Palmers Solicitors

Rise in unmarried seniors at risk of hefty Inheritance Tax bills

Rise in unmarried seniors at risk of hefty Inheritance Tax bills

A growing number of over 70s could be at risk of large Inheritance Tax bills due to their lack of marital status.

It comes as research has shown that the number of over 70s choosing to live with their partner rather than marry or enter a civil partnership has surged by 288 per cent over the last 20 years.

Over the years cohabitation has increased in popularity, which is now having an impact on couples being hit with large Inheritance Tax bills and being forced to sell their home.

There has reportedly been an increase in the number of unmarried couples over 65 seeking professional advice, whose homes are subject to Inheritance Tax when one partner dies.

Helen Jago, a Director and expert in Inheritance Tax and Older Client matters, said: “With unmarried partners there is no spouse or civil partnership exemption so inheritance tax could be payable on the home they live in when one party dies either owning all or part of a property”.

“As well as mourning the loss of a loved one, the surviving partner may even have to sell the family home to fund the inheritance tax, leading to further stress at a difficult time”.

What action can cohabiting couples take?

To reduce this problem, cohabiting couples could ensure the home is in common ownership when they purchase it to ensure peace of mind for the future.

It is also a good idea to get professional advice for succession planning so surviving loved ones are not left with added stress and insecurity.  If there is likely to be inheritance to pay this can be factored into the succession plans.

Inheritance Tax is something we don’t want to think about, but it is important that you understand your liabilities when the time comes. Couples should talk about their situation, so they understand potential future Inheritance Tax liabilities.

When do you have to pay IHT?

Currently, the threshold to pay Inheritance Tax is £325,000. Therefore, it will not be due if the value of the estate amounts to less than £325,000.

The standard rate for Inheritance Tax is 40 per cent, but this is only applied to the amount above the £325,000 threshold.

Additional Residence Nil Rate Bands are available when leaving property to your children.  It is important to note however, that this additional tax-free amount is not available when leaving your property to your unmarried partner.

For advice on Inheritance Tax and related issues, please get in touch with us.


Palmers’ road traffic lawyer takes to Tik Tok to discuss latest legal topics

Once the domain of cute cat videos and dancing children, Tik Tok is now being used to spread the word on the latest motoring law topics.

Palmers’ Director and road traffic legal expert, Jeremy Sirrell, has gained thousands of followers in recent weeks.

The short five-minute videos feature Jeremy discussing his views and providing his legal take on a range of topics including the challenges of driverless cars, drink drive limits, a campaign to stop crashes being termed ‘accidents’ and the rise of e-scooters.

His recent video on the subject of speed limiters, highlighting the EU’s plans to automatically fit intelligent speed limiting devices to new cars – including those sold in the UK ­ – from 6 July 2022, has so far attracted more than 44,000 viewers.

In this Tik Tok video, Jeremy discusses why the EU is bringing in the initiative and why road safety campaigners are up in arms, claiming that limiters could cost lives.

Such has been the popularity of this Tik Tok episode that Jeremy has since recorded a follow-up video to answers some of the many questions posed by viewers.

You can follow Jeremy Sirrell’s entertaining and informative Tik Tok series here.

If you have a road traffic legal topic that you would like Jeremy to cover in a future Tik Tok video, please get in touch.

For legal advice on all aspects of motoring law please contact us.


Queen’s Speech sets out Government’s intentions for residential property

The recent Queen’s Speech contained plenty of measures affecting different aspects of residential property, spanning everything from planning to the rights of landlords to evict tenants in different circumstances and further leasehold reform.

Here, Nicola Tubbs, a Director and Head of Residential Property at Palmers, provides a short summary of the proposed measures:

Planning

Some of the most eye-catching measures announced in the Queen’s Speech concerned planning reform, including a measure in the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill that would allow for street votes on proposed extensions in certain circumstances and subject to certain rules.

The Government has not yet expanded on the proposal, with the guidance notes to the Bill saying that the detail will be provided for in secondary legislation, so it may take some time before this policy comes into effect.

Evictions

The proposed Renters Reform Bill will provide for the abolition of ‘no-fault’ section 21 evictions, meaning it will no longer be possible for landlords to evict tenants without giving reasons for doing so, such as breach of the tenancy agreement, selling the property or occupying it themselves. At the same time, the Government says it will include measures in the Bill to strengthen landlords’ rights of possession.

Leasehold reform

The Leasehold Reform (Ground Rent) Act 2022 was already due to come into effect on 30 June. This will prevent freeholders from charging ground rent on new long residential leases.

Now, the Government says it will:

  • Simplify the process of extending a lease or buying the freehold
  • Ensure leaseholders have more information about what costs cover so they aren’t subject to unjustified legal costs
  • Ban new leasehold houses
  • Reform commonhold as an alternative to leasehold.

The next stages in leasehold reform may not follow quickly, however, as no Bill to enact the proposed changes has been announced.

If any of the new measures impact you and you require additional advice, please get in touch with our expert team.


What are your employer’s responsibilities to you when it comes to workplace banter?

Banter can be a controversial subject. To some, it is simply light-hearted teasing that a team can bond over. Yet to others, it can be interpreted as being a hallmark of a hostile workplace culture where bullying is rife.

Interpreting which actions cross the line and which do not is a tightrope, and your employer needs to tread carefully to ensure workers are protected from unacceptable behaviour.

Samantha Randall, an Associate Solicitor with Palmers, who specialises in employment law, said: “Workplace harassment is defined as: “unwanted behaviour linked to a protected characteristic that violates someone’s dignity or creates an offensive environment for them.

“The problem is that one person’s “banter” can easily be another person’s “harassment”.

“The biggest employment law risk is when things touch on protected characteristics under the Equality Act.”

According to the Equality Act, the following characteristics are protected by law:

  • Age
  • Gender reassignment
  • Being married or in a civil partnership
  • Being pregnant or on maternity leave
  • Disabilities
  • Race including colour, nationality, ethnic or national origin
  • Religion or belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual orientation.

Samantha added: “The widespread use of technology and social media means that the risks of workplace harassment are compounded, due to increased communication between employees outside the workplace, whether by way of video calls when working from home, or through text messages or instant messaging apps.

“Your employer should have in place a clear bullying and harassment policy so if you feel you are the subject of bullying or harassment, in the first instance you should raise the matter with your employer. Where the matter persists and, particularly if the bullying is in relation to a protected characteristic under the Equality Act, the law is on your side so you should seek legal advice at the earliest opportunity.”

For help and advice on all aspects of employment law, please get in touch with us.


One in five marriages now begin with a pre-nup

Latest research shows that in the UK one in five couples now sign a pre-nuptial agreement before marriage – up from 1 in 50 four decades ago.

The figures, compiled by Savanta ComRes on behalf of the Marriage Foundation, found that putting a pre-nup in place neither increases nor reduces the risk of divorce. The report also revealed that pre nups are particularly popular amongst couples getting married later in life.

So why are pre-nups becoming increasingly popular and why should couples consider drawing up a pre-nup prior to tying the knot?

Here, Surjit Verdi, a Director and Head of Family Law at Palmers, explains why pre-nups are no longer the preserve of the super-rich:

Given that data shows that sadly almost half (42 per cent) of marriages in the UK end in divorce, it is important for couples to prepare for all eventualities.

Many couples preparing for marriage may have accrued significant assets in their own names prior to the relationship or marriage, such as property, business interests, pensions, savings etc. The best way to ensure that each party’s assets are protected in the event of an unfortunate breakdown in the marriage, is to ensure that a pre-nuptial agreement is prepared.

A pre-nuptial agreement or ‘prenup’ as it is often referred to, is a formal document which enables couples to set out exactly, in writing, what will happen to their individual assets in the event of a divorce.

In England and Wales, the starting position in any divorce is to divide the assets equally between the divorcing couple.

However, the reality of many modern relationships is that one partner will often have made a greater financial or asset-based contribution to a relationship than another.

Persuading the Court to depart from the presumption of equality can be both difficult and costly, so it is imperative that a party seeking to ring-fence their assets puts early protective measures in place.

Pre-nuptial agreements are essential to lay out “who owns what” from day one, ensuring that each partner knows where they stand from the outset and that the likelihood of uncertainties or arguments arising later on is minimised.

Whether you are getting married for the first time or remarrying in later life, it is important to seek tailored advice from a specialist lawyer to ensure that your assets are protected, and your pre-nuptial agreement is water tight.

To find out more about pre-nuptial agreements, get in touch with our specialist Family Law team today; we act for individuals with issues in all aspects of family life, whether you are married, in a civil partnership, or cohabit.