Where there’s a Will – Ensuring Peace of Mind During Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has seen an unprecedented rise in the demand for wills, as people look to get their affairs in order.  Owing to the social distancing rules, however, we have had to adopt more creative ways to help our clients complete wills – with meetings in supermarket carparks, where witnessing can take place through car windows, but allowing everyone involved to remain apart.

wills ilminster covid-19 coronavirus

For us at Broomhead & Saul, where we are proud of offering a personalised service, with face-to-face meetings, as opposed to things being done more remotely, we are as equally proud to have risen to the challenge of these new constraints.

Aside from the increase in demand – nationally this has been reported to be a 76% increase, against usual figures – it makes sense that many of those will of course be those who were yet to get around to making a will, but if you have one already, what’s the fuss and should you also being giving this some thought?

In simple terms, everyone needs a will; as without it you will be relying on the intestacy rules – rules which often lead to unexpected consequences.  Co-habiting with a partner and living together does not guarantee that the partner left behind will be able to remain in what was a joint home.  The myth that a co-habiting couple will each inherit from the other, because they are living together in a common law marriage is just that, a myth.  With a property passing to the next of kind – perhaps children from a former relationship – can leave a grieving partner without a home.

But back to that question about why you should even give this any thought, if you already have a will – if you have recently been married, or indeed have been married where you already had your will in place, will likely mean that you are in fact intestate – i.e. you no longer have a valid will in place, as marriage invalidates a previously-made will, except in the unlikely circumstances that you explicitly included the correct clause which anticipated your future marriage taking place.

Likewise, if you will was completed some time ago, assuming that it does remain valid, does it still reflect what you intend it to?

You can, technically, make an updated amendment to an existing will, via a codicil, but these days it is much safer to simply update your will with a new document covering everything you want it to say, so that there can be no ambiguity.  And that is the essential point; your will is your opportunity to set out what you want to happen when you are gone; for example, who might be guardians for your children, who might inherit and enjoy into the future your favourite items and how the value of your estate should be divided.

Reviewing your will now also presents an opportunity to consider digital assets – such as social media accounts; you can specify what you want to happen to these and importantly (something that is often overlooked) can consider how your family will know how to gain access to your accounts when you are gone.

Although we are not able to meet face-to-face in the usual way, we have been helping local individuals and families to complete their wills, with some novelty along the way!  So call us and speak with one of our private client team to discuss how you can ensure one of the biggest areas to ensure peace of mind, is settled, by speaking with one of our friendly private client team.

Coronavirus – Working Together

As the Prime Minister has said, we have not known a situation like this in peacetime.  Our objectives, like with many other businesses, are to ensure the safely and wellbeing of our staff, to support our clients and to ensure, as much as we can, that any disruption to the availability of our services is minimised.  We have therefore considered whether we can deliver services is a more novel way, if the need arises or in particular cases and we are keeping this under review.

Our offices are open and we will aim to ensure minimal disruption to our service levels, but please bear in mind that all businesses are having to manage this fast-moving situation, keeping developments and how they respond to those developments under constant review.  However, for our clients, referrers and contacts, we can confirm the following:

  • We have full remote working capability and a secure IT infrastructure, meaning that we can continue to operate even if our offices needed to close (at present, all of our offices are open as usual)
  • Our compliance team have reviewed critical deadlines and areas of work that cannot be disrupted, if at all possible, to ensure continuity in these respects
  • We have considered any risks to our business and are taking steps to mitigate these
  • We have deployed updated guidance on hand washing and good hygiene and are taking practical steps to avoid unnecessary contact (for example shaking hands) and this is ongoing
  • We have already moved some meetings to alternative methods of communication; for example, phone, video conferencing/Zoom/Skype

This situation may inevitably lead to consideration of advice that businesses and others need, or to look at putting various things in place for your family and therefore, as always, please do get in touch with your usual contact at Broomhead & Saul, to see what we can do to help.

The Partners and staff at Broomhead & Saul

Supporting Ilminster Business – World Cancer Day

To mark World Cancer Day 2020, Ilminster law firm Broomhead & Saul is delighted to support fellow Ilminster business Harper, Dolman & West Insurance, located opposite our own offices in the Somerset town, by donating £1 for every year that we have been trading, towards Paul Mullins’ half-marathon challenge.

Paul, who is a key member of HDW’s insurance team decided to take on the challenge to support the fundraising effort being undertaken across Somerset for a new cancer screening and support unit. Via the Yeovil Hospital Charity, the aim is to raise the £2 million required to build a dedicated Breast Cancer Unit at Yeovil District Hospital.

Many of both firms’ clients and contacts will have links to Yeovil and may well use or one day require the services of the hospital and therefore we are delighted to pledge £125 towards Paul’s challenge.

Broomhead & Saul, established since 1895, is a legacy partner with Cancer Research UK, actively participating in the annual free wills scheme – the firm has only just, in fact, been recognised for the value of legacies raised.

Harper, Dolman & West has been proving insurance services across Somerset for over 40 years, from their office based in the Somerset town.

Considering a Cohabitation or Pre-Nuptial Agreement?

Those who are able to choose to enter into a civil partnership dramatically increased last week, with opposite sex couples now having this option, in addition to getting married, reports family solicitors, Broomhead & Saul. Opposite sex couples, like with same sex couples, can now enter into a civil partnership, as an alternative to marriage. The first civil partnership of this kind took place last week, when the law changed on 2 January 2020.

However, despite these greater options being available, many couples are quite happy together without the formality. For those that do not, you may not be aware that the law treats you differently, in that certain rights do not automatically apply to you, as they do with married couples or those in civil partnerships. It can therefore be wise to put steps in place to set out what you might want to happen in the future, so far as assets and certain other rights are concerned, between you. Like with many things, this is just good forward-planning and of course does not affect your relationship; often couples will get together in a second or later relationship and might well bring different assets into the mix; ownership of property, for example, might differ. Alternatively, one partner might have a business where the other does not, leading to a difference or a situation where certain things are more personal and would not want to be fought over if things did not, in the longer term, work out.

In these circumstances, we help partners reach agreement about the financial aspects of living together, providing clarity and certainty for couples about their financial future, with a cohabitation or pre-nuptial agreement being able to identify and secure one partner’s interests in family wealth, business assets or property.

The process is usually straightforward and often these services can be provided for a fixed fee to give you and your partner the peace of mind that everything is set up as you intend. Contact our family team at either Ilminster or Taunton to discuss your needs or to book an appointment to put things in place.

Broomhead & Saul Launches Property Possessions Claims Service

Somerset law firm Broomhead & Saul has today announced the launch of a new service for residential landlords across the region.

Given the economic climate, landlords are increasingly finding that tenants can fall behind with their rent; in some instances, this may only be temporary and an informal discussion will resolve matters; but in other cases or if issues persist, a landlord may decide to seek to take back their property via a possession order, through the courts.

Broomhead & Saul are now able to offer this service, covering advice and initial support through to securing an order for possession and dealing with enforcement, physically taking back the property, alongside the relevant agencies.

There may also be occasions where other issues have arisen, which are either a breach of the tenancy or which otherwise justifiably lead to the property owner wishing to regain what in some cases will be their former home, where partners have moved in together, for example.

Initial advice covers the options available and an idea of timescale from initial instructions to securing an order, to obtaining possession itself.

Do contact us to discuss your requirements, if you are facing difficulties with a tenant or are seeking advice related to investment properties and tenant issues.