Why a financial planner is an essential part of your divorce team –

Why a financial planner is an essential part of your divorce team

By Guest Blogger Hannah Foxley of The Women’s Wealth Expert http://www.thewomenswealthexpert.co.uk/#!


A mistake that is often made in the divorce process is involving the financial planner at the end once the settlement has been agreed, but they can add much value in helping to reach a settlement.

A good financial planner will bring to your attention and help you avoid making mistakes, I have included some here as examples but the list is not exhaustive;

Dealing with financial assets on a single basis rather than taking account of the bigger picture

  • Keeping a house that you can’t afford
  • Failing to break all financial ties
  • Not having a true understanding of the financial assets and debts of a marriage
  • Failing to understand what your true outgoings are and preparing an incorrect budget
  • Assuming that an equal division is a fair division on divorce
  • Failing to understand the risk and reward trade off when offsetting assets
  • Having an unrealistic expectation of your lifestyle after divorce
  • Failing to understand the true value of your husband’s defined benefit pension scheme
  • Failing to take your fair share of your husband’s pensions
  • Taking the house in lieu of the pension
  • Not taking into consideration the impact of tax on assets
  • Failing to change joint life policies
  • Failing to insure the maintenance payments and maintain control of policies
  • Not understanding the liquidity of assets
  • Failing to consider your long-term security
  • Forgetting about the long-term impact of inflation and tax and having unrealistic expectations of investment returns
  • Failing to develop a post-divorce financial plan

So, as you can see, having a financial planner is key.

Here are some of the ways that they can help you.


Help with preparing the Form E

The Form E is the financial statement document in a divorce and is the lynchpin of the financial decision-making. It is absolutely vital to get the information on it correct. The most crucial part for you to get right is part 3, which relates to the financial requirements that you have both in terms of capital and income. This is where any mistakes in the budget could have a negative impact on the settlement that you agree. It is imperative to include absolutely everything on that statement and take into account the impact of inflation and tax.

In addition to that, a financial planner can help with the rest of the form by assisting you to obtain all of the relevant information about your savings, investments and pensions from the providers. Because they see this paperwork all of the time, they know exactly what they are looking for and can take the stress away from you and save your solicitor time also.


Understanding the assets

If your husband has many different assets and investments, you will need to understand exactly what they are, how risky they are, what the tax implications are and whether you can actually sell them.  You will also need to understand the future value of those investments and how they will help your future financial security rather than focussing on the current value of it. Your husband is likely to have a different risk profile to you and so you will need someone who really understands the assets to explain them to you. A financial planner can do this for you.


Getting to grips with the pensions

Getting your share of your husband’s pension is absolutely crucial and it’s not just about agreeing an equal split based on the current value of the funds, doing this could be seriously detrimental to you. There are many factors to consider when looking at splitting the pension and they are a significant asset in most marriages, so getting it right is crucial. Only a financial adviser can advise on pensions. They work with your lawyer and, if necessary, an actuary, if a final salary pension scheme is involved to bring the figures to life and explain the impact of the factors used in the calculations.


Calculating your future income needs

When calculating your future income needs factors such as inflation, tax and investment returns need to be taken into consideration so that you do not run out of money. Failure to take these factors into consideration can and will have a devastating effect on your future financial security.

A good financial planner uses specialist software, which can analyse future cash flow requirements taking into account inflation, tax and different investment returns to calculate the sum that would be required as a settlement.


This software gives you a visual representation of how different factors can affect your future financial security. It will show when you will run out of money, which allows the financial planner and lawyer to calculate how much of a lump sum you need as a settlement or how much maintenance needs to be paid. It can also be used to show how much of your husband’s pension you will need to take to ensure that you have a fair income in retirement. It clearly shows the effects of inflation and investment returns on your money and is brilliant for helping you to plan and budget. The results of this analysis and the assumptions used can be used to produce a report to provide to the court. The planner will then use this software for the post-divorce financial planning to help you set a realistic budget to live on so that you don’t run out of money. This is the true value of a great financial planner.


Protection of the settlement

You may agree as part of the settlement that your husband will pay you maintenance either until the children reach a certain age, or it may be for the rest of your life. It is essential that this is protected in case your husband becomes sick or dies. It is also vital to ensure that the protection is set up in such a way that you know that he is paying the premiums, and you don’t find out when it is too late that he cancelled the policy without you knowing.


Post-divorce financial planning

Once the divorce has been finalised and you have your settlement, you will be on your own financially. Proper financial planning is really important as you don’t want to get ten years down the line and run out of money, or get to retirement and realise that you don’t have enough.

As described above, financial planners can help you to budget correctly, so that you have money for now and money for the future. You will also need help with school and university fees for the children.

You may have got some of your husband’s pension as part of the settlement and this will need to be invested for you, as well as a discussion around adding to it yourself. You may have cash and assets that you have no idea what to do with. This is a very scary and fearful position to be in when you are not used to it and this is where the planner can help. The relationship with your financial planner is a long one and will guide you through life’s changes as well as any curve balls that it throws at you.

Your relationship with your lawyer ends as soon as the divorce is finalised but a financial planner will be there for as long as you continue to have a relationship with them. This will give you a feeling of security and continuity. By having them involved at the very beginning you can ensure that you avoid making expensive financial mistakes, they can support your lawyer, working with them to ensure the best outcome for you.

If you would like further financial advice then you can contact Hannah on 020 7125 0409 or email her at Hannah@thewomenswealthexpert.co.uk

Who Owns You When You Are Dead? The Responsibility, Possession and Disposal of Your Remains –

Who Owns You When You Are Dead? The Responsibility, Possession and Disposal of Your Remains


Between busy work schedules, family, friends, social lives and personal problems our lives are rarely ever straightforward; but what happens when the chaos of our lives carries over into our death?

It is a sad fact that family relationships can often be strained or even non existent and this frequently causes disputes in the event of a family member dying. The most common question asked is who gets what? This is decided either by the deceased’s Will or by the Intestacy Rules. An equally important (but less frequently asked) question can arise when planning the funeral; who gets to decide what happens to the body?

In the majority of circumstances family and friends agree on funeral plans; usually by sticking to any wishes the deceased may have expressed. Unfortunately there are occasions where loved ones simply cannot agree and if this applies to you or someone you know then here are some facts you may need to know:


Ownership of the Body

The case of Williams v Williams (1880) sets a long established legal principle that there is no property in a corpse. Although a person can’t own the deceased’s body, certain people can have the right to possess it. This right in possession is only for the purposes of disposing the body.


Who has Responsibility for Disposing of the Body?

If the deceased left a valid Will the Executors of this Will are responsible for disposing of the body.

If the deceased died intestate (without a Will) the persons who apply for and are granted the Letters of Administration (the Administrators) are responsible for disposing of the body.

The Executors or Administrators should, as a general rule, try to abide by the wishes of the deceased whilst taking into consideration the wishes of any family members and friends of the deceased, however, they are not obligated by law to adhere these wishes.

Generally, the Executors or Administrators have the ultimate say as to whether the deceased’s body is buried or cremated (and whether your ashes are scattered, buried or kept) but also where and when this occurs.

As affirmed in the case of Dobson v North Tyneside Health Authority next of kin do not have a right or responsibility to dispose of the deceased’s body.


What Does This Mean For Me?

If you have not done so already, you should consider writing your Wills to minimise the likelihood of disputes of this kind arising. We have an expert team who ask all the right questions to ensure your Wills accurately reflect your wishes. If you would like to discuss your Wills further please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team who would be happy to help.

Vacancy – Receptionist – High Wycombe –

Vacancy – Receptionist – High Wycombe

We are looking to appoint a full time Receptionist in our busy High Wycombe office.

You will need to deliver friendly, efficient customer service and to create a warm and welcoming atmosphere for all our clients.

Administration duties will also apply to this varied role, and a flexible, can do attitude is essential. You will need to demonstrate good literacy and numeracy skills together with a good working knowledge of Microsoft Office programmes. A minimum academic requirement of 5 GCSE’s at Grade B (including Maths and English) preferred.

Please see our website for details on how to find out more and instructions on how to apply http://www.Lawindexpro.co.uk/vacancies/

Staff Training – Early Closure – Tuesday 4th February –

Staff Training – Early Closure – Tuesday 4th February

Please note that the Lawindexpro offices will be closed at the following times on Tuesday 4 February due to staff training and will all re-open at 9am on Wednesday 5 February:

Guildford Globeside 3.30pm
Guildford High Street 3.00pm
High Wycombe 3.00pm
Henley 3.00pm
Beaconsfield 3.00pm

Seasons Greetings –

Seasons Greetings

Please note Lawindexpro’s offices will be closed from 5.30pm on 24th December 2013 and will re-open at 9.00am on 2nd January 2014


Reasons to Use Us –

Reasons to Use Us

Youstepping stones will have specialists working on your behalf

Receive a fast and efficient service

Have individual attention from one of our experienced staff

Direct access to our personable staff

Be able to ask as many questions as you want to reassure yourself about progress on your work

Your individual needs will be assessed and your questions answered

You will be kept informed at every stage of the process

You will get value for money

Quite simply, you will get an excellent service

Pensions and Divorce –

Pensions and Divorce

When dealing with a case involving pensions on a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership there are three potential options;

• Pension Sharing

• Pension Attachment (Earmarking)

• Pension Offsetting

Without a doubt pensions can be difficult to understand. That’s why specialist advice is needed and that will often involve a separate pension expert and involvement by an actuary.

There are a variety of different pensions which may need to be considered, to include personal pensions, final salary schemes and often executive pensions, such as SSASs (Small Self Administered Schemes). An actuary can asses the options and present a report setting out the calculations and the relevant options to assist with negotiations.

Once matters are agreed, separate advice is often needed on how to actually implement the pension share or pension attachment. It is obviously important that the relevant pension order is implemented properly and in a timely fashion. Equally, separate advice can be taken about how best to rebuild a pension following the pension share.

Pension Sharing

A pension share essentially means that a pension on divorce is shared between the parties. The pension member who loses a percentage of the pension (pension debit) and the other party receives the percentage of the pension which is subsequently transferred (pension credit). The person receiving the pension share then has his/her own entitlement to that share of the pension.

There are two options in relation the pension credit;

• An internal transfer – this means that the pension remains within the existing pension scheme; or

• An external transfer – where the pension credit has to be transferred out of the existing pension scheme and invested in a new pension of his/her choice.

A pension sharing order can only be made following a divorce and by a Court order. A pension scheme has four months to implement the pension sharing order/ annex from the date it is served with the relevant papers. In considering pension sharing, it is also important on a case by case basis to consider the other relevant options of pension attachment and offsetting.

It is also important that the pension valuation is fair and accurate and special care must be taken where the pensions are perhaps unusual in nature particularly where the benefits are undervalued or are connected to a privately run business – this is where independent actuarial input can be crucial.

Pension Attachment

This effectively means that part of the pension is paid to the other party when the pension is drawn or in payment.

A pension attachment order can be made by a Court and following a divorce. Commonly, a pension sharing order will not take effect for some time as the member of the pension scheme will not have retired. Common problems with pension attachment orders are that they end at the death of a pension member or on the remarriage of the spouse. A pension earmarking order, might be an attractive option where the death in service benefits are high and a member of the scheme is near retirement.

Pension Offsetting

This basically means that the value of the pension benefits are offset against the value of other assets commonly the family home or investments. This could be appropriate where the pensions are modest, where it is the case of a short marriage and/or parties are of a young age and/or pension sharing is not a viable option, for example, because the case involves and overseas pension where sharing is not allowed.


Where there is an application for ancillary relief the applicant must indicate on Form A if this will include any pension arrangements.

A copy of this form must be sent by the person with the pension rights to the persons responsible for each pension arrangement (scheme provider or administrator) requesting the following information;

Valuation of pension rights or benefits

A cash equivalent transfer value (CETV)

Details of the benefits included in the valuation.

Whether the administrator will offer membership to the person receiving a pension credit as an internal transfer, or whether an external transfer would be necessary.

Schedule of charges which would be levied.

This information then forms part of the overall negotiations and a report may be produced by a pensions expert to aid negotiations in this regard.

Once a Pension Sharing Order is made an annex is attached for each pension arrangement which outlines the specific percentage value of the pension arrangement to be transferred as well as the date at which the benefits are to be valued and how the charges are to be apportioned between the parties.

The annex will usually require the recipient to include details of where their pension credit will be received – therefore pensions advice will be required to select the most appropriate vehicle.

The scheme provider/ administrator must discharge their liability within the period of 4 months beginning the date on which the order or provision takes effect or the first day they are in receipt of the order, including the annex.

How Brown Shipley can help;

We have pension experts who can provide advice and guidance for individuals with regards to pension matters and we also have our own pension wrapper which can accept most pension credits.

We are more than happy to discuss a situation in outline without obligation, working with the individual’s advisors and our Private Bankers to ensure an effective solution.

Brown Shipley & Co Limited is a UK authorised bank, authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. In relation to Pensions and Financial Planning Brown Shipley provides advice on a restricted basis.

Brown Shipley is also a member of the network of private banks known as KBL European Private Bankers, which, together, manage over €40 billion of client assets.

“Judges say your Will can be ignored” Landmark Court Ruling: Ilott v Mitson –

“Judges say your Will can be ignored” Landmark Court Ruling: Ilott v Mitson


On Monday The Court of Appeal ruled on the case of Ilott v Mitson which has led lawyers to warn that the outcome could undermine the rights of an individual to leave their assets to whoever they wish.


The facts

Mrs Ilott had been estranged from her Mother for 26 years after she eloped at the age of 17, some 37 years earlier, which had resulted in a family dispute. The deceased had taken steps to have her will professionally drawn up, realising  there could be a potential claim on her death, and had even prepared a letter explaining why she had disinherited her Daughter and instructing her executors to fight any claim.

Despite the deceased seemingly having done everything she could to ensure her estate did not pass to her Daughter the Court awarded the sum of £164,000 to Mrs Illot, instead of the whole estate (£489,000.00) being paid to the three charities named in the Will.


Why did the Court reach this decision?

While it has always been possible for certain people to make a claim against your estate by proving the will to be invalid or that they had not been given reasonable financial provision, the latter has always been notoriously difficult for a self sufficient adult. The concern is that this case has widened the gap to make it more accessible for claims to be brought.

However, whilst this is a landmark decision it should be noted that this case is very fact specific and the Court took into account many factors when making their decision.

Although the pair had been estranged for a number of years it was noted that Mrs Ilott had made several attempts to reconcile with her Mother during that time, the Court acknowledged that some fault must lay with Mrs llott but that the deceased had in fact been the dominant cause in the breakdown of the relationship.

The Court held that the deceased had failed to make “reasonable financial provision” for her Daughter and took into account basic human needs given Mrs Ilott’s circumstances. She has 5 children and is dependant on State Benefits, her and her Husband live in a Housing Association house which they had the right to buy but could not afford and in addition the family had never had a holiday and had at times struggled to afford clothing and food.

The amount awarded was enough for her to purchase the property and cover any incidental costs incurred in doing so.

Finally, the Court’s decision was influenced by the fact the deceased had “little association” with the Charities she had named in her Will and the charities in question were not dependant on the funds.


What does this decision mean for you and how can we help?

It is likely that as a result of this decision we will see an increase in the number of claims being made against estate and if these are successful it will be a cause for concerns for those who wish to disinherit members of their family from their Will.

It is more important than ever to ensure your Will has been drawn up professionally to make it as water tight as possible.  It is not sufficient to just give the reasons why someone is not inherit; you must now go the extra step and give detailed reasons why you have left the estate to those named in the Will.

Our team of private client solicitors can discuss your circumstances and wishes and how best to achieve these. We will then accurately record your wishes in detail so that should a claim arise all aspects have been covered. We keep our Will files and these can be called upon as evidence.

If you do not have a Will, or have made a Will in the past and want to make sure everything is in order, then please contact one of the team to arrange a free initial consultation.

How to minimise the negative impact of Divorce on Children –

How to minimise the negative impact of Divorce on Children

If you have decided to get divorced there are few important points to consider when children are involved. This has been a decision that has been agreed between the parents and to make sure that your children’s lives can remain as stable as possible the parents need to reassure them by being consistent.

It is good to talk to your child in a way that they understand,they don’t want to hear the problems between you,they just want to understand how their life is changing and the effects it has on them.

Reading story books with children is an excellent way of preparing the child for what changes will take place in a suitable language that they will be able to understand. The local library or your child’s school may have some books on the topic, we also recommend, “At Daddy’s on Saturday” by Linda Walvoord Girard. “It’s not your fault” by Koko Bear and “Two Homes” by Claire Masurel.

Being caught in between parents arguments or talking in a derogatory manner about each other is very hurtful to a child,even if you think you have just cause to do so,this can create difficult,negative behaviour in your child.The heated discussions are better kept for a time that the children are not present.when children feel under pressure or stress they say things that you want to hear rather than how they feel.they may say they want to see the other parent then change their mind and say they don’t want to depending on how they read you either being upset or happy.

Children are not possessions and cannot be used to get back at each other,for example,stopping contact.It is so much better for youngsters to see their parents co operating,even if they don’t live together.Learning to cope with inconsistencies and instability is tough for your off spring so being considerate to their feelings will allow them to get use to the idea of single parents and build a closer relationship between you.

Written by Jules Kerswill of Hands On Parenting.

Find us on www.handsonparenting.co.uk

Hands on Parenting are running a special offer at the moment £99 for a one hour consultation (saving £51)

Please contact them to find out how they can help you and your children.

How to Change the Registered Owner of a Car when the Owner Dies –

How to Change the Registered Owner of a Car when the Owner Dies

We have had a number of Clients lately whose partners have sadly passed away which has left them with many questions, including: what do I do about the car? At Lawindexpro we try our best to give straight forward, practical advice, so we have created a short guide on how to change the ownership of a car when the registered owner has died.

1. Check the Will to see who should inherit the car. If you require assistance interpreting the Will please do not hesitate to contact us to help as we offer free initial consultations;

2. Find the V5C (the registered keepers booklet) document and fill in the details of the person inheriting the car in the “new keeper details” section;

3. The new keeper must sign and date the V5C as normal;

4. Where the deceased would normally sign the V5C to transfer the car you should write “deceased”;

5. The V5C should then be sent to “DVLA, Swansea, SA99 1ZZ” together with a cover letter. You may also be required to send a copy of the death certificate;

6. The cover letter should mention that any car tax paid by deceased should be returned to the Executors account or the Estate together with the appropriate bank details;

7. This will take roughly 2-4 weeks for the DVLA to action;

8. The new owner may re-tax the vehicle in his or her name using s. 10 of the V5C either at a post office, via telephone or online; and

8. Don’t forget to notify the insurers for both the deceased party and the new keeper.

We hope this is useful to you at this difficult time but if you have any questions in relation to the above please do not hesitate to contact us as we will be happy to assist you.

To suggest other “How To” guides you would find useful and would like to see please send your suggestion to us at enquiries@Lawindexpro.co.uk