If you thought that the impending changes to inheritance tax law represented uncomplicated good news, you'd better think again.
This is because far from making the process of inheritance tax fairer and more straightforward as the government has promised, it is likely that the changes will, to some extent, only add to the confusion and, potentially, the liability of those who are not in receipt of good inheritance tax advice.
For example, as of April next year a new "family home allowance" will increase the tax-free liability of many families by adding £175,000 to the existing £325,000 tax-free threshold of each individual. However, the allowance will apply only to "direct descendants" and will be subject to a yearly phase-in, with the final stage to be implemented in 2020-21.
In fact, some media outlets have gone so far as to claim that the legal profession is "rubbing its hands in anticipation of a surge in fees". It is easy to see why some might gain this impression; a 2016 Legal Services Board survey found that only 16% of legal firms displayed their prices online. Of course, this is hardly a cardinal sin in itself and there are doubtless many good reasons why some lawyers don't, yet failing to display prices only adds to the consumer's experience of confusion and disempowerment.
During the difficult time of a loved one passing away, the last thing anyone should want is an acrimonious dispute. Nevertheless, contested probate cases are becoming increasingly common and family feuds about inheritance are a rising mainstay of courtroom scheduling.
Here are just a few of the reasons why probate doesn't always run as smoothly as the decedent may have hoped.
There are plenty of indications to suggest that the disruption of the legal market is already taking effect. Online platforms, apps and in-house legal technologies are proliferating at an astonishing rate and, it seems, their presence is becoming tangible.
Take as an example of this tangibility the latest survey by international banking and financial services holding company Wells Fargo. It reports that larger flagship firms are experiencing stagnation in demand – something that leading analysts and philosophers such as Richard Susskind and Jeremy Waldron have predicted for some time. This is a perspective supported by the most recent Thomson Reuters Peer Monitor survey, which found that the litigation work of 151 large firms fell by 1.1% in the first half of 2016.
Employees in both the public and private sector who have customer-facing roles are will be expected to be able to speak fluent English to customers. However, how employers assess fluency can be controversial.
The government is planning to bring into force Part 7 of the Immigration Act 2016, which requires all public sector workers in customer-facing roles to speak fluent English. The stated intention is to increase standards in order to meet “the public’s reasonable expectation to be able to speak English when accessing public services”.
Employees and businesses have been alerted to the underpayment of wages worth thousands of pounds in damages following a major Employment Tribunal ruling involving supermarket giant Asda.
Whilst these claims are nothing new (equal pay between men and women has been law since the Equal Pay Act 1970) the majority of the 1,300 or so claims submitted each month have been against public sector employers.