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03 July 2018

The recent hot weather and hours of sunshine are welcomed by most, but for those who have to work during the heatwave, it is not such a welcome presence.

But what are your working rights as an employee during extremely hot weather? Can you legally walk out of the office if the mercury hits a certain temperature?

Working environment temperatures are regulated by the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992, but while there is guidance, there is no maximum (or minimum) temperature at which employees can legally stop working and leave the office for the day. Employers must adhere to the current Health and Safety at Work law and make sure that they keep the working environment temperature at a comfortable level and provide clean and fresh air.

02 July 2018

Q: My ex-partner has told me that she and her new partner intend to move to New Zealand with our three children. Her partner has been offered a job there, and she sees it as an “opportunity of a lifetime". I would like the children to remain here. This is the only country they’ve lived in; they are settled here, doing well in school, enjoy lots of activities and friends, and all their extended family live here.  My ex has said that she is taking them and I can’t stop her. What can I do?

A: This is understandably a worrying time for you. You don’t say if there is already a Child Arrangements Order in place or not, or what the current arrangements for the children are. From what you have said, the children sound very settled where they are, and their entire lives are centred on the area where they live.

For a parent to move a child abroad to live, they would require the agreement of all those with Parental Responsibility (which is usually just the other parent), or they would need to obtain leave (permission) from the Family Court.

This means that if you don’t agree to your wife taking your children abroad, she will need to apply to the Family Court for a Specific issue Order, requesting leave to take the children to New Zealand. This application is commonly known as "Leave to Remove". Alternatively, you could apply for a Prohibited Steps Order that would stop your ex taking your children out of the UK – it won’t prevent her freedom of movement, so she would still be free to move to New Zealand, but not with the children.

25 June 2018

Having a Will means it will be simpler for your chosen executors to administer your estate after your death and in line with your specific wishes.

If you die without a will, your estate will be distributed in line with the Rules of Intestacy, rather than how you may have wished to have it distributed.

A well-drafted Will by a Wills solicitor can reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax (IHT) your estate may incur, for example by taking advantage of the nil-rate band transfer, charitable, agricultural or business property relief. Some professions are exempt from paying IHT, such as firefighters, members of the Armed Forces and Police officers; a specialist solicitor will be able to advise you on this and draft your Will accordingly.

If you have children and need to appoint a guardian, or if you want to leave specific items or pecuniary gifts to particular people, then a Will is especially important to make clear your wishes.

22 June 2018

Being asked to act as someone’s Executor may seem a simple request, and many people give it little thought before accepting. However, the role of Executor carries strict legal duties and can result in personal liability if the estate is not administered correctly. 

Individuals rather than trust companies are often appointed as Executors in the deceased’s Will. Individuals can also be appointed to the role of Administrator in cases where no Will has been made by the deceased. It is essential that people understand the duties of being an executor before accepting the role so that they understand the potential pitfalls. The duty of an Executor/Administrator is to hold the estate of the deceased on trust for the beneficiaries. They have a responsibility to collect in the assets of the estate, pay any liabilities and then make distributions to the beneficiaries in accordance with the deceased’s Will or the Intestacy Rules.

15 June 2018

Why acting as an executor can be dangerous

Often lay Executors underestimate the amount of work that is required and the timescales involved in dealing with their responsibilities for administering the estate, which can be particularly onerous when they are also coping with the grief of losing a loved one.

Lay Executors need not employ the help of a professional, particularly for routine non-taxable estates, and they can do a lot of the initial information gathering themselves, which can help them minimise costs. They may then seek professional assistance in obtaining the Grant of Probate so that the professional can deal with the more technical aspects, including dealing with the Probate Registry and the necessary inheritance tax return for HM Revenue & Customs, leaving the lay Executors to deal with rest of the routine estate administration themselves, such as closing bank accounts; selling shares; paying liabilities, expenses and legacies; and distributing the rest of the estate.

Many Solicitors offer fixed fees for a “Grant only” service as well as fixed fees for a “full estate administration” service, and so those firms that look to charge on an hourly rate basis or unregulated firms that operate in this sector should be avoided. Oratto has teamed up with a number of firms that offer a low-cost fixed-fee probate service. Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and are mandatorily required to have professional indemnity insurance in place so that if anything does go wrong, the Executors do have redress to ensure it is put right.

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