Louise Holmes​, Cullimore Dutton Wills, Trusts & Estates

The Inheritance

New TV drama puts spotlight on protecting your inheritance

Channel 5’s new drama, The Inheritance, which started last night is set to be one of the TV hits of the Autumn. With an all-star cast including the actors Larry Lamb and Gaynor Faye, Channel 5 says: “Secrets are exploded, relationships ripped apart, and lives lost as the siblings try desperately to claw back their inheritance and make sense of what is happening around them, asking the question: Is blood really thicker than water?”

The subject of inheritance, and the likelihood of another family battle, has also been in the news following the death of the former Harrods tycoon Mohamed Al Fayed. Reports have suggested the scene is set for a Succession-style fight for the 94-year-old businessman’s £1.7billion empire involving his second wife and his four surviving children.

While the amount of money, assets and complexity surrounding the above may be greater than the norm, a lot of the issues are the same.

This is particularly the case when people have children from previous relationships and the first to die leaves everything to their new partner.

The new partner then rewrites a will to leave everything to their own children thus disinheriting the first spouse’s children. People often don’t think it will happen to them, but it happens more than you think.

The key to avoiding issues further down the line is to put in place the necessary protections at the outset, the benefits of which we will always explain to clients who come to see us.

This could be a couple embarking on their first marriage or someone setting out on a new relationship following the death of their partner or because of a divorce.

One popular option is to create a Life Interest Trust, something that is written into a will and which allows you to provide future security for particular individuals, such as your spouse and children.

In such a trust, the entitlement to an asset is split into its capital and income elements. One good example of this in action concerns an investment property whereby the capital is the property and the income is the rent received. The person who has the ‘life interest’ is entitled to the income from the property, but once the life interest ends (usually when the ‘life tenant’ dies) the capital passes to the beneficiaries stipulated in your will.

The Wills, Trusts and Estates team at Cullimore Dutton specialise in protecting our clients and pre-planning what may be required in the future, such as a Life Interest Trust, something that is becoming ever more important, not least with the increase in blended families. Putting the right protection in place at the outset of a relationship can help to avoid a lot of unnecessary heartache and bitterness further down the line.

Life Interest Trusts are also commonly used to protect people’s assets from care home fees.
By including a Life Interest Trust in your will, you can ring-fence your share of the property and place this into a Trust, giving your partner a life interest in it.

This means that when you die, your share of the property will not pass to them, but they will still be able to live in the property for the rest of their life, or sell it if required. The deceased’s share will be held in a Trust and can be passed on in line with the terms of your will when your partner dies.

It means that your share of the property should not be used to pay for your partner’s care home fees, but instead is ringfenced for your children or grandchildren.

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Wills & Probate team simply click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Louise Holmes​, Cullimore Dutton Wills, Trusts & Estates

Estate Planning for Blended Families

Estate Planning for Blended Families: Navigating Wills and Inheritance

Blended families have become increasingly common in today’s society. As relationships evolve and individuals remarry or enter into new partnerships, estate planning becomes a crucial consideration to ensure the fair and smooth transfer of assets to loved ones.

In the context of blended families, where there may be children from previous relationships, navigating wills and inheritance requires careful thought and legal expertise. This article aims to provide valuable insights and guidance for UK residents in such situations.

Understanding the unique challenges
Blended families face unique challenges when it comes to estate planning due to the complex dynamics involved. Considerations such as protecting the interests of biological children from previous relationships, providing for a new spouse or partner, and addressing potential conflicts among family members require thoughtful planning.

Updating your will
One of the most critical steps in estate planning for blended families is updating your will. A well-drafted will ensures that your wishes regarding asset distribution are clearly outlined. Failing to update your will after entering a new relationship may lead to unintended consequences, with assets potentially passing to the wrong beneficiaries or even causing legal disputes.

When updating your will, it is essential to consider the following points:

Spousal/civil partner inheritance rights
In the UK, a spouse or civil partner has certain automatic inheritance rights, regardless of what is stated in a will. It is important to understand these rights and ensure that your wishes align with them. Consulting with a knowledgeable solicitor will help you understand and navigate these legal requirements effectively.

Provision for biological children
If you have children from a previous relationship, you may wish to ensure that they are adequately provided for in your estate plan. This can be achieved through specific provisions in your will, such as leaving assets or establishing trusts to benefit your children.

Providing for a new spouse or partner
Many individuals want to provide for their new spouse or partner while also ensuring that their children receive their fair share. Various strategies, such as life interest trusts or discretionary trusts, can be implemented to strike a balance between these competing interests. Seeking legal advice will help you determine the most suitable approach based on your specific circumstances.

Guardianship of minor children
If you have minor children, it is vital to address guardianship arrangements in your will. Clearly, designating who will assume guardianship responsibilities ensures that your children will be cared for according to your wishes.

Communication and managing expectations
Open and honest communication is essential when navigating estate planning matters within blended families. Discussing your wishes and intentions with all relevant parties can help manage expectations and minimise potential conflicts. Consider involving family members, especially those directly affected by your estate plan, in the discussion process. While conversations about inheritance can sometimes be uncomfortable, addressing these matters proactively can help avoid misunderstandings and resentment later on.

Seek professional guidance
Given the complexities involved in estate planning for blended families, it is strongly recommended to seek professional guidance from a reputable law firm specialising in estate planning and family law. An experienced solicitor can provide tailored advice, help you understand the legal implications, and ensure that your estate plan is comprehensive and legally sound.

Regular review of your estate plan
Lastly, it is crucial to periodically review and update your estate plan and will to reflect any changes in your family dynamics, financial situation, or legislation. Life events such as births, deaths, divorces, or significant financial changes may necessitate adjustments to your Will or other estate planning documents. By conducting regular reviews, you can ensure that your estate plan remains up-to-date and aligned with your current wishes.

Navigating your will
Estate planning for blended families requires careful consideration and professional expertise. Updating your will, effectively communicating with your loved ones, and seeking the guidance of an experienced solicitor will help you navigate the complexities and ensure that your wishes are met. By undertaking these essential steps, you can achieve peace of mind, knowing that your estate will be distributed according to your intentions, ultimately providing for both your new family and your children from previous relationships.

How we can help
Our expertise and assistance can provide you with confidence when Estate Planning for Blended Families and ensure that your wishes are accurately reflected. Our team are all specialists in this area of law so we can ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family.

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Wills & Probate team simply click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Louise Holmes​, Cullimore Dutton Wills, Trusts & Estates

Aretha Franklin – You better think…

You better think…

Aretha Franklin’s family feud over her estate proves it is better to plan ahead than to leave a dispute for your loved ones.

Aretha Franklin

The tale of Aretha Franklin’s disputed estate has been heavily covered recently across the media including on the BBC.

Aretha Franklin died in August 2018, apparently leaving no Will for her estate worth millions. However, nine months later, handwritten Wills (with different dates) were found in a cabinet and under a sofa cushion at her home in suburban Detroit, leading to an ongoing battle between her four sons.

While many of us do not have the multitude of millions to leave behind for our loved ones, the situation clearly illustrates the benefits, indeed the need to plan ahead and write and register your Will.

We consider planning ahead and writing your Will essential for the following key reasons:

  1. Distribution of Assets: A Will allows you to specify how your assets, including property, investments, and personal belongings, should be distributed after your death. This ensures that your wishes will be respected, minimising the potential for family disputes, and ensuring that your assets are distributed in line with your intentions.
  2. Guardianship of Minor Children: If you have minor children, a Will allows you to name a guardian who will be responsible for their care in the event of your passing. Without a Will, the court may have to make this decision, which may not align with your wishes.
  3. Minimise Family Conflicts: Clear instructions in a Will can help reduce conflicts among family members and loved ones. When your intentions are clearly outlined, it can help avoid misunderstandings, disagreements, and potential legal battles that could arise without a Will.
  4. Executor Appointment: Writing a Will allows you to appoint an executor, who will be responsible for managing your estate, paying debts, and distributing assets according to your wishes. Choosing a trusted person as an executor ensures that your estate is handled by someone you deem capable and reliable.
  5. Tax Planning and Asset Protection: A well-structured Will can also include provisions for tax planning and asset protection, potentially reducing the tax burden on your estate and ensuring that your assets are safeguarded for your beneficiaries.

It’s important to consult with legal professionals such as ourselves when creating a Will to ensure that it adheres to all specific legal requirements.

How we can help
Our team are all specialists in this area of law and are either qualified members or working towards membership of STEP (Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners).
If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Wills & Probate team simple click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Louise Holmes​, Cullimore Dutton Wills, Trusts & Estates

At what age should I write a will?

At what age should I write a Will?

While the age at which you should write a Will can vary depending on your personal circumstances, it is generally recommended for adults to consider creating a Will as soon as they have assets or dependents they want to protect and provide for after their passing.

Here are a few factors to consider:

  1. Legal Age: In the UK, the legal age is 18 years old. Once you reach this age, you are considered an adult and have the legal capacity to create a Will.
  2. Accumulation of Assets: If you have acquired assets such as property, investments, savings, or valuable possessions, it is a good time to consider writing a Will to ensure that they are distributed according to your wishes.
  3. Dependents: If you have dependents, such as children or individuals who rely on you financially, it becomes essential to create a Will to outline guardianship arrangements and provide for their needs in the event of your passing.
  4. Life Changes: Major life events like marriage, divorce, or the birth of a child often prompt individuals to review or create a Will to reflect their changing circumstances.

While it is advisable to write a Will sooner rather than later, it is never too late to create one. It’s important to keep your will up to date and revise it as needed to reflect any changes in your assets, relationships, or wishes. Consulting a legal professional such as ourselves is recommended to ensure your Will is legally valid.

How we can help
If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Wills & Probate team simple click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Louise Holmes​, Cullimore Dutton Wills, Trusts & Estates

Why should you leave a gift to charity in your Will?

Most people will be touched by a charity at some point in their life. Whether you have been supported directly by a charity yourself, or have seen a charity support a friend or relative, it’s easy to see the impact that charities can make on our lives.

But are you aware of the advantages available should you decide to say thank you to your favourite charity by leaving them a gift in your Will?

In this article we have partnered with Joanne Walton, Fundraising and Communications Manager at Platform for Life to look at the impact on both you and the charities.

Joanne Walton

Benefits to Charities:
Gifts in Wills, also known as legacies, are a vital source of income for charities such as Platform for Life. They tend to be of a higher value than one-off donations and help charities with their long-term planning, especially if they’ve been notified of intent beforehand.

It is a little-known fact that without gifts in Wills, many charities in the UK would struggle to survive and with many anticipating a third of their total income to be lost as a result of Covid-19, charities have never needed our support more. With little or no government funding many charities rely heavily on donations and legacy payments from Wills as their main source of income. By remembering your favourite charities in this way, you’re ensuring that their good work continues, and that the charity is there for the next generation.

Last year people left more than £3 billion in their Wills to good causes, making up about a third of a charity’s voluntary income*.

*Source: Smee & Ford, Legacy Trends 2020

Benefits to you:
Leaving a gift in your Will can also provide significant benefits to you. Charitable donations in Wills are free from inheritance tax (IHT) and depending on the value of your gift can be a powerful tool in your IHT planning, which can significantly reduce the value of any IHT bill on your death.

Supporting your chosen charity during your lifetime is one thing but making a statement that you’re going to support them after you are gone can really deepen the bond between you and your cause.

Will Statistics

The proportion of people leaving a gift in their Will is increasing, from 12% in 2007 to 16% in 2017.

Each year legacies left in Wills provide more than £3bn to fund charities’ vital work.

On average, people remember 3 charities in their Will.

Platform for Life
Platform for Life offer free, accessible, community based mental health and wellbeing services such as counselling, play and art therapy to low-income families (adults, young people and children) in Chester.

There’s a strong link between poverty and poor mental health and Platform for Life support those in this situation who are struggling with their mental health.

Their focus is on strengthening family relationships and creating more stable and nurturing environments for children. They take a holistic approach and recognise that parental trauma and adversity can have a profound impact on children. This means they sometimes work with a parent to affect change and make a difference for a child. Their aim is always to help bring about a positive change for the client and by association, their family.

Four Great reasons to leave a gift in your Will

  1. A gift for the next generation: We all hope to leave the world a little better than we found it. Perhaps you’d like to ensure that the support your charity offers is still there for your children and theirs to come. A gift in your Will is a great way to enable a charity to continue its work.
  2. Reduce your inheritance tax: A gift to charity is free from inheritance tax and if you leave more than 10% of your entire estate to charity then the total amount of inheritance tax you pay reduces from 40% to 36%.
  3. Keep a memory alive: Many people choose to leave a gift to a charity that was important to a loved one, this is a great way to remember them.
  4. You may live longer: Research shows on average you will live eight years longer if you leave a legacy.

Every gift in every Will, however large or small, makes a difference, small percentage in your Will, even 1%, can make a huge difference.

If you want to leave a gift to charity but have already made a Will, there are a number of options open to you:

  1. You can either create a new Will – probably the simplest way or
  2. Write a codicil – which is a document used to change a Will that has already been made.

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Wills & Probate team simply click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Louise Holmes​, Cullimore Dutton Wills, Trusts & Estates

Free will review for all clients

Have your personal or business circumstances changed recently? Our Wills & Probate Team are offering all clients a free will review.
With the many tax changes that have taken place in recent years, now is a good time to make or review your will.
Louise Holmes, Associate Director, said: “Regularly reviewing your will is one of the most important things you can do. It does not take long and it allows you to ensure that your loved ones are provided for, that your estate is as tax efficient as possible and that your wishes are respected upon death.
“A good time to review your will is after setting up a new company, after the purchase or sale of a property, the birth of a child or if your personal circumstances have changed.”
If you would like to arrange an appointment with one of our specialist team, please email wills@cullimoredutton.co.uk or call 01244 729072.

Friendly girl explaining some documentation to parent

Book a place at our December seminar – The Bank of Mum & Dad

Our December seminar will offer advice and tips on how parents can plan for and support the financial future of their children and grandchildren – and we’d love you to come along.

Led by our Financial Services and Family Law teams, we will be discussing key life events and things to bear in mind to ensure your support is best placed and well protected.

We will look at a range of topics including how to fund going to university, how to help a child to get on to or move up the property ladder, protecting a deposit in the event of a relationship break-up and how to finance a wedding.

There will also be inheritance planning tips plus advice about the passing on of pension pots.

Clients are welcome to bring their (adult) children along to the event and there will be plenty of opportunities to ask questions or have a one-to-one session with our team after the event.

This is the second in our newly launched series of seminars. Hosted by our Financial Services and Wills, Trusts and Estates teams, last month we offered advice and answered questions on how to manage your wealth and the benefits of lasting power of attorney.

December’s seminar will take place on Thursday, December 15 between 5.30pm-7.30pm.

To register your place at this free event, taking place in our new office (27 Newgate Street, Chester CH1 1DE) please email visit our website and complete the form or email events@cullimoredutton.co.uk

If you are coming to the seminar, please ring the top doorbell at our main door for access to the building.

  • If you would like to be kept in touch about future seminars please get in touch.
  • If you can’t make the seminar but would like more information about any of the topics, please drop us an email.
Louise Holmes​, Cullimore Dutton Wills, Trusts & Estates

A Quick Guide to Wills

Louise Holmes​, Cullimore Dutton Wills, Trusts & Estates

How one of Chester’s few ‘Solicitors for the Elderly’ helps clients to plan ahead

Associate Director Louise Holmes specialises in drafting wills, tax planning, trusts and inheritance tax planning and drawing up Powers of Attorney. She joined the Cullimore Dutton team in June and is passionate about changing the lives of our clients. Here she talks about her work with clients approaching retirement, her home visits and her love of Chester.

What inspired you to become a solicitor?

I picked a career in the law because I wanted to really help people and to make a difference to their lives. For example, one of my specialisms is drawing up Powers of Attorney for people.

This is a legal document that allows someone to make decisions for you or act on your behalf if you are no longer able to do so. It is important for anyone who has money or assets they want to protect – or who wants someone to act in their best interest when it comes to healthcare choices – in a scenario when they can’t personally make the decision.

Most people I help are making them when they hit retirement age and want to get their affairs in order. Having a Power of Attorney in place is like a kindness to a family because it can potentially save a lot of stress.


How did you get started in your legal career?

I began by volunteering at the Citizens Advice Bureau in Chester whilst I was completing my Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) and really enjoyed it. Before that, I studied Business at Coventry University. Today, working in a busy Wills department really makes me think I have achieved my goal to help people.


Working with the elderly

I am a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly (there are only a few of us in Cheshire), which means I specialise in dealing with older and vulnerable clients on a regular basis. Being able to explain legal information and options in a clear and sensitive way is particularly important. If clients can’t come into the office, or feel nervous about doing so, I often pop out to see them in their home. I feel very privileged to be invited into someone’s home and to be trusted to help them resolve a legal issue. Sometimes I can be the only person they have spoken to all week and I love chatting to them and hearing about their family history.


What do you love about Chester and working at Cullimore Dutton?

I grew up in Chester and love working in such a beautiful city that is proud of its history.

The people and the excellent reputation of Cullimore Dutton are what makes it such a special place to work. I also like working for an MD who isn’t a solicitor, but has a business background, which fits with my business degree!


Life outside work?

My weekends are a whirlwind of activity running three young children and walking the family’s 8-year-old pet Cavapoo. I am also treasurer of our primary school’s PTA and help to run the Tarvin toddler group every Friday.

Unraveling Inheritance Tax

Unravelling Inheritance Tax

Unravelling Inheritance Tax – a free guide

Download our free 12-page guide to Unravelling Inheritance Tax covering:

  • Inheritance tax: the basics
  • How marital status affects inheritance tax
  • The new Residence Nil-Rate Band
  • Leaving pensions as part of your estate
  • Making gifts to reduce an estate’s value
  • Setting up a trust
  • Taking out life insurance to pay inheritance tax

Click here to download your free copy

Helping you to understand inheritance tax and guide you through the process of estate planning.
Although often in the news, inheritance tax is still not widely understood. That’s worrying, because it affects thousands of families every year.

If you thought inheritance tax was just for extremely wealthy people to worry about, think again. Rising property prices have meant more estates than ever are likely to face an inheritance tax bill. In fact, the amount of inheritance tax collected has doubled over the last five years, and the number of estates paying inheritance tax has nearly tripled over the same period.

If your estate has an inheritance tax liability, your beneficiaries will have to pay the inheritance tax bill. This may not be the kind of legacy most people think of leaving behind.

The good news is that there are plenty of things you can do – in your lifetime – to take care of potential inheritance tax problems.

In this free guide, we set out some of your options in more detail to help you make an informed choice.

To download your free copy of our 12-page guide to Unravelling Inheritance Tax simply complete the form below:


Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.