The most popular day for marriage

Most popular day for marriages sees local Solicitor campaign to raise awareness of the common-law marriage myth

Saturday 18 August has been reported as the most common day in 2018 to tie the knot in the UK. However, since the early 1970s, the number of people actually getting married has steadily decreased, dropping a further 3.4% last year. There have been many theories about why marriage rates are falling, but regardless the fact remains that fewer people are formalising their relationship.

In 2016, there were 3.3m cohabiting couples or around 6.6million cohabiting adults. This is officially the fastest growing family type, more than doubling from 1.5million couples just 20 years ago. Yet, a 2017 ComRes survey showed that only one couple in three knew there was no such thing as common law marriage.

The issue is widespread, with nearly 98% of professionals from family justice group Resolution reported having worked with a cohabiting couple who they were unable to help. A further 90% said the couples are often surprised to find out about their lack of rights.

To help raise awareness of this issue Karen Kenyon from Harold Stock & Co. Solicitors is hoping to raise awareness and encourage cohabiting couples to take steps protect themselves and their families.

Karen explains: “If an unmarried couple breaks up, they would not necessarily be entitled to share in (what they thought were their) joint assets, such as a house they may have made significant financial contributions to, if they aren’t named as an owner on the deed. This is the same regardless of how long they have been together or whether they have children.”

“Government has the opportunity to update legislation, to bring our laws in line with modern family types. Caroline Lucas raised an early day motion in November, which has already been supported by 23 cross-party MPs.”

“In the absence of action from government, these couples need to know that they are not given rights through common law marriage, so they can take appropriate actions to protect themselves. For example, signing a cohabitation agreement is an easy and cost effective way to get financial peace of mind without getting married or forming a civil partnership.”


Meet our Family Team


Karen Kenyon image

Karen Kenyon

Solicitor

T: 0161 682 2400

kk@haroldstock.com

Dawn Atkinson image

Dawn Atkinson

Family Executive

T: 0161 682 2400

da@haroldstock.com


Cut whiplash injuries with the headrest test

Whiplash injuries and claims can be avoided if drivers and passengers do a simple test this Injury Prevention Day (15 August).

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) with support from motoring safety experts Thatcham Research, is urging car users to protect themselves by making sure their headrests are in the correct position.

 “Half of all car crashes in England result in a whiplash injury and some of these could be avoided, along with the resulting compensation claims,” said APIL’s president Brett Dixon. APIL is a not-for-profit organisation which campaigns to prevent needless injuries.

“Your headrest can’t do its job if you haven’t adjusted it to fit you,” said Brett. “It’s like leaving the batteries out of a smoke detector. “To test your headrest is very simple,” Brett explained. “Make sure it is as close to the back of your head as possible, ideally touching. The top of the headrest should also be as high as the top of your head. Place your hand on top of your head to check.

“It is easy to forget, but we hope drivers will make a point of doing the headrest test this Injury Prevention Day,” said Brett.

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research said: “Whiplash is the most common injury in car accidents, and the correct position of the seat’s head restraint is the key factor in protecting people from these types of injuries. We’d recommend that the next time you get in your car, check that the headrest is positioned as high as the top of the head. Where possible, it should also be tilted as close to the back of the head as possible. Touching the head is best. In cars where the head restraint is not adjustable, making the seat more upright can help.

“It’s also really important to remember that whiplash can occur in the back seat as well. So remember to adjust for each rear occupant as well and  check this for every journey. No one passenger is the same and it needs to be tailored to fit them on every journey.”

If you have been injured in a car accident or any other accident and would like advice from a professional yet approachable lawyer, please do not hesitate to contact our specialists, Debra Woolfson or Kirsty Dunn.

 

Meet our Personal Injury Team


Kirsty Dunn image

Kirsty Dunn

Chartered Legal Executive

T: 01457 835597

kmd@haroldstock.com

Debra Woolfson image

Debra Woolfson

Director

T: 0161 456 5012

dw@haroldstock.com


Stick or Twist – Is it a gamble to change solicitor?

As a specialist team with over 40 years experience in getting our clients the support and compensation that they deserve. We have seen a nervousness about asking for a second opinion. Whilst it has become the norm to change car insurer if you can find better cover, we are sometimes less confident about checking that we are getting all that we are entitled to when pursuing a claim for injuries suffered through no fault of our own.

Changing solicitors is as simple as calling a member of our team for a chat. If we can support you to get the best result possible, then all that needs to be done is to complete a simple transfer form with you and we will sort the rest.

Why would you need to consider changing solicitor? Here are some of the reasons we have seen:-

  • You have never met your solicitor.
  • Your solicitor doesn’t take your calls.
  • The firm you are using is closing down.
  • The person dealing with your claim appears inexperienced.
  • The solicitor acting for you doesn’t believe you can win.
  • You don’t feel that you are listened to – You feel part of a process rather than the effects of your injuries and losses being considered in the unique way that they should be.
  • You feel you are being ‘pushed’ to settle before you are fully recovered.
  • Your solicitor was chosen for you by your insurer, as you have legal expenses cover.

There is nothing to lose by speaking to us, there is no charge and you are not committing yourself to anything. The examples set out below may reassure you that we can, as your local solicitors, with specialist knowledge help you to sort out your claim.

John, a local factory worker, was involved in an accident that made back problems he had always suffered from much worse. As he had accident cover with his house insurance, those insurers chose a solicitor from a national firm for him. Unfortunately, they ignored his previous back problem and kept calling him to get him to agree to settle for £4,000, on the basis that his back symptoms were a new problem, ignoring his concerns. John called into our office and after discussions completed the form that enabled us to get his file which showed that he was right to question the advice that he had been given. With more detailed medical investigations, and after getting John some physiotherapy we were able to negotiate a settlement for his injuries and losses at over £10,000. John has continued to turn to Harold Stock & Co for all of his legal needs and says:

“Kirsty and the team treated me as a person, not a number. She was available at times that suited my shifts. She was quickly able to sort things for me and got a great result.”

John has referred family members and friends to Harold Stock & Co, having confidence in the service we provide.

Sharon, a company director, had suffered really poor treatment at her local hospital which affected her health and her ability to work. She decided that it was important to make a claim as she didn’t want others to go through the same trauma and pain that she had experienced. She initially chose a solicitor by responding to an advert on the TV. She never met her solicitor and became concerned when her calls were not returned, and when she did speak to her solicitor he didn’t seem to understand how her deteriorating health had affected her work. Sharon knew a member of our staff and met up with our medical negligence specialist, Debra, who got all the financial issues sorted with the assistance of an independent accountant. She also prepared detailed evidence so that the full effects of the delayed diagnosis, that the hospital accepted was its fault, were clear to everyone. Her settlement was nearly 12 times the amount that it had been suggested she settle for before the transfer. Sharon commented:

“Thank you for all your hard work in getting the settlement. It is very much appreciated and you have restored my faith in solicitors and the legal system”.

If you would like a second opinion in relation to your current claim, please contact Debra Woolfson or Kirsty Dunn on 01457 835597 or email info@haroldstock.com


Mossley Hollins Futures Event 2018

Headteacher, Stuart Marshall with Kirsty Dunn (R) and Alex Newman (L)

 

Former pupils, Kirsty Dunn and Alex Newman went back to school this morning to take part in the Mossley Hollins High School Futures Event. This is the 4th year running that Kirsty and Alex have assisted the school by leading their Year 10 pupils through a mock interview scenario. 

The interviews are structured to be as true to life as possible and constructive written feedback is provided by the interviewers to the pupils. 

Once again, Kirsty and Alex have commented on how confident the students are in the interviews despite their nerves. 

 


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How Ken Dodd Avoided Inheritance Tax

Last month, the UK said goodbye to a national treasure, as singer and comedian Ken Dodd passed away after a severe chest infection. Two days before his passing, however, he and his partner of forty years, Anne Jones, decided to marry. It has been said that Dodd has “had the last laugh” as doing so would ensure that Anne doesn’t lose £2 million in inheritance tax.  It is important to note that Ken Dodd made a Will leaving his estate to Anne.

What is Inheritance Tax and how much is it?

Inheritance tax (IHT) is a tax on the estate of whoever has died. There are a few circumstances IHT is not paid, such as if the value of your estate is below the threshold of £325,000, you leave everything to your spouse or civil partner or if you leave everything to an exempt beneficiary such as a charity. If the value is above the nil rate band (NRB) of £325,000, then part of your estate above this will be liable for the tax rate at 40%, which is fixed until 2021.

The home allowance, or RNRB, has recently been introduced. This is on top of the nil rate band. In order for this to apply you must pass your home or a share of it to your children or grandchildren.

Given certain conditions are met, the home allowance gives you an additional allowance to be used to lower the IHT against your home. At the moment, the home allowance is £125,000 but is set to rise to £175,000 by 2021 and will be in line with the consumer price index from then on.

Valuing your Estate

To value an estate you must first devise a list of all assets and calculate their value at the date of death, and deduct any debts and liabilities. It is important to keep record of how you calculated it, such as estate agents valuation. HMRC are entitled to request a viewing of the records up to twenty years after IHT is paid.

Assets include banked money, property and land, valuable possessions, insurance policy pay-outs and jointly owned assets. Gifts must also be included, such as cash or other assets, if they were to be given away in the seven years before the individual has passed.  Gifts given to the deceased before this period must also be included if they continued to benefit from it, such as if they were to give their house way but continue to live in it up until death. These are also known as “gifts with reservations of benefit.”

Who Pays Inheritance Tax?

If there is a Will, it will be the executor who arranges to pay the IHT. If not, it will come down to the administrator of the estate. IHT is normally paid from funds within the estate, or from sales of assets if the estate has no cash. There are also times where the deceased has left money in the estate to pay this tax, or may have arranged for a life insurance policy to cover the bill.

When do you pay Inheritance Tax?

IHT must normally be paid within six months of the person’s death. After that there will be an interest charge from HMRC, regardless of if the executor chooses to pay by instalments over the years. If the Asset is sold before IHT is paid, the executors must ensure all instalments and interest are paid by then.

If your estate is likely to incur IHT, it’s ideal for the executor to pay some tax within the first six months of death to avoid paying interest for late payment.

Using Life Insurance to pay Inheritance Tax

Taking out a life insurance policy to pay some or all of your IHT bill can give you peace of mind you’re not passing down a big tax bill to your family and friends when you pass away. If you choose to do this, it is important to ensure you take advice before making any decisions. You will only reduce IHT on your estate if your life insurance policy is written in trust during your lifetime. If not then the policy proceeds will count towards the value of your estate and be liable to IHT on your death.

The importance of having a properly drafted Will

If you die without making a Will, you will die intestate. In these circumstances, your estate may not automatically pass to your spouse in its entirety. The rules relating to inheritance tax are therefore different and your loved ones may end up paying more tax than they would have to had you had a properly drafted Will.

If you have not yet had a Will drafted or your circumstances have changed since your Will was drafted, our specialist Wills & Probate Solicitors can advise you in relation to your Will and the planning of your estate. Should you be unable to travel to one of our offices, Claire and Ivana will be happy to visit you at home. 

Claire Atkinson
Solicitor for the Elderly
1 Anthony Street
Mossley
OL5 0LN
01457 835597
ca@haroldstock.com

Ivana Bailey, Solicitor
56-58 Pole Lane
Failsworth
M35 9PB
0161 682 2400
ib@haroldstock.com


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