Monthly Archives

March 2022

Divorced couple sitting on a sofa

What is a no fault divorce?

By | Divorce and Separation

No one ties the knot expecting it not to work out. However, the introduction of the no fault divorce law means that couples can now get divorced without needing to allocate blame on the other for the collapse of their marriage.

What happens in a no fault divorce?

Under current legislation, parties can only apply for a divorce if they can provide evidence to the court that their marriage has irretrievably broken down. To evidence this, one spouse has to allege one of the following five facts are relevant ‘fault’ by the other:

  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Adultery
  • Desertion
  • Two year separation – if both parties agree
  • Five years separation – if there is no agreement

However, with a no fault divorce, couples will no longer need to rely on one of the five facts. This means that they can get divorced without having to lay blame. This takes away much of the unnecessary animosity, stress and emotional pain that often comes with divorce – all of which can make an already difficult situation worse. Not to mention, this has the potential to make the process of getting a divorce less costly. With this in mind, it’s fair to say that, for many, the no fault divorce law is a welcomed change.

Plus, the removal of the blame game also means that both parties can apply for a joint application. The hope is that being able to say that the marriage has simply failed, without putting blame on either party, will make divorce a much more amicable process. To top things off, the removal of the ‘fault’ element means parties no longer have to worry about applications being contested. Though bear in mind that divorce applications can still be contested on the grounds of the validity of the marriage.

When is the new divorce law coming in?

No fault divorce law is set to come into effect in England and Wales on 6th April 2022. Since 2015, campaigners have been pushing to overhaul UK divorce law. The divorce process can take months or even years. Couples often end up facing prolonged courtroom battles.

This means that from the 6th of April, one spouse can apply for a conditional order for divorce, otherwise known as a decree nisi, 20 weeks after the first filing. After 26 weeks, they can apply for the final order, ‘decree absolute’. As long as the correct procedures have been followed, the divorce will proceed even if the other spouse does not agree.

Note that the introduction of the no fault divorce law will not change the way financial cases and childcare arrangements are dealt with.

How to get a no fault divorce

Even if both parties agree that there is no ‘fault’ on either end and have each other’s best interests at heart, it’s not always possible to achieve a quick, stress-free divorce. This is particularly true if there are disputes regarding matrimonial assets or children.

divorcing couple checking paperwork

To make sure you’re not left short, it’s sensible to seek the services of a solicitor. An experienced solicitor will not just take care of the paperwork. They will also provide advice and make sure the correct procedure is followed. This will ensure the divorce progresses smoothly and, more importantly, that the most beneficial outcome is achieved. Getting legal advice at an early stage can make sure that you protect your legal position regarding finances and children.

Looking to speak to an expert? Simply contact us today via our online enquiry form or give your nearest Bromfield Legal branch a call.

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power of attorney document

What can a power of attorney do?

By | Probate, Wills

Do you need more information before you appoint a power of attorney? Or perhaps you have just been assigned power of attorney and want to know your responsibilities.

Here we will dive into the specifics of what a power of attorney means, what the most common type of power of attorney is and what a power of attorney can and can’t do.

What does a power of attorney mean?

A power of attorney is a legal document that allows someone to make decisions for you, or act on your behalf, if you are no longer able to or if you no longer want to make your own decisions.

Who can be an attorney?

Anyone aged 18 or over who has the mental ability to make financial, property and medical decisions. It is important that you trust the person/people you choose to be an attorney. Your attorney could be a family member, a friend, your spouse or partner; or they could be a professional such as a solicitor.

power of attorney meeting

Please note that your spouse does not automatically have the authority to make decisions for you if you lose mental capacity. Even if you are married or in a civil partnership, you must get a power of attorney document signed.

How many power of attorneys can I have?

You have the option to appoint one or more power of attorneys. If you appoint more than one attorney, they can act either:

  • ‘Jointly’ – they must always make decisions together
  • ‘Jointly and severally’ – they can make decisions together or individually

For example, you may want your attorneys to act jointly when deciding on where you live; but may trust one individual to pay your mortgage on your behalf.

A ‘jointly and severally’ appointment of power is preferred. This option reduces risk because the surviving attorney can continue to make decisions on your behalf.

Lasting power of attorney (LPA)

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is the most common type. An LPA can be used in two circumstances; it can be used immediately with your permission while you still have the capacity, or it can come into effect when you lose mental capacity. To make sure you are covered in the future, it is a good idea to set up an LPA.

couple talking about lasting power of attorney with a solicitor

You can restrict the types of decisions your attorney can make, or let them make all decisions on your behalf. LPAs can be broken down into two types depending on your interest; property and financial affairs LPA and health and welfare LPA.

LPA for financial decisions

An LPA for financial decisions can cover things such as:

  • Buying and selling property
  • Paying the mortgage
  • Investing money
  • Paying bills and debts
  • Arranging repairs to a property
  • Dealing with tax affairs

It is important to note that an attorney must keep their accounts and money separate from yours. You can ask for regular updates on how much is spent and how much money you have. If you lose mental capacity, these details can be sent to your solicitor – offering extra protection.

LPA for health and care decisions

An attorney can generally make decisions about things such as:

  • Where you live
  • Your medical care
  • Your day-to-day care, including what you wear and what you eat
  • Who you should have contact with
  • What kind of social activities you should take part in

couple speaking to a solicitor about lasting power of attorney

In addition, you can give special permission to your attorney to make decisions about life-saving treatment.

What can’t a power of attorney do?

Although an attorney holds a lot of responsibility, there are a few things that they cannot do. Some examples of actions that a power of attorney cannot take are:

  • Change a principal’s will
  • Break their fiduciary duty to act in the principal’s best interest
  • Make decisions on behalf of the principal after their passing
  • Change or transfer power of attorney to someone else

When can my attorney no longer act on my behalf?

Your attorney no longer has the authority to act on your behalf when they:

  • No longer want to act as your attorney
  • Lose mental capacity
  • Were previously your spouse or civil partner but your relationship has legally ended since your LPA was registered
  • Become bankrupt or are subject to a debt relief order
  • Pass away

What do I do if I lose my original power of attorney?

Without the power of attorney document, the agent cannot prove that they have the right to act on your behalf.

The Office of the Public Guardian can supply office copies of the original document and may charge a fee. Using the Office of the Public Guardian, you can also:

  • View a summary of an LPA
  • Check whether an LPA is valid
  • Check who the attorneys are on an LPA

If you still cannot access the document, a new power of attorney will need to be created. You should now be up to speed with the basics of what a power of attorney is and the responsibilities they have. If you are looking to create a power of attorney, we can advise and support you every step of the way with our services.

Contact one of our qualified and experienced solicitors today.

making a will

Do I need a solicitor to make a will?

By | Wills

Let’s face it, thinking about leaving your loved ones behind can be pretty daunting. Many people put off writing a Will as no one wants to think about their own mortality. However, writing a Will is simply about making sure that your loved ones have clarity regarding your wishes when you pass away. That’s got to be worth reconsidering, right?

Knowing where to start isn’t always easy, especially if you’re not well-versed in legal jargon. And for this reason, lots of people choose to seek professional help from a solicitor. But, the question is, do I need a solicitor to make a Will? More importantly, will seeking the services of a solicitor make a difference? We hope to offer some clarity.

Can you make your own will without a solicitor?

A will is the only way you can make sure that your estate goes to the people and causes you care about. With that in mind, making a Will isn’t something you should take lightly.

elderly couple making a will with a solicitor

First, you value your estate, decide who will get what and choose your executor. Then, the next step will be to write it all down. The good news is that there isn’t a need for a Will to be drawn up or witnessed by a solicitor. So, if you would like to make a Will yourself, it is possible to do so. However, if you decide to make a DIY Will, it’s important to make sure that it is valid. Using the wrong wording, or failing to observe the necessary formalities could impact how your wishes are executed or totally invalidate your Will.

When is it best to use a solicitor to make a will?

Disputes and misunderstandings are all too common problems for loved ones. In some cases, disputes may result in considerable legal costs that could potentially impact the value of the estate. With this in mind, it is usually worth seeking the services of an experienced solicitor, even if your financial situation isn’t complicated.

woman making a will with a solicitor

Say, for example, you have children with a previous partner. You will want to make sure that they are not left short. Having a solicitor advise you and prepare your Will can prove extremely useful. The solicitor will make sure that your Will has the effect that you want.

The benefits of using a solicitor to make a will

Using a solicitor to write a Will can offer you much-needed peace of mind. Let’s take a look at the benefits of using a solicitor to make a will.

  • You can appoint your solicitor as your executor. Deciding who to appoint as your executor can be tricky as there’s a lot involved. You need to appoint someone that you trust and who will be willing to take on such a big responsibility. A solicitor may be the perfect choice as they are experienced in estate administration and can easily navigate the process in accordance with the law.
  • If something goes wrong, you’re protected. You can make a complaint to your solicitor’s firm if you run into any problems.
  • Minimise the risk of mistakes. Using a solicitor will reduce the chance of your Will being invalid due to common mistakes, such as incorrect wording and using the wrong witnesses.
  • Save you time and money. A solicitor will take care of all the complicated bits for you
  • You will get expert advice and support. Solicitors will generally store the original copy of your Will in a fireproof safe at no additional cost.

How can Bromfield Legal help?

Here at Bromfield Legal, we work closely with you to tailor your Will to your specific needs. We will also help you manage your expectations about how your wishes will likely be dealt with when you pass. You can put your trust in our expert advice and support to make sure that your estate is divided properly and fairly.

Life is always better with a plan. Get in touch today to see why we are will experts.