The Future of Inheritance Tax

Inheritance tax is set to change, now that the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) has conducted a wide-ranging review into what is often seen as an unpopular tax.

In theory, inheritance tax is charged at 40% on the value of an estate, once it is over the £325,000 inheritance tax allowance.

In practice, however, many of the country’s wealthier people do not pay inheritance tax, due to careful financial planning.

On the other hand, the exponential rise in UK property prices has meant more people are finding they have to pay inheritance tax.

People who are often already dealing with the difficulties of bereavement are having to navigate their way through a complex set of rules and regulations, even if, ultimately, it may mean they do not need to pay the tax.

It is no wonder then, that the so-called death tax is so unpopular.

The OTS review into inheritance tax makes recommendations for reforming the rules around inheritance tax. The Government will have to respond to them.

If you need to pay inheritance tax in the future, or if you are planning for your own legacy, you will need to know how these proposed changes might affect you.

Here, we look at these recommendations, and what their implications are for the future of inheritance tax.

A Shorter Time Limit for Taxable Gifts

Currently, if you decide to give away your money to your relatives while you are still living, there is a seven year limit.

What this means is that if you die within seven years of giving the gift, then the person receiving it may still have to pay some inheritance tax, depending on the circumstances.

Under the present rules, this form of potentially exempt transfer, or PET, is an effective way of reducing your inheritance tax bill, but it comes with the “potential” caveat – if the giver dies within the seven year period, there could be a chargeable amount of inheritance tax.

The OTS has recommended shortening the seven year period down to five years.

There is still a possible downside. Under the current regulations, the amount the gift recipient might have to pay goes down based on the number of years since receiving the gift, known as taper relief. The review recommends abolishing this.

This means that if the giver dies within the allowed period, any tax payable would be at the same rate, with no tapered reduction.

Inheritance Tax on Gifts: Who Pays?

The inheritance tax allowance is allocated to gifts first. Currently it stands at £325,000. This means most people would not normally have to pay tax on a gift, even within seven years of the giver’s death.

If the total value of gifts is higher than the allowance, then the recipient must pay the inheritance tax bill.

The OTS is recommending that instead of the recipient being liable for tax on gifts, the estate should be liable instead.

A further recommendation is that the nil-rate band is allocated across all gifts proportionately, rather than under the current rules, where oldest gifts benefit from the nil rate first.

Changing the Single Gift Allowance

Lifetime gifts are where you can give up to £3,000 a year from your estate without this counting towards tax.

Under the current regulations, you can also give up to £5,000 if a child is getting married; and make smaller gifts of up to £250, providing these are all to different individuals.

In its report, the OTS says that the current arrangements are confusing and could lead to misunderstandings, especially as the different gift limits are calculated in different ways.

One example is the £3,000 limit, which is a cumulative figure, whereas the £250 gift exemptions per person do not come under an overall total, but cannot be combined.

Most of these gift allowances are at levels frozen since the 1980s. The OTS has not recommended a new limit, but it has highlighted the fact that if the £3,000 limit had risen with inflation, it would currently stand at £11,900.

What the OTS does recommend is that there should just simply be a single, personal gift allowance per person.

Some wealthier families might lose out, if they routinely expected to give individual £250 gifts, which would exceed the new annual allowance.

Other Proposed Gifting Changes

At present, an individual can give away unlimited gifts of money from their income which are not then subject to inheritance tax, provided they are made on a regular basis, and do not affect the standard of living of the giver.

For cash-rich individuals, this has meant they can reduce their inheritance tax liability by passing down wealth to their loved ones over time, during their lifetime.

The OTS has looked at the difficulties surrounding this exemption, where claiming it has depended on detailed record-keeping, and where in some cases it has been used to exempt gifts exceeding £1m a year.

Currently there is no legally binding definition of what normal expenditure or expenditure out of income would be.

The proposed solution for gifts out of existing income is either to introduce a fixed percentage of it that individuals are allowed to give; or to get rid of the exemption rule completely and instead provide a higher annual gift allowance.

Removal of the Capital Gains Uplift

The capital gains uplift works like this: when someone inherits assets, under current regulations, they can acquire it under the market value at the time of death, rather than the amount originally paid for it.

It is like resetting the clock, which then means the recipient can sell the asset without incurring capital gains tax (CGT).

However, because CGT is not charged at death, in some situations where there have also been an inheritance tax exemption, this could mean someone paying no tax at all.

Consequently, the OTS has recommended changing the capital gains rules to close this loophole.

It proposes that assets are instead valued at their original price to simplify the system.

This could mean someone inheriting assets will have to pay CGT, but it could also encourage more people to make transfers of assets during their lifetime. The view is that the current system acts as an incentive for people to hold onto assets until death, even if they would really prefer to sell them.

Of course, any CGT liability that has existed at the time of death will still be liable for payment to HMRC.

Businesses and Farms

The OTS has looked at the treatment of businesses and farms under the present rules.

At things currently stand, businesses and farms can come under several exemptions, which allow them to be passed on as inheritance without being sold or broken up.

These exemptions come in the form of business property relief and agricultural property relief.

The OTS recommends certain changes. It questions whether business trading activity should continue to be set at a lower threshold than other business tax reliefs to qualify for property relief.

It also  wants to review the treatment of indirect, non-controlling holdings in trading companies and of limited liability partnerships.

It is considering whether to align the inheritance tax rule for furnished holiday lets with those for income tax and capital gains tax.

The OTS is also looking at the approach to agricultural property relief in circumstances where a farmer must leave their farmhouse due to medical treatment or other care.

What Will Happen in the Future?

First, the Treasury must respond to the OTS recommendations. Next, should it accept any of the proposals, these will then be subject to a consultation period, before becoming law.

There may, therefore, be an announcement about proposed reforms in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement.

In the longer term, a Labour Party-commissioned report has proposed a more radical overhaul to inheritance tax. The Land for the Many report suggests replacing it with a lifetime gift tax, which would be levied on recipients of assets over £125,000.

There are other, less drastic views about changing inheritance tax, including replacing it with capital gains tax charged on estates.

As things stand, inheritance tax is an imperfect, uneven system, and therefore there will be changes to it to some degree in the near future.

What Should You Do About Inheritance Tax?

Regardless of what changes are coming and when, you should be planning for your estate and looking at how best to manage your wealth.

There are various strategies you may consider for reducing your inheritance tax bill.

These include: reducing your assets through gifts; freezing them through a loan; converting them into assets which will, currently, qualify for some sort of relief; and taking out life assurance to help your dependents meet any inheritance tax liability.

With the current complexities of the system, and with changes likely at some point, the first thing to do is seek professional advice about writing your will, or dealing with the affairs of someone who has died.

Please call us on 0800 002 9577, or complete our online contact form.


How long do you have to claim after an accident at work?

Talk to Mark Reynolds Solicitors today if you have suffered following an accident at work that was not your fault. If the blame for the accident can be linked to someone else’s actions or negligence, there’s a sizeable chance we will be able to help you get compensation. In most cases, you will need to take legal action within three years of the date of the accident if your quest for justice is to be successful.

A duty of care

Whilst you are at work, your employer has a duty of care to you. Your working environment should be safe to work in. Those that are concerned about their safety at work often get in touch with The Health and Safety Executive. This is an industry regulatory who ensures standards are being upheld and takes action when they are not.

Keep hold of evidence

You can strengthen the chances of your case being successful by keeping hold of evidence related to your accident. If you have been forced to pay out for medical care as a result of your accident, make sure you keep the receipts and other documents associated with your treatment. You should also gather together as much other evidence related to your accident and injuries as possible to help us make your case watertight.

Common workplace accidents and injuries

People can become injured in the workplace for many reasons. Falls, slips and trips commonly occur in the workplaces of the UK. You may have been hit by an unstable object, or you could have been instructed to lift unreasonably heavy items. Faulty equipment and machinery are other big causes of workplace accidents and injuries. Accidents often occur because staff have not received adequate training to carry out their roles. An employer may have failed to provide you with the equipment you need to do your job safely, or they could have failed to carry out a health and safety risk assessment before certain work takes place.

Physical and psychological symptoms

An accident at work can result in various physical injuries, but you may also experience psychological problems such as anxiety and depression if the event was particularly traumatic. You may have also been forced to take time off work following your injury, which can be very expensive for those with bills to pay. Whatever the case, we can help you get the maximum amount of compensation for your accident and injuries.

Strengthening your case

Remember, your employer is duty-bound to report your injuries. If they have failed to do so, they have broken the law. Eye-witness accounts, statements and even video footage can be used to strengthen your case. We can help you collect as much evidence as you need to support your claim. If you came to harm in the workplace no longer than three years ago but have only recently experienced symptoms that could be connected to the incident, we may still be able to help.

Getting in touch

To find out more about how we can help with a workplace accident or injury claim, contact Mark Reynolds Solicitors today. We can help you get the outcome you deserve.

x-ray showing cancer diagnosis

The impact of a delayed cancer diagnosis

At Mark Reynolds Solicitors, we can provide the legal representation you are looking for if you have been affected by a delayed cancer diagnosis. If an opportunity for diagnosis has been missed and the cancer has developed further than it perhaps otherwise would have, it’s only right that you should decide to take legal action.

Why would a diagnosis be delayed?

A cancer diagnosis can be delayed for many reasons. Tissue samples and smears are sometimes misinterpreted by specialists, as are scans and x-rays. The diagnosis may also be delayed because a detailed investigation was not carried out. Cancers that are sometimes diagnosed later than they could have been include skin, lung, cervical, breast and bowel cancer, as well as lymphoma, carcinoma and others.

You may also wish to take action if you have been diagnosed as having cancer when you didn’t. You may have undergone procedures that were not necessary because of your misdiagnosis or may have experienced great psychological suffering.

What are the risks of late diagnosis?

When cancer is diagnosed too late, the disease can spread throughout the body and make the illness less treatable. This can reduce your chances of survival. It’s vital that medical specialists diagnose cancer as quick as they possibly can, to give you the best chance of making a recovery. An early diagnosis also means your treatment is more likely to be successful. A report carried out by Incisive Health and Cancer Research UK found that around 52,000 cases of colon, rectal, lung and ovarian cancer may have been diagnosed too late each year. Delayed diagnosis can also raise treatment costs, resulting in the NHS paying more to provide care.

Is there always someone to blame?

Delayed diagnosis can happen for many reasons, and it is not always the fault of medical specialists. Some illnesses are diagnosed too late because patients remain unaware of the systems for some time before they seek help. It’s not uncommon for diagnosis to occur too late because patients are too fearful to visit their GP. However, if you do suspect your diagnosis occurred too late because a healthcare provider failed in their duty of care to you, we may be able to help you source compensation and justice.

Why choose Mark Reynolds?

We have a great deal of experience when it comes to handling a wide range of clinical and medical negligence claims. We always aim to get the best possible outcome for our clients, taking our time to understand the nature and impact of the negligence on you and your family. We are accredited by Action Against Medical Accidents, and all of our solicitors have received the highest standard of training needed to handle medical negligence claims competently and professionally. For many of our clients, compensation is not the only reason for taking legal action. Equally, it’s about highlighting the issues and ensuring that their case is heard and ultimately acted upon.

Get in touch today

We can help you get closer to the truth and find out why something unpleasant has happened to you when receiving medical care and can reduce the chances of the same thing happening to others in future. To find out more about taking legal action following a delayed cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosis, contact us today.

No Win No Fee Explained

With no win no fee, you only need to pay for the legal services you have received if your claim is successful. No win no fee was first launched in the 1990s to encourage people with limited funds to make claims and get the compensation and justice they deserved. If you have been in an accident or sustained an injury that wasn’t your fault and someone else was to blame, no win no fee legal services can help you achieve the outcome you require.

Covering the costs of claiming

In the past, many people were put off making legitimate claims due to substantial upfront legal fees. No win no fee was also introduced to support people who were not covered by insurance but wished to make claims.  If you do lose a claim, you may need to pay court fees and the other sides costs, but you won’t normally be required to pay solicitor fees. If you do win your case, you can pay solicitor fees with part of the compensation you have received.

After the event insurance

No win no fee services are also called confidential fee agreements. If you do want to make a claim but are worried about what will happen if you lose, you may be able to take out something called after the event insurance to cover you and protect you from costs. No win no fee legal services are most commonly used following instances of medical negligence, workplace accidents, road accidents and slips, trips and falls.

How we can help with no win no fee claims

At Mark Reynolds Solicitors, we are eager to hear from you if you have been in an accident or sustained injuries that were not your fault. We have many years of no win no fee legal experience behind us and are confident we can provide the first-class service and representation that you are looking for. Over the years, we have won a robust reputation for quality. We can offer specialist advice and representation in several legal fields and can provide a bespoke service tailored to your specific requirements.

The clarity you require

Our no win no fee legal specialists are noted for their friendly and approachable manner and always explain legal information to you in a jargon-free fashion to deliver the clarity that you require. Your best interests are prioritised from the outset, and we can help you collect all the vital information you need to strengthen your case and optimise the chances of it being a success. We have offices in Liverpool, Leigh, Runcorn and Warrington and specialise in fields like serious injury, employment law, wills and probate and medical negligence.

Contact Mark Reynolds Solicitors today

Don’t be put off by the costs of making a claim. It’s important to get the justice and compensation that you deserve if you have come to physical or psychological harm as a result of someone else’s actions or inaction. Get in touch with us today for further information on making a no win no fee claim.

Mark Reynolds Solicitors wins industry recognition

Mark Reynolds Solicitors, one of the North West’s most trusted law firms, has been awarded Top Personal Injury Lawyers and Top Medical Negligence Lawyers in Warrington by Threebestrated. In addition, they have been awarded Top Medical Lawyers and Top Employment Lawyers in Liverpool. This news comes just as the company celebrates its 10-year anniversary.

Mark Reynolds Solicitors was established a decade ago by Mark Reynolds and Peter McCourt and these awards reaffirm its position as one of the North West’s most trusted law firms, most particularly in the fields of Personal Injury and Medical Negligence.

Mark said: “When we started our company in 2009, it was our main intention to serve the community and this is what we have done. This set of four awards is testament to how hard our team consistently works and will give total reassurance to our new clients. This extra validation of our reputation is made all the sweeter as we mark our tenth anniversary this year.

“From the start, our reputation for quality, excellence and outstanding results has been at the heart of our business and this is recognition that we are upholding the highest of standards. For the last ten years our team has worked tirelessly to deliver quality face-to-face services to clients we serve not only in the North West, but now throughout the country.”

Threebestrated carry out a thorough 50 point inspection to discover the very best companies by sector and location. The inspection includes verifying business reviews, reputation, history, complaints, ratings, satisfaction, location, trust, cost and general excellence.

About Mark Reynolds Solicitors

Mark Reynolds Solicitors was established in 2009 in Liverpool.  The firm now has five offices across Liverpool, Runcorn, Warrington and Leigh, with 6 specialist divisions covering serious injury, RTA and Personal Injury, Medical Negligence, Actions Against Police, Employment Law as well as Wills, Probate, The Administration of Estates and Elderly Client Services.

Older couple overlooking beach

How Can I Reduce My Inheritance Tax Bill?

The children born to the ‘baby boomer’ population will inherit the highest amount of wealth any generation has ever seen, and perhaps for several generations into the future. They’re the wealthiest generation in history, collecting around £250,000, consisting mostly of property. This means the children of this generation are likely to inherit approximately £100,000 each. Even then, although it might raise their standard of living, it still won’t be enough to mitigate the impact of the housing crisis on younger generations.

What is inheritance tax?

Inheritance tax is a tax imposed on the property, money, and possessions of a person who has died. How much tax you should pay when you inherit these things depends on a variety of factors.

You don’t have to pay inheritance tax if:

  • The value of your estate is below £325,000
  • The deceased leaves anything above £325,000 to a spouse, civil partner, charity, or a community/amateur sports club

This threshold of £325,000 usually stands. However, if the deceased gives away their home to their child or grandchild, the threshold can increase to £475,000. If you pass it to a spouse or civil partner, there is no inheritance tax to pay on the home. Also, if you’re married or in a civil partnership and your estate is worth less than the threshold, you can add any unused threshold to your partner’s. This means your partners threshold before inheritance tax could be as high as £950,000.

Even if you inherit below the £325,000 threshold, you must still report your inheritance to HMRC. If you are due to pay inheritance tax, the standard rate is 40% of the value above £325,000. So, how can you keep this value to a minimum?

Keeping your inheritance tax bill low

We already mentioned in passing how you can lower your bill. Here’s how you can do it in more detail:

Gifting homes

You can pass on a home to your spouse or civil partner when you die and there will be no inheritance tax to pay for this. However, leaving it to another person in the will ensures it counts towards the value of the estate.

There is usually no tax to pay if the deceased gifted a home to someone, moved out, and lived for at least another seven years. If they wanted to continue living in the home, they would have to show a history of rent payments to the new owner.

Main residence allowance

The main residence tax allowance came into place in 2017. The rules state if you’re passing your home to a direct descendant you can benefit from an extra £150,000 of tax-free inheritance. Direct descendants include:

  • Children
  • Grandchildren
  • Great Grandchildren
  • Step-children
  • Adopted children
  • Foster children
  • Children under the guardianship of those passing on their estate

The tax-free amount is likely to increase to £175,000 by the 2020/21 tax year. This takes the threshold up to £500,000 tax-free income. This is only available if the home is worth under £2 million.

There are plenty of rules around paying inheritance tax. It’s hard to give blanket advice because the amount you’ll have to pay largely depends on the size of the estate, the assets involved, and individual family circumstances. So it’s always useful to get in touch with experienced solicitors who know the details of the inheritance tax process in enough depth to help you get the best outcome for your family.

 Mark Reynolds Solicitors specialise in helping our clients create and manage wills, manage lasting powers of attorney, get a seamless probate service, and manage joint tenancies to give your family peace of mind. Get in touch with us today by calling 0800 002 9577 to get started.

Man and young daughter holding hands

The Problem With DIY Wills

DIY wills are cheaper than going to a professional, but ‘you get what you pay for’ has never rung truer. DIY wills offer a cheap alternative, costing around £20, with some less than £10. In fact, for £19.99 you can purchase a ‘last will & testament DIY kit’ from WHSmith. You’re likely to find more of the same on Amazon and other online sites. But what might seem like a great deal on the surface could come with an unprecedented risk to your family and loved ones after you pass.

The risks

Just one mistake can render your will invalid. Your estate could end up in the hands of someone you never intended. It could leave your loved ones in an emotional mess with huge legal fees shrouding them. According to the Co-operative Legal Service (CLS), ineffective and poorly written DIY wills cause of around 38,000 probate ordeals per year.

The lack of professional guidance when choosing to use a DIY will allows ambiguities to arise leading to many becoming invalid in the UK. Where DIY wills have an unclear meaning, the Court is often the deciding voice determining the outcome for the beneficiaries. This doesn’t always go to plan.

Little mistakes, big consequences

In 2015, the case of Tinuola Aregbesola made the news. She was seeking hundreds of thousands of pounds in compensation from Barclays Bank. She claimed their £90 will-writing service resulted in her losing a stake in a valuable London home. The court documents detail how her father instructed half of the home go to Ms Aregbesola on his death.

However, her father’s wife, Ms Aregbesola’s step-mother, also partly owned the home. Because of this joint ownership, the home passed fully to his wife and Ms Aregbesola received nothing, contrary to the wishes written in the will. This all happened because Barclays didn’t sever the joint tenancy agreement to allow half of the property to pass to his daughter.

If you want your will to be unquestionable, there must be no mistakes and no oversights. As a legal document, while it isn’t impossible to create a DIY will, it’s hard for those who haven’t trained in law to do this successfully. There is more to writing a will than stating where you would like your estate to go, as highlighted by the Aregbesola case. Existing agreements such as joint tenancy agreements and partnerships might need dissolution if you want everything to run smoothly.

Staying up-to-date

It’s common for someone to write a DIY will and forget about it. It might seem like your work is done, but as you age, and your estate changes, so should your will and any other accompanying documents.

For example, in 1993, Princess Diana created a ‘letter of wishes’. In this letter, she requested her estate be divided differently to what she laid out in her will. She wanted her 17 godchildren to receive a proportion of her estate and, after her divorce, the value of her estate grew immensely. However, Princess Diana never updated the will to match her letter of wishes so there was no legal responsibility to carry out the requests in the letter.

Your will is a legal document. If it is correct, containing no mistakes, and overlooking no facts, it will stand in a court of law. If you set out the terms of your will in another document or verbally without updating your will, it’s unlikely these will hold up when disputes occur. Using a reliable, professional solicitor who specialises in will-writing will help you ensure your will sets out the correct terms. There will be no arguments after you’re gone.

The complexities of families

The structure of families is constantly evolving. The nuclear family isn’t the norm anymore. Families today comprise second, third, and fourth spouses, step-children, single parents, separated families, and hundreds of variations of all these things. The complexities of families are often what causes disputes when the will is invalid or unclear.

For example, if you get married, any will you’ve written beforehand will be invalid. It can only stay legally valid if you overtly express that you wrote the will in contemplation of the marriage. If you don’t update your will, you could leave your family confused, receiving nothing laid out in your previous will. If you’re separated from your spouse but aren’t legally divorced, they still count as your spouse. If you pass, they might be the one who receives your estate whether you planned for that to be the case or not.

For those who aren’t married, having an explicit, valid, and accurate will is essential to ensuring your partner can receive what you decide in your will. If you don’t, you could see it pass straight to your children or parents, leaving your partner to cope with emotional disputes.

What are the other options?

It’s understandable that many people choose DIY wills because they believe they can’t afford to pay for a professional service. It’s worth pointing out the money you spend on a professional will-writing service will be a fraction of the cost to your family if your will doesn’t hold up in court.

However, if a professional will is a little out of your price range, there are steps you can take to minimise the chances of inaccuracies and it becoming invalid. Check, check, and check your will again. There should be no spelling mistakes and you and two witnesses should sign it correctly.

Other things to take care of include:

  • Ensuring you set up trusts properly – If you want to gift money in a trust you must be explicit in this desire and say so. If you want the beneficiary to receive the money after a certain age, you must say so, otherwise, they may get a lump sum when you die.
  • Make provisions for when a gift fails – You might leave money to someone who died before you. Unless you updated your will, you must include a gift over clause. This details where the gift should go if the first choice is no longer available or cannot accept the gift.
  • Choose the right trustee – Choosing the wrong person to administer your estate can cause chaos. Your trustee needs to be competent and able to deal with the position.
  • Check what is legal – If you’re choosing to gift something like a house, ensure you check you can legally pass the house on to your chosen beneficiary. For example, make sure joint ownership doesn’t stand in the way.

The best thing you can do to make sure your will does what you intend is to seek help from professional solicitors. The cost of a will can vary depending on the complexity of your affairs. A simple will might cost between £144 and £240 pounds, while a specialist will can reach up to £600. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a small price to pay for security and peace of mind for all your loved ones who could end up losing hundreds of thousands if things don’t go to your plan.

The experts at Mark Reynolds Solicitors specialise in will writing, dealing with lasting powers of attorney, probate, and severance of joint tenancy. We have extensive experience in making sure our clients experience no ambiguity with their will, giving your family peace of mind. For more information about our services, get in touch on 0800 002 9577 today.

Personal injury resulting in wheelchair use

What Kinds of Personal Injuries Justify a Claim?

Personal injuries are what they describe: injuries that you sustain to yourself. These might be physical, but they can also be psychological.

If you suffer a personal injury, you can claim for the personal pain and suffering you experience, and also for expenses such as damaged clothing, travel costs, and certain help and equipment you have needed as a result of the injury.

Types of Personal Injuries

Personal injuries can vary, according to individual circumstances, but typical injuries include:

These injuries can occur as a result of vehicle accidents, equipment failure, work-related accidents, construction site incidents, medical malpractice and various forms of workplace negligence.

They can be slips or falls from walking on ice or tripping over hazards; a severe bite from a dog not on its leash; a chemical burn from spilled, hazardous materials.

Personal injuries may happen at work, in the home, while travelling or on holiday.

What Can You Claim For?

When it comes to personal injuries claims, you can claim for the pain and suffering you experience and compensation for your physical injuries. These injuries can include scarring, disfigurement and psychological injury.

How much you receive in compensation will depend on how severe your injuries are; whether your injury has resulted in long-term or permanent disability; and how much your injury has disrupted your life.

As well as claiming for pain and suffering, you can also claim for loss of earnings.

An accident may cause you to have to take time off work, and you can claim to recover any loss of earnings. Normally, this claim is based on your average take-home pay during the three month period before the accident.

You may also be able to claim for future loss of earnings, if, for example, you cannot return to your old job, or you find you must give up work because of an accident.

There are other expenses associated with personal injuries claims. These include damage to clothing or personal effects.

You might also claim for travel or prescription charges, if these are things you must pay following an accident.

If, following an accident, a family member has to look after you, you may be able to claim compensation for them, because they are providing services to you.

There can also be costs for nursing care and equipment following a serious injury, if, for example, you require a wheelchair.

Why Make a Personal Injuries Claim?

Sometimes people are scared off making a personal injury claim because they think the process will be too complex, drawn-out and will not be worth it.

Claiming is your right, under law, and, if you have experienced physical or mental discomfort, or a life-changing injury, then it is perfectly fair that you should be able to seek compensation for it.

Advice and Support for Personal Injury Claims

We can assist you with your personal injury claim, if you are eligible. Please contact us today for advice and support. Call 0800 002 9577, or complete our online contact form.

grandmother and children

Probate Fee Hikes Are Coming – How Can You Avoid Losing Out?

The Government is planning probate fee hikes, resulting from changes to the current structure for probate fees.

Probate is the process through which you get permission to deal with a deceased person’s estate. Since 1999, there has been a fixed fee for processing probate applications, but under the new structure, there will be different charging bands, with fees rising according to the size of the estate.

The plan is to use the revenue from this new fee structure to improve the court service.

The intended date for these changes to come into force was April 2019, but there may now be a delay to this due to the ongoing Brexit issue, as Parliament will need to approve the changes first.

Meanwhile, what can you do to avoid paying more in probate fees?

What the Probate Hike Will Mean

The extra you could end up paying in fees is an ascending scale based on what the estate is worth:

  • Estates from £50,000 to £300,000 will pay £250
  • Estates from £300,000 to £500,000 will pay £750
  • Estates from £500,000 to £1 million will pay £2,500
  • Estates from £1 million to £1.6 million will pay £4,000
  • Estates from £1.6 million to £2 million will pay £5,000
  • Estates over £2 million will pay £6,000.

Obviously, the biggest increases come with the estates worth the most.

However, estates worth less than £50,000 will pay nothing at all in probate fees. This previously only applied to estates under £5,000.

How Probate Applications Work

The Probate Registry is part of the High Court. It charges a fee for processing applications for a Grant of Representation. In certain estates, you need this grant to deal with assets such as property, bank accounts and shares, or to deal with any litigation on behalf of the estate.

The grant confirms an executor’s right to act under the will, or, where there is no will, the administrator’s right to act in an intestate estate.

Putting Off Probate

There can be delays to the probate process. Sometimes there is a missing will, or there may be discrepancies that question the will’s validity.

Disagreements or disputes about the validity of a will may take considerable time to resolve.

Sometimes there is no executor named, or the executors who are named are not expecting this and are unprepared.

Executors may have died since the will was written, or may be living abroad.

There can also be delays to probate due to missing beneficiaries of the will, or where beneficiaries are in dispute with each other.

Sometimes administration problems cause third-party delays to probate, such as calculations in valuing the estate and issues over inheritance tax payments.

There may be debts on the estate or problems accessing information.

There is also the impact of bereavement itself, leaving family members in the kind of emotional state where tackling probate seems too difficult.

Can You Avoid the Probate Hikes?

Already there have been delays to the proposed changes because of turmoil in Parliament over Brexit, but eventually they will come into force.

If you have delayed probate for any reason, now is the time to act, and seek professional advice to get things moving.

Advice and Support for Probate

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Unconscious woman after brain surgery

Why Do Severe Brain Injuries Result in Unconsciousness?

Consciousness is a state of mind that refers to self-awareness. It’s what lets us think new thoughts and plan for the future based on past experiences. Consciousness is constantly shifting, but sustaining a severe brain injury can suddenly change conscious states from fully alert and aware to confusion and panic.

What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

A traumatic brain injury or TBI is defined as an injury to the brain from an external force. Common causes include physical assault, vehicle collisions, sports injuries, and falls. Judgement on an individual’s condition is evaluated based on Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), with 15 being normal and three for more serious conditions such as comatose states.

Brain injuries are classified according to their severity:

  • Mild: Injuries that result in a brief loss of consciousness. The individual is awake with their eyes open but displays visible signs of disorientation.
  • Moderate: Injuries that result in a loss of consciousness from 20 minutes to six hours. Some brain swelling may occur, causing sleepiness or drowsiness.
  • Severe: Injuries that result in a loss of consciousness of more than six hours. The individual appears totally inert and eyes remain closed even with stimulation.

Why Do Brain Injuries Lead to Unconsciousness?

The reticular activating system (RAS) is one of the most important parts of the brain. It comprises a network of neurons that regulate wakefulness (a necessary condition for consciousness). Sudden trauma to the brain can cause the RAS to stop functioning properly, rendering a person incapable of becoming conscious even with stimulation.

Disorders of consciousness include coma, vegetative, and minimally conscious. Which state an individual is placed in largely depends on the type of injury sustained and the extent of any delayed trauma (known as a secondary injury).

Each case varies but sustaining a TBI can affect physical or cognitive abilities. Recovery is possible through intense rehabilitation and medical care, but the rate of improvement varies for each person.

If a loved one has sustained a serious brain injury, contact Mark Reynolds personal injury solicitors. We’ll help you determine if you have a compensation claim.