How to deal with Foreign Property in your Will
From the 17th August a new EU law, Brussels IV, comes into place affecting anybody who owns property in any EU member state.
The introduction of Brussels IV means that anyone making a Will can now choose the law of their nationality to govern their whole estate instead of having to create a separate will for overseas assets. This will unify succession laws and relieve a lot of the stress associated with carrying out probate after the loss of a loved one.
Those living in the UK with holiday homes in any EU countries that have opted in for Brussels IV (all apart from UK, Ireland or Denmark) can elect for UK succession laws to govern their overseas affairs. This avoids ‘forced heirship’ laws in European countries such as Italy, Spain and France and allows the individual the freedom to leave whatever they choose, to whoever they choose.
Wyatt v Vince - If in doubt sort it out!
This case seems to allow anyone without a completed financial order or settlement to bring a claim against their ex-spouse regardless of how long ago they divorced.
Whilst lawyers always try to ensure that financial matters are finalised and that neither party can bring a claim against the other in the future it is vital that those couples who do not have financial orders in place review their situation because they may now face claims based on wealth subsequently acquired after their divorce.
In this case Dale Vince married Kathleen Wyatt in 1981 when they were penniless new age travellers.
They separated in 1984 and divorced in 1992. Three years later Vince founded Ecotricity which is now one of the largest green energy companies in the UK. He is said to be worth over £100m.
He ex-wife took him to court 22 years after they divorced seeking £2m claiming that he left her destitute while he grew his business.
Why is a Lasting Power of Attorney so Important?
Lasting Powers of Attorney are very important whether you are young or old. It is a fact that we just don’t know what is around the corner and it may be that you find yourself unexpectedly in need of assistance due to an accident or illness.
There are two types of Lasting Power of Attorney:
(i) Property and Financial Affairs
(ii) Health and Welfare Issues
Each document will enable you to authorise someone or a number of people to make decisions on your behalf both when you have capacity (so perhaps you might just need some help to make certain arrangements) and also when you lack mental capacity (in which case your chosen Attorney/s will make the relevant decisions on your behalf).
It is important that you completely trust the person/people you have chosen to act as your Attorney/s. They will have access to all your personal information.
In addition to appointing main Attorneys, you can also choose to appoint replacement Attorneys. This allows you to extend the life of your Lasting Powers of Attorney to take account of a situation where your main Attorney’s may become unable to act on your behalf.
What is mediation?
Although the most widely employed form of conflict resolution, it is arguable that mediation remains underrated in terms of its utility in resolving everyday disputes, as it is commonly linked with the resolution of family matters alone.
During mediation, parties to a dispute are encouraged, with the assistance of a neutral third party to resolve their issues and agree a mutually acceptable way forward. Successful mediation enables the parties to communicate their views and to formulate options instead of continually rehashing what have often become entrenched and hostile positions.
Indeed, although conflict resolution has traditionally been associated with an expensive, litigious court battle, following the implementation of the Family Procedure Rules 2010, even the Judiciary has begun to champion mediation as a viable and effective alternative to litigation.
British Bill of Rights or Human Rights Act?
During the recent Tory party Conference, David Cameron addressed the party’s concerns regarding the impact of the Human Rights Act on the Judiciary and consequently the British population by suggesting that a future Tory Government would abolish the Act and replace it with a new Bill of Rights. The idea being to give Britain more control over the laws implemented.
Mr Cameron stated it has long been his intention to ‘entrench’ a British Bill of Rights detailing ‘core values’ and responsibilities in British law, so it could not be overturned in the Commons. He went on to say, a ‘clear and codified’ bill would allow the European court to exercise a ‘margin of appreciation’ in its rulings where Judges are obliged to take into consideration the cultural, historical and philosophical differences between Strasbourg and Britain.