Q. Why do I need a Will?
The main benefit of having a Will is the peace of mind in knowing that the right people will benefit from your estate, or knowing that you have selected the right Guardian to care for your children and the right people (known as executors) to carry out your last instructions.
The downside to not having a Will is that if you die intestate (without a Will), those who you wish to benefit from your estate may not benefit because the law imposes rules on how your property should pass and on who can be the representatives to deal with your property. It is a misconception to believe that if you are married or in a civil partnership and die without a Will everything will pass to your spouse or civil partner. Properties in joint names may not automatically pass to the surviving party upon your death. Under intestacy rules, only property up to a certain value passes automatically to a spouse or civil partner. If your estate includes a house in your sole name, it is possible that the value of this would exceed the amount which your spouse or civil partner would automatically receive.
If you have a partner but are not married, your partner has no automatic right to your property should you die without a Will. Your partner can only rely on certain provisions under the Inheritance Act and in most cases the provisions will be difficult to apply. If you are not married and you are not in a civil partnership, your property will be divided amongst your children, parents and siblings, or if they have died, amongst your nephews and nieces. If you have no close family, there is the serious complication of tracing distant relatives and of course the costs associated with that exercise. It will cost much less if you prepare a Will now and live the rest of your life with peace of mind.
Q. Do I have to pay a Court fee?
Generally, you will not have to pay a court fee if your annual income before tax and deductions is below a certain amount, or if you are receiving any of the following benefit(s):-
Attendance allowance, housing or homelessness assistance, disablement allowance, carer’s allowance, disability living allowance, income support, social fund payment, council tax benefit, child benefit, housing benefit, child tax credit or working tax credit but not also receiving child tax credit.
Q. Can my landlord evict me with force?
It is unlawful for a landlord to eject a tenant from property without a court order. This applies even if the tenant fails to meet his obligations under the tenancy such as paying rent.
There are strict statutory rules to follow in order to obtain an order.
It is therefore recommended for landlords to seek legal advice before commencing a claim for possession.
Q. What steps do I take to get a divorce?
You need to have been married for more than 12 months before you can apply to the court for a decree absolute (divorce certificate). You will need the original of your marriage certificate and you must prove to the court that your marriage has irretrievably broken down based on any of the following five grounds.
Your spouse has committed adultery;
Your spouse has behaved in such a way that it is unreasonable to expect you to stay in the marriage;
You have been separated from your spouse for 2 years and your spouse consents to a divorce;
You have been separated from your spouse for 5 years (consent not needed);
Your spouse has deserted you for a period of 5 years.
The ground for divorce and the particulars in support must be presented in a Petition in order to start the proceedings.
There is a Court fee for filing the Petition.
You may be exempt from paying the fee if you are unemployed and in receipt of public assistance.
Q. Can I be deported from the United Kingdom If I have indefinite leave to remain?
The Secretary of State is mandated to sign a deportation order in respect of foreign criminals (non British persons) who are convicted when over the age of 18 years old and sentenced to more than 12 months imprisonment, or those convicted of certain offences specified by law.
The process is the forced removal of a person from within the United Kingdom and the prevention of their re-entry until a set number of years.
Deportation can be avoided if a potential deportee fall within certain exceptions specified by law.
If you are currently residing in the UK with indefinite leave to remain you should contact us for advice on applying for naturalisation immediately.
Q. Can I start a claim at the County Court without using a solicitor?
If you are involved in a dispute and the claim is for less than £10,000, you may be able to file and conduct a claim at the small claims court without a solicitor.
There are time restrictions for issuing claims. Therefore, if you have delayed issuing proceedings for any reason, it may be in your best interest to seek legal advice before you proceed.
If the value of the claim is in excess of £10,000, you should certainly consult a solicitor to guide you through the procedure.
Q. Am I protected by the Human Rights Act?
The European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) is an internationally binding agreement designed to protect fundamental civil and political rights.
Since the UK signed up, it has been unlawful for UK public authority to violate Convention rights. UK legislation must be applied in accordance with the rights under the Convention in so far as possible and allegations of breaches can be dealt with in a UK court /tribunal, and at the European Court on Human Rights in Strasbourg.
We are routinely instructed by individuals and corporate bodies to prevent UK public authority from acting in breach of the Convention.
We have been involved in cases against breaches of the following Conventions:-
Article 3 - prohibition of torture; no one should be subjected to torture or inhuman or degrading treatment.
Article 5 - right to liberty and security of the person.
Article 6 - right to a fair trial, presumed innocent until proved guilty, to have adequate time and facilities to prepare defence and to be given free legal representation when the interests of justice so require.
Article 8 - right to respect for private and family life which provides that there shall be no interference with this right except in accordance with the law or in the interests of national security, public safety or economic well-being of the country, prevention of crime, protection of health or morals, or protection of the rights of others. If you believe a public authority may have interfered with, or is interfering with, any of your protected rights, you should contact us without delay.
Q. Can I claim asylum in the UK?
Asylum is protection given by a country to someone who is fleeing persecution in their own country. It is given under the 1951 United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees.
To apply as a refugee, you must have left your country and be unable to go back because you have a well-founded fear of persecution for one of the reasons specified by law ("a Convention reason") i.e. race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.
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