Many people will only write one Will in their entire lifetime. They may write it several decades before their passing, but still find, as they reach their final years, that it continues to reflect their wishes.
However, the reality for most of us is that the circumstances and details of our lives, as well as those of the people around us, change over time: we get married, get divorced, get remarried, friends and family become estranged, financial situations change, health alters our constitution and outlook, and our visions for our legacies evolve.
This is why it is so important to ensure we amend our Wills as often as we need to. Whether it is because we wish to change executor, change beneficiaries, set up trusts, provide for charitable legacies, support the future needs of a new partner, or for some other reason; by revisiting a Will and changing its contents we can, with just a few sentences and a familiar flourish of signature, help provide clarity for the future while also reducing the possibility for contentious Wills and inheritance disputes among our loved ones.
The 2018 wedding season is just around the corner and has an extra buzz with the prospect of two royal ceremonies. If you are tying the knot this year, then you probably have most plans in place already. But have you considered adding a pre-nuptial agreement to your to-do list? Understandably, some couples do not want to contemplate what happens if their marriage does not have a fairy-tale ending.
A pre-nuptial agreement is a legal document that is designed to make things easier to sort out if the marriage breaks down and can, in fact, strengthen your marriage by:
If you already have a Will but have not updated it following a change in circumstances, then the outcome of Martin v Williams may prompt you into action. It also threw light on the rights of cohabitees to make claims for financial provision from the estate of a deceased partner.
Under the provisions of the Inheritance Act 1975, cohabitees must prove that they were living as husband and wife (or as civil partners for same-sex couples) for a least two years prior to their death to make a claim. However, claims made by cohabitees are restricted to covering maintenance, i.e. living costs.
In the aforementioned case, Mr Martin made a Will 28 years prior to his death in 2014. In it, he left his residuary estate to his wife from whom he later separated. He then lived with his new partner, Mrs Williams from 2009 and they owned equal shares of their property as tenants in common. Mrs Williams was also the joint owner of another property with her sister, which they had inherited from their father and was occupied by her sister.
Divorce solicitors are increasingly dealing with cases involving arguments over the division of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
If difficulties in tracing and recording such assets were not already enough, these divorce cases are further complicated by the wild volatility of such currencies, making it very difficult to value them correctly in time for final divorce settlements.
In fact, it has been reported that in the UK there have been numerous challenges in this area in recent months. For example, law firm Royds Withy King has spoken of a spate of divorce disputes involving Bitcoin, with one recent case worth £600,000 – however, just a couple of months ago the same amount of Bitcoin was valued at £1 million, and only one year before that £80,000.
The start of the year can be a stressful, difficult time for many. The post-Christmas period often means poor weather, financial troubles, increased tension in the household from too much time spent together over the holidays, and the longing for a fresh start.
It follows that, January is a time when law firms often notice an influx of divorce inquiries. But divorce is not a process to be rushed into. Of course, if you feel your marriage has irretrievably broken down, you will be eager to start anew, but there perhaps there are a few things you should get to grips with first.
Every marriage is different, and so it follows, that there's not one clear set of guidelines for every divorce. However, there are a few items of essential advice that will apply to most couples and these should help ensure the process runs as smoothly as possible for all parties involved.