How will moving from a civil partnership to a marriage affect your Will?

A rainbow flag in the sunshine

Our clients are a gay couple who wrote their Wills while in a civil partnership. They have recently married so came to us and asked if they needed to update their Wills, asking:

Do we need to rewrite our wills? Is marriage and civil partnership viewed as the same?

As a result of the introduction of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013, which came into force on 13 March 2014, and the Marriage of Same Sex Couples (Conversion of Civil Partnership) Regulations 2014, which came into force on 10 December 2014, civil partners are now able to convert their civil partnership into a marriage.

The regulations state that the conversion of a civil partnership into a marriage will not revoke an existing will, does not affect any disposition in an existing will, and also allows references to a civil partner to be read as referring to a spouse.

With this in mind, the change from a civil partnership to a marriage will not revoke their existing wills.

In this instance, however, we would generally recommend that clients have their Wills reviewed every 3-5 years to ensure that they remain up-to-date.

Why do I need to review or change my Will regularly?

If you have a major life event change that alters your personal circumstances you should have your Will reviewed to make sure that it is still valid.

Major life changes include buying a new house, acquiring significant sums of money, buying or selling a business, having children, getting married or becoming separated or divorced.

Many contentious probate issues are caused by people passing away with an old or out-of-date Will.

Anything that causes ambiguity can lead to issues, so keeping your Will up-to-date is very important, especially if you have any problematic family relationships or significant wealth.

However, please be aware that ‘significant wealth’ can apply to anyone who owns their own home in London these days, so don’t make the mistake of thinking it doesn’t apply to you!

If you have any questions or are unsure whether your Will needs updating, don’t just leave it to chance. Make an appointment to have your Will reviewed by one of our inheritance specialists today!

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Keeping calm and carrying on

Here in the UK we are becoming accustomed to living amidst chaos. A weak Prime Minister presides over a government at war with itself; businesses are confused and uncertain about the shape of Brexit; a flatlining economy is holding back wages and investment. For most of us, the only thing we can do is wait it out, keep calm and carry on.

The houses of Parliament

We say this because a sense of disorientation caused by feeling that events are happening beyond your control is precisely what we aim to protect you from. And while there is little we can do about the present state of the country, we can help to put you and your family in a secure position should and accident or illness suddenly strike.

When something really terrible happens to a member of your family, that feeling of being ‘out of control’ kicks in almost immediately. However, if you have prepared for such an event by making a Will and creating a Lasting Power of Attorney you will have a huge burden of responsibility taken away from you at the most frightening of times.

Why do people really make a Will?

The real reason many people make a Will is not to divide up their property between family members. It is to prevent their family from having to go through a drawn out bureaucratic nightmare of a process at a time when they are least suited to do so.

When you die and there is no Will in place, you are what is called ‘Intestate’ and your estate must pass through the Courts under our intestacy laws. This makes the whole process much more complicated and burdensome. It will cost your family more money, take them much longer to access funds and remove control over important issues such as property ownership and even guardianship of children.

As you can see, making a Will is about creating a protective barrier for your family during one of the most difficult times of their lives.

Lasting Powers of Attorney

An LPA can be equally useful in shielding your family from stress. This is a legal document that appoints a trusted person to act on your behalf if you lose the capacity to do so.

Having an LPA means that your spouse, partner or friend could access your bank account to pay bills and manage your financial affairs. It gives them the authority to make decisions about your medical treatment, sell property and decide where you live.

Without one families can become trapped in limbo, unable to take action when it is needed most.

So in these uncertain times, when you feel that you have no control over events around you, you can focus on the areas where you can make a difference, by taking control and ensuring that your affairs are being managed efficiently.

If you would like to find out how we can help you manage your family affairs, get in touch with us on 020 8340 3102 and we’ll explain how you can update your existing Will.

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Remember A Charity in Your Will Week!

From 11-17 September, we are calling on everyone to remember a charity in their will.
Remember a charity in your will week

As part of the campaign to ‘Have Your Say on the World You Want to Pass On’ we are asking everyone to think about the impact you can have by leaving a legacy to your charity of choice.

The campaign will be kicking off in London with a roadshow that takes in iconic venues from the 1960s in five of the UK’s biggest cities.

It’ll travel from London to Bournemouth, Norwich, Liverpool and Edinburgh, spending a day in each city.

Charities and supporters will be invited to record their vision for future generations and share it on social media using #HaveYourSay.

Strangely, while 75% of us donate to charity, only 6% of us actually remember to leave something in our Will.

Remember a Charity Week

Remember that a legacy doesn’t have to be a large sum of cash. Hillman Legal clients leave all sorts of things, from shares to paintings to jewellery and antiques. It all helps, so have a think about what you might like to leave.

If you would like to find out how we can help you make a legacy in your Will, get in touch with us on 020 8340 3102 and we’ll explain how you can update your existing Will.

Many UK Charities depend of legacies to survive, so make sure you give something back at the end of your life by supporting your favourite charity.

Writing a Will online; what could go wrong?

On the face of it writing a Will online seems like a quick and convenient option. But as this post will show you, there are some serious pitfalls that you should be aware of before making this decision.

Wills & Probate expert, Rebekah Hillman of Hillman Legal Partnerships, gives you her rundown of some of the things that could potentially go awry.

Free online Wills companies

We all need a Will at some stage of our lives. For many of us this begins when we buy our first property or start a family.

At this point death always seems like a long way off and not something we want to sit down and seriously consider.

So it is unsurprising that some people opt for some of the quickest, easiest and often cheapest options out there; from buying a DIY will kit in WH Smiths to completing a simple online form.

This is entirely their choice. However there are some serious pitfalls out there if you take this route, so make sure you familiarize yourselves with these first:

1: No expert to advise you

You may have decided that we are a nation that’s ‘had enough of experts’ but when it comes to things like your children’s inheritance, and their potential guardianship, you may wish to err on the side of caution.

There are a big range of legal options for you to consider. Having a Wills & Probate expert on hand to guide you through this decision making process could save your family much money and heartache in the future.

2: No notes are kept if the Will is challenged

This is one of the most dangerous aspects of going the DIY route. Any complicated family situation could give rise to a lengthy, expensive and potentially devastating court case.

If you write a will and someone contests it, the first thing their lawyer will do is ask about the circumstances of the instruction taking. They are specifically interested in whether it was a lawyer that wrote the will.

They will want to know:

• What state of mind the client was in when the Will was made
• What questions were asked
• Was the Will signing supervised

Many lawyers will build an entire case on the fact no advice was given, or around a lack of guidance during the signing of the Will. There’s also potential to question whether you had full mental capacity when you made the Will.

3. No trust options are provided

Trusts are a vital way of having a say in what happens to your money after you die. For example, you could leave your half of the property in a trust for your children. Then, should your partner remarry and die without a Will, your children will definitely receive your half of the property, rather than your partner’s new spouse.

Alternatively you can insert Trusts to deal with vulnerable adults, business interests, and even specify at what age your children should inherit the entirety of your estate, if you think 18 might be too young.

4: No related matters discussed such as LPAs and Funeral Plans

Having a professional consultation also gives you the opportunity to think through other options and make sure you have all the bases covered.

For example, a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) gives a trusted friend or partner permission to act on your behalf, should you lose capacity.

This would allow them to pay bills, sell property, and make big decisions for you. These can be produced at the same time as your Will to make sure you have complete cover and peace of mind.


As you can see, inheritance is not a simple matter, just ask any Charles Dickens character! Whilst filling out a form online could be a convenient and quick option, it could come back to bite you further down the line.

Make sure you seek professional advice and weigh up all your options first. The consequences of getting this wrong could affect your family for generations to come.

Let’s go crazy! What’s happening over Prince’s estate could happen to you

In a year of pretty unhappy events, Princes death stood out as one of the saddest of 2016. For anyone who grew up in the 80s and 90s his music served as a backing track to our lives. Yet his death highlights just how difficult it is when people die before their time without leaving a Will in place.

A Prince Memorial

Like many healthy and active people in their 50s, Prince never got around to making a Will. With no children and no immediate family to think about he was far too busy keeping up with his legendary work schedule to think about tedious matters like estate planning.

His untimely death means that his estate is now being decided by US intestacy laws. And with $300 million at stake, and a raft of extended family members coming forward to stake their claim, it’s no surprise that the people who are likely to benefit the most from this sorry episode will be an army of lawyers.

When you die ‘intestate’ – with no Will – there are no clear instructions left for the probate executors to administer your property, assets and possessions as you would have liked. This means that, here in the UK at least, this entire process is decided by the Courts.

The problem comes when there is a lot to be gained and relative decide to challenge the process. Of course, here in London and the Home Counties, there’s no need to be an international rock legend for this to be worthwhile. In many cases you simply need to own your own property for certain relatives to raise their heads.

Ultimately the courts will decide who gets what based on very strict criteria. Yet even then the process takes much, much longer and becomes far more acrimonious that it would have been if a simple Will had been left behind.

In the US it looks like the lawyers are going to make a huge profit from Prince’s estate as around eight potential heirs begin to fight over his wealth in the courts. We very much doubt that this is what Prince, or indeed anyone, would want to see.

So don’t allow your family to become embroiled in bitter feuds and disputes over your money should the unexpected happen. Get a Will today and make sure you keep it updated to reflect any significant life changes that may occur.

To find out more contact the Hillman Legal Team today and book an appointment. You may not have penned Purple Rain but you’ve worked hard and built up what you have. Make sure it goes to people you love and not into a litigation solicitors bank account.

Call us on:

0800 29 88 66 1

We will help you keep all of your affairs up-to-date, allowing you to rest assures that if the worst comes, you will at least have known that you did the very best for your family and loved ones.

Image by Eric (kindly used under the Creative Commons License)

Is your Will up-to-date? The essential checklist

Too many people die believing that their affairs are in order, only for their families to discover after they’ve gone that their Will was actually out of date.

Inheritance Tax Hillman Legal

A Will is a living breathing document, and for it to be accurate at the time of death it has to be kept up to date to reflect any life changes that may have occurred since the last revision was made.

If you don’t do this you run the risk of the Will being challenged by a disgruntled family member. In the worst cases it evens runs the risk of the deceased being declared ‘intestate’.

When you die ‘intestate’ (without a legally recognised Will) your estate becomes applicable to UK Intestacy laws.

This means that big decisions such as where your money goes and what happens to your children are decided by the Courts, rather than according to your wishes.

It’s also a much lengthier, stressful and more expensive process.

To avoid this all-too-common pitfall, make sure you keep your Will updated to reflect any major life changes. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll need to write a whole new Will, and can often involve just a few simple amendments to your existing Will.

What’s classed as a major life change?

Here are some the events that should trigger a warning signal in your brain that it’s time to update your Will.

• A new addition to the family
• Buying or selling property
• Getting divorced
• Getting married
• Starting or buying a new business
• Inheriting property or significant assets
• Your partner remarrying or having children with someone else
• The value of your existing property increasing above the IHT threshold
• Becoming wealthier
• Losing touch or falling out with an Executor

What do I do next?

Getting these changes amended to your Will is often a simple process. In the first instance you should contact our office or the local consultant that came to see you. We can then advise you on the best course action, depending on your individual circumstances.

Remember that too often people put these things off, even though they may have had the best of intentions. But once it’s too late there is nothing that can be done to reverse the situation. So don’t let that person be you.

Call us on:

0800 29 88 66 1

We will help you keep all of your affairs up-to-date, allowing you to rest assures that if the worst comes, you will at least have known that you did the very best for your family and loved ones.

Inheritance and Tax; what are the real rules?

Tax and Inheritance have been in the press a lot recently. The Prime Minister, David Cameron, and his Chancellor, George Osbourne, have been having their affairs scrutinised in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal.

Confused about taxes and inheritance

The problem – as usual – is that journalists risk confusing the rest of us as they seek to twist the story to fit with the political agenda of whichever media outlet they happen to be working for. Depending on the newspaper you read they are either prudent savers or greedy tax dodgers; so what it the truth?

Inheritance Tax, otherwise known as ‘the voluntary tax’

The term ‘voluntary tax’ has been given to Inheritance Tax (IHT) by financial advisers for years. This is simply because there have always been many (completely legal and above-board) ways to manage your IHT liability.

In fact the only reason that HMRC does so well out of IHT is because so many people are simply disorganised.

Everyone is entitled to a tax free allowance of £325,000. This figure includes your entire estate, so as long as everything you leave behind comes to less than £325,000 there will be absolutely no tax to pay. For every £1 over the £325,000 threshold you pay 40% in tax.

Until recently this meant that only wealthy people payed IHT. However with the huge leap in house prices here in London and the South East, IHT has become a reality affecting almost every homeowner in the region.

The problem comes from people having to sell their family homes to pay the IHT bill simply because property prices have sky rocketed around them.

Creating Trusts to protect family assets

Trusts are a very common way of protecting assets, such as a family home, from this scenario. Discretionary Trusts and Family Trusts are widely used and perfectly legitimate ways of keeping property or other assets in the family. They are especially useful if you have vulnerable loved ones.

These have been in use since time immemorial and are open to anyone who wishes to set one up. We have over a decade’s experience when it comes to Trusts and have set them up for Haringey residents across the borough, from all walks of life.

Gifting Assets

This has been quite a controversial topic in recent weeks, after the revelation that David Cameron received a £300,000 gift from his mother following his father’s death.

The truth is that we are all entitled to gift as much money as we like. You can gift up to £3,000 a year to loved ones completely tax free. Anything above this amount carries a seven year survival clause.

This means that if you die before seven years have passed this money becomes liable for IHT. This is charged on a sliding scale, so if you die within three years the full IHT liability of 40% is payable, it then reduces by 20% every year until the seven year time limit has passed.

Know your rights and plan ahead

Regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, you should know what you and your family are entitled to and make sure that you take advantage of your allowances to ensure that you do not end paying more than your fair share of tax.

When making a Will it is the perfect time to get your affairs in order, so make sure you talk to your consultant about these things and they will guide you in the right direction. To book a free consultation with one of our local Will consultants please contact us on 0800 29 88 66 1

Fighting The Flab? Start With What Really Matters; Your Family Affairs

There’s nothing wrong with getting fit in the New Year, but making sure that your personal affairs are in a good state of health should always come first.

Person out running - are your affairs as fit as you?
Is your Will completely up to date? Ask yourself if any any of these things have happened since you last made it…

1. A birth or death in the family
2. A marriage or divorce
3. Any significant change in circumstances

If the answer is yes then your Will could no longer be right for you and your family.

Talk to us today about making or reviewing your Will

Speak with A Member of The Team Call: 020 8340 3102


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Used under the Creative Commons License

How much will you really be thinking of your family this Christmas?

Christmas may be a time for family and friends to get together and celebrate, but each year we see the devastating effects on families caused by people who pass away unexpectedly without having their affairs in order.

A Christmas family scene

It might not be the most festive point to make, but sometimes we do wonder what the point of is of all these families sitting around toasting each other’s good health when they are effectively leaving them to the wolves of HMRC and UK Intestacy Law?

Every year we have families come to us with heart-breaking problems because a member of the family passed away without leaving a genuine Will behind.

These range from money going to people who the deceased did not particularly like, to much more serious issues such as families being forced to sell their homes to pay for inheritance tax. This can mean bereaved spouses having to move areas, children changing schools and losing friends, all at a time when they are already going through immense pain.

Every year approximately two out of every three people die ‘intestate’ – without having made a Will – and it is, frankly speaking, a ridiculous and totally unnecessary situation to find oneself in.

A Will is a simple document that can be arranged quickly and conveniently. The amount of effort it takes, compared to the amount of grief you can cause your family by not having one, is akin to the difference between the air movement from a butterfly and a force 9 hurricane.

Putting a Will in place could secure your children’s’ futures for the rest of their lives. It could stop a vulnerable loved one from squandering their inheritance or having it swindled from them. It could mean that huge decisions about your family’s future will be decided according to your wishes rather than a courtroom, a judge and some semi-interested lawyers.

So yes, Merry Christmas and all that, but don’t let 2016 be the year that your lack of sensible estate planning comes back to haunt you like the spectre of Jacob Marley with a Boxing Day sized hangover.

Get your affairs in order for 2016 and give your family the gift of security this Christmas. Talk to us today about making or reviewing your Will, contact Hillman Legal Partnerships on 0800 29 88 66 1

Image by Thomas W
Used under Creative Commons License

Is it time to review your Discretionary Trust?

With changes to the law coming in 2017 one of the most popular and efficient methods of ensuring that your children are not disinherited, in the event that your spouse remarries after your death, could be about to become tax-inefficient.
Lasting Powers of Attorney provide your family with peace of mind

Why could a Discretionary Trust cost me more tax?

The Government have recently changed the rules on inheritance tax. As many people know, this is a very important policy area for the Conservative Party.

By introducing something called the “family home allowance” couples can now benefit from increased tax allowances if their property is being inherited by direct descendants. A direct descendant is classed as the following:

  • Children
  • Stepchildren
  • Adopted or foster children
  • Grandchildren
  • A Discretionary Trust passes the property into the trust so it cannot benefit from the “family home allowance”.

    How much could I lose from a Discretionary Trust?

    By 2020 the “family home allowance” will be worth an additional £175,000 per person. This will be added to the existing Nil Rate Band tax allowance of £325,000 per person. So each couple’s allowance will be £500,000 each – or £1m per household.

    With inheritance tax currently at 40% of everything over the Nil Rate Band, this means that you could pay an additional £140,000 in tax if you still have a Discretionary Trust after 2020.

    How do I ensure my children receive the same protection as a Discretionary Trust?

    There are still many options available to you if you are worried about the possibility of your partner remarrying after your death.

    As all circumstances are different we strongly recommend that you speak to a qualified Wills & Probate practitioner. They will be able to study your individual situation and recommend the most efficient and robust way forward.

    There are a number of Trusts available through your Will that allow your family to benefit from the Family Home Allowance whilst still protecting your children from being disinherited. These include:

  • Interest in possession (IIP) trusts
  • Disabled persons trust and IIP
  • Bereaved minor’s trust
  • Age 18 to 25 trusts
  • What should I do now to avoid missing out on the Family Home Allowance?

    The best thing to do now is to book a review of your Will. Hillman Legal offer a free no obligation review of your Will that can be conducted in our London offices or in the comfort of your own home.

    Alternatively you can seek guidance via Citizens Advice.
    To speak to a Will specialist today email or call Hillman Legal Partnerships for free on 0800 29 88 66 1