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May 2020 Newsletter

Looking after your mental health during Covid-19 lockdown.

Here at Shaar Bridge Solicitors, we are always keen to help the community and do what we can to assist those who need help.

Last week was mental health awareness week which is a great time and way of ensuring everyone is up to date and informed about their own and other people’s mental health. With the coronavirus pandemic, many people have struggled with anxiety, stress, worry and depression. There are ways in which you can deal with this:

With the new government guidelines, we are entitled to unlimited exercise outside our homes. Studies show that exercise can treat anxiety and depression. It is important to find a little time in the day to do a little bit of exercise, whether that’s going for a walk or circuits which can be done in the comfort of your own home.

It may be a good idea to set yourself a weekly or daily routine. Setting a routine will make you more productive and gives you set things to do. Routine is a good way for the mind to relax and feel at ease especially at the end up the day when you can put your feet up. Routine can include chores, hobbies, exercise, reading and even TV time. The best thing about it is that you can make your own routine to your own taste!

Healthy eating
They say you are what you eat, and in a time like this, it may be just the case. It is important to ensure we are getting the right nutrients for our body and mind. You can find more information on how to keep a healthy diet on the gov website:

Take breaks
With most of the country working at home, it is absolutely essential that we take regular breaks. Even for those who are not working from home, it would be good to put regular breaks into your daily routine to ensure your mind gets some time off.

Stay in touch
Whilst we cannot see a lot of our family and friends right now, the good thing is that we live in a generation where staying in touch is so easy! Communicating by phone, video calls, messages, whatever it may be, is a good way to remind ourselves of the people around us. There are also helplines for anyone feeling anxious, stressed or worried where you can get help and advice over the phone.

We know a lot of people are currently worried about their family situations, or employment positions, or even tenancy matters. Whatever your legal situation may be, Shaar Bridge Solicitors are providing free consultations and are available 7 days a week during this dire time. Call us today for a free consultation, and if we cannot assist (if it is not a legal matter) we will do our best to point you in the right direction.

Our success story: writing up business contracts

Jaffar Shah the managing partner of Shaar Bridge Solicitors recently acted for a business in respect of a contract matter. Here he discusses his thoughts.

At Shaar Bridge Solicitors, we assist businesses in assessing whether there was a breach of contract, reviewing and amending contracts and even drafting contracts.

We know how important it is to ensure the contract covers and protects our client as much as possible.

In September 2019, Company E, which is already a successful company having a renowned reputation in their local area, came to Shaar Bridge Solicitors with a vision of running their business more successfully with appropriate contracts in place with their customers. They needed our assistance in drafting contracts to be provided to their customers. Having familiarised ourselves with their business we were able to draft a detailed contract that not only protected their interests but also gave them the peace of mind as to the enforceability of the contract.

Company E was very happy with our quality of service and our professionalism. We are glad to have helped.

If you have a business or are starting up a business and would like us to draft or review a contract for you, get in touch for a free consultation today.

How to reduce Inheritance Tax liability: all you need to know about transferable nil rate band

Our Trainee Solicitor Ji Yang discusses inheritance tax and how best to utilise the nil rate band.

Nil rate band is an inheritance tax free allowance. The current nil rate band for 2020/2021 is £325,000 which means that inheritance tax is charged at a rate of 40% on the chargeable value of an estate above £325,000.

Paying 40% of inheritance tax could be a big burden when the chargeable value of an estate is high if it includes a property, big investments, trusts interests, etc. Here, we are going to share how to reduce inheritance tax liability – a transferable nil rate band.

1. What is a transferrable nil rate band?

A transferable nil rate band arises when one party to a marriage or civil partnership dies and the amount of their chargeable estate does not use up all of the nil rate band available to them. The unused part can now be transferred to the surviving spouse or civil partner when they die.

2. Does it matter when the deaths occurred?

Yes, this applies where the surviving spouse or civil partner died on or after 9th October 2007; however, it does not matter how long before them their spouse or civil partner died. Where both spouses or civil partner have died before 9th October 2007, no allowance is transferred.

3. How does that work?

The first to die leaves everything they own to their spouse or civil partner, it is exempt from inheritance tax (spouse/civil partner exemption) and they do not have to use any part of their nil rate band. Therefore, 100% of their nil rate band can be transferred to the surviving spouse or civil partner whose nil rate band can be doubled up to £650,000 when they die.

4. What happens if the first spouse or civil partner have used any part of their nil rate band when they died?

It works by looking at what proportion of the nil rate band that was unused by the first spouse or civil partner and uprating the nil rate band available when the surviving spouse or civil partner dies by that same proportion.

(example) if the first spouse left assets worth £150,000 to your children with everything else to you and the nil rate band on their death was £300,000. In this case, 50% of their nil rate band is unused and is available for transfer. Considering the current nil rate band is £325,000, the amount available for transfer would be 50% of £325,000 (=£162,500), making the second spouse’s nil rate band £487,500 in total (£325,000 + £162,500).

5. How is the transfer made?

When the surviving spouse or civil partner dies, their personal representatives or their solicitors will make a claim to transfer the unused nil rate band available from the first death. They will need to fill in the IHT217 Form that will help them to work out how much of the nil rate band is available for transfer. Also they will need to provide certain documents to support their claim such as:

  • The death certificate for the first spouse or civil partner to dieThe marriage certificate of civil partnership certificate for the couple
  • If the first spouse or civil partner left a Will, a copy of it
  • A copy of the grant of probate
  • If a deed of variation or codicil was executed to change the beneficiary in the Will, a copy of it

6. How long do the personal representatives have to make a claim?

The claim must be made within 24 months from the end of the month in which the surviving spouse or civil partner dies.

Can I get a divorce during lockdown?

Our newly qualified solicitor Nilima Hussain discusses the burning question of divorce during lockdown.

Taking the first step towards divorce can be daunting, and with the additional pressure of the government-imposed lockdown we have been asked by many clients whether it will be possible or advisable to bring divorce proceedings now.

Despite the changes to the courts and their administration, it is still possible to initiate a divorce. The courts were already in the process of implementing online divorce and this has proved successful. Please bear in mind however that if you and your spouse are in lockdown together and your relationship is already strained, divorce proceedings may aggravate tensions. You should carefully consider your position with family law solicitor and the options and protections available to you, your finances, and your children.

Divorce petition requires you to set out one of 5 factors in support of your petition that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. The 5 factors are as follows:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • 2 years separation with consent of the respondent
  • 5 years separation, no consent required from the respondent
  • Desertion

Once divorce petition has been filed at court or online, it is processed by the court staff. In the current circumstances, it is especially difficult to say how long the processing might take, as the court service has been severely impacted by Covid-19. Once issued, the divorce papers will be sent to your spouse who then has 7 days to respond. The respondent spouse can file their response online so the process should not be delayed and a decree nisi can be sought in the usual way.

Decree absolute of divorce should not generally be obtained until after you have agreed a financial settlement with your spouse and obtained a sealed consent order from the court reflecting the agreed terms. Again, you should seek legal advice from a family law solicitor on this, and before applying for the decree absolute. Problems can arise if finances are not addressed before the decree absolute is obtained.

As we do not know how long this lockdown will last, it is not possible to say if a divorce could be finalised during this time. However, it is possible to get the process started if you do not want to delay.

Our family law solicitors have had to adjust quickly to the new restrictions, and we offer telephone/video consultations (via Zoom and Skype) to new clients so they can get assistance as and when required.


We are pleased to announce that the third floor of Shaar Bridge Solicitors will be occupied by RG Law who provide professional legal services in residential and commercial conveyancing together with any lease matters. Mr Rabbani Gulam has over 15 years’ worth of experience and is regarded as a leading authority in Bedford. For all your conveyancing need please visit the offices of Shaar Bridge Solicitors to be put through to our new tenant!

Lockdown Quiz Time!

  1. What is the name of the second James Bond film?
  2. Which country’s national flag has the most colours?
  3. What was the original name of the Royal Air Force?
  4. Which Beatle led the way across the zebra crossing on the Abbey Road album cover?
  5. Who won the Golden Boot at the 2018 World Cup?
  6. What colour are the seats in the House of Lords?
  7. In ‘Only Fools and Horses’, by what name did Trigger always call Rodney?
  8. What is the deepest lake in the world?
  9. Who lit the Olympic torch at the 2000 Sydney Olympics?
  10. Which group formed in 1977 and named themselves after their financial status at that time?

Scroll down for answers

Keep scrolling…

  1. From Russia With Love
  2. South Africa
  3. Royal Flying Corps
  4. John Lennon
  5. Harry Kane
  6. Red
  7. Dave
  8. Lake Baikal
  9. Cathy Freeman
  10. Dire Straits

Thanks for reading, hope you are staying safe and if you liked this months newsletter why not give it a share! Remember we always provide free initial consultations and would be more than happy to assist you.

“Client Focused, Results Driven”