Latest blog entries All blog entries from Tue, 31 Mar 2015 06:25:00 +0000 en-gb Robin Williams’ Family Head To Court In Legal Battle The family of the late Robin Williams are heading to court in a custody battle over the comedians estate and his will.

Williams’ wife and children are arguing over the estate of the late actor following the reading of his will. The main argument comes following Williams’ dividing his personal items and memorabilia between his family, with his wife and family arguing over which category certain items fall into.

The wife of the late star also argued that some items had been taken from the house she shared with Williams without her permission.

She has since asked the court to exclude items in the will that are currently in the home she shared with Robin Williams in LA.


The Hollywood A-lister had left the vast majority of belongings to his children in a trust to ensure that they were given financial support at appropriate times.

Williams' children, Zachary, Zelda and Cody, said in response that Susan Williams is "adding insult to a terrible injury" by trying to change the trust agreement and rob them of the late actor's belongings.

Despite this claim from Williams’ children, Mrs Williams insists that she only wants the court to be clear on what is defined as being in the trust, and to ask that some items remain with her. The family also disagree with items placed in storage.

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If you require legal advice regarding making a will or if you believe you have the right to contest a will, contact us today using our online contact service.

]]> (Mark Wilson) Wills Mon, 30 Mar 2015 12:20:59 +0000
A Quick Guide to Trusts - And How Anyone Can Use Them A recent story in Canada’s Globe and Mail drew attention to the use of Trusts, and the view that many members of the public have of them. On hearing the word ‘Trust’, many people believe that this is a tool designed exclusively for the wealthy to protect their finances from taxation. This is simply not the case, as everyone can make use of Trusts. Contrary to what is regularly reported in the media, Trusts are designed to allow individuals to have greater control of their finances.

Trust law can be very difficult to understand, not least because of the number of false stories that are promulgated in the media regarding their purpose and use. Here we set out what Trusts are, and how they can be used. What is a Trust? In Scotland a Trust is technically a partnership between three different people. These people arrange to work together to allow money to be passed from one individual to another, to be used to benefit someone else. In law, this relationship is described as: A ‘Truster’ will pass money to a ‘Trustee’, who will then use that money to benefit the ‘Beneficiaries’.

What can be Trusts be used for?

All too often people are duped into believing that a Trust can only ever be used by wealth people. In fact, Trusts can be used by everyone and for any number of purposes including:

1. Setting a sum of money aside for a particular reason e.g. to help pay for your grandchildren’s university fees;

2. Leaving some money for your family members to use when you are no longer around, to support themselves;

3. Organising for a loved one’s financial affairs to be organised, if they are incapable of doing so themselves;

4. Planning for a time when you yourself cannot manage your own finances, and want to let someone better placed to do so on your behalf; or

5. Attempting to calculate the Inheritance Tax that is due on your estate, and reduce this liability to leave more for your family when you pass away. The fact of the matter is that a Trust is a perfectly legal instrument that you can use to help manage financial affairs, either now or for some time in the future.

How is a Trust created?

A Trust is the combination of the efforts of three people working together: Truster, a Trustee and Beneficiaries. If you are thinking about creating a Trust, you will be the ‘Truster’, and you would need to organise for the creation of a ‘Trust Deed’. This is a legal document that actually brings a Trust into existence, and sets out how anything that you decide to put inside the Trust is to be used by the Truster, for the Beneficiaries. The body of a Trust Deed will in most cases depend on your circumstances. However regardless as to your particular intentions, a Trust Deed should set out clearly the following information:

• The purpose the Trust – Who or what is the Trust for? Who or what will be the beneficiary? This is arguably the most important part of the document, which has real legal consequences. It is a good idea to have a Trust Deed drafted by an expert Trusts lawyer, as they will be able to make sure that your wishes are set down very clearly in writing.

• The Trustees of the Trust – Who will put your wishes into action for the Beneficiaries? It is entirely your decision as to who you appoint to be a Trustee: you can appoint a person or an organisation. Before you do appoint a Trustee, it is important that you take the time to speak with a potential Trustee about what they will be expected to do if they accept this role: being a Trustee means that they will need to follow a series of rules in performing their duties, which they should be aware of.

• The Beneficiaries of the Trust – Who gets the benefit of the Trusts resources? Your Trustee will administer the resources within the Trust for their benefit, so it is very important that you identify very clearly who this is to be. This avoids any ambiguity and the risk that the resources that you put into the Trust are not misused. Handling money and organising how it is to be used can be a very complicated and stressful job.

The law has developed to allow for the creation of Trusts because lawmakers understand this reality. Trusts are designed to make financial planning easier, no matter the purpose. Regardless as to whether you are trying to plan for your families future, or perhaps ensure that you are financially secure in your more senior years, or are simply looking to pass on as much of your property to your family as possible. The beauty of a Trust is that you as its creator have complete control over what it does: you decide what goes into it, who will make use of it, and who will benefit from it.

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At Wilson & Fish our team of Private Client lawyers are specialists in Trust law. We understand that you may not be familiar with how Trusts work, or what can or cannot be done with them. We take pride in helping our clients to organise their affairs and enjoy all of the benefits that a Trust can offer. Our dedicated team will answer any questions that you have, and will give legal advice that fully reflects your circumstances. If you are interested in using a Trust, or are perhaps thinking more generally about planning for the future, contact us now. We are here to help.

]]> (Mark Wilson) Wills Mon, 23 Mar 2015 16:06:05 +0000
Woman Jailed For Illegally Dodging Inheritance Tax A woman has been jailed for disclosing figures to the tax offices after she inherited £1.5m but told the taxman the sum was £285,000.Whilst there are legal ways to reduce the amount of inheritance tax you pay, as discussed in one of our last posts, disclosing what you inherit is an illegal way.

Lied to Tax Office

Following the death of her aunt, Theresa Bunn failed to inform HMRC of how much she had inherited.and the financial gifts that her aunt had left. Ms Bunn is now sentenced to serve two years in prison due to attempting to evade payment of tax.

HMRC stated that they decided to make the details of the case public in order to deter others from attempting to evade inheritance tax. As stated in our previous blog there are numerous ways to reduce the amount of inheritance tax you pay. An HMRC director, Stuart Taylor, said that Ms Bunn "lied purely to avoid paying tax".

He added: "The vast majority of us pay what is due, when it is due, but HMRC will not tolerate tax fraud and will investigate those we suspect of operating outside the law.”

Although HMRC have been clamping down on the number of people avoiding inheritance tax, cases are not often publicly revealed, however, the organisation are hoping that such public information will remove any temptation for others to try and avoid inheritance tax.

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When making a will or planning your inheritance it is important to not cut corners. Our legal team at Wilson and Fish can help. If you require legal advice, contact us using our online contact form.

]]> (Mark Wilson) Wills Mon, 23 Mar 2015 13:39:48 +0000
A Busy Start to the New Year for Wilson & Fish Solicitors We are nearing the end of March already, and for Wilson & Fish Solicitors it feels that 2015 has been flying in as we’ve reached a new level of busy. With the New Year comes New Years resolutions. For many it’s to exercise more, learn a new language or skill, or simply eat better. But for a number of our clients, their resolutions have been to wind up estates, write their will and appoint a power of attorney.

If you need any help arranging your affairs or winding up an estate, there's no time like the present. Out specialist private client solicitors can advise you on appointing a power of attorney, your duties as an executor, and writing a valid will in Scotland. Contact us by filling out our online enquiry form and one of our solicitors will be in touch. 

]]> (Mark Wilson) News Thu, 19 Mar 2015 16:22:14 +0000
Can I Write my Own Will? - Dangers of DIY wills It was recently reported that there are real dangers in using DIY wills when attempting to plan for a time when we are no longer around. Unfortunately this is not an understatement, as the consequences of using a pre-packed Will that is not properly drafted are quite real and can have a significant impact. The loss of a love one can be a very emotional time for family members, and their having to grapple with a Will that may not provide for your final wishes as they understood them will only add to their stress.

The Guardian recently pointed out that in cases where a ‘ready-made’ Will has been used by families that were attracted by its convenience and the opportunity to make a financial saving on legal fees, as many as 38,000 families had experienced difficulties in organising a loved one’s estate because of faults in the Wills drafting. What can go wrong with a DIY will? Contrary to what many people may believe, there are many reasons that a DIY will could potentially make the process of organising a loved one’s much more difficult than one would have expected:

1. Governing law

The law on Wills in Scotland and in England & Wales is very different. This is very important when you are considering drafting your Will, or buying a pre-made document. There is a risk that with DIY wills that are made available to purchase off the shelf – and may not have been seen by a qualified solicitor before they were produced - are not drafted in a way that is in line with the requirements of Scots law.

The danger therefore is that you may believe that you have drafted your Will in a way that reflects your wishes. However a DIY will may not be drafted in a way that clearly communicates this, meaning that it could be very difficult for your surviving family members to honour the intentions you had for your property.

2. Witnesses

Notwithstanding the fact that there needs to be sufficient detail in a Will for it to cover all of your estate and how it is to be distributed, the Will must meet the necessary legal requirements before it will be deemed legally valid. Many people are attracted by the idea of DIY wills in the belief that because it has been made available to buy, it must be a valid document. This is not always true. In Scotland before a Will can be legally valid, it must have been witnessed. If there is no Witness to your signing a Will, then the document will not be treated by the courts as being valid. As a result, you estate may have to be administered according to a new set of rules that do not have any consideration to your wishes: the rules of intestacy.

3. Reflecting changes in life

Another reason why many people can be so attracted by the idea of a DIY will is the belief that it is in some way better than that which would ordinarily be drawn up by a solicitor. This is not necessarily the case. The reason why it is always advisable to speak to a solicitor about drafting a Will is because they will also set out what happens if there are changes in your life that you would like reflected in your Will. DIY wills will not cover developments in your life that are not included in the document. Moreover these documents are often drafted in a way that make it difficult to account for changes in life, and may have an impact on how your affairs are managed when you are no longer alive.

4. Control

DIY wills and their being made available for you to buy off-the-shelf means that they are essentially commercial products. As a result, they tend be drafted in such a way that takes account of most people’s circumstances and what most people would like to have done with their estate when they pass away. However the truth of the matter is that everyone is not the same in terms of how they would like their estate to be administered when they are no longer around. A solicitor will be able to draft a Will that reflects, exactly, what your estate is composed of and what your wishes are for how it is to be distributed.

5. Intestacy

If a Will is not deemed as legally valid, meaning that a court cannot allow your family to organise your estate, then as mentioned earlier, your estate will have to be administered according to the rules of Intestacy. It is very important to be aware that the law on Intestacy is very different in Scotland compared to England & Wales. This has real consequences for your estate and can mean that your family may be made to suffer unnecessary heartache when they are confronted with a process that they are unfamiliar with.

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A Will is a very personal document: it is designed to reflect what you as an individual want to happen with your propery when you pass away. Unfortunately DIY wills that are made available to purchase off-the-shelf cannot realistically account for what every single person may want to do with their property. Furthermore they may have been created in a way does not meet the requirements of Scots law for it to be deemed a legally valid document. While there can be a cost in engaging a solicitor to draft a tailor made Will for you, the cost will be minimal when compared to both the financial and emotional strain that can be placed on families attempting to honour the terms of a legally invalid document. Finding out that your Will is not legally valid can be a very traumatic experience for your surviving family members. At Wilson & Fish we can advise you on how best to plan for a time for when you are no longer here, and will be able to draft a Will that meets all of the requirements of Scots law. Please contact us on 0141 530 1714.

]]> (Mark Wilson) Wills Wed, 18 Mar 2015 16:57:23 +0000