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Legal Advice with Russell & Russell

Russell and Russell Solicitors can deal with all the legal aspects of your new life together. Whether you’re buying or selling a property, looking to protect your assets, thinking about starting a family or want to leave your possessions to those you care about, we can help.

We’ve nine offices across the North West; in Bolton, Atherton, Bury, Chester, Farnworth, Horwich and Middleton. And, because anything can happen at any time, we’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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Fewer middle earners are getting on the property ladder

Figures released by the Institute of Fiscal Studies have revealed an alarming decline in the number of middle earners who are able to get on the property ladder.
Over the last 20 years, the amount of 25 – 34 year olds with middle incomes – those defined as having a take home pay of £22,200 to £30, 600 – have dropped considerably. In 1995-96, 65% of this group owned a home, but this has fallen to just 27% in 2015-16.
Predictably, increases in property prices across the South East resulted in the largest fall of home ownership amongst 25 – 34 year olds (64% to 32%), however, every region of Britain has seen a 10% fall over the same period.
A key reason behind the findings is that wages have failed to keep up with the sharp rise in house prices. Allowing for inflation, in 2015–16 the average cost of a house in Great Britain was 152% higher than in 1995-96. In comparison, real net family incomes of those aged 25–34 only grew by 22%.
Defending the government’s position, Housing Minister, Dominic Raab said that schemes such as Help to Buy and the removal of stamp duty for most first-time buyers had assisted people in purchasing their first home. Many argue, however, that while the government is pulling out the stops to help people get on the property, little is being done for ‘second steppers’ who are unable to trade up to larger properties, making it difficult for growing families.

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Published on - Mon, 19 Feb 2018

Did you know that Grandparents are running up debt to support grandchildren ?

A survey of kinship carers has found that nearly 200,000 children in the UK are being raised by a family member other than their parents.
The findings of the survey carried out by two charities, revealed that the task of kinship carers – people who look after the children of other family members (grandchildren, nieces and nephews etc.) or friends – often falls on grandparents. The financial strain of this has, in some cases, meant that carers are using credit cards to buy food or are failing to pay a bill.
This is in stark contrast to registered foster carers who are entitled to financial support from their local authority. It’s also difficult for kinship carers to access help if the arrangement is private with no legal order, although they may be able to claim benefits available for children, low-income families, older people or those with a disability or long-term illness. There are various orders that the Court can make to ensure the wellbeing of children, some of which put a responsibility on the local authority to pay an allowance.  
Charity, Grandparents Plus wants a national minimum allowance introduced to cover the costs of raising a child as there is no statutory entitlement for kinship carers. While the Department for Education recognises the role grandparents’ play, the party line is that local authorities are responsible for advice and financial support.
The survey which was carried out by Grandparents Plus and Family Fund suggests that:
• 55% cited the most common reason children are in kinship care is due to parental drug or alcohol abuse
• 45% of respondents quit work to become carers
• 43% said they don’t have enough income for their grandchildren’s needs
• The average income for a kinship household is £17,316, well below the national average of £27,200
• 19% of carers rely on their pension as their main source of income
Russell and Russell can give advice to grandparents, and other family carers, about their rights when social services place grandchildren with them.

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Published on - Mon, 05 Feb 2018

Don’t Forget Online Assets in Your Will. Would you think about this? Read why you should below..

Research carried out by Lloyds Bank has revealed that almost two thirds of adults in Britain haven’t made their next of kin aware of all their online financial accounts.
The study also found that almost nine in 10 of those surveyed hadn’t thought about what would happen to their social media pages in the event of their death.
With 78% of todays under 45s and 89% of under 35s without a will, this, it believes, has resulted in a nation at risk of being unprepared.
Judith Bromley, head of wills and probate at Russell and Russell, thinks that as a digital society becomes the norm, care should be taken to record what you have or risk your estate being lost in the ether: “More and more of us are embracing technology, so it’s important to think about the how this affects your estate. It’s no longer just a case of leaving the physical documentation behind you, as we move closer to a paperless society people need to ensure they include what digital assets they have when making their wills.”
Judith advises that when you plan your will, in addition to any traditional paper based accounts, you should make sure you leave a note to your executor of where to find details of your online accounts, including Facebook and Twitter etc., and provide instructions about what you want to happen to them. Without guidance, your executor will have an uphill struggle tracing bank accounts, insurance policies, pensions and other financial and personal information.
“This will already be a difficult time for your loved ones, so try to make it as easy as possible for them”, continues Judith. “What you shouldn’t do, however, is document the passwords to your online accounts as this breaches security. Equally, don’t leave a list of accounts within the will itself as these can change and you will be forever paying to amend your will; simply leave a note to your executor of where the information is stored so they can notify those organisations of your passing and make the necessary arrangements to transfer or wind up the accounts.”
A final word of warning: it doesn’t stop there. If you make your will and your circumstances change - you get married, or divorced, for example – it’s vital that you reflect the change in your will by updating it, otherwise your original arrangements remain legally binding.
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Published on - Tue, 30 Jan 2018

Plans to introduce specialist courts which focus solely on divorcing couples’ finances have been welcomed by family lawyers.

Dedicated divorce courts to be trialled

Sir James Munby, the most senior family court judge in England and Wales, made the announcement which aims to reduce the pressure on overstretched family courts. Trials of the new Financial Remedies Courts, which will only deal with the financial aspects of divorce proceedings, are due to start in London, the West Midlands and South Wales this year.

The move is being seen by family lawyers as a step in the right direction for the family justice system as it will allow more time for emergency domestic violence and children cases to be heard in local courts.

That said, the reforms are not being viewed as a platform for wealthy couples’ to settle rows over money; rather the court will hear cases from all separating couples regardless of the value of the assets involved. What it does propose to do, however, is ensure that complex cases will be heard by specialist judges which will have the appropriate support in place at each of the centres so that judicial continuity can be achieved in tandem with other family law matters.

More information is here

Published on - Tue, 23 Jan 2018