Our focus is you

Our team never underestimates the privilege and responsibility that comes with advising our older and more vulnerable clients. Perhaps we have worked with you over the long term to put inheritance and financial protections in place for your old age or retirement. Alternatively, you or your family might need urgent legal advice because of sudden illness or injury. In either situation we’ll adapt to your differing needs and priorities in a flexible and pragmatic way.

Your key questions answered

What is a living Will?

Living Wills (or ‘advance decisions’) are instructions about what medical treatment you do not want administered to you in the future. The advance decision comes into effect when you lose the ability to make your own decisions about your medical treatment. Although the instructions can be communicated orally, we would always advise you to put your instructions in writing, sign them and have your signature witnessed. If your decision is to refuse any kind of life sustaining treatment the decision must be in writing to be legally binding on your healthcare providers. Note that your advance decision or living Will cannot include a request for anything illegal such as euthanasia.

My husband died without a will. Will I inherit his property?

When someone dies without a valid will in place, the so-called rules of intestacy apply. Under these rules your right to inherit all your deceased spouse’s property will depend on whether you have children or not. If there are no children, your husband’s estate will pass to you in its entirety. If there are children however you will receive a certain amount (the ‘statutory legacy’) of the estate and all of your husband’s personal possessions automatically. In July 2023 the statutory legacy was fixed at £322,000. Your children then get a half share of everything above this £322,000 amount. Avoiding the application of these strict statutory rules is one reason why we strongly advise clients to make a will that precisely reflects their wishes about who should benefit from their property when they die.

Will I have to sell my house to pay for my care fees?

Many of our clients are concerned about losing their home if they have to go into a long-term care facility. You’ll probably be aware that the debate about how care home fees should be met is an ongoing subject of public debate. The government proposed an £86,000 cap on the amount anyone in England would need to spend on their personal care over their lifetime from October 2023. But this cap and the different ways of funding long term care are always subject to review. Our lawyers are up to date with the latest changes in legislation affecting funding for elderly care. We can advise you on the kind of financial support you might be entitled to as well as advise you on ways to protect your assets and preserve your wealth.

Do I need a Power of Attorney?

You don’t have to take out a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPAs) but it’s important to remember that if you don’t have one in place and you become unable to manage your financial affairs or make decisions about your healthcare your next of kin can’t automatically start to make these decisions for you. They would have to apply to the Court of Protection for authorisation to manage your affairs – a convoluted and expensive process. It’s for this reason that we advise clients of any age and state of health to consider executing LPAs so that if something unexpected happens a person of their own choosing can take crucial life decisions for them. Often, we discuss powers of attorney in the context of overall private client advice. When discussing wills and trusts for example it makes sense to consider whether it might be appropriate to formally appoint someone to act on your behalf if you become unable to act for yourself. Remember LPAs are flexible legal instruments: you can cancel them (so long as you are still mentally capable of making that decision) and you can change the person(s) you appoint as your attorney(s). We discuss LPAs (previously known as Enduring Powers of Attorney) on our Power of Attorney page.

What is a personal injury trust?

Simply put a personal injury trust enables individuals (the trustees) to manage funds that originate from a personal injury settlement. Our personal injury team deal with some of the most serious, catastrophic claims. Where substantial monetary damages are awarded and the victim is under 18 or because of the nature of their injuries they are unable to make decisions about the use of the funds themselves, the money is put into a trust for their benefit. Our trust experts are regularly asked to create these trusts and to act as professional trustees to manage the trust funds in the best interest of the beneficiary of the fund.

Stay connected, sign up for updates

Stay connected
Emma Weir
Sarah Kench

Recent work

Advice on mitigation of inheritance tax

We provided technical advice to clients with several million in assets and a substantial annual income. We advised on ways to substantially mitigate a potential inheritance tax liability of close to £1million. Steps we advised our clients to take included giving substantial gifts to family members on a regular basis to avoid the accumulation of surplus income in their estates and to insert specific provisions in each will to reduce exposure to inheritance tax.

Estate administration

Historically the deceased, used big name City law firms for some of his personal work. However, he chose to instruct DMH Stallard to draft his will and the executor has chosen to use us to administer the multimillion-pound estate because of our local knowledge. The breadth and depth of experience means we can deal sensitively with many of the internationally high-profile people who benefit under the will, or who are involved in the deceased’s estate.

Acting as Deputy for an individual with dementia

DMH Stallard were asked to manage the affairs of someone with dementia who had lost their mental capacity, were unable to manage their affairs and continue to live independently. DMH Stallard Trust Corporation applied to the Court of Protection to be appointed as their Deputies. There was no extended family or close friends. We found a suitable residential care home for them that specialised in dementia care and sold their property, taking financial advice to ensure there were sufficient funds to cover their care home fees and general living expenses.

Wills and Estate Planning advice

We provided estate planning advice to a married couple aimed at maximising allowances available to their estates. Specifically in this case we arranged for the wife to gift her residence nil rate band (RNRB) to the children in an attempt to bank relief because she had assets of a lower value than her husband. We maximised asset protection by incorporating a flexible life interest trust (FLIT).

Administration of a high net worth estate.

Historically the deceased, used big name City law firms for some of his personal work. However, he chose to instruct DMH Stallard to draft his will and the executor has chosen to use us to administer the multimillion-pound estate because of our local knowledge. The breadth and depth of experience means we can deal sensitively with many of the internationally high-profile people who benefit under the will, or who are involved in the deceased’s estate.

Advice on post-death variations of will and tax relief

DMH Stallard advised the executors of an estate where the deceased had assets held within a company registered at Lloyds. DMH Stallard successfully claimed Business Relief over various assets within the estate. We also advised the executors on a deed of variation which was successful in securing a reduction in the inheritance tax payable,

Lasting Power of Attorney

We often prepare Lasting Powers of Attorney as part of our overarching private client service, encompassing advice on wills, trusts, inheritance tax planning and succession planning. It’s an area of our practice that demonstrates the way we link various specialisms across the firm to enhance the service we deliver to clients.

Power of Attorney Advice

We provided advice and support to a lady in her 90s with frailty and early stage dementia. The PoA ensured that when her dementia progressed to the stage she could no longer make decisions for herself that one of her daughters would make all decisions in relation to her financial affairs and health and welfare. This was an important document that provided peace of mind and enabled the family to chose the care she received.

Advice on mitigation of inheritance tax

We provided technical advice to clients who were in their eighties with several million in assets and a substantial annual income. We advised on ways to substantially mitigate a potential inheritance tax liability of close to £1million. Steps we advised our clients to take included giving substantial gifts to family members on a regular basis to avoid the accumulation of surplus income in their estates and to insert specific provisions in each will to reduce exposure to inheritance tax.

Intervening to prevent client being pressurised into making investments

One of our long-standing clients contacted us as he was concerned that he was being pressurised to invest in a bond and to place his property in trust. We were able to assist the client in making his own decisions, explaining to him his own financial situation to allow him to plan for his future. We prepared a Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney where the client appointed the DMH Stallard Trust Corporation as his attorney, enabling us to assist and support him to make and execute decisions whilst he retained mental capacity. Furthermore, the LPA allowed the firm to protect our client’s best interests following the loss of mental capacity.

News and insights

Penalties for breaching environmental legislation

Insights

An overview of the environmental regulator’s approach to the enforcement and prosecution of environmental offences which outlines the potential penalties and other implications for a businesses who breaches environmental legislation

25/02/2015

Enforcing possession orders – how not to do it

Insights

We explain how not to enforce possession orders, as shown in London Borough of Southwark -v- AA [2014] EWHC 500 (QB)

29/09/2015