000.

Paying Inheritance Tax: When Do You Have To Do It?

HMRC require IHT to be paid six months after the person died. A failure to do so will result in the tax accruing interest. A will’s executor can pay the tax using various assets. For instance, the testator’s property or by making instalments over a 10-year period.

However, the outstanding sum is subject to interest charges. But an executor might sell a family member’s assets prior to paying IHT. Therefore, they must ensure both the instalments and any interest incurred are consequently paid in the IHT bill.

Unfortunately, if you fail to account for inheritance tax when writing a will, this could lead to inheritance disputes. Even worse, it could cause a beneficiary to contest a will. To that end, they might believe they have not received their fair share of an estate.

What About Capital Gains Tax?

In short: a beneficiary isn’t usually liable to pay Capital Gains Tax on their inheritance. One obvious exception, however, is the following scenario.

  1. You inherit something (for example, property) as part of your estate;
  2. Subsequently, you sell that asset for a profit of some kind.

What will the tax-free inheritance tax be in 2020-21?

In the 2020-21 tax year, Which.co.uk stresses the nil-rate band for tax-free inheritance tax rates allowance is still £325,000.

How does my life insurance affect IHT?

For this, we’d like to share some great insight and guidance from Online Money Advisor, so credit to them:

Inheritance tax is paid on any estate totalling more than £325,000. Any amount of money in an estate over this threshold is taxed at 40%. (That’s the case) no matter what the income tax bracket of the beneficiary.

Therefore, to avoid inheritance tax liability, life insurance payouts need to stay under that £325,000. Another option, says Online Money Advisor, is to pay the life insurance directly to a:

  • civil partner;
  • spouse, or;
  • a club or charity.

In that set of scenarios, you won’t find yourself subject to IHT as a result. Ergo, no taxes to pay, especially on the transference of assets between married couples.

How to Pay Inheritance Tax

An executor must apply for an IHT reference number at least three weeks before payment is due on the estate. Upon receiving the number, an executor can either:

  • Pay it from their personal bank account;
  • Or, pay it from a joint account with the testator.

To make a full or partial payment, you can pay via:

  • Online or telephone banking;
  • Your bank or building society;
  • CHAPS or Bacs;
  • A cheque through the post.

Conclusion

If your estate is above the NRB threshold, inheritance tax cannot be avoided. To prevent inheritance disputes from arising, you must factor in IHT when writing a will. As a result, you can ensure you provide your loved ones with an equal share of your estate*.

*If you so desire, of course.

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