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Fergusson Law shares their latest news, the latest legal news and provides some legal advice on this blog.

DISINHERITING THE FAMILY? TAKE ADVICE BEFORE YOU DO IT. 2018 UPDATE

A recent ruling in the Court of Appeal in England and Wales highlights that although you can leave your money to whom you like there are some limitations, wherever you live in the UK.

England, Scotland and Wales, like the United States, have a tradition of "testamentary freedom" - the idea being that you can, in theory, leave your wealth to whoever you like.

Countries like France, Spain and the Republic of Ireland, by contrast, have fixed heirship shares.

However in Scotland, children and spouses may have "legal rights" to a portion of the deceased's estate.

A surviving spouse, or civil partner and children are entitled to part of the deceased person's moveable estate. In Scots law, heritable property means land and buildings, while moveable estate includes such things as money, shares, cars, furniture and jewellery.

The surviving spouse or civil partner is entitled to one-third of the deceased's moveable estate if the deceased left children or descendants of children, or to one-half of it if the deceased left no such children or descendants.

In England and Wales the Inheritance Act of 1975 section 2 sets out that close relatives may apply to a court for a variation to a will ‘such as to make reasonable financial provision for the applicant’.

The bar is set high in that an applicant must show real need or that they were led to believe that they were to receive an inheritance and acted on that belief.

One dispute currently going through the High Court involves Clive Shaw, 55, a dairy farmer who reportedly does not like cows, He is making a claim for the family farm after a disagreement with   his   parents who have written him out of their wills.   

It is the latest in a series of similar legal claims made this year. Lucy Habberfield brought a claim in the High Court in January 2018 against her mother. After the death of her father, her mother became the sole owner of the family farm   despite repeated promises over the years that Ms Habberfield   would inherit.   She had devoted much of her life to the farm working long hours for little pay. She was awarded £1.2m  to set up her own farm.

professionally drawn up Will covers all these eventualities and you must show that the needs of your close family were considered fully.

For advice in this matter please get in touch.

FERGUSSON LAW HIGH ACHIEVER FOR NATIONAL CHARITY CAMPAIGN

Fergusson Law has raised over £1,800 for charity this year after taking part in a will-writing campaign which asks solicitors to write wills for local people and instead of paying a fee, asks only for a voluntary donation. 

Fergusson Law has taken part in the annual Will Aid scheme and raised £1,870 in the month-long fundraiser.   

Janice Nisbet, from the firm, commented: “Our team have been delighted to take part in Will Aid and have worked very hard.  We were able to encourage lots of local people to have their wills written, which too many people put off until it is too late and at the same time supporting 9 well-loved charities.  We are happy to donate our time towards Will Aid. It is a great way of generating a link with the community. We would recommend that other law firms get involved."

Stephen Gillies from the British Red Cross paid the firm a visit to present them with a certificate.  He said: “We are very grateful to Fergusson Law and the Will Aid scheme for this generous contribution. The Red Cross uses donations to reach people in crisis, here in the UK and all around the world.”

Will Aid, which is celebrating its 30th year since launching, is a charity will-writing scheme that raises money for 9 wonderful charities: ActionAid, British Red Cross, Christian Aid, NSPCC, Save The Children, Sightsavers, Age UK, SCIAF (Scotland) and Trocaire (Northern Ireland). 

 “I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to Fergusson Law and let them know that thanks to them, lives will change for the better and people who need it will continue to receive the help and support that the charities work so hard to provide.”

BLOODLINE WILLS

What is a Bloodline Will?

Many of you will have heard about or seen TV advertisements for, so-called Bloodline Wills.

The theme is that you want your estate to go to your immediate family whom you know, with no risk of it being diverted to your daughter’s ex-boyfriends, people whom your children owe money to, future step-parents to a grandchild, and so on. Your grandchildren could be specifically named in your Will but end up with nothing at all. It is even possible that your wishes could be bypassed if you own a buy-to-let property as well as a family home.

There is nothing new about making your directions clear in your Will except that modern cohabiting relationships can create unexpected legal consequences.

You might think your existing Will provides protection for your family assets but it is likely that your grandchildren will only inherit if their mother or father dies before them. Your grandchildren may never benefit from your estate.

Bloodline Trusts

The solution may be placing funds into a specialist Trust whose sole beneficiaries are within your family. These funds can be used at any time for the named persons’ personal benefit but cannot be accessed by outside third parties.

Without such a Trust, you could find that your money wends its way to former partners (married or not) of your sons and daughters, their stepchildren, people who claim money from your descendants and so on.

A thoughtfully drawn up Will is the first step. If you die without one, your estate may not be distributed in the way you would have intended, and it might cause real problems for your family. The issue is of particular concern to buy-to-let investors, who own flats and houses in addition to their family home. If you do not have a Will in Scotland, your estate is divided according to the rules of intestacy.

After your spouse (probably) gets the family home, any other houses and land you own (including your buy-to-let properties), and all the cash remaining may go to relatives whom you have never met. Known in Germany as Laughing Heirs whose relationship to the deceased is so distant they suffer no sense of bereavement but are happy to receive an unexpected financial windfall.

Potential care home fees are another area where we can offer advice to protect your assets.

‘Bloodline’ Will Trusts are not for everyone. Annual costs are involved as accounts have to be created and tax returns made. We can help put a Plan together and quote you a Fixed Price for doing it.

Please call Janice now to have a talk about it. Ring 0131 556 4044 or send us a message via our website.

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