Monthly Archives: December 2016

Blended Families and Succession Planning

More than 40% of marriages in the UK end in divorce, according to the Office for National Statistics. With many of those divorcees remarrying, ‘blended families’ – bringing together each parent, as well as children from previous relationships – are not uncommon.

As this type of family structure has increased, so too have blended family businesses, with members of the second family invited to take up senior positions within the company. There are many high profile examples of such businesses, for example Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. Succession planning can be difficult at the best of times, but with the added complexity of a blended family, it can be even more problematic. Nonetheless, the fundamentals of good succession planning still apply.

Start early.

Getting a plan in place as early as possible is always a good move. Try to identify who it is you want to take over when you step down. It may be that restructuring the business, so your responsibilities are picked up by more than one member of the family, is the best move both politically and for the good of the business. It may be useful here to determine separate areas of responsibility for each successor, and have in place formal dispute resolution procedures in case of any issues.

Be sure to speak to them about their own ambitions and how they see their role in the business developing after you step down. Don’t just assume they will want a position of responsibility.

As an alternative, you may feel that the best option for the future of the business is to recruit externally. For example, if you feel that nominating a family successor or successors will cause conflict within the business. You may even want to consider other exit options such as a trade sale or management buy out.

Hands on training.
Once you have worked out who will be taking over, you need to get them ready for the role. That doesn’t just mean the day-to-day tasks of the job, but also the skills they need in order to run the actual business. Will they need specialist training or additional qualifications?

Be open.
It is important to communicate your succession plan to everyone in the business. You’ll need to be able to explain why you have chosen them to succeed you – this can be particularly tricky in a family business, so be prepared. Setting out a clear timetable for the change is a good idea too.

What will you do next?
Stepping down from a business is not easy – it can be very difficult to let go. This process will be made easier if you clearly determine any future role you will have in the business. If you want to truly distance yourself, then you should consider a family management buyout, where the succeeding family members buyout any shareholding you may have.

No matter what your family make-up, it’s crucial to plan for the future and establish exactly what you want to happen with your business, your home or your assets should you pass away. For advice on making a will and matters relating to the structure and disposal of your business, contact legalmatters today on 01243 216900 or at

A Legacy of Love

A mother who wrote a wish list for her two sons after being diagnosed with breast cancer has been immortalised on film, with the release of Mum’s List starring Emilia Fox.

Kate Greene, Somerset born died in 2010 aged just 37 and wrote down her hopes and ambitions for her boys Reef (12) and Finn (10). She also included instructions for their father, St John which included ‘buy orange Club biscuits regularly’ and ‘always kiss them goodnight’.

Kate left her family 79 wishes and after her death, St John (known as ‘Singe’) wrote a book about her battle against cancer and her legacy of love. It became a bestseller and was printed in 22 languages.

Singe told The Sun newspaper: “The list’s helped us. We’ve had so much to focus on, from the smallest thing to big things like scuba diving in the Red Sea and getting a speedboat.”

One of Kate’s toughest requests was to find four-leafed clovers.

“I had people scouring the countryside and I sprinkled seeds by her grave, thinking they might grow by her,” Singe said. “After I found one in a field, we searched for more, and in the end we got five in an afternoon. It was incredible.”

The film was shot in the town of Clevedon, where Kate and Singe lived, and had its regional premiere there. It is now showing at cinemas around the country.

Kate’s Wishes:

  • Go and see the Northern Lights.
  • Teach the boys to respect women and not to double date!
  • Grow a sunflower every now and again.
  • Would like Reef to learn recorder or guitar and Finn to learn the drums and electric keyboard.
  • Don’t let the boys smoke.

You too can make your wish list, for advice on making a will contact legalmatters today on 01243 216900 or at

A Good Decision

Alzheimer’s disease and dementia knocked heart disease off the top of the list for main causes of death in England and Wales for the first time. Here, we offer advice on planning for the future.

In 2015, 61,686 out of a total of 529,655 deaths registered in England and Wales were attributable to dementia, according to a report just published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) – that’s 11.6%. The mortality rate for dementia has more than doubled since 2010 and the Alzheimer’s Society estimates that one million people will have the condition in the UK by 2025.

This statistic raises important questions for families around writing wills. When a person is diagnosed with dementia, it’s a good idea to get their legal and financial affairs in order and give a friend or relative lasting power of attorney. This helps in the future in case there is a point when the dementia sufferer can’t make decisions for themselves.

Indeed, the Alzheimer’s Society recommends this in its ‘Planning Ahead’ guidebook for people with dementia: “Once you have had a chance to adjust to manage another person’s affairs. So if a dementia sufferer hasn’t made an LPA, their loved ones will need to apply to the Court of Protection to become their deputy in order to manage finances on their behalf. It’s doable but it can be stressful, time consuming and expensive.

There are two separate categories of LPA – one around finances and another around health and care. Each has to be set up individually and registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

You should take legal advice on these very important documents and certain wishes may have to be drafted carefully. Our lawyers at legalmatters have been safeguarding family’s futures since the inception of LPAs in 2007 and with their predecessors, enduring powers of attorney, before that. Call us now on 01243 216900 or email us at for advice to ensure that, should you become incapacitated, your life is in the good hands of people you love.your diagnosis, take time to ensure your affairs are in order.

It may become more difficult for you to make decisions or choices about financial or legal matters as time goes on. Where possible, make these plans as early as you can with a trusted friend, family member or professional (choose someone who is likely to be able to support you as time goes on).”

One of the most important aspects of forward planning for everyone, particularly if dementia runs in the family is to investigate making a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA). An LPA enables someone to choose who they want to make decisions for them, should they become unable. Those decisions could be around their financial and property concerns or their health and welfare. This may also cover deciding whether they should go into a care home.

If a person with dementia hasn’t made an LPA and loses the ability to make decisions, the situation for loved ones can be complicated – and distressing. In the case of financial decisions, for example, only someone with a formal legal power can completely

Will, When and Why?

2016 has seen many of our favourite stars leaving us and some, like Prince and Caroline Aherne, departing this world well before their time. This acts as a reminder to reflect on our own mortality and get our affairs in order so that, should the worst happen, our family and friends know how important they were to us – legalmatters offers advice about when is the right time to write a will…

Writing a will is a sensible idea for everyone over the age of 18 – otherwise chaos can ensue amongst a family when a loved one passes. Look at the drama over Prince’s $300 million estate – the star died intestate (without a will) and now DNA testing is taking place to determine the identity of people claiming to be his blood relatives.

Your estate might not be worth $300 million, but protecting your legacy is still important. So what are the life stages that trigger writing a will among the British public?

Anyone aged over 18 and of sound mind can write a will but there are common junctures when people arrange an appointment with a solicitor and put pen to paper. Buying a house is a trigger – one in eight people in England and Wales cohabit with a partner they aren’t married to. Nevertheless, in the event of one partner dying intestate, the other could find that, rather than their partner’s share of the property passing to them, it could be distributed among relatives.

(Surprisingly almost 70% of cohabiting couples don’t have a will, according to research by Will Aid.)

Marriage is obviously another popular time for people to make a will, as is the birth of a child. At the opposite end of the spectrum, divorce is a life occurrence that prompts people to reassess their wills.

Growing older forces people to confront their mortality too. According to the Will Aid research, the older an individual, the more likely they are to have written a will. In the oldest age group of 75 and over, 90% of people had written wills, 74% of the 65-74 age group had done so, and 47% of 45-54 year olds had formally set out their last wishes.

Official government advice on writing a will – is worth bearing in mind – to review it every five years.

Whatever stage you are at in your life, and however small or large your estate, it seems the time to write a will is now. It’s inexpensive and the process will bring peace of mind to you and your loved ones, whether you’re buying your first home with a partner, celebrating the birth of a child or collecting your pension for the first time. We have helped thousands of clients protect their legacies, so for advice on how to safeguard yours, call us now on 01243 216900 or email us at

The Best View at the Funeral

As the majority of everyday life develops an online alternative, this has now even been extended to the after-everyday life.

Within the UK, rising numbers of mourners from all corners of the globe are now able to observe funeral proceedings thanks to live streaming. All that’s needed is a stable internet connection and a compatible device in order for those unable to attend to watch the sombre ceremony from the comfort of their own home.

Undertakers of a more traditional disposition however, have criticised the concept and expressed concern that it will become the norm, effectively discouraging funeral attendance. Despite the potential benefit it may bring for distant friends and family or those with mobility issues, a leading UK funeral director fears it may “pander to people’s laziness”.

The concept itself may not be as new as you may think. A recent survey has indicated that 61% of funeral directors have received live streaming requests with around one fifth of the 281 crematorium’s in Britain already having had a camera fitted. The ceremony is filmed using said camera – which would be discrete in nature – to capture proceedings, which are then able to be accessed online by anyone with the secure login details.

Although some of the funeral directors expressed scepticism, others highlighted the benefits of the streaming service. President of the Society of Allied and Independent Funeral Directors, Paul Allcock stated that if mourners reside further afield, there may be a request for it. He does however recognise that engaging personally with the bereaved is often an essential part of the grieving process – something which is unlikely to be replaced completely by technology.

“It’s wonderful for those relatives who live abroad, but there’s also a danger of pandering to people’s laziness and not attending personally and sharing your condolences, which is such an important part of the grieving process.”

However, for those who have already used the service, the sheer possibility of being able to view the service at all may outweigh any issues with it being on a less personal level. Estimating that between a quarter and a third benefit from live streaming, funeral director Max Webber mentions that the West Sussex-based firm he works for has offered the service for nine years.

Whereas some firms such as Webbers offer the service free of charge, other firms do charge. Llanelli crematorium for example charge webcasts at £80 and an extra £65 for a DVD.

The streamed funerals run as they normally would, following the camera being set up and remains unaffected by the webcast which is usually one-way. A possible downside that exists for those watching on their laptop screens is the potential to suffer from technical interruptions. Considering the nature of the circumstances, interference with the stream may result in great upset being caused.