News stories are not all about celebrities, politicians, and famous people.
A cursory glance through the newspapers or viewing the television news on any given day shows that probably most news items focus on ordinary people who may be doing extraordinary things, or who may find themselves in an unusual situation.
Take the example of 22-year-old Marcus Hutchins, credited with halting the global spread of a massive international ransomware attack, WannaCry. It was estimated that Mr Hutchins prevented more than 100,000 computers across the globe from being infected by WannaCry.
Yet, despite being feted as a hero in the Press, there was a negative side to all this publicity for Mr Hutchins, a person who used the alias of ‘MalwareTech’ to avoid being identified. He was propelled into a Media spotlight that often brings with it unwanted attention. It has been reported, for instance, that Mr Hutchins has said that he will have to move house after a newspaper identified him and published his full address, resulting in him being hounded.
As part of the WannaCry story, it was not just Mr Hutchins who was targeted by the Media, but also those who knew him.
Media attention can often be short lived, but like a tornado that rips through a town, the duration of the event is not always as significant as the damage it leaves behind.
If you become the focus of unwanted Media attention, it is important to act quickly.
At MW Solicitors we can help individuals who receive unwanted Media attention. There are various legal avenues that can be explored to counter this attention, and our experts in MW’s Media Law and Reputation Management Department are not just experienced in the law regarding these matters, but also in how to communicate with the Media in an effective manner.
By way of contrast to Mr Hutchins’ situation, if a client wishes to obtain Media attention for a brand, event, or simply because they have a newsworthy story, we also assist with how, when, and on what terms information is conveyed by clients to the Media. That way clients can speak to the Media in the knowledge that Press intrusion will only go so far.
MW Solicitors Ltd are extremely proud to have become the principal sponsors of the Back Up Trust Wheelchair Skills Programme.
Every day three people sustain a spinal cord injury, through accident or illness and at MW our expert Personal Injury solicitors represent many clients with vital legal assistance throughout the personal injury claim process. We are acutely aware of the tremendous resources provided by Back Up through wheelchair skills training, peer support and vocational rehabilitation.
In addition to providing financial support for these vital services, we will also be providing hands on support in the form of volunteer assistants who will attend each and every wheelchair skills training session throughout the UK.
Back Up was founded in 1986 by the former British and European Freestyle Champion and James Bond stunt double Mike Nemesvary, whose life was devastated when he broke his neck during a training session. Despite being paralysed from the shoulders down, Mike was determined to get back to the life he enjoyed. Back Up was initially set up to offer ski courses for those affected by spinal cord injury. Over the years, Back Up has expanded its services to challenge and empower people to get ‘back up’ to a place they were at before their accident.
Back Up exists to inspire independence in anyone affected by spinal cord injury and to encourage everyone to get the most from their lives. They work with people of all ages, from young children to the elderly, whatever the motivation or background.
At MW, our mission is "to make quality legal services accessible to everyone" and we aim to support clients throughout their lives with our teams of skilled, experienced lawyers.
If you have experienced a no fault injury MW can provide pro-bono or discounted assistance, whatever your legal needs. Where your injury has been caused by someone else’s negligence we have a specialist serious injury and medical negligence team with decades of experience acting for the most seriously injured in the UK and abroad. After suffering a life changing injury we believe rehabilitation in all its forms is key. We have case managers who can assist with practical issues from the start and then we are with you and those that rely on and care for you throughout the course of your claim and beyond.
If you or a loved one have suffered a Spinal Injury and would like to know more about how we can support you through your rehabilitation and through the claims process, call our expert Personal Injury team on 0203 551 8500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Sharon Bell, Partner and a member of MWs Estate and Trust Dispute Team outlines the role of the Court of Protection and the circumstances when a Statutory Will may be necessary.
Statutory Wills are made by the Court of Protection. The Court of Protection is a specialist court set up to protect the interests of those who cannot make financial and welfare decisions for themselves because they lack mental capacity.
A person who lacks mental capacity, by definition, is not in a position to make a Will or make any amendments to their existing Will. However, if the making of a Will or an amendment to any Will is considered necessary then the only way someone can make a Will on behalf of a person who lacks capacity is by making an application to the Court of Protection for a Statutory Will.
A Statutory Will may be considered necessary if:
The Court of Protection is most likely to allow a Statutory Will if the person who lacks capacity has never made a Will or there has been a significant change in their circumstances.
The Court will consider whether or not it is in the vulnerable person’s “best interests” for a Statutory Will to be made. It is usual that the Official Solicitor will be appointed as an independent party to represent the interests of a vulnerable person.
The Court will always try to encourage the vulnerable person to be a participant in the proceedings if possible and the court will look at the criteria laid down in Section 4 of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 as to deciding what is in the vulnerable person’s best interests. The court will look at:
The court will also take into account how the vulnerable person may wish to be remembered after their death. It is arguably in their best interests that they are remembered with fond memories and affection.
Every case will be different and the court has a wide discretion as no one factor in the Section 4 criteria will outweigh any other. The court just has to be satisfied that the making of a Statutory Will is in the best interests of the vulnerable person.
At MW, Our Mission is “to make quality legal services accessible to everyone” including those who lack the capacity to act for themselves. Our Specialist Estate & Trust Dispute Team have extensive experience handling Statutory Will applications.
If you would like more information on a Statutory Will could be in the best interests of a family member who lacks capacity then take advantage of our FREE CASE REVIEW; call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at email@example.com
Solicitor and member of MW's Estate and Trust Dispute Team, Jane Flaherty, discusses the Governments recently announced plans to increase probate fees.
On 18th February 2016 the Government launched the Consultation - Fee Proposals for Grants of Probate canvassing public and professional opinion regarding an increase in fees when making an application for a Grant of Probate.
As a general rule, any estate which includes property requires a Grant of Probate, and most estates with shares require a grant of probate. The current fee is £155 where you obtain a grant through a solicitor and £215 where a personal application is made. Where an estate is below £5000 there is no fee.
Despite an astounding 97.5% of respondents expressing that they were against the proposed increases, the Government has announced its intention to proceed with its plans to increase the fees at some point in May 2017.
A date has not yet been set and any changes which come into force will effect applications in accordance with the date the application is lodged with the probate office and not by date of death.
The fees will be charged in accordance to the size of the estate as follows:
|Value of estate (before Inheritance tax)||Proposed fee|
|Up to £50,000||£0|
|Over £50,000 but under £300,000||£300|
|Over £3000,000 and up to £500,000||£1,000|
|Over £500,000 and up to £1 million||£4,000|
|Over £1 million up to £1.6 million||£8,000|
|Over £1.6 million up to £2 million||£12,000|
|Over £2 million||£20,000|
The government claim that the majority of estates, those being valued at less than £50,000, will not be charged at all. In practice, most estates valued in that threshold do not include property and therefore would not require a Grant of Probate in any event.
The reality of the changes to costs is that most estates requiring a grant will see a huge increase in the probate fees. Beneficiaries will see costs escalate sharply between £300 and £20,000 despite there being no link between the value of the estate and the amount of work involved.
A really good analogy that has been put forward is to consider the cost of a passport. We all pay the same price for a passport because the same amount of admin is required for each application. Could you imagine the uproar if passport costs were based on each applicant's income?
We have been informed that the changes will be in force in May 2017. The probate registry is set to raise £300 million pounds of revenue to support the costs of the wider Court and Tribunal services. The increases are being labelled as ‘stealth tax’ or a ‘death tax.’
Whereas the Office of the Public Guardian announced that their fees are going to be reduced from April 2017.
The cost to register a single lasting power of attorney or enduring power of attorney will fall from £110 to £82 pounds. The reason given for this reduction is that due to the increased amount of applications it is receiving it does not need to charge as much per application to be fully self funding.
We believe that parliament should reject this unreasonable tax by the back door and start again in its consideration of increasing the probate fees.
To sign the petition please click on the link below https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/188175
Kristi Ashworth, Trainee Legal Executive in the Estate and Trust Dispute Team discusses how paternity tests play a role in Inheritance claims.
Thanks to great crime dramas, it seems that we are all familiar with DNA and have some idea of how it works. Questions of paternity can often arise after someone dies, and frequently do when there is a child or other relative claiming to be entitled to a share of the deceased’s Estate. What you may not know, are the different types of DNA tests that are available to help determine parentage and other familial relationships.
If your paternity, or that of other family relations, is being disputed there are several DNA tests that can be undertaken which could assist with your claim and thus help you succeed in securing your rightful inheritance as follows:
DNA tests are painless and can be undertaken using saliva swabs or hair samples; blood tests are not necessary. If other family members who could participate in DNA testing refuse, it may be possible to ask the Court to make an adverse inference (that the DNA test is likely to result in your favour) as a result of that refusal or, in extreme circumstances, it can be arranged for DNA samples to be taken from the remains of the Deceased.
A Y-Chromosome test is a much more recent development in the science of DNA testing which can be used as an alternative to the more traditional options listed above if you have male heirs in the family willing to participate in a test to assist your case. It can also be performed in conjunction with one or other of the more traditional tests to support the findings. The Y-Chromosome test doesn’t show direct paternity but it shows with certainty whether two individuals share the same male lineage – which can amount to the same thing if you are sure, for example, that a grandfather or uncle couldn’t be the father.
If family members continue in their refusal to accept the result of the test(s) then an application to the Court can be made for a Declaration of Parentage under section 55A of the Family Law Act 1986 which is binding on all institutions, and thus would bind a Personal Representative of an Estate to distribute inheritance according to the findings of the Court as to your paternity.
In the very interesting case of the Baronetcy of Pringle of Stichill (referral under section 4 of the Judicial Committee Act 1833) UKPC 16, the Privy Council considered the reliability of a Y-Chromosome DNA test to determine the rightful heir to the Baronetcy of Pringle of Stichill. Although decided in the context of Scottish law the Privy Council made clear throughout the judgment that the outcome would have been no different under English law.
In this case, there were two claimants, Simon Robert Pringle (“Simon”) and Norman Murray Archibald MacGregor Pringle (“Murray). Each maintained that he was the rightful heir to the Baronetcy. Following a Y-Chromosome test (which was conducted for unrelated reasons), the results showed that the profile of Simon’s father Steuart (and his brother) did not match that of the profiles for Murray and all of the other male heirs tested in the family. As such, Murray claimed that Simon was not the rightful heir because Simon’s grandfather Norman (who was enrolled as the ninth baronet) was not the son of the eighth baronet. This meant that the baronetcy had, up to that point, passed down incorrectly to unrelated males since the 8th baronet. Murray claimed that his father was the rightful male heir of the first baronet (the test for enrolment as the current baronet) and, as a result, upon his father’s death it was Murray who was now the male heir of the first baronet.
The diagram below illustrates the male lineage of the Pringle family.
The Court accepted expert evidence presented at trial as to the accuracy of Y-Chromosome testing and ruled that the DNA test showed a “high degree of probability” that Norman H Pringle, was not the son of the eighth baronet. On 27th June 2016 Sir Ronald Steuart Pringle and his son Sir Norman Murray Pringle were admitted onto the Official Roll of the Baronetage, as the rightful 9th and 10th Baronets of Stichill respectively.
The case confirms that the Court will accept the reliability of Y-Chromosome DNA testing (even in the absence of other forms of DNA testing) to make an order relating to an inheritance.
At MW, our mission is “to make quality legal services accessible to everyone” ” including those who seek to prove their entitlement to an inheritance via DNA tests.
Our specialist Estate & Trust Dispute Team are currently assisting several clients in relation to inheritance claims where parentage is being disputed. If you would like more detailed advice on whether a DNA Test and a Declaration of Parentage could help you with your inheritance or would like to take advantage of our FREE CASE REVIEW, call us today on 020 3551 8500 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.