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Legal updates

26 February 2021 Wills and estates

If you are an executor of an estate, you may need to deal with debts that have been left behind. Any estate may have debts to be considered, even if the deceased was wealthy – it is reported that Michael Jackson died with around $500 million worth of debt. ‘Personal debts do not expire on death, they are carried over into the estate,’ says Emma Elwess, Head of Wills & Probate with Pearsons & Ward in Malton. ‘It becomes the responsibility of the executors to make sure those debts are repaid.’ Impact of debts on beneficiaries Naturally, if an estate includes any debts this will mean that there is less to be distributed to the beneficiaries. However, the extent of a beneficiary’s disappointment will depend on the nature of the gift they are expecting as well…
25 February 2021 Family Matters

As a step-parent who is getting divorced or separating, you may feel confused over what rights you will have in relation to your step-children especially if you have spent many years living as a family and have grown to love them as your own.  You know how important your bond is and may be worried that your former spouse may try to damage this relationship.  It can be an anxious time, but we can help you understand what rights you have and what options are available to you. In legal terms, to be a step-parent you must have married or entered a civil partnership with one of the child’s biological parents.  If you did not marry the biological parent but lived together with them, then your rights will be slightly different and it is important that…
18 February 2021 Employment advice

Freedom of movement from the European mainland came to an end on 1 January 2021. In December 2020 the UK government announced that the number of seasonal agricultural workers permitted to travel to the UK to help pick and package fruit and vegetables in 2021 would be increased. Now 30,000 seasonal worker visas will be made available for 2021, enabling EU and non-EU workers to enter Britain to assist with the harvest. This will treble the amount of seasonal worker visas made available in 2020.  Gillian Reid, Head of Employment at Pearsons & Ward Solicitors in Malton (part of Ware & Kay with offices in York & Wetherby) explains.  The UK seasonal worker visa program was initially launched as a pilot in 2019 and has now been extended by a further 12 months. The extension applies…
17 February 2021 Wills and estates

Pearsons & Ward is delighted to support the Saint Catherine’s Hospice Make a Will Week. We have agreed to give our time and expertise for free to support Saint Catherine’s Hospice Make a Will Week. We will happily speak with you to take your instructions for a simple Will during this week and draft a professional Will in accordance with those instructions. We will also arrange with you for your Will to be signed by the end of May 2021. In return, you will make a donation to Saint Catherine’s. Our suggested minimum is £125* per single Will and £200* per matching pair. This is payable at the time you sign your Will with us and we will forward the donation to Saint Catherine’s. * If your Will requires advice of a complex nature, or…
17 February 2021 Farming & Agriculture

Farmers across the country breathed a huge sigh of relief on Christmas Eve when the UK and European Union reached a last-gasp post-Brexit trade deal after nine torturous months of negotiations. The long-awaited trade deal, which came into force when the Brexit transition period ended on 31 December 2020, averted a no-deal Brexit – which most agreed would have been a catastrophic development for the agricultural sector. Although the tariffs are no longer a threat, trade will still not be completely frictionless and farmers who deal with the EU or traditionally used EU workers still have much to consider. Jacqueline Barr, agricultural law specialist at Pearsons & Ward Solicitors in Malton explains. Movement of labour Free movement of labour ended on 31 December 2020, leaving food and farming sectors exposed to a potentially huge shortage of…
16 February 2021 Wills and estates

Will disputes are becoming increasingly common due to an increase in the elderly population, a rise in dementia and Alzheimer’s sufferers, changes in family structures and the increasing value of estates. Michael Thomas, a Litigation Solicitor specialising in Contentious Probate, gives an overview of the various ways to contest the validity of a Will. A Will needs to satisfy a number of criteria to be valid. The presence of any of the factors below may invalidate a Will: Lack of mental capacity when the Will was made. Lack of knowledge and approval of the terms of a Will. Undue influence. This needs to be more than mere persuasion but something that overpowers the will of the person making the Will. Fraud and forgery. Will not properly executed. There are certain formalities set out by the Wills…
16 February 2021 Wills and estates

This is known as dying Intestate. The Intestacy rules make provision for spouses and certain blood relatives to inherit your assets when you die.  However, the division between your family can be very complicated and it isn’t usually as expected or as you would have intended.  Where there is no Will, a surviving spouse might not be sufficiently provided for financially.  In addition, young children may have access to wealth before they are financially mature.   Any unmarried partners, friends, charitable organisations, step-children and step-grandchildren would not inherit your estate if you didn’t make a Will.  Instead, only spouses, blood relatives and persons adopted into your family would be included.  This could include distant or estranged blood relatives.  If you had no surviving relatives, your estate would pass to the Crown.  If you make a Will, you…
11 February 2021 Financial advice

The average household in the UK now has debts of around £58,000 according to The Money Charity.  Trying to keep on top of this can be a major source of stress and according to the relationship counselling service, Relate, debt is cited as the reason one in ten couples decide to separate, divorce or dissolve their civil partnership. Disagreements over who is responsible for the debts are common in separating couples. One of you may have a loan or a credit card in your name even though you both benefited from the expenditure which might have been a big item such as repairs to the house, or a holiday, or just to keep on top of everyday bills. After separation, it is not uncommon for one half of the couple to claim that this debt was…
03 February 2021 Residential property

According to recent news stories, some owners are struggling to sell their homes because they live in an apartment block with exterior cladding. Coupled with mounting criticism of the leasehold system, you may worry that selling your flat will prove more difficult than you had hoped. ‘Leasehold flats are a long-established feature of this country’s property market. They can be an efficient way to Philip Taylor, a residential property expert with Pearsons & Ward in Malton. In most cases, selling your leasehold apartment should not be too different from selling a freehold house, although there may be additional issues to address and the process may take a little longer. Recently, there has been widespread coverage of some of the problems associated with leasehold properties. These have ranged from escalating ground rents to exorbitant service charges. If…
02 February 2021 COVID-19

The rollout of the vaccination programme has been welcomed as the beginning of the end for the Covid-19 pandemic. For many employers, ensuring their workforce is vaccinated is an important step in getting their business back to operating as usual. However, the effects of ‘vaccine hesitancy’ and the anti-vaccine movement may mean that some employees refuse to be vaccinated. ‘How employers respond to choices around vaccinations brings into play employment law, data protection law and human rights,’ says Gillian Reid, Head of Employment with Pearsons & Ward, and who answers some of the key questions for employers. Can we require employees to be vaccinated? In short, probably not, although there may be a stronger case for workers in health and care settings. In the UK, it is not compulsory to have the Covid-19 vaccine and the…
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