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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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Plans to increase the small claims limit for personal injuries in road traffic accidents.Read on...

Government set to increase small claims limit

The Government has announced it is pressing ahead with plans to increase the small claims limit for personal injuries in road traffic accidents. It intends to raise the threshold for claiming compensation from £1,000 to £5,000 in an attempt to “crack down on the compensation culture epidemic”.

The new provisions are being tabled under the Prisons and Courts Bill and if it’s passed, it could become law as soon as October. Many personal injury solicitors, however, are opposed to the move, which they believe will adversely affect innocent victims of road traffic accidents as they will be liable for their own legal fees if they pursue a claim for compensation below the new limit.  

The proposal will be brought in along with other measures designed to reduce compensation pay outs. These include introducing fixed tariff caps which will see a significant reduction in the amount of compensation paid out to whiplash victims. For example, whiplash injuries lasting up to three months will decrease from around £1,600 to £225. The cuts continue for injuries lasting six months – down from around £2,250 to £450 – and just £765 for people suffering with injuries lasting up to nine months.

The Ministry of Justice claims that by making these changes average insurance premiums will fall by around £35.00 per year, although many personal injury lawyers state that insurance companies profits are continuing to grow and the savings from this latest round of legislation won’t be passed on to motorists.

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Published on - Wed, 26 Jul 2017

First divorces since same sex marriage made legal.. Read more about this below..

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) has released information relating to the number of divorces since the introduction of same sex marriage in March 2014.
In 2015, the first divorces of same sex couples took place. 22 couples – 12 female and 10 male - parted company.
Unreasonable behavior was cited as the leading grounds for divorce, accounting for 77% of cases. This, however, includes sexual relationships with someone other than a spouse as adultery is only legally recognised between people of the opposite sex.
The average age of couples who divorced in 2015 was 42.1 years for men and 33.7 years for women.
Speaking of the findings, Amanda Connor (pic above), head of family law at Russell and Russell, said: “Sorting out the finances in a divorce can be complex and, in certain situations, quite acrimonious so it’s worth drawing up a pre-nuptial agreement. It may not be very romantic, but it helps avoid any potential conflict should the relationship break down in the future. Even if a couple chooses to cohabit rather than marry, we’d strongly recommend they consider getting a cohabitation agreement, so if they do go their separate ways, there’s no argument about who gets what.”

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Published on - Wed, 19 Jul 2017

Wills should be brought into the modern world

The Law Commission for England and Wales believes the current rules surrounding wills are unclear and could be putting people off making a will.

As such, it has launched a consultation, running until the 10 November, on whether texts, emails and other electronic communications should be recognised as a valid will in exceptional circumstances.

As it stands, the law only validates wills which have been made by people aged 18 and over, of sound mind, and signed in front of two witnesses, also aged over 18. The witnesses must also sign the will.

Where the will maker has made clear their intentions in another form - a text message or email, for example - the Commission wants to change the formality so that the family can apply to Court to have them recognised as a will. If a judge approves, those communications could then be accepted as a formal will.

 Currently, when a person with no will dies, the law dictates how an estate (money, property, possessions etc.) are allocated. This may not be what they would have wanted. Partners who aren’t married or in a civil partnership are unable to inherit anything unless there is a will stating they should benefit. If there no surviving relatives, the estate passes to the Crown.

Although the Law Commission acknowledges the proposals could provide a “treasure trove for dissatisfied relatives” leading to family conflict, and a “variety of avenues by which probate could become both expensive and contentious”, given 40% of people currently die without making a will, they should be recognised.

However, Judith Bromley, head of wills and probate at Russell and Russell, said: “As a will is a very powerful document, and directs who can inherit monies and assets, any changes to rules that have been in force for many years will need to be carefully thought through, so that vulnerable members of society are protected. It will be very challenging to ensure that a text message can ever confirm such clarity and certainty, which is what a will needs to provide. There is also the obvious concern that electronic measures are not open to misuse.

“Surely a better way would be for the Law Commission, supported by the Law Society, to expend its effort on campaigns to communicate the message that obtaining a will is paramount if you own assets of any value. Perhaps it should also focus on the bespoke service that lawyers provide and the various will campaigns that are offered up and down the country throughout the year when a will can be professionally drawn up for a relatively small donation.”

Published on - Thu, 13 Jul 2017

Things to think about when making your will

A number of high profile cases have put the need to make a will firmly back in the spotlight recently. Yet, despite the growing number of inheritance disputes, many of us still don’t bother until we absolutely have to.

While writing a will is all too often seen as one of those jobs you’ll get round to ‘tomorrow’, the benefits of planning ahead can be invaluable. It’s usually a straightforward process, but if it’s not done properly it can have repercussions. Here’s some things to think about:

·It’s an unfortunate truth; money changes people. Making a will helps prevent family disputes over your estate

·It’s irrelevant whether you’ve promised certain possessions, property or money to specific people, if you have no will, the law decides who benefits from your legacy, not you

·Using an online website to do it yourself can backfire as they don’t take into account the complexities of the law, so your loved ones could end up having to pay to rectify things retrospectively

·Will writers aren’t regulated. This means they can promote themselves as experts without actually having any qualifications or accreditations at all

·Getting married automatically invalidates your existing will

·If you’re estranged from your partner and have entered into a new relationship with someone else, it doesn’t matter if you live together; if you’re not married or in a civil partnership, you’re new partner isn’t legally entitled to anything if you die

·If you’ve split from your ex acrimoniously and you die without having changed your will, your ex stands to inherit everything as, technically, you’re still married

·Dying without a will can leave an estate liable for inheritance tax

·Leaving money to charity in your will is just one of the ways to help reduce the amount of tax payable on your estate. This is something a solicitor can advise you on

·Make sure you sign it. Without your signature at the bottom, your will isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on

·It’s not as expensive as you might think, especially if you’re planning to draft a joint will (also known as a mirror will) as they’re often discounted

 If you’re thinking about making, or changing, your will, Russell and Russell can help. We’re bound by the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s code of conduct and are legally obliged to maintain high levels of service. As well as being regulated, we’re required to have insurance to protect the public. We can also provide guidance on more complex financial issues, such as inheritance tax and trust planning. We offer a free consultation where we can talk through your circumstances and advise on what’s best for you. for details and contact.

Published on - Wed, 31 May 2017