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Legal Updates

Will the latest inheritance pay out present law changes for unmarried spouses?


Two sisters have been ordered to pay their late father’s girlfriend almost a third of their inheritance payment, after she was deemed “a wife in all but name.” This is the latest story to cause families to reflect carefully on their particular circumstances and to take steps to protect the family and avoid emotional stress as well as avoiding large legal costs.

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The rental shortage – could it hit crisis point?


The continued housing shortage across the UK is hardly surprising, but according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) rents could rise by as much as 15% by 2023 as the supply of new rental property dries up. 

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Three ways to achieve a problem-free probate


According to recent statistics, more than 98,500 people handled probate without the help of any professional services, such as legal or accountancy advice, last year – around 38% attempted to execute wills on their own. It led to an increase of around 35% of cases that end up in court because of disputes relating to wills and probate.

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Jolie and Pitt’s situation is all too familiar for some


Another high profile case has hit the headlines, where divorced parents are in disagreement over child support claims, but it is something that can affect anyone – high profile or not.

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Interest rate rises may not all be doom and gloom for property


The rise in interest rates announced yesterday was reported to be at the highest level since the recession in 2009. How will these rises affect mortgages, savings and property in general?

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Family members acting as attorneys?


Last week we covered off some of the issues associated with Lasting Power of Attorney[] and what happens if family members take advantage. Not only does this often lead to financial difficulty for the vulnerable family member, but it can also cause a lot of heartache for other family members involved.

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Stopping the divorce blame game


The Owens v Owens case has thrown open the debate surrounding “no fault” divorce once again. Whilst the Divorce etc. Law Review Bill remains up in the air, there are more cases appearing where there are simply no legal grounds for a divorce.

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IHT: Possible to pay the “Bare” minimum?


Following on from an earlier article on inheritance tax (IHT)[[sitetree_link id=846]], there was mention of a way to make provision for your children, without being involved in a long period of running a trust and incurring IHT charges including the costs associated in running a trust. The answer might be creating a Bare Trust.

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Employers glimpse the future of EU skilled migration


The Brexit White Paper of 12 July 2018 suggests what the future of skilled EU migrants in the UK might look like, but the wording is vague.  In this analysis for Thomson Reuters, Downs Head of Immigration Samar Shams tries to decode the government’s plans for skilled migration from the EU.

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For richer for poorer?


The case of Mills v Mills has thrown open the debate once more, surrounding upkeep of non-earning partners in the event of a divorce. How easy is it to financially support a separated partner, but also guarding the interests of each party?

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GDPR and Immigration: How to fulfil both


In this month’s Employment Law Journal, Downs’s Head of Immigration Samar Shams offers practical advice on GDPR compliance. The analysis covers immigration contexts including the resident labour market test and visa applications as well as right to work checks. The article is designed to support employers in this developing area of compliance. 

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Keeping LPAs child’s play


A story in the news at the weekend highlighted an important point: how can you ensure you keep control of your finances, after you have legally signed them away?

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Downs Solicitors submits evidence to the Home Affairs Committee


The Home Affairs Committee has published Downs Solicitors’ submission to its inquiry on post-Brexit migration policy.  The submission, drafted by Head of Immigration Samar Shams[[sitetree_link id=850]], makes suggestions relating to the future of work and the realities of corporate restructurings.  Samar argues for appeal rights and gender equality, and the reduction of application fees.  Samar also warns that mobility negotiations might lead to overly complex immigration rules and requirements.

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Gifts and trusts are an important part of protecting family wealth


On your death, everything you own that is part of your estate will be liable to 40% inheritance tax (IHT), which could cost your loved ones thousands of pounds. The only way to help reduce paying any IHT unnecessarily is to plan as effectively and as early as possible to ensure your family is protected – and your wishes are respected. Here are a few things to consider for your IHT plan.

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The law surrounding incapacity: time to dispel a few myths


We wrote an earlier blog[[sitetree_link id=900]]relating to research from the SFE, which revealed an incapacity crisis-causing gulf between those who planned for mental incapacity and those who didn’t. Despite a growing concern among individuals, and how their mental state may deteriorate, it seems that excuses for not getting their affairs in order are boiling down to a few common myths.

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The incapacity crisis – a disconnect


There is something of an unspoken topic in the headlines at the moment – that of mental incapacity and what we should do with respect to your wishes during future life.

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Cohabitation: should the law be changed?


We’ve been closely following the case of[[sitetree_link id=896]]Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan[[sitetree_link id=896]], who have just won their battle in court to be granted a civil partnership. As well as the case raising questions around equality – until now only same sex couples have legally been allowed to enter into a civil partnership – there are ethical issues too.

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Hetereosexual couples: what will the future mean for civil partnerships?


The well-documented case of Rebecca Steinfeld and Charles Keidan has barely left the headlines whilst the court ruling continued as to whether or not the couple would be granted a civil partnership. Now the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled in favour of the couple, what could this mean for other couples in future?

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Buying a leasehold property may not always be totally straight forward


As the famous saying goes, an Englishman’s home is his castle – or is it? If you’re buying a leasehold property, you might just find that there are a few hidden aspects to take into consideration before signing on the dotted line.

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Dispelling the myth: Can employees go home early if office temperatures are too high?


As the temperatures set to reach record levels in the UK over the next week or so, there’s no doubt that many of us will be enjoying the great outdoors. But, what about those long office hours in stuffy, windowless buildings? Are employees entitled to go home if it is too hot? Do they have a “right” to air conditioning, for example?

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The Home Office published a Statement of Intent on 21 June 2018 setting out the application processes EU nationals and their family members will have to undertake to stay in the UK beyond the post-Brexit transition period.  The Statement does not indicate when exactly the application process will open, stating only ‘late 2018’.  The settlement scheme will be introduced in phases, and will open fully from 30 March 2019.  Subject to the outcome of ongoing negotiations, the UK proposes to extend the settlement scheme to EEA and Swiss citizens.

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For the technology sector, the Immigration Rules just got real


The Tech Nation (formerly Tech City) visa scheme has gradually become useful.  The Tech Nation scheme falls under the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa category, for migrants with outstanding achievements or promise in their fields.  During Tech Week , the Home Office published (another) Statement of Changes in the Immigration Rules.  The changes take effect next month and include changes to the Tech Nation scheme which will be of interest to migrant techies.

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Are you caught up in Universal Wealth Preservation?


You may have already heard of Universal Wealth Preservation but, if you haven’t, there’s plenty you can read about them in the headlines. However, the case has recently come to light again, as the company’s owners have been arrested in connection to a number of offenses – and families are wondering if they will ever see their hard-earned cash again.

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Does your business have a game plan in place for the start of the World Cup?


Even those who are not football fans will probably be aware that the Football World Cup competition starts in Russia on 14 June. ACAS have produced some guidance to assist employers in dealing with the issues that are always thrown up by tournaments of this kind.

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GDPR – A snapshot


There are just a few days to go before the GDPR legislation will come into force, but according to a recent poll, 89% of organisations in the UK remain “confused” by GDPR. Organisations will need to act fast if they have not already made progress with the new legislation – here are a few tips from us to help you along the way.

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Protecting your little ones - 5 reasons to get your Will done!


A Will is on everyone’s ‘to do’ list. But do you know what would happen to your children if the worst were to happen? Here are 5 reasons why you should put a Will in place in order to protect your little ones:

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Moving Home? It needn't be painful!


New Home Owners Day is celebrated on 1st May, but, whilst buying a house is supposed to be one of the most stressful things we encounter during a lifetime, we can help make house buying and selling a little less painful with these tips.

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Dealing with general conflict and estate planning


Yes, it is an awkward topic, but there are many modern families that do not see eye to eye. Whilst it is easier to let bygones be bygones in the land of the living, what should you do if you need to discuss your family affairs in the event of your death? 

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Bridging the pay gap


Tuesday 10th April represents National Equal Pay Day – and what better time to be talking about it than now? With the first phases of Gender Pay Gap reporting now in the news, the spotlight is firmly on businesses to account for their pay data.

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Lasting Power of Attorney – what is it and when do you need it?


It’s National Love Your Children Day on Saturday 7th April, which is a good time to reflect on how important our family is to us. In many legal scenarios, we often consider our nearest and dearest when it comes to protecting ourselves – and our children’s future. Lasting Power of Attorney is something that is difficult to consider, but, when it comes to allowing someone you trust, like your children, to take over your family affairs, it is an extremely important document.

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GDPR Compliance Review - Are you ready?


With less than two months to go until the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force, are you and your business ready for the new requirements?

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Yes Dear: Ways to soft land your separation


National Reconciliation Day (2 April) yesterday reminds us of the importance of reconciling our differences, particularly for couples. We’ve all resorted to the fool proof “yes dear”, which promised to be the secret to a strong relationship in years gone by.

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Turning the tables on Sexual Harassment


*The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has published a report, **Turning the tables: ending sexual harassment at work report*[]* **recommending steps to strengthen protection for victims of sexual harassment, promoting transparency and placing a legal duty on employers to take effective steps to prevent sexual harassment.  The report has also recommended an increase in compensation levels for victims where this duty has been breached.*

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Calling all employers with over 250 staff – have you published your Gender Pay Gap?


Organisations that have not yet published their gender pay gap information by the deadline next week could face unlimited fines.

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Highlights from the Spring Statement 2018


The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Philip Hammond, presented his first Spring Statement to the nation that would provide an update on existing announcements, the health of the economy and a report of progress on budget forecasts. All major tax and spending changes will now be made once a year at the Autumn Budget.

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£17,000 Cost Order against Employer


*Author: Matthew Kilgannon*

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Clarity on parity for agency workers


Specialist employment law Partner, Matthew Kilgannon, discusses last month’s first Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) decision on parity of terms for Agency workers.

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