Thursday, 12 March 2015

If you think your financial matters are concluded after divorce... then you need to think again!

It has been reported today that Ms Kathleen Wyatt aged 55, has won her Supreme Court Hearing which recognised that there was a “real prospect” that Ms Wyatt would get a “comparatively modest award” further to her separation from her millionaire ex husband Mr Dale Vince aged 53.  Mr Vince is the founder of the wind power firm Ecotricity. The parties divorced 20 years ago and Mr Vince became a millionaire a decade after the parties separated and is now worth an estimated £107m. Lord Wilson of the Supreme Court confirmed that Ms Wyatt’s claim was “legally recognisable” and not an “abuse of process” although her claim for a payout of £1.9m was too high an amount.  The case will now be reviewed by a Judge of the Family Division in the High Court to determine what financial award is due to Ms Wyatt.

Although the financial figures referred to above only relate to a certain section of society, this principle will apply to all. It is extremely important that following the breakdown of a relationship, that financial matters are properly dealt with. Even if parties obtain their Decree Absolute and are therefore divorced, financial claims remain open. Either party can therefore still come back many years later to claim against the other. 

It is essential that divorcing parties obtain a financial Order from the Court in order to ensure that financial matters are concluded. Whilst clients can be concerned about costs involved in dealing with financial matters following separation, it is strongly advised that parties seek proper advice from solicitors as soon as possible to negotiate and reach an early settlement. Even if parties cannot agree and the court process is required, it will still be cheaper in the long run by taking action now.

As is the case with Mr Vince, following separation and divorce, individuals can then go on to build their own businesses and /or significantly improve their assets and income without fear that their former spouse may seek to benefit from the same. It is important that following separation, parties seek proper legal advice and take the appropriate steps required to resolve the financial issues surrounding the breakdown of the marriage. By dealing with it during the divorce process individuals will be in a better position to safeguard any future assets acquired years down the line. 

If you are divorced or divorcing and have not resolved the financial issues then you should seek legal advice now.

If you would like to arrange a FREE initial consultation in relation to any family law matter then please do not hesitate to contact Lydia Jackson by email or on 01672 518620.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Lasting Power of Attorney: It’s about you and what you want

Following on from the launch of the Ministry of Justice’s “Choice not Chance” campaign, why would you want to have Lasting Powers of Attorney or LPAs?

The Ministry of Justice points out on their website that:

“A lasting power of attorney (LPA) lets you appoint one or more people to help you make decisions or make decisions on your behalf.

It gives you more control over what happens to you if, for example, you have an accident or an illness and can’t make decisions at the time they need to be made (you ‘lack mental capacity’).

If your parents have a LPA, it will make managing their affairs easier if they lose capacity.”

This encapsulates the essence of the LPA and the reason for having one well but it is worth focusing on certain aspects.

Firstly, when to make an LPA. The simple answer is NOW. You are, we would of course hope, fit and well with the ability to make decisions entirely on your own behalf. But unfortunately life is not that certain. Capacity, or the ability to make decisions for yourself, can be lost at any time. The issue is that once you have lost capacity there is no option to make an LPA. It will be at this point that Social Services or doctors for example can, with only passing reference to your loved ones, spouse or friends, make decisions about several aspects, if not all, of your life. For example, they can take control of your finances, health decision, decisions around where you live or what care you should receive.

It is therefore important that you have one or both LPAs in place to cater for events in the future.

There are 2 LPAs, one covering your financial affairs and one covering health and welfare decisions. Which to have or even whether to have both is normally an easy decision but completing the forms, expressing your wishes, considering who should be appointed, what powers they have or whether they need to act together in union or separately is an area solicitors can provide invaluable assistance in.

If you have any queries about making a lasting power of attorney, an existing power or you are an attorney with a query about exercising your powers then please contact our Private Client team who will be able to help.

Visit The Ministry of Justice for their view on why you should have LPAs.