Marriage invalidates wills second time around

As most of you will be aware, we are currently at the height of the marriage season with June being the most popular month for marriages. Throughout the UK, people are gathering in front of friends and family to make a public commitment for a lifetime together.

As is sometimes the case, though marriages do not always work out, and some people will be hoping for more luck in love next time around, hence the reason for some marriages where at least one of those involved has been married before.

In a society more complex than ever before coupled with a rise in older people getting married following divorce, Wills need to be looked at when there is a change in one’s marriage circumstances as this will render any previous Will null and void. Simply put, too few people are aware that marriage will automatically revoke any previous Will.

Considering the strong possibility that many people re-entering marriage have existing family the issue of amending their Will desperately needs to be highlighted, yet too little is said about it.

Based on the most up to date figures only 40 per cent of people have a Will with this figure rising to only 60 per cent for those aged 55 and over.  It is a vital document giving clarity around what is to be done with your estate when you are no longer around, and it can ensure that there is little room for legal battles that can have such a damaging effect on families and other loved ones.

It is important not only that you make a Will but continue to review any existing Will to ensure that it is still relevant for your current circumstances.

It is also worth highlighting that law firms like Keelys are insured so there is recourse if there’s a problem. By choosing a solicitor to make or update your Will, you are in safe hands and can also take advantage of the best legal advice in related areas, such as care issues or inheritance tax planning.

Anybody who wants to know more about making or updating a will should contact us at Keelys, where we can give you the advice you need to make sure you have peace of mind. Please call us today on 01543 420000, whilst the issue is fresh in your mind.

Keelys welcomes Sonali on board

Here at Keelys Solicitors we are always delighted to welcome new legal talent and are pleased to announce the appointment of Sonali Obhrai who has joined us as a family law expert.

Sonali is an experienced solicitor in this sensitive and complex area of law and brings a great pedigree.

She studied law at De Montfort University and has spent her working life in and around the Midlands, which is her local patch being a lady heralding from Wolverhampton.

With a notable background in all aspects of family law, especially divorce she brings a practical and constructive way of approaching her work.

Away from work, she enjoys yoga, is learning Italian, and also plays a part in improving her local community, with volunteering and mentoring students part of her life away from law

As with all Keely’s staff, Sonali fits perfectly with our way of approaching legal matters and we wish her a long and productive stay with us, where she will become a well-known attribute to us and the community renown for her expertise.   We wish her well.

Dramatic rise in investigations into Lasting Powers of Attorney abuse

It is alarming to learn of recent news that the government carried out nearly 50% more investigations concerning abuse complaints regarding lasting powers of attorney (LPA) last year.

The Office of the Public Guardian received 5,245 claims that attorneys were abusing their powers over donor’s finances in 2018 – a new record figure.

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document drawn up where a person chooses someone to look after their financial and other life affairs should they become incapacitated at some point in the future.

Although every case is looked at, 3,359 allegations of attorneys abusing their position were not considered viable cases, but the 1,886 cases that were investigated is a 50% increase in investigations in 2017.

Another recent report showed 74% of those aged between 65 and 74-years-old have failed to make a lasting power of attorney and 35% have no intention of doing so, despite people living longer.

It goes without saying, with this in mind, as the population continues to age, making an LPA very late in life could mean more loved ones successfully challenging the capacity of a donor’s decision.

To add to this, there are more complex family structures than a generation ago, due to remarriages etc., meaning additional conflict when attorneys are picked.

Unfortunately though, as wills and trusts experts, we at Keelys are well aware that the cost of a complaint is a substantial drain on a mentally incapacitated person’s finances.

It means those making an LPA have to be very careful about who they appoint. For instance, is it wise to put all of your children as attorneys when there is great friction between them?

For us, dealing with such matters, we think it is problematic that so many people are not protecting themselves by planning for later life.

It is clear there is still a lack of awareness of the importance and benefits of a Lasting Power of Attorney, which is so needed for the modern age.

After all, this is a legally recognised way to choose trusted individuals to make decisions about their welfare.

We can only hope the awareness of Lasting Powers of Attorney grows, but also that the right consideration is given by those who it affects most.

Lichfield Pancake Race 2019

Keelys newest recruits, Lorraine Dewar and Sian Peverill from the Corporate Department, take part in the annual Lichfield Pancake Race.

No fault divorce a welcome step for a better future

News that no fault divorces are to be introduced in this country can only be seen as a welcome step.

The justice secretary, David Gauke, recently said he will bring in legislation for the reform in the next session of parliament.

Until now, the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 in England and Wales, meant anyone seeking a divorce must either prove their partner is at fault through adultery, desertion or unreasonable behaviour.

Aside of that, if both sides agree, they can part after two years of separation. Without consent or evidence of fault, applicants have to wait until they have been living apart for five years.

As family law experts we can only see the removal of blame in a relationship ending as a positive step as it takes away factors that can stoke up conflict.

The justice secretary launched a consultation last autumn on reforming the law. Apparently, according to the national press, the responses to the consultation were overwhelmingly in favour of the change.

Last year, the much publicised Tini Owens case highlighted the issue. The supreme court ruled she could not divorce her husband until a period of five years had elapsed, as he did not agree to the divorce. They had been living separate lives since 2015.

As well as thousands of lawyers across the land being in favour of the change, like ourselves at Keelys, family law organisation Resolution, also overwhelming supports the reform.

Divorce law has often meant people making up stories to allow a divorce to happen quicker, or even pointing fingers at each other about behaviour.

Whilst much of the detail has yet to be agreed, it seems clear the legislation should soon be law.

Separation and divorce looks likely to be far less acrimonious for many people bringing us in line with countries like the USA and Spain.

Marriages ending are always a sad situation with deep emotional ties severed, it’s a human issue a million miles away from the cold facts of law. Helping people move on with as little conflict as possible can only help all those involved in marriage break-up.

If you would like to talk to us about this or any aspect of family law, then contact our team today, they are here to help you.

Mediation producing a brighter future for couples who don’t want a lifetime of hurt

Dealing with marriage break up is sadly part and parcel of family law experts day to day working lives.

However, no matter how much we accept it as an aspect of our jobs, it still can be difficult at times when we see divorces where the couples find it very difficult to reach an agreement and the case inevitably leads to court proceedings.

Of course, that is not always the case and many couples can move on with their lives as amicably as possible.

With the week of January 21-25 being National Mediation Week it makes good sense to talk about avoiding conflict in marriage breakdown.

Collaborative law, as we know it, is a sensible approach to divorce.

It involves couples sitting down with their respective specialist family solicitors, face to face, to work on a solution.  It isn’t for all situations, and it can only be successful if the parties have a desire for it to work and if the parties are totally honest.

This Collaborative Family Law approach prevents the expense and emotional turmoil of going to court.

It is worth adding also that you still benefit from having your own independent legal advisor, but it takes away the threat of court proceedings.

Many more family law cases are being dealt with in this way and it has to be welcomed.

It avoids prolonged legal battles and in our view is generally a positive course of action, which should be pursued with legal advice to ensure that the right decisions are made for the future.

Thankfully, mediation is now helping to make a very difficult part of a person’s life, which causes great upheaval that little bit easier at an emotionally draining time.

If you wish to know more please contact the family law team at Keelys. We are here to help.

Navigating the Minefield

With Brexit remaining unresolved, business owners face an uncertain future in 2019. We are therefore teaming up with St James’s Place to offer a free seminar to equip clients to cope with the challenges.

Our speaker from St James’s Place will be Nick O’Sullivan, who will explain how lessons he learned in the Royal Marines can be applied to investments and financial planning.

Paul Roberts, Head of our Employment Department, will be explaining how to dodge the bullets of employment law and colleagues from our commercial, dispute resolution and wills and probate departments will also be offering practical advice.

The event will be on 5 February at our offices at 28 Dam Street, Lichfield.

The timetable for the event will be as follows:

11:45 – Coffee and registration
12:00 – 13:00 –  Presentations
13:00 – 13:30 – Lunch
13:30 – 14:30 – Further presentations

The event will be ideal for all business owners and Directors.

To book your place, please just email proberts@keelys.co.uk

Keelys proud of our Jayne’s marathon year

We are honoured to announce that our very own Jayne Whitehouse has raised £4,500 after a yearlong marathon challenge to help research into the condition that affects her daughter’s life.

Jayne has spent 2018 lacing up her running shoes for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation” (JDRF), which is a charity researching to cure, treat and prevent type 1 diabetes.

Jayne’s 14-year-old daughter Faith, was diagnosed with the condition when she was just a toddler, and Jayne, a legal secretary with us, set a task of running 10 marathons during 2018- a feat completed recently with the Leicester marathon.

Throughout the year she was supported avidly by us as she kept a strict regime throughout running four times a week, come rain or shine.

We wish, on behalf of Jayne, to thank all those in the wider community in Lichfield, for their work in helping reach this great target.

The funds raised will make such a great difference into the research putting a step closer to a cure for Faith and the 400,000 in the UK like her.

Jayne started 2018 off with the Gloucester Marathon, and there was also the London Marathon along the way.

She said it was the most demanding challenge she’d ever taken on, but we are so pleased she managed it. We have a lot of keen runners here at Keelys and Jayne’s adventure has been a big part of 2018 for all of us.

Once again, we congratulate her on such a wonderful achievement.

2019 – What does it hold in these unusual times?

As we get ready to welcome in a New Year, it is safe to say that most of us are looking at 2019 somewhat warily.

However, despite the ongoing drama surrounding Brexit, regardless of which way you voted, it seems sensible to try and strike a balanced message as we say goodbye to 2018.

As solicitors at the heart of the Lichfield community, we have found the ‘B’ word cited in practically every conversation in recent times.

It is fair to say, as we edge nearer to the actual date that interest in the subject and its impact on some of the businesses we work has become even greater.

So what can we expect for sure in uncertain times?

Well, being totally pragmatic, we can still expect businesses to carry on doing business with each other.  People will still buy goods, sell goods and trade will continue. Businesses will fail, new ones will emerge and the world will keep spinning on its axis.

Whilst this seems the obvious thing to say, and it’s not meant to be churlish, it is worth pointing out that in an age of 24/7 news media, and the added fuel of social media, it is easy to get too wrapped up in the ‘what ifs,’ of the future.

However, despite this, we at Keelys have had a very busy end to the year. We are still seeing an active property market and business’s continuing to move forward and invest in their future.

Lest we forget, the UK, is still home to many of the world’s leading companies, and despite the atmosphere of these modern times, it’s safe to say this will continue to be the case.

Like all of us in business and the watching public, we at Keelys Solicitors will continue to look on as the Brexit drama continues to unfold and trust that whatever the outcome, Britain will get on with doing business.

During 2019, we’ll still be here to help whatever your personal and business circumstances, so if you would like to discuss any legal issue, then you are most welcome to contact us.

We wish you all a very happy Christmas and a prosperous 2019.