Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Focus On: Reasons Why Will Writing Is Important for Everybody

Brought to you by our friends at Vincents Solicitors

Dying without a will – or intestate – is an unfortunately common problem. As of 2014, 48% of the UK’s 64 million population had not made a will. This represents at least £250million of untapped business for UK based solicitors; each one of those 33 million people is a potential client of the future. 

It isn’t just bad news from a business perspective. For clients and their families – who, in a large proportion of cases, have not made a conscious decision to avoid writing a will, instead simply forgetting or putting it off for later – it represents a potential disaster.

Why Are Wills Important?

When somebody dies intestate, the decision as to where assets are placed is made by the courts based on a raft of rules. Often – if the person dies with no known kin - that inheritance can go directly to the state. In the six years from 2006 to 2012, over £1m of bona vacantia property was inherited by the Duchy.  It can also, in some cases, go to a person with whom the person has little to no contact or relationship. There have been thousands of cases in which a cohabitant or long-term partner of the deceased has been legally unentitled to inheritance; despite what would have usually been agreed was intended.

In some cases, this happens when estates are particularly big: celebrities such as Amy Winehouse, Heath Ledger, Bob Marley and Stieg Larsson all died either with an out-of-date will - or without one at all. In each case, this causes problems for the relatives of the deceased.

No Will = Problems for All

Amy Winehouse’s parents inherited her £3million fortune after she died in 2011, leaving her ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil with nothing; Heath Ledger’s will was out-of-date, accidentally leaving his then 3 year-old daughter Matilda out of his inheritance. Bob Marley’s $30million estate was fought over by dozens of claimants, including his 9 children, when he died intestate in 1981, and Stieg Larsson’s estate was inherited by his father and brother, as opposed to his long-term partner, when he died in 2004. The latter was particularly contested, and Larsson’s former partner has battled for literary control of his works ever since. 

Whilst these would be expected to cast a spotlight on the importance of creating a will, little impact seems to have been made on the number of people who are preparing for their families after their own deaths. 

Many people cite lack of urgency as a reason for not creating a will; viewing themselves as somehow infallible; ‘too young’ to consider what will happen after the inevitable.

The above examples show that you can never be too early to plan for the future, however.

Lack of forward thinking is not only bad for legal business, but for individuals and their families; it’s so important to prepare as best as possible, especially when support which helps guide you through the process can be given via specialists wills and probate solicitors, like these. Have you written your will? How does your legal practice encourage clients to prepare their wills? Let us know in the comments below.

This post has been written by Anastasia Evans.


Monday, March 16, 2015

What You Need To Know About the New Drug Driving Laws

Brought to you by our friends at Barlow Robbins Solicitors
Despite the zero-tolerance approach to drink-driving that the law has long taken, drug driving law has always been noticeably less comprehensive. Perhaps due to the higher numbers of drink-drivers, alcohol has always been the more pressing problem for police responsible for regulating fitness to drive.
However, the imbalance is now being addressed. This weekend, drug driving laws were updated to establish specific limits for driving under the influence of eight illegal drugs, and eight prescription drugs.
What Does The New Law Say?
Under the new law, there will be virtually zero-tolerance given to those caught behind the wheel under the influence of any listed illegal drugs - including ecstasy, heroin, cocaine and LSD.
The (legal) prescription drugs which are now regulated include diazepam, methadone and morphine, amongst a range of others. Unlike with illegal drugs, it will only be an offence to drive over the specified limits of the relevant legal drugs, as opposed to with any illegal drugs. It will also constitute an offence if the drugs haven’t been prescribed.
However, it will remain legal to drive if the drugs were prescribed and medical advice has been followed, and if the prescribed drugs are not causing the driver to be unfit to drive. However, unprescribed prescription drugs will not be allowed.
How Will It Be Enforced?
Police have introduced ‘drugalysers’ – a roadside screening method for cannabis and cocaine – to immediately determine when drivers are unfit for the road.
The drugalyser will be used to more quickly identify and prosecute drivers, while suspects may also be taken into police stations for a more comprehensive test for further narcotics.
Drivers who test positive – or are found to be over the limit – for the relevant drugs will face a criminal record, loss of licence and a fine of up to £50,000. In the worst cases, drivers could face up to 6 months in prison.
Long-term, this can have a significant negative impact on employment, car insurance, and even travelling to countries like the USA.
How Has This Been Received?
Appending existing legislation which makes it an offence to drive under the influence of any drug, these recent changes have been welcomed by many.
With around 200 people killed in Britain each year by drug drivers, Robert Goodwill – the Road Safety Minister - has said that the change clearly shows the government’s message: “if you take drugs and drive, you are endangering yourself and others… and risk losing your licence and a conviction.” Others have suggested that it finally brings the law regarding drug driving up to a standard of that set by drink-driving regulations, and demonstrates how serious driving under the influence of drugs really is.
The new law is set out on this page. For information or advice on this - or any other – legal driving issue, contact the motoring offence team at Barlow Robbins.
This article was written by Anastasia Evans.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Great new app: Laundrapp

Brought to you by our friends at Laundrapp

Like it or not, appearances matter and nowhere is that more true than in the legal profession. Unfortunately, hard work is equally essential – but who has time to make sure their shirts are ironed when you’re still in the office at 8PM?

Finally though, there’s a better solution. Laundrapp is a new dry cleaning and laundry service that collects, cleans and delivers at a time and place that suits you – and you can book it whenever you want on iPhone or Android.

You can even get suits delivered straight to the office if you cycle to work – or if you live at your desk.

While it’s currently exclusive to London, Edinburgh and Birmingham, Laundrapp is expanding very quickly and will be in Manchester and more very soon. Use the Laundrapp voucher code BABYBARISTA you’ll get 30% off your first order!