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April 2020 Newsletter

Introduction to Nilima Hussain, Our Newly Qualified Solicitor

2020 is certainly going to be a year to remember for everyone around the world due to the Coronavirus pandemic. However, along with this, it will also be a year to remember for me as it is the year that I finally achieved my dream of qualifying as a solicitor.

Every trainee solicitor has a story of their struggles through their training for various different reasons. These last two years have been a complete rollercoaster for me. From getting married, to losing my grandad, to buying a house, to being hospitalised due to a serious infection and to getting diagnosed with Macular Dystrophy. All during my training contract! But, despite the two years being a complete whirlwind, I will say that it has been the best two years of my life.

I started my training at DV Solicitors and transferred to Shaar Bridge. I have met and had the support of the most incredible people in these two years. My family, friends, colleagues, even clients. Everyone around me has made my training contract a strong, happy two memorable years and it’s thanks to these people that I am where I am today. I look at the journey my mother and father went through and I still think I have a long way to go before I can say I am as successful as them, but for now, I am glad to be where I am.

I am so proud to be part of Shaar Bridge Solicitors and I am looking forward to what is ahead for all of us. As a firm, we are a family and we have all grown together with each other’s support. So we want to help the community too, and provide the support that we ourselves received from each other. The coronavirus, for us, has made us want to help even more and we are all doing that we can during this dire time, to help and support everyone as much as possible.

I know everyone is stuck at home right now, but I think it is a great time to reflect upon what you have achieved over the years. Set yourself more goals and more dreams. If there is anything I have learnt over the last couple of years, it is that there is no limit and no matter what situation you are in, you can achieve whatever you want, so long as you believe you can.

– Nilima Hussain

Probate is a whole process of dealing with an estate of someone who passed away. Not everyone has a right and/or an authority to administer the deceased’s estate even if they are an immediate family member of the deceased. It depends on whether there is a valid Will left by the deceased.

Finding a Valid Will

If the deceased has left a valid Will, there must be an executor appointed by the deceased in the Will and only the appointed executor can administer the deceased’s estate in accordance with the Will. If there is no Will or the Will left by the deceased is invalid, a next of kin (e.g. spouse, civil partner or children of the deceased) can deal with the estate in accordance with the relevant law.

Calculate a Gross/Net Value of the Deceased’s Estate

If you are an executor or a next of kin of the deceased’s estate, the first step is to collect all the assets owned by the deceased (e.g. cash in bank account, property, investment, pensions, life insurance, assets overseas, benefits under trust, business interest) and all the debts payable by the deceased’s estate (e.g. money owing to someone, mortgages, bills, taxes, funeral expenses). The value of each asset should be estimated as of the date of death. Then you can get a net value of the deceased estate by subtracting the total figure of the debts from the total figure of the assets.

Bear in mind however that there are certain assets which does not require to go through probate. For example, if the deceased owns a property as a joint tenant, the property does not require probate and his/her equity to the property automatically goes to the other joint owner. You just need to submit a relevant form to Land Registry. Also, if a life insurance policy has an appointed beneficiary, it goes automatically to that beneficiary without probate.

Paying Inheritance Tax

The next step is to report a gross/net value of the deceased’s estate to HMRC for the inheritance tax purpose. The current inheritance tax threshold is £325,000 which means if the gross value of the asset is less than or equal to £325,000, the inheritance tax payable is ‘0’, otherwise you have to pay 40% inheritance tax for any value over £325,000. Please note however if the deceased has left all the legacies to spouse or civil partner the total value of which is less than £1 million, inheritance tax is totally free. Also, if the deceased has left a property to children or grandchildren, and the value of the property is less than or equal to £500,000, the property can pass to them without inheritance tax.

Apply for a Grant of Probate

The final step is to apply for a grant of probate which is a document confirming that you are a right person to administer the deceased’s estate. You are required to submit a death certificate, HMRC document confirming you have paid a correct amount of inheritance tax and a statement of truth signed by you.

Distribution of the Estate to Beneficiaries

Once you have obtained a grant of probate, you can access to all the assets of the deceased and pay off all the debts from the deceased’s estate. Finally, you can distribute the remaining estate to the right beneficiaries.

Probate can be tricky and daunting especially if the deceased’s estate involves assets overseas and/or benefits under trust. It would be better to seek expert’s advice from the very beginning of probate because filing an incorrect, insufficient or fraudulent information to Probate Registry or HMRC could be a criminal offence and may delay the whole probate process. Also, once you follow right steps by seeking expert’s advice, you can feel a peace of mind and confidence to make the deceased’s last wishes realised.

Shaar Bridge Solicitors are available at any hour 7 days a week. Call us on 01234 810786 or email for a free consultation.

What help is being provided for victims of domestic abuse during lockdown?

Since the government’s implementation of lockdown as a preventive measure for the corona virus, there has been a surge of domestic violence cases. There has been an alarming number of phone calls to helplines and social services from victims who are desperate for help. This includes men and woman of all ages and children. It is clear that the lockdown measure has forced victims to stay at home in the same vicinity of their abusers. Furthermore, many of these abusers are becoming more aggressive as more time goes on, as individuals lose jobs or are furloughed, and as people lose loved ones due to the virus. What is the government doing to help?

As a result of the increase in domestic violence cases, MPs have demanded an urgent cross government action plan to tackle domestic abuse. The home secretary recently announced funding of £2 million towards domestic abuse helplines and online support. Many of these helplines are available 24 hours a day and are advising victims on protection and mental health. The domestic abuse bill returned to the commons for a second reading earlier this week. This will push the government to consider emergency funding, support and new ways for victims to access help. The government plan to provide access to victims to information and support which may help them during these unprecedented times. Abuse prevention measures, housing support and refugee accommodation are to name a few of the plans which the government are hoping to implement over the next few weeks. If you, or someone you know, is a victim of domestic abuse, what should you/they do?

  1. Knowing there is help – be aware that there is help available and know you are not alone!
  2. Contact the police – if you need support or help from the police, call 101 for less emergent matter. If you feel your life is in danger, you must call 999.
  3. National helplines – there are various helplines you can call and speak to. If you are unable to speak over the phone, some websites provide online chats. You can find a list of help lines here:
  4. Legal advice – Shaar Bridge Solicitors are available at any hour 7 days a week. You can call us on 01234 810786 or email if you would like a free consultation where we can give you legal advice.

Mrs B came to Shaar Bridge Solicitors when her husband sadly passed away. She was understandably distressed and still mourning for her loving husband. Her late husband had not left a Will and she had no idea on what to do with her late husband’s estate. She could not speak much English either.

All our solicitors at Shaar Bridge are bi-lingual and the matter was referred to our Partner Jaffar Shah who dealt with the client. He explained the whole probate process in her native language and set about collating all the necessary documents that were required. Jaffar also entered an arrangement which allowed Mrs B to pay the costs of the probate at the end of the process.

Together with assistance of the team Jaffar drafted schedule of assets and liabilities carefully sifting through a number of documents. He further identified that Mrs B was liable to receive a sum for bereavement allowance and this was duly obtained. All of the local organisations that may have had an interest in the estate i.e. utility providers, DWP, local authority were contacted to settle any debts. Thankfully, the estate was under the inheritance tax threshold of £325,000.00 and no inheritance was payable.

In addition to all this, it transpired that amidst the paperwork given by Mrs B there was a letter from a company that appeared to suggest a benefit was payable to the estate of the deceased. We contacted the company and after a few letters managed to obtain a lump sum payment in excess of £20,000.00. Mrs B was very happy with this as this was an unexpected addition to the estate.

We further managed to obtain a Letter of Administration from the Probate Registry quickly and transferred all the remaining assets to Mrs B in the space of a few months. Mrs B was overjoyed at how we had handed this matter and sent us a lovely box of chocolates!

If you or anyone you know has recently lost a loved one and are required to go through the probate process, call Shaar Bridge Solicitors for a free consultation on 01234 810786 or email We appreciate this may be a difficult time and will do our best to help you.

“Client Focused, Results Driven”

In the wake of the current virus outbreak, travel is discouraged due to the lockdown and travel restriction and major cultural and sports events have been postponed or cancelled. That said, being confined to one place for long period often leads to feelings of boredom, restlessness and loneliness and it is important to address these for the sake of our mental health.

There are plenty of free and low-cost ways you can recommend making your isolation time more meaningful, productive and enjoyable. From virtual museum tour to enjoying famous musicals on YouTube, here is how to stay active under lockdown!

PE Lesson with Joe Wicks

Yoga with Adriene

Explore UK History with English Heritage

Virtual Museum Tour with Google Arts and Culture

Explore Artists at Royal Academy of Arts

Musical by Andrew Lloyd Webber with The Show Must Go On

National Theatre Home

Free Audiobooks for Children

Free Maths Lesson for Children aged 4-11 at Maths Factor

Free Language Lesson for Children

We at Shaar Bridge Solicitors wish you well!

#stayhome #stopthespread