How the increased variety of family structures can lead to a dispute

How the increased variety of family structures can lead to a dispute

An article in the Sunday Times on 3rd October highlighted how the increasing variety in family structures is a factor leading to increased litigation following a death of a family member.

The article picked up on some high profile disputes and mentioned that the number of cases has probably risen by around 50% in just a couple of years. However, the full extent of this issue is harder to gauge as the vast majority of cases never reach the court, but it is probably fair to say that there are numerous disputes of this type every year.

Often, people face a dilemma as to how they may benefit their spouse or partner on their death but also make provision for their own children, step-children, and indeed other relatives.  This dilemma is often at the heart of the problem but probably the best advice, is that doing nothing and hoping the issue will resolve itself is not likely to help matters.

The key to avoiding, or at least minimising, these issues lie in having a properly drawn up will which is flexible enough to reflect the interests of different family members. In particularly difficult or complicated family situations, leaving guidance or a letter of explanation as to why things were done in a certain way can often be a great help, as can raising issues during one’s lifetime.

Whilst people are free to leave their estate on their death as they wish, there is also legislation which allows certain categories of potential beneficiaries such as spouses, children, and others to make a claim against the deceased’s estate on the grounds that reasonable financial provision has not been made for them.  Such a claim is not guaranteed to succeed but it is something to bear in mind when drawing up your will, as the costs of a disputed will or inheritance can be considerable.

Colman Coyle has considerable experience in advising in relation to the preparation of wills, and estate planning, as well as advising family members after a death, and if you would like to discuss the issues raised here, please contact Patrick Green on +44 (0)20 7354 3000 or patrick.green@colmancoyle.com.

Patrick Green

Patrick Green

Senior Associate

Colman Coyle, Hawksford and Russo-British Chamber of Commerce to host a hybrid event on investing in buy-to-let property in the UK

Colman Coyle, Hawksford and Russo-British Chamber of Commerce to host a hybrid event on investing in buy-to-let property in the UK

Colman Coyle are delighted to host a joint event along with Hawksford and Russo-British Chamber of Commerce in relation to foreign investors looking at buy-to-let property in the UK.

The panel of speakers from Colman Coyle include Oksana Howard (Corporate and International), Patrick Green (Private Client) and Sayrha Elahi (Property) and will be a good opportunity for attendees to learn more about the buy-to-let property market in London and the UK.

The event will take place on Tuesday 14 September 2021 at The Clermont Hotel in Charing Cross, and it will also be broadcasted via Zoom.

If you wish to find out further information or register your attendance (either in person or remotely) please sign up through the RBCC website here: https://bit.ly/3j5EVEa

Colman Coyle act for a significant number of foreign investors in the UK. If you have any questions on how we can assist or would like to discuss this event, please contact Oksana Howard on +44 (0)20 7704 3446 or oksana.howard@colmancoyle.com.

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Taking the stress out of probate

Taking the stress out of probate

The Metro newspaper published an interesting and helpful article last Monday regarding the probate process, which included some useful advice and tips designed to make what can be a difficult and stressful process easier.

One of the key points made was the need for those dealing with a loved one’s estate to organise what can sometimes be a considerable amount of paperwork, so as to make the task easier. One good way of approaching this is for everyone to have a properly drawn up will in place and where necessary, leave details of assets and known liabilities so that the family have a good starting point.

Another important area to think about is lifetime gifts and what if any have been made.  These can have a considerable impact on the tax position on someone’s death and keeping accurate records during your lifetime can be extremely helpful both in terms of your own lifetime inheritance tax planning and helping those dealing with your estate on your death.

It is also important to bear in mind the inheritance tax position and the reliefs and exemptions that are available and which can save a family considerable sums. It is possible to carry forward a deceased spouse or civil partner’s unused inheritance tax allowances but in order to make the claim, a copy of their will would be required to support a claim.  Therefore, it is always sensible to keep these documents, even if the spouse or civil partner died many years ago.

It is sensible to take advice early once someone dies, to ensure that the administration starts in an orderly way and there is a clear direction and understanding of the probate process and tax position, which can be complicated.

Colman Coyle has considerable experience in advising in relation to the preparation of wills, lifetime tax planning and the administration of estates and if you would like to discuss the issues raised here, please contact Patrick Green on +44 (0)20 7354 3000 or patrick.green@colmancoyle.com.

Patrick Green

Patrick Green

Senior Associate

Colman Coyle attends English Law day in Ukraine Virtual Event organised by The Law Society of England and Wales

Colman Coyle attends English Law day in Ukraine Virtual Event organised by The Law Society of England and Wales

Oksana Howard and Patrick Green have attended an English Law day in Ukraine Virtual Event organised by The Law Society of England and Wales.

Oksana, who is a Partner in our Corporate and International Departments, has attended the Corporate M&A session which was focused on the cross-border M&A trends in 2020 and 2021 and the increased M&A activity in technology and healthcare sectors.  It was interesting to learn that the vast majority of international M&A transactions which took place within the period covered by this session were governed by the English law.

Patrick is a Senior Associate in our Private Client team and attended the Private Client Session, which emphasised the need for those planning on moving to the UK to take advice before moving, particularly for example in relation to the purchase of a home.

Colman Coyle is regularly instructed in relation to international and cross-border matters and is a member of IR Global – a multi-disciplinary professional services network.  Our International team has considerable experience in a wide variety of international work.  If you would like to discuss any of your international legal needs, please contact Oksana Howard on +44 (0)20 7704 3446 or oksana.howard@colmancoyle.com.

Oksana

Oksana Howard
Partner

Patrick

Patrick Green
Senior Associate

Leaving Cryptocurrency in your Will

Leaving Cryptocurrency in your Will

Owning cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin is becoming increasingly common and one issue that is starting to become more prominent now is how to deal with these types of assets on your death.

It is generally thought that millions of pounds worth of cryptocurrency has been lost forever, simply because the owners of those assets died without leaving a plan in place for how their executors or beneficiaries should access their digital wallet.

Cryptocurrency would form part of your estate like any other asset, and is also taxed for inheritance tax purposes like any other asset, and can be left in your will to one or more beneficiaries. In some ways though, the most important issue is ensuring that someone can access the cryptocurrency wallet after your death.

There are several ways this can be done, but one thing people should never do is share details of the private key to the wallet in the will itself, not least because the will becomes a public document once probate has been obtained and therefore in theory anyone could have access to the wallet and the cryptocurrency within it. 

If you do own cryptocurrency it is important to consider these issues when you come to draw up your will and to put in place a plan or arrangements so that any cryptocurrency can be accessed.

Colman Coyle has considerable experience in advising in relation to the preparation of wills and if you would like to discuss the issues raised here, please contact Patrick Green on +44 (0)20 7354 3000 or patrick.green@colmancoyle.com.

Patrick Green

Patrick Green

Senior Associate

The Importance of Trusts – Part 2

The Importance of Trusts – Part 2

In the first part of this blog, we briefly touched on the long history of trusts in English law and the fact that whilst there may be many misconceptions about them, they are a highly regulated way of benefiting people.

In this second part, we look at some of the specific areas where trusts can be particularly helpful.

One of the main uses of trusts today is in passing assets down to generations, particularly where minors or vulnerable beneficiaries or those not capable of managing their own assets are concerned.  A will trust or indeed a lifetime trust can be used to support beneficiaries financially and protect assets such as houses or investments for the long-term benefit of the beneficiaries.  Particular types of trust can be used for someone who is physically or mentally disabled, allowing their financial needs to be met but at the same time protecting them from potential exploitation or abuse.

Trusts can also play a key role in complex or blended families where, for example, arrangements need to take into account the financial needs of a second spouse but also the needs of children from a first marriage.

Trusts will also play a key role for families in connection with life insurance policies written into trust so that the proceeds from the policy can be paid out quickly and efficiently to a family.

Trusts are frequently used in connection with education, with parents or indeed grandparents helping to fund children’s education through specific trusts.

Another important area where trusts can be used is in connection with the buying of a home.  Typical examples would be where parents or grandparents use a trust to provide their child or grandchild with funds towards a deposit, perhaps in the form of a loan or gift and the use of the trust provides flexibility but also protection in the event of bankruptcy, illness or other unexpected events.

In the context of marriage or divorce, trusts remain an attractive way of providing for children both in transferring assets and protecting a spouse or partner.  A trust could also be used to enable someone to remain in a property after a divorce but in the long term, ensuring that the children benefit, thus providing certainty and stability.

As can be seen, trusts have wide application and their flexible nature can be used in a variety of scenarios to balance the needs of different beneficiaries at different times.

Colman Coyle has considerable experience in acting in relation to the creation and administration of trusts as well as advising individual trustees and beneficiaries. If you would like to discuss the issues raised here, please contact Patrick Green on +44 (0)20 7354 3000 or patrick.green@colmancoyle.com.

Patrick Green

Patrick Green

Senior Associate

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