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Posts by: Sara Jane Chorkley

What is Contentious Probate?

This entry was posted in Elderley Client Services, For you, Wills and Probate on by .

 

In legal terms, contentious probate refers to any dispute which may arise during the process of administering an estate following a person’s death. This could involve a dispute over the interpretation of a Will, a disagreement between appointed executors or beneficiaries, or any instance where the value of the deceased’s estate, property, or assets is questioned. 

 

Disputes which fall under the term of contentious probate are wide-ranging in nature and can arise in several forms, including:

 

Instances where the validity of the Will is challenged

This may be because it is believed that the Will was not signed or witnessed correctly, or that the deceased lacked mental capacity at the point of signing to properly understand the contents of the document in order to authorise it. 

This type of dispute may also arise when there is a suspicion that the deceased person may have been coerced into signing the Will, or that it may have been forged. 

A Will’s validity may also be challenged when it is believed there is an alternative Will, drafted and signed at a later date than the original, in existence. 

 

Instances where the administration or distribution of an estate is disputed 

This may be because the executors in charge of organising the deceased’s estate refuse to do so, do it incorrectly, do not complete the task in an appropriate time frame, or seek to manipulate the way the estate is handled for their own benefit or financial gain. 

 

Instances where a promise made by the deceased has not been reflected in their Will 

This type of dispute will arise when a friend or family member has made a verbal agreement with the deceased before their death, which has not been recorded in writing or included in the Will, therefore facing complications when it comes to actualising the promises made. 

 

Are you currently involved in a dispute over the execution and/or contents of a loved one’s Will? 

Contentious probate can be challenging to deal with alone. By placing your trust in the DRN team, you can rest assured that all matters will be handled with utmost care, sympathy, and sensitivity. Whether you seek to challenge a Will, or will be contesting an intestate ruling, our team is here to provide expert legal advice and support every step of the way. 

 

Looking to draft or amend your Will? 

The only way to guarantee that your wishes are fulfilled, your loved ones protected, and your assets secured with those who matter most, is to write a Will. 

Don’t leave your loved ones in the dark or at the risk of facing a contentious probate dispute. The expert solicitors at DRN have several years of experience in handling Wills, Probate and Inheritance, and are dedicated to providing the very best standards of client service, including providing sound, reliable advice that you can trust. 

 

Contact us today to start the process of drafting or amending your Will. 

 

 

Should I include my Digital Assets in my Will?

This entry was posted in Elderley Client Services, For you, Wills and Probate on by .

As technology continues to develop, our modern world is becoming ever more digital. With this in mind, more and more people are beginning to include their digital assets in their Will. 

A Will is a legal document which allows you to outline your wishes for what should happen to your assets, including finances, property, valuables and any family heirlooms, upon your death, and having a Will in place is the only way to guarantee your wishes are fulfilled. 

Broadly speaking, digital assets fall into three core categories – financial, social, and sentimental. 

 

What are digital assets? 

Digital assets cover a wide range of online property, including: 

  • Bank accounts 
  • Share trading accounts (with stockbrokers, or for online gambling) 
  • Virtual currencies (including cryptocurrency) 
  • Accounts with content holders (such as iTunes, Amazon, Spotify) 
  • Cloud storage (such as DropBox or Google Drive) 
  • Social media accounts (including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc.) 
  • Email accounts (including Google, Yahoo, Hotmail or Outlook) 
  • Blogs which contain intellectual property 
  • Accounts held with Government departments (such as HMRC or LPA) 
  • Websites and domain names 
  • Online gaming accounts 

 

Why should I include my digital assets in my Will? 

It is not currently common practice to include information relating to digital assets in a Will, however doing so can be very beneficial. Often after someone has passed, family members will encounter difficulties in accessing any password protected information when digital assets have not been outlined in the Will, causing complications in the probate process. 

To make things easier for your family following your death, it’s a good idea to cover all bases and include any digital assets, such as those listed above, explicitly in your Will, along with your intentions for them. 

The concept of digital assets is a complex one, and whilst many internet service providers already have policies in place, the law is yet to catch up. Some digital assets will have a financial value, in which case they would form part of your estate and should be passed along to the beneficiaries indicated in your Will, whilst other digital assets will not be owned by you personally, so will not be transferable. At DRN, our expert team of solicitors can help you with putting your Will together to ensure all of your assets are covered and accounted for. 

 

Start writing your Will today 

The expert solicitors at DRN have several years of experience in handling Wills, probate and inheritance, and are dedicated to providing the very best standards of client service, offering sound, reliable advice that you can trust. 

Contact us today to discuss writing or re-drafting your Will, or visit our online form and provide us with your details, and a member of our team will be in touch with you shortly. 

 

 

 

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

This entry was posted in Elderley Client Services, For you, Wills and Probate on by .

A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a vital element of end of life care. Should you become unable to make decisions for yourself due to a future illness or disability, someone will need to be able to make important decisions on your behalf. 

The person who has this responsibility will be dependent upon the situation. For example, more general decisions relating to your health and social care are most likely to be made by the professionals involved with your care, whereas members of your family, carers or friends, may make decisions on day-to-day matters. 

You may wish to officially appoint someone you trust to take on the responsibility of carrying out important decisions on your behalf, should you be unable to make them yourself. In order to do this, it will be necessary for you to make an LPA – this is the only way to officially provide another person with the right to make decisions about your care and welfare. 

 

The two types of LPA: 

  • A Property and Financial Affairs LPA will allow your chosen person to handle any bank accounts, investments, bills, and property in your name. 
  • A Health and Welfare LPA will allow your chosen person to make any decisions relating to your health and care. 

 

Why should I make an LPA? 

Should an illness befall you that severely affects your mental capacity and decision-making capabilities, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s, or Parkinson’s, and you do not have an LPA in place, it will then be necessary for your family to apply to the Court of Protection to request the permission to handle your affairs. This process can be slow, expensive and stressful. 

Making an LPA as soon as possible is the best way to protect your own future, and save your friends and family from facing any unnecessary complications should you suffer with an illness in later life. 

The expert solicitors at DRN have years of experience in completing LPAs, Wills and various other end of life arrangements. Contact our team today for further advice and professional guidance. 

Will Weeks in Aid of Pendleside Hospice

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At DRN, we are happy to have been selected as one of the trusted local solicitors to participate in Will Weeks, arranged in support of Pendleside Hospice. 

From 12th – 23rd October, clients are invited to make their Will, or update an existing Will, with the expert solicitors at DRN, and instead of being charged our standard fixed fee, you’ll receive our excellent Will-writing service in exchange for a donation to Pendleside Hospice. 

 

What does Pendleside Hospice do? 

Pendleside Hospice is a registered charity dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for people diagnosed with life-limiting illnesses, as well as their families and carers, by delivering specialist care, free of charge. 

 

Why do I need a Will? 

Whilst it’s widely believed that merely expressing your wishes to a trusted member of your family or a close friend is enough to see them enacted upon your death, sadly this is a common misconception. 

The only way to guarantee that your wishes are fulfilled, your loved ones are protected, and your assets are secured with those who matter most, is to write a Will. 

 

What will happen if I don’t have a Will in place upon my passing? 

In absence of a Will, your estate will be dealt with under the Rules of Intestacy. Under these rules, your assets will be divided and distributed based upon family connections, which may not reflect the depth and true significance of your relationships. 

 

Get your Will ticked off your ‘to-do’ list and support a worthy cause in the process! Contact our team today to make your appointment. 

 

Managing Your Will Online

This entry was posted in Elderley Client Services, For you, Wills and Probate on by .

Whilst the prospect of writing your Will can be a daunting task to face, having a Will in place is the only way to guarantee that your wishes are fulfilled, your loved ones are protected, and your assets are secured with those who matter most in the event of your passing.

The recent pandemic has seen more services than ever before made available online, and managing your Will is no exception.

We recognise that putting a Will together is a time-consuming task which needs to be handled sensitively, requiring a great degree of consideration and preparation, and we want you to feel as comfortable as possible throughout the process. That’s why we’ve now made it possible for you to conveniently manage your Will online.

You can fill out your details and wishes as and when you’re feeling up to the task using our easy-to-follow online form, save your progress and return to complete the rest at a later time, making the task easier to manage and much less daunting.

 

Why should I write a Will?

Whilst it’s widely believed that merely expressing your wishes to a trusted member of your family or a close friend is enough to see them fulfilled upon your death, unfortunately this is a common misconception.

 

Having a written Will in place is the only way to see your assets and loved ones protected when you’re gone.

 

Why should I work with a solicitor when compiling my Will?  

The process of writing a Will can be complex, particularly if your financial affairs need to be ironed out, or if additional circumstances need to be considered, such as if you have been divorced, if you have any children (from a current relationship or a previous one), or if you will need to involve the details of any trusts you are associated with.

With the possibility for complexities to arise at any stage of the process, it’s important that you receive the support that you need to get your Will drafted with as little stress as possible. At DRN, we offer a comprehensive service and can provide practical, reliable and well-informed legal advice on:

  • Wills
  • Estate planning
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Residential care
  • Administering an estate (probate)

 

We offer our services at competitive rates, starting at £175 +VAT. Fill out our online Will application form to provide us with more detail relating to your specific circumstances, and our team will be able to generate a more accurate breakdown of cost.

A Guide to Wills

This entry was posted in For you, Wills and Probate on by .

What is a Will?

A Will is a legal document which allows you to outline your wishes for what should happen to your assets, including finances, property, valuables and any family heirlooms, upon your death. A Will also enables you to appoint a guardian for any of your children who may be under the age of 18 at the time of your passing, and an executor who you can trust to carry out all of your instructions and see to it that your wishes are met. Within your Will, you might also include details surrounding how you wish for your funeral to be carried out, including choice of music and readings.

 

Why do I need a Will?

Whilst it is widely believed that merely expressing your wishes to a trusted member of your family or a close friend is enough to see them enacted upon your death, unfortunately this is a common misconception.

The only way to guarantee that your wishes are fulfilled, your loved ones protected and your assets secured with those who matter most, is to write a Will.

 

How can I get my Will witnessed during the lockdown? 

For your Will to be legally valid, you will need to sign it in the presence of two witnesses, who in turn will also need to sign it in the presence of the Will-maker.

Whilst many services are moving online due to the coronavirus lockdown, unfortunately this process does require that the Will-maker and both witnesses are physically present to provide signatures. It is not possible to have your Will validated by witnesses who are present virtually, such as via video call or telephone, or with a digital signature.

The team at DRN have been working hard over the past few weeks in order to adapt their processes for the safety and protection of staff and clients. Whilst most of our team members are working remotely, some are still stationed at our offices in Burnley, Ramsbottom and Colne to provide support with services such as writing or making amendments to your Will.

With glass screens now in place at our Burnley offices, we are able to safely meet these requirements, and we aim to reduce the likelihood of any direct contact between our employees and our clients. We have also actioned strict appointment times which allow visitors to arrive at and leave the premises safely with no crossover between clients. We are doing our utmost to sanitise the area and furniture between visits. Those who are required to visit our offices to provide signatures on any documentation are also advised that such visits are available by appointment only. We also ask that visitors attend appointments wearing protective gloves, and bring their own pen where possible.

You can find out more about the precautions we have recently put into place here.

 

How much will making my Will cost?

The cost of writing your Will is dependent upon the complexity of your financial affairs.

There are several aspects to consider, including if you have been divorced or have any children (from a current relationship or a previous one), or if you will need to involve details on any trusts you are associated with, or the ownership of any overseas properties, for example.

At DRN, we offer a comprehensive service and can provide practical, reliable and well-informed advice on:

  • Wills
  • Estate planning
  • Powers of Attorney
  • Residential care
  • Administering an estate (probate)

Our expert service is offered at competitive prices, starting at £175 + VAT. Please contact our team to discuss your specific circumstances in order to gain a more accurate idea of the costs involved.  You can also fill out our online Will application form here.

 

Where should I keep my Will?

A Will should always be kept in a safe place which is easily accessible to you should you ever need to make changes or updates. You may decide to keep your Will at home, or hold it more securely with your solicitor, with your bank, or with a dedicated Will storage company.

Wherever you decide to keep it, please remember to advise your executor or a close friend or family member of its location so that they can access it when the time comes.

 

What should I do if I want to make changes to my Will?

Regularly updating your Will is recommended, as circumstances can change so often. You may decide to update your Will if you have recently been married or divorced, or if you’ve had children, moved house, started a new business, or made any changes to your assets that need to be reflected.

In order to update your Will, you will need to request for changes and alterations to be made officially in the form of a codicil. This document must be signed and witnessed in the same way as your original Will, and it is worth noting that there are no limits to the number of cocidils that can be added.

For bigger changes, you might consider making a new Will altogether. If this is the case, please speak to your solicitor about starting the process.

 

Start writing your Will today.

The expert solicitors at DRN have several years of experience in handling Wills, Probate and Inheritance, and are dedicated to providing the very best standards of client service, including providing sound, reliable advice that you can trust.

Contact us today to discuss writing or re-drafting your Will, or visit our online form and provide us with your details, and a member of our team will be in touch with you shortly.

 

 

 

 

Witnessing a Will whilst Respecting Social Distancing

This entry was posted in For you, News, Wills and Probate on by .

During these difficult times, there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding public health and safety. Many are worried about the spread of COVID-19 and would like to make a start on the preparations for writing their Will, or would like to consider making changes to an existing Will, but have questions surrounding the Will-making process in light of the Government’s advice to maintain social distance.

 

Can my witnesses be present via video call? Can my Will be signed electronically?

For your Will to be legally valid, you will need to sign the documentation in the presence of two witnesses, who in turn will also need to sign the documentation in the presence of the Will-maker.

Unfortunately, this process does require that the Will-maker and both witnesses are physically present and in a visible line of sight when the signatures are provided. It is not possible to have your Will validated by witnesses who are virtually present (i.e. via video call), or with a digital signature.

 

Who can I ask to be my witnesses?

The witnesses for your Will must not be beneficiaries of the Will, nor can they be married to or in a civil partnership with a beneficiary.

With these rules in place, it is unlikely that a witness will currently be residing in the same property as the Will-maker, so many solicitors’ firms across the UK have put additional measures into place so that you may make your Will with reduced risk.

 

How can I make my Will whilst respecting the government’s advice on social distancing?

The expert team at DRN have been working hard over the past few weeks in order to adapt their processes for the safety and protection of staff and clients.

Whilst the majority of our team members are now working remotely, there are a select few stationed at each of our offices in Burnley, Colne and Ramsbottom, who are on hand to help with services such as writing or making amendments to your Will.

We have now updated the physical work- and public spaces in our offices to include clear screens, reducing the likelihood of any direct contact between our employees and our clients.

Those who are required to visit our offices to provide signatures on any documentation are advised that such visits are available by appointment only – we are not able to grant access to our offices for non-scheduled visits at this time.

Visitors are also advised to maintain a 2-metre distance from any other person at all times. When validating your Will, the Will-maker and both witnesses will each be given the opportunity to provide their signature at a safe distance, but still in the line of sight, of those involved. We would also advise that our visitors:

  • Bring their own pen to use;
  • Wear protective gloves;
  • Make no physical contact with another person;
  • Arrive to the appointment on time, and aim to complete the process as quickly as possible;
  • Wash their hands before and after signing or handling any documentation.

 

Find out more about securing your assets, or contact the team today on 01282 433241 to make an appointment.

 

 

COVID-19 – Secure Your Assets, Protect Your Loved Ones

This entry was posted in For you, News, Wills and Probate on by .

It’s never too early to plan ahead.

For many, the prospect of writing a Will can be daunting, and the task may be put off due to the fees involved, or the wish to avoid having to think about the legacy you would like to leave behind for your family members and friends upon your death.

It isn’t the easiest topic to address and can often be quite an emotional experience, however it’s important to outline your wishes formally and to set your Will in place, particularly in these uncertain times.

Writing a Will will allow you to define what should happen to your assets, including your finances, property, valuables and any family heirlooms and, if they are to be gifted as inheritance, to whom they should be awarded.

Whilst it is a common belief that merely expressing your wishes to a trusted member of your family or a close friend is enough to see them enacted upon your death, unfortunately this is not the case.

 

The only way to guarantee that your wishes are fulfilled, your loved ones are protected, and your assets are secured with the ones who matter most, is to write a Will.

 

Passing intestate (i.e. without having a written Will in place) can cause unnecessary stress for your loved ones. The situation could be particularly complicated if:

  • You are in a relationship, but you are not married or in a civil partnership with your partner. If this is the case, it is inadvisable to assume that they will receive any of your assets automatically upon your death, even if you are co-habiting.
  • You have children from a previous relationship and have since re-married. The children you have with your previous partner may not receiving anything.
  • You have step-children. Your step-child(ren) will not receive anything of yours after you’ve passed, even if you’ve raised them as your own, unless they have been formally adopted.
  • You are separated from a previous spouse but have not yet received your decree absolute or finalised your divorce proceedings. If this is the case, even if you have both moved on to live with new partners, your estranged spouse could still inherit a portion of your assets.

 

Take the first step in writing your Will today.

The expert solicitors at DRN have several years of experience in handling Wills, Probate and Inheritance, and are dedicated to providing the very best standards of client service, including providing sound, reliable advice that you can trust.

DRN is a member of the Law Society’s Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme; the membership of which is selectively awarded to the practices which are able to demonstrate the highest standards of technical expertise and customer service.

Contact us today to discuss writing or re-drafting your Will, or visit our online form and provide us with your details, and a member of our team will be in touch with you shortly.

Still Not Written Your Will? Your Estate Could Go to the Crown

This entry was posted in Elderley Client Services, Family Law, For you, News, Wills and Probate and tagged , , , , , , , , on by .

Writing a Will is often an activity that many put off, either avoiding the fees involved or avoiding having to address the morbid practicalities of what should happen to your investments and estate once you’re gone.

It’s not the easiest subject to address, however getting your Will written is one of the most important tasks you will carry out in your lifetime.

Dying intestate (i.e. without a Will) can have huge repercussions on your loved ones.

The only way to guarantee that your assets are left to those who matter most, and not taken into possession by the crown, is to write a will.

  

What could happen to my assets if I don’t write a Will?

DRN have done the research for you and pulled together a list of six possibilities that your family could encounter if you pass away intestate.

 

It could lead to an unexpected tax bill

The law allows you to leave at least the first £325,000 of your estate to your heirs tax-free. However, anything above this sum may be liable for inheritance tax, charged at a rate of 40%. This can be avoided if you leave everything to your spouse in a Will, in which case there would be no inheritance tax to pay.

 

It could leave your spouse or partner worse off

Anything you own jointly with your partner, including any property you own as joint tenants or any funds that are held in joint accounts, will automatically pass to the joint owner. This may or may not be your partner.

The other assets of your estate will be dealt with under the intestacy rules and do not automatically pass to a partner.

In England and Wales, the current law ensures that your spouse receives the first £250,000 and half of whatever exceeds this sum, with the remainder split between your children. If you do not have children, different rules apply.

 

If you don’t have a Will, your estate could go to the Crown

In most cases in the UK, if you don’t have family to pass your estate along to, it will fall into the possession of the Crown. If you reside in Cornwall or Lancashire and this is the case, the estate will pass to the Duchy, who in turn generally donates it to charity.

 

You won’t be able to specify who should receive heirlooms and items of sentimental value

There may be items of value, such as collectibles or family heirlooms, that you hold dear and would like to be passed along to the right people following your death – those you know will take good care of the items and see the value in them that you see. The only way to guarantee that these items end up in the right hands is to specify which items should be passed to whom in your Will.

Simply promising certain items to particular children, friends and family members whilst you’re alive unfortunately isn’t enough, and if a Will is not written, again they will pass under the intestacy rules and may pass to your spouse. In cases of second and third marriages these items may have no value at all to the surviving spouse.

 

Your stepchildren won’t receive anything

You will need to outline your intentions for your step-children in your Will as, unless you have formally adopted them, even if you’ve raised a stepchild as your own, they will not receive anything of yours after you’ve passed under the rules of intestacy.

 

Your assets could be inherited by a separated spouse

Unless you are fully divorced, the law will see you as a spouse upon your death. This is the case even for those who have been separated for a number of years and have moved on to live with another partner. Without a divorce registered and a decree absolute obtained, your estranged spouse will be entitled to some or all of your estate if you do not have a Will.

 

Choose DRN to help you with writing your Will

If you’re seeking the peace of mind that your assets and financial affairs will be dealt with according to your preferences upon your death, making a Will or setting up a trust are amongst the best ways you can make sure your wishes are fulfilled.

It’s never too early to put plans in place, and our team can provide practical, honest and informed advice on the various aspects involved when securing your loved ones’ futures.

The professionals at DRN will always take the time to fully understand your needs and wishes, approaching your case with the individual attention that it deserves.

Contact us today to find out how our expert Wills and probate team of solicitors can help to get your affairs in order.

Top Tips for a Peaceful Retirement

This entry was posted in Elderley Client Services, Family Law, For you, News, Wills and Probate and tagged , , , , , , on by .

After a lifetime of dedicating yourself to your loved ones, your career and your passions, retirement is the time you can finally reap the benefits of all of your hard work and properly experience the culmination of a lifetime of planning.

However, the prospect of such a huge lifestyle change doesn’t spark excitement in all, and uncertainty about what the future might hold can be stressful. The best way to alleviate some of that confusion surrounding the future is to continue planning for it, and this includes making a will.

As you’ve made sound choices to build and protect your savings and assets throughout your working life, it’s important to continue protecting those assets for your loved ones and yourself.

The leading wills and probate lawyers from DRN’s branches in Burnley, Colne and Ramsbottom have provided some expert advice and compiled a short guide to help you plan the support for your family when you’re no longer around.

 

Enlist the expert support of a wills and probate lawyer 

Whilst it is possible to create a will yourself, the process can be complex and mistakes are fairly easy to make if you’ve never done it before. With many DIY wills, important information is often accidentally left out and, in a worst-case scenario, this can mean that your beneficiaries do not receive what you wish for them. They could even be made liable to pay for fees or taxes in your name.

Working with a qualified solicitor when drafting your will give you coverage by the official Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. On top of securing your will, they will be able to offer you expert advice on a range of topics, including providing details on your inheritance tax allowance, enabling you to make informed decisions now to aid your loved ones in the future.

 

Choose Executors and Powers of Attorney wisely 

The executor of your will will be in charge of exercising your wishes and managing your assets after you’re gone. Selecting your executor is a big decision, and with them holding so much responsibility it’s important that you invest in someone you can trust. Before making your decision, it’s also a good idea to talk through your plans and ensure that they know what the role will entail.

One of the most common myths surrounding legal decision-making is that your next of kin will be able to make decisions on your behalf should you lack the capacity to do so yourself. Sadly, this is not the case. No one person is able to act on your behalf unless they are legally authorised to do so, whether this is to do with your assets or your health.

Making sure a Lasting Power of Attorney is in place as early as possible is the safest way to ensure your wishes are adhered to by people that you trust. It can take around 12 weeks for an LPA registration to be authorised, so it’s a good idea to get it secured as soon as possible to avoid facing stresses when the time comes to needing it.

 

Review your decisions regularly

It’s important to remember that the decisions outlined in your will aren’t set in stone – you are entitled to change your mind. Review your choices as often as you see fit, and don’t be afraid to speak up if some of those decisions shift and change.

Having your will and executors secured before you reach retirement will give you peace of mind, allowing you to enjoy your time as a retiree as fully as possible. Whilst it’s often a difficult discussion, it’s important to have the conversation with family and loved ones about your wishes after death. Taking the time to think about how you can continue to protect those closest to you can make a big difference to their futures, and initiating that conversation is a necessary, but ultimately very positive, step.

 

The will and probate team here at DRN have years of legal experience and are on-hand to guide you through the whole process of writing your will.

Contact us today on 01282 433 241 to find out more about how we can ensure your wishes are met after you’re gone.

 

DRN Family Law Team Awarded Legal Aid ‘Excellence’ Review Rating

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DRN’s leading Family Law team have achieved an Excellence review rating following an independent external review of their work by the Legal Aid Agency.

Legal Aid Agency Audit

“Excellence” is the number one rating that can be achieved by a legal team during a Legal Aid Agency audit. The full list of ratings is as follows:

  • excellence (1)
  • competence plus (2)
  • threshold competence (3)
  • below competence (4)
  • failure in performance (5)

The Process

To gain this exemplary rating, 25 files from DRN were requested by the Legal Aid Agency. These files were chosen at random, and were then independently reviewed by an external assessor. Their comprehensive report concluded with positive findings in all areas, including:

  • Advice tailored to clients
  • Linked advice and client referrals
  • Proactive steps taken on behalf of clients
  • Client’s needs being met
  • Keeping clients up to date with developments

All of the above findings were met with a glowing report, as well as a host of additional positive findings.

Family Law Team

Nicola Barrow, head of the Family department at DRN said:

“I am incredibly proud of the continuous hard work from the Family Team at DRN, who dedicate themselves to ensuring client’s receive the best advice and representation possible every single day.”

DRN’s leading family law team are available to support you with legal advice and representation in all matters concerning family matters, including custody, adoption, name changing, divorce and separation.

If you would like to talk to a member of our friendly team, call our Burnley office today on 01282 433 241 and we will be happy to help you.

Mobility Scooters, Do I Need to Register?

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Mobility scooters are more popular than ever before. They provide those of us, with restricted mobility, the opportunity to tend to their daily tasks. However, what are the rules? Can a mobility scooter be used on the roads?

Nick Cassidy, explains ” You do not need a licence to drive a mobility scooter or powered wheelchair, but you may have to register it. Only certain types can be driven on the road. Mobility scooters and powered wheelchairs come in two categories. ‘Class 2 invalid carriages’ – these cannot be used on the road (except where there is no pavement) and have a maximum speed of 4mph. ‘Class 3 invalid carriages’ – these can be used on the road, and have a maximum speed of 4mph off the road, and 8mph on the road.”

“You do not need to register a class 2 invalid carriage. You must register class 3 invalid carriages.”

If you have any queries, Mr Cassidy can be contacted at our Burnley Office.

DRN Probate Lawyers’ Top 5 Will Writing Tips

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When it comes to writing your Will, you want to be absolutely certain that your wishes will be carried out. A watertight Will ensures that you have nothing to worry about once you pass away, and gives ultimate peace of mind that you will be able to take care of your family and loved ones even when you’re gone.

Writing a Will can be confusing and a little overwhelming, but as expert Wills and Probate lawyers, we’re here to guide you through every stage of the process. With extensive expertise in completing Wills for a large number of clients over the years, we’re committed to learning about what’s important to you, and to ensuring all of your wishes are detailed and your Will meets legal requirements. 

Here are our top 5 tips for writing your Will, to help you get the process started. 

 

Tip 1: Don’t hesitate! 

The best advice we can give to anyone considering writing a Will is to get started as soon as possible. While it can be a difficult or daunting prospect, making a Will with DRN is a simple and straightforward process. What’s more, once you’ve made your Will, you will no longer have to worry about what may happen to your estate or other assets after your death.

The sooner you make your Will, the sooner you will have the peace of mind that comes with knowing your family, friends and loved ones will be able to carry out your wishes exactly as you planned.

Tip 2: Enlist the expert support of a Wills and Probate lawyer.

Whilst it might be tempting to attempt creating your own Will without the help of a solicitor, it’s important to note that it is easy to make a mistake when drafting your Will if you’re not completely familiar with the processes involved. Errors in your Will could lead to your beneficiaries missing out on receiving what you wish to gift to them, and errors can even reduce the value of your estate, as funds could need to be offset towards unexpected tax bills, or the cost dealing with a legal fallout from disgruntled beneficiaries. 

Making your Will with a trusted legal professional means you’ll be covered by the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority. A qualified solicitor will understand the intricate legalities and be able to offer in-depth tax advice, including details on your inheritance tax allowance, enabling you to make decisions now to aid your family and loved ones in the future.

Check for the WIQS mark. WIQS is a recognised quality assurance scheme which awards the very best Wills and Probate lawyers with certificates and accreditations – an achievement which DRN have successfully reached year after year. 

Tip 3: Choose who you want to leave your estate and assets to.

A key fact to make note of is that your assets and estate will not automatically be passed to your partner, no matter how long you have been together.

If you live with a partner but are not married, and have no Will in place, the law states that your assets will be passed to your nearest blood relatives. Making a Will ensures that your home, assets, investments and any other items in your estate pass to your partner if you wish them to do so.

In addition, choosing not to make a Will means dying “intestate”. This means your assets will devolve according to intestacy rules and will be divided in strict order amongst blood relatives. In such circumstances, your assets could even pass into the hands of a blood relative you are no longer in contact with, or someone you might not even have met. 

Tip 4: Remember to appoint guardians.

In some Wills, details are given on the subjects of assets and estate, but guardianship can be overlooked, especially if you are in a family unit with more than one parent.

While it isn’t pleasant to think about, your Will should consider the worst-case scenario, and provide a plan for if it should occur. Should you and your partner pass away, provisions must be made to ensure your children are cared for by those you know and trust. If a guardian is not appointed, one will be automatically appointed by the court.

If you are in an unmarried partnership, it is important to place each other as guardians so that any children you have under the age of 18 are automatically legally placed in your partner’s care in the event of your death.

Tip 5: Choose your executors wisely

Choosing the executors of your Will is a big decision, and it is better to choose more than one in many cases. Your executors will be in charge of exercising your wishes and dealing with all aspects of your estate. It is important to talk through your plans and double check that the person you’d like to be your executor is willing to be. Be sure to explain what the role might entail, as it is a substantial responsibility to take on and you need to be absolutely sure the executors will have the ability to perform their duties and maximise the estate for your chosen beneficiaries.

You should also confide in your executors the location of your Will. You should keep it safe, ideally with your solicitor. Whilst a safety deposit box may seem like the safest place to keep your Will, choosing to deposit it with your bank can cause complications, as banks are not legally allowed to grant access to a safety deposit box without the executor having probate, and probate cannot be granted without reviewing your Will! 

Entrusting your Will into the safe hands of your solicitor is the best option. Most solicitors will also register your Will on the Certainty National Will register, which maintains a record of the location of your Will to prevent fraud or loss – a service offered by DRN to all clients, free of charge.

If you’d like more advice on our Wills and Probate services, or if you’d like to speak to our lawyers about writing your Will, contact us today on 01282 433 241

Do you collect loyalty points? Here’s how you can pass them on in your will.

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When you’re planning how to manage your estate after you pass away, it’s unlikely that you’ll have even considered your loyalty points as valuable assets. After all, it’s estimated that as many as 93% of us are unaware that points can be passed on in our wills.

In fact, data from Topcashback, one of the country’s biggest loyalty points and cashback websites, has shown that in Britain we accrue more than £5.7bn through loyalty schemes annually. That works out at around £122 per person over an average of five schemes, so if you save points for Tesco Clubcard, Nectar, Texaco Star Rewards, Boots Advantage and Avios, the points accumulated could really work out to be a valuable addition to your estate.

Not all providers, however, allow you to bequeath your points. In some cases points are stated in the terms and conditions to belong to the company and not the collector. So, in some cases it may be wiser to use your points rather than risk losing them upon your death.

Here are some of the providers who will allow you to pass on your points after you pass away:

Boots Advantage

Boots Advantage is one of the most popular loyalty points schemes in the country, and for good reason. Giving customers four points (worth 4p) for every pound spent, and regular double or triple points events, it’s one of the most generous loyalty schemes of its type.

Can you pass on your Boots Advantage card points?

To pass your points on to a beneficiary, simply contact Boots Advantage customer service: boots.customercare_team@boots.co.uk, or by calling 0345 124 4545.

Tesco Clubcard

Tesco Clubcard is the UK’s leading supermarket loyalty schemes. Awarding customers one point per £1 spent on shopping and £2 spent on fuel, they also award points for using their related banking and insurance services.

Can you pass on your Tesco Clubcard points?

Should you pass away, your points can be easily claimed by family members even if they haven’t notified Tesco in advance. All a potential beneficiary needs to do to avoid confusion is contact 0800 591 688 or 0330 123 1688, or email them through the Clubcard website with the card and personal details of members to hand.

Nectar

Whether you use your Nectar card for your supermarket shopping in Sainsbury’s, or you collect yours from one of 450 different retailers across the country, you’ll be collecting four points per £1, plus bonuses.

Can you pass on your Nectar card points?

Nectar have no restrictions on bequeathing your points to a family member or relative. Contact the Nectar customer services team on 0344 811 0811 to find out whether a death certificate will be needed – they operate on a case-by-case basis.

Avios

Collecting points for the flights, hotel stays and shopping you do online with Avios can reap great rewards through the British Airways Avios eStore. More and more customers are using the scheme for its generous points system and the benefits tied in with it.

Can you pass on your Avios points?

Although Avios state that passing on points after a death is dealt with on a case-by-case basis, the terms and conditions do state that Avios points are non-transferable.

Which loyalty schemes don’t allow points to be transferred?

You may be surprised to learn that two of the largest companies in the UK do not allow their loyalty points to be transferred in the event of a customer’s death.

IKEA Family and Marks & Spencer Sparks are both generous loyalty schemes, but unfortunately they do not allow the points gathered to be shared.

This means that unfortunately you cannot bequeath your points savings to a chosen individual at these stores – but the companies both say they are reviewing the terms and conditions.

One last thing – if you’d like to speak to our expert wills and probate solicitors about any issues regarding what you may and may not be able to leave behind, we’d be happy to speak to you. Just give us a call on 01282 433 241 to discuss your options.

Bereavement and Organising a Loved one’s Estate: Some Practical Advice

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One of the first things we ask our clients who are recently bereaved, is how we can help with any practical arrangements necessary in the estate. Losing a loved one is difficult and upsetting and it’s our job to support our clients in every way we can.

However, there are a number of items that must be attended to by our clients upon the death of an individual, and unfortunately they cannot be delayed. In most cases a relative or person responsible for organising the funeral proceedings is needed to carry out these important tasks. If this roll falls to you to organise, you can of course enlist our support should you wish to do so. At DRN, our sympathetic team can help you every step of the way, enabling you to carry out your loved one’s wishes efficiently and carefully, with as little upset as possible.

Please read on for practical guidance to help you through this difficult time.

Registering a death and obtaining a death certificate

Once a person has died, it is the law in the UK for their death to be registered within five days at a registry office. A person’s death can be registered by:

  • A relative
  • An individual present at the death
  • An individual responsible for organising the funeral

Once a death has been registered, a death certificate will be issued by the registrar. At this stage you may wish to request several copies of the certificate so that sending proof of death to insurance companies, banks, pension providers etc. (if applicable) is as simple as possible. A small cost is charged for copies, however this can be refunded from the estate should you not be the sole beneficiary.

You will also be provided with a form to assist with notifying all the government institutions such as passport, HMRC, Council and Benefits agencies. This is called the Tell Us Once service

Inform the relevant organisations

Upon the death of a loved one, it is very important to inform institutions such as your local council so that council tax, state pension and other government services. This prevents overpayment of benefits that have to be re-paid and also liability for council tax continuing.

Gov.UK has a service called “Tell Us Once” to help make things easier. By signing up and providing some personal details, you will be able to make the necessary changes to your loved one’s driver’s licence, and inform the relevant people within the personal tax, Department of Work and Pensions, passport office and other important governmental departments.

Arranging the funeral and accessing the will

If possible the Executors should check the will to see if there are any funeral wishes noted in it or perhaps it will contain details of a pre – paid funeral plan.

Our team of dedicated will and estate solicitors are experienced in all types of probate matters. If you are unable to locate a will, or a loved one has died “intestate” – that is, without a will – we can help you to recover the details you need to continue carrying out your loved one’s wishes.

We can also act on your behalf, guiding you through the probate process, helping you to understand items such as inheritance tax and distribution to the correct parties.

We understand that attempting to navigate the legal requirements needed upon the death of a loved one can be difficult to deal with for the bereaved. We are here to answer any of your questions about Wills and Probate and to support you through the complex process of administration of the estate, or contesting a will you believe may be invalid.

If you would like to speak to one of our solicitors, please call us today on 01282 433 241.

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