Solicitors in Essex, Colchester, Chelmsford, London – Fisher Jones Greenwood https://www.fjg.co.uk Thu, 21 Feb 2019 14:47:25 +0000 en-GB hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.0.3 How long does it take to buy a house? https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/20/how-long-does-it-take-to-buy-a-house https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/20/how-long-does-it-take-to-buy-a-house#respond Wed, 20 Feb 2019 14:18:26 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=12589 This is a question as conveyancers, we are asked on practically a daily...

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This is a question as conveyancers, we are asked on practically a daily basis!

Of course, buyers would like to know how long it will be before they move into their desired property but there are many defining factors as follows:-

  1. How long is the chain? Obviously, if we have one buyer and one seller then the transaction can proceed relatively quickly as only two parties are involved and only two firms of Solicitors. If, for instance, there are  8 parties in a chain then clearly, this will make matters more complicated as not all conveyancers work at the same rate.  You may find for instance, that the bottom of the chain is ready to proceed but the top of the chain have outstanding enquiries/searches etc.
  2. Is there Probate involved? If the property has been sold where a party has died and the Probate has not been obtained, this can cause delays dependent upon what stage the application for Probate has reached. Some applications are relatively simple but some Probate applications can be complicated which would delay the transaction as it cannot proceed without the grant of probate being received by the Solicitors acting.
  3. Do you require a mortgage? If a mortgage is required then generally, prospective purchasers will have already enquired of their lender/mortgage broker and hopefully, a mortgage will have been agreed in principle and the initial enquiries will already have been dealt with. Again, if a purchaser is obtaining a mortgage then searches are required by the lender as the conveyancer acting acts for the lender as well as the purchaser.
  4. Are you a cash buyer? If a purchaser literally “has the cash in the bank” then this can hasten matters as there will be no delay with regard to mortgage finance. A cash buyer could also instruct their conveyancer not to carry out searches in order to speed matters up but these are always recommended and a disclaimer would be required if the buyer decides against the advice of their conveyancer.
  5. Is the property Freehold or Leasehold? As a general rule, a Leasehold transaction is more complex and therefore will take longer than a Freehold. The reason for this is that the selling Solicitors will need to provide a management pack from the company who deals with the day to day running of the block and this could give rise to further enquiries being raised by the buying Solicitor.
  6. Gifted deposits/anomaly with the title – various matters could be revealed within the title documentation which would need to be reported to the lender by the conveyancer to ensure the lender is happy to proceed. A gifted deposit from a family member would also need to be reported to lender but as long as this is reported as soon as the mortgage offer is to hand, it should not be an issue.

As you can see there are a number of factors upon which the speed of any transaction is dependent and it is, therefore, difficult to give precise timescales. As a very general guide, in the case of a freehold purchase with the benefit of a mortgage and a relatively short chain a guide of 6-8 weeks would seem reasonable. This, however, is only a very rough guide!

If you are looking to buy a new home we can help, call 01206 700113 or email us contact@fjg.co.uk or get a quote here.

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“Drop in” to our Conveyancing drop-in at the Clacton office https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/15/drop-in-to-our-conveyancing-drop-in-at-the-clacton-office https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/15/drop-in-to-our-conveyancing-drop-in-at-the-clacton-office#respond Fri, 15 Feb 2019 12:55:16 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=12511 The Conveyancing process can be daunting for most who are not familiar with...

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The Conveyancing process can be daunting for most who are not familiar with it. At Fisher Jones Greenwood, we pride ourselves on offering clear, honest, and understandable advice during a Conveyancing transaction. However, people who are not current clients, still have questions about their property which they need to ask us.

This blog won’t cover every eventuality or every type of question that we can help you with. Instead, I am simply hoping to raise awareness of our Conveyancing drop-in clinic; which we offer every Wednesday morning, from 10am until 1pm.

Our Conveyancing clinic is a drop-in service where no appointment is necessary and you are able to have 15 minutes with a solicitor who can answer any questions which you may have relating to a property issue. Whilst it will not provide you with in-depth specific legal advice on a matter, it can help give general advice and point you in the right direction. For example, our Conveyancing clinic may help provide advice on the following;

  • Thinking of moving house?– maybe you’re thinking about moving, and just want an idea of the costs involved in moving; or perhaps you just want some more details about the conveyancing process.  We will happily run through this with you, and provide you with a quotation for our services.
  • Boundaries – perhaps you cannot remember what boundary you are responsible for maintaining.  If you show us the title documents relating to your property, we should be able to help you.
  • Joint ownership– have you forgotten how you and your partner/spouse own the property? If you bring your title documents in to us, we’ll be able to tell you if you hold your property as joint tenants, or tenants in common.
  • Thinking of extending? – we won’t be able to give you specific planning advice but we would be able to tell you if there was anything in your title preventing you from doing an extension or erecting a conservatory for example.

Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is – how much does this cost? Our Conveyancing clinic is absolutely FREE! Simply drop in to our Clacton office on a Wednesday morning to have a free 15-minute appointment.

Hope to see you soon!

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Be Aware – Who says romance is dead! https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/14/be-aware-who-says-romance-is-dead https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/14/be-aware-who-says-romance-is-dead#respond Thu, 14 Feb 2019 09:32:08 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=12488 We all know St Valentine’s Day has long been celebrated as a day...

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We all know St Valentine’s Day has long been celebrated as a day of romance.

The most popular theory about Valentine’s Day’s origin is that Emperor Claudius II didn’t want Roman men to marry during wartime. Bishop Valentine went against his wishes and performed secret weddings. For this, Valentine was jailed and executed. While in jail he wrote a note to the jailor’s daughter signing it “from your Valentine”.

Around a billion Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year and based on retail statistics 3% of pet owners will give a gift to their pets on this day. It will also come as no surprise according to online dating website Match.com the busiest time for new subscriptions for online dating is between 26th December and Valentine’s Day.

With the increase in online dating so has the number of incidents of so-called “romance scams”. This is where scammers take advantage of people looking for romantic partners, often via dating websites, apps or social media by pretending to be prospective companions. They play on emotional triggers to get you to provide money, gifts or personal details. They set up fake profiles and typically use respected identities such as Dr’s or military personnel and move the conversation to other social media channels. Very quickly individuals mistakenly believe they are in a relationship and once trust is gained are often duped into sending often large sums of money abroad never to be seen again.

Over the last two weeks, two ladies in Northern Ireland fell victims to a romance scam and between them lost more than £100,000. In both cases, the woman were tricked by fraudsters having been befriended by two men online who conned them into sending substantial sums of money.

The first case resulted in a lady sending £65,000 to a man claiming to be in the US military. The lady was told in a series of exchanges he had been detained by authorities in Africa in a bid to get her to hand over money.

In the second case, a man claimed he was a US engineer who had requested money for projects and she sent him a payment of £40,000.

Whilst there is no escaping the commercialisation of Valentine’s Day with even retailer Pound Land selling……. you guessed it an engagement ring for £1.00 care should be taken so as not to fall victim in taking everything online at face value.

Happy Valentine’s Day x

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Government Announces Increase in Probate Court Fees https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/12/government-announces-increase-in-probate-court-fees https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/12/government-announces-increase-in-probate-court-fees#respond Tue, 12 Feb 2019 14:11:53 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=12420 The Government has announced changes to Probate Court fees which means some will...

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The Government has announced changes to Probate Court fees which means some will pay almost £6,000 for the wealthiest estates valued at more than £2m.

Under the current regime, there is a flat fee of £155 payable for those applying for a Grant of Probate through a Solicitor regardless of the size of the estate. For estates valued at under £50,000, no Probate charges will be levied. Under the earlier regime estates under £5,000 were exempt.

The table below shows how the new fees will be applied effective from April this year.

Size of Estate Probate Court Fee
Less than £50,000 £0
£50,000 to £300,000 £250
£300,000 to £500,000 £750
£500,000 to £1,000,000 £2,500
£1,000,000 to £1,600,000 £4,000
£1,600,000 to £2,000,000 £5,000
More than £2,000,000 £6,000

There has been a large backlash over the plans to increase the Probate Court fees from the Law Society President Christina Blacklaws who confirmed “The costs to the Courts for granting Probate does not change whether the estate is worth £50,000 or £2,000,000. Under the new proposals, some estates would face a charge of £6,000. This is excessive, particularly when the current fee of £215, or £155 if done by a Solicitor. It is unfair to expect the bereaved to fund other parts of the Courts and Tribunal Service, particularly in circumstances where they have no other options but to use this Probate service.”

Many critics believe the increase by the government is an additional stealth tax, however, the Ministry of Justice insist the fee increase will help plug a shortfall of £1.6 billion in the cost of running the courts service. Whatever the justification for the increase in fees it has no doubt raised eyebrows amongst the vast majority of the legal profession.

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Improved Banking Protocols help reduce fraudulent activity for vulnerable people https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/12/improved-banking-protocols-help-reduce-fraudulent-activity-for-vulnerable-people https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/12/improved-banking-protocols-help-reduce-fraudulent-activity-for-vulnerable-people#respond Tue, 12 Feb 2019 11:58:10 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=12414 It is a sad fact the over 65s are three times more likely...

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It is a sad fact the over 65s are three times more likely to lose money to fraudsters rather than to be burgled.  A report from the Centre for Counter Fraud Studies warns of the stigma felt by the victims about being cheated in this way leaving almost a third of such victims too embarrassed to inform their families or friends of these crimes.

The latest figures from Action Fraud have claimed that financial losses caused by cybercrime increased by 25% between the months of April and September last year which means cybercriminals were able to steal £34.6 million during this time.

In October 2016 new banking protocols were introduced in a bid to train banking staff to spot signs that a customer may be withdrawing cash to give to a scammer. Typical examples of fraud included withdrawal of funds to pay rogue builders, romance scams and elderly abuse. The protocol enables banking staff to contact the police if they suspect a customer is in the process of being scammed, with an immediate priority response. As a result of this initiative, cases are investigated quickly leading to an increased success rate in catching these criminals. An estimated £48 million has been saved from the hands of these criminals since 2016 with 408 successful arrests. In 2018 a reported 231 arrests were made, 4,230 emergency calls lodged leading to a saving of £38 million which would have otherwise been stolen.

Cybercrime, on the other hand, is much harder to detect. In the majority of cases, the perpetrator is based outside the UK and the process of gathering evidence for successful prosecution is very difficult and time-consuming.

If you are worried about an elderly relative who may be subject to fraudulent activity you can contact Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or visit their website www.actionfarud.police.uk for further details.

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Equity Release – Is it right for me? https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/12/equity-release-is-it-right-for-me https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/12/equity-release-is-it-right-for-me#respond Tue, 12 Feb 2019 11:05:16 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=12410 Are you aged 55 or over and looking to release some equity from...

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Are you aged 55 or over and looking to release some equity from your home?

Whether you are looking to supplement your existing income, take a trip around the world or undertake some home improvements, you may be considering an Equity Release Mortgage (otherwise known as a Lifetime Mortgage).

An Equity Release Mortgage allows you to release a lump sum which is secured against your home similar to a standard residential mortgage. The big difference is that regular repayments are generally not required and the interest is charged by the Equity Release Mortgage Lender on a daily basis and ‘rolls up’ until the mortgage is repaid, which is usually on death or if you are required to go into a long term care facility. If you’re a joint borrower, this would happen on the death of the last survivor or in the event of them going into long term care. This means that the outstanding mortgage amount can increase quite rapidly.

Taking an Equity Release Mortgage can be a big step for many people so it’s important to consider the following key points before making any decision:

  • Take advice from an appropriately qualified Independent Financial Adviser who is on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Register and who specialises in retirement planning. The Equity Release Council hold a directory of suitably qualified advisers.
  • If you believe you might want to move home in the future, the Equity Release Mortgage could impact on this. They don’t generally prevent you from moving home and it is sometimes possible to “port” the mortgage to a new property, but this would depend upon the type and value of the property being purchased. If you are downsizing and wish to pay off all or part of the outstanding mortgage, this can result in a very high ‘Early Repayment Charge’.
  • Taking an Equity Release Mortgage could have an impact on your entitlement to any state benefits.
  • You may wish to consider discussing the matter with the beneficiaries of your Will as an Equity Release Mortgage will reduce the amount of their inheritance. This will help to prevent any unexpected ‘surprises’ when the time comes to administer your estate.
  • Ensure that your Equity Release Mortgage has a “no negative equity guarantee”. This means that when the property is sold, should the value of the property have fallen below the amount outstanding under the Equity Release Mortgage, then your estate will not be pursued for any shortfall.

It’s important to consider all of the above before deciding whether an Equity Release Mortgage is right for you. If you decide that it is, our friendly and approachable team, who are members of the Equity Release Council, have the experience to guide you through the legal process to ensure that you are able to book that holiday or buy that new car as quickly and as stress-free as possible. We offer a fixed fee service which is payable on completion of the Mortgage. Call 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

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How do Cancer Research use my Will donation? https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/06/how-do-cancer-research-use-my-will-donation https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/06/how-do-cancer-research-use-my-will-donation#respond Wed, 06 Feb 2019 16:15:24 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=12312 In 2018, all of the Fisher Jones Greenwood branches participated in the Free...

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In 2018, all of the Fisher Jones Greenwood branches participated in the Free Will Service by Cancer Research UK. As a result, Fisher Jones Greenwood raised pledges that totaled £394,800.

In this blog, I have detailed how all donations are used specifically by Cancer Research following my blog in January 2019. Sadly most of us will know someone, whether that be a family member, a very dear friend, a colleague or yourself that has been diagnosed with “Cancer”. Those who are diagnosed hope that one day a cure for all Cancers can be found.

Cancer Research UK have confirmed to me how their pledges have been used in the region of East Anglia:

  • Cancer Research spent £53 million in East Anglia last year. Some of the studies in Cambridge from this funding resulted in; Bioinformatics – using powerful computers to decipher the genetic makeup of tumours in 500 different patients in order to understand what makes oesophageal cancer tick.
  • Cambridge scientists made a landmark discovery that could revolutionise the way we diagnose and treat Breast Cancer. They reclassified the disease into 10 categories based on the genetic fingerprint of the woman’s tumour. It is hoped that in future this will enable doctors to match each person to the treatment most likely to be successful in tackling their cancer.
  • Every day, 90 people in East Anglia are diagnosed with cancer. Deaths in East Anglia have fallen by a tenth in the last 10 years and that’s thanks to pledges left within your Will that Cancer Research have been able to have achieve these results.

A real example of the difference East Anglia made:

A retired accountant and grandfather of three, Tony, 67, was diagnosed with early-stage oesophageal cancer in 2011.

Tony has been taking part in a ground-breaking clinical trial to test a new, simple way of diagnosing a condition called Barrett’s esophagus, which can increase a person’s risk of developing oesophageal cancer.

This new Cytosponge test is kinder to patients and could save the NHS time and money – the cytosponge was created and developed by Cancer Research in their Cambridge Lab.

If Fisher Jones Greenwood can assist you in the drafting of your Will, then please contact our office on 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk in order to arrange an appointment.

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Ways in which you can buy or sell development land https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/06/ways-in-which-you-can-buy-or-sell-development-land https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/06/ways-in-which-you-can-buy-or-sell-development-land#respond Wed, 06 Feb 2019 09:53:14 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=12300 There are many types of commercial contracts which can be entered into by...

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There are many types of commercial contracts which can be entered into by a seller and buyer of a commercial site. These contracts will cater for different circumstances and specific arrangements between the parties.

Common alternatives include:

Option Agreement

Option Agreements are often useful where planning permission has not yet been obtained for a parcel of land and a buyer wants to secure planning permission prior to committing to purchase the land.

The usual form of option agreement provides the buyer with the right to purchase the land from the seller (known as a call option). A buyer is in control and will only exercise their option by giving notice in accordance with the agreed terms.

Conditional Contract

Where one party is unable, or unwilling to immediately enter into an unconditional agreement for the sale or purchase of a property, a conditional contract is drawn up for the parties.

Whilst conditional contracts are appealing to buyers, especially those who are anxious and want to avoid losing the property to another buyer, they are not so attractive to a seller who would usually try and avoid entering into a contract, where completion is conditional upon the happening of a particular event.

Conditional contracts are usually entered into in circumstances where planning permission has not yet been obtained; the buyer is waiting for vacant possession of the property; or, there are still outstanding searches and enquiries to be undertaken.

Land Promotion Agreements

Usually, this involves a third-party land promotor who agrees to apply for planning permission for development on the land and once planning has been obtained, market the property for sale on the open market, with a view to obtaining the best price possible.

The promotor will initially fund a planning application and relevant land, geotechnical and environmental surveys together with any other costs relating to marketing and ultimate sale of the property.

Once a buyer has been found and the seller agrees the deal, the promotor will receive a percentage (as per the agreement) of the sale proceeds. In addition to this, the promotor will be reimbursed for the planning and marketing costs. If however planning permission is not obtained then the agreement is automatically terminated.

Joint Venture

A joint venture differs from the above commercial contracts as it can include various parties, for example, the landowner, the developer, the funder and even the ultimate occupier of the completed property.

All parties would enter into a single contract which would set out the terms of agreement between them and would deal with the benefit that each party could bring to the proposed arrangement.

If you would like further information regarding the above, please speak to the commercial property team here at Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP on 01206 700133 or email contact@fjg.co.uk

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Super Bowl Commercials – a commercially safe idea? https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/01/super-bowl-commercials https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/01/super-bowl-commercials#respond Fri, 01 Feb 2019 16:13:06 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=12244   The NFL regular season has now concluded, the playoffs completed and we...

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The NFL regular season has now concluded, the playoffs completed and we are left with the final two competitors – the evergreen New England Patriots and the newly-remodelled Los Angeles Rams.

To the victor, the spoils, and it appears, everything else that comes with it.

Which in today’s modern era, means huge revenues, not only in terms of TV rights and sponsorships at time the Super Bowl is played, but victory bonuses, advertising rights and future-looking sponsorship deals for the team that comes away with the famous Lombardi trophy.

Whilst NFL players are paid handsomely over the tenure of their long-term contracts and would receive a hefty victory bonus should they win the Super Bowl, ranking them amongst the highest-paid professional athletes in the world, a 30-second advertising slot at half-time of the Super Bowl championship game would cost in excess of $5,000000.

Therefore, it would appear that half time sponsors and the organisers of ‘America’s Showpiece’ are to be the true victors at the final whistle.

To put that in perspective, a similar slot in the very first Super Bowl in 1967, would have cost no more than $45,000.

That may seem an exorbitant amount of money for a 30-second opportunity of commercial advertising and exposure; however, businesses are queuing up for a slot in one of the most globally-televised events of the year.

It is estimated that around 180 million viewers around the globe will tune in to watch the Super Bowl not even including the fans in attendance at the game itself.

Such numbers would therefore seem ample justification for sponsors and businesses splashing out for an advertising slot, given that such commercial exposure and reach could not be matched at any other point in time.

Therefore, companies and sponsors have been working around the clock leading up to the Super Bowl, to ensure their adverts are perfected and their brands polished and ready to be unleashed upon the world. The importance of such seemingly-short adverts has never been greater, and the organisers of the event know it, with corporations happy to pay out the staggering fees for advertising slots, safe in the knowledge that their reach, exposure and long-term gains, will soon fast outweigh the initial expenditure.

Indeed, the half-time show of the Super Bowl is one of the most star-studded and highly-anticipated events of the year, meaning that advertising during this period, could prove to be the most expensive, yet the most lucrative opportunity for those that can afford it.

As a result, intellectual property, brands and the protection of these has never been more important. Whilst putting your brand out there on such a global scale can seem like a great idea, if this is not sufficiently protected, it could become disastrous and have far-reaching consequences.

We here at Fisher Jones Greenwood LLP can help advise you on the protection or your brand and intellectual property. Should you wish to have your present intellectual property position reviewed, or if you would like to find out more, please contact our Corporate Commercial Department on 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

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Will inheritance tax be payable on gifts I’ve made? https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/01/will-inheritance-tax-be-payable-on-gifts-ive-made https://www.fjg.co.uk/blog/2019/02/01/will-inheritance-tax-be-payable-on-gifts-ive-made#respond Fri, 01 Feb 2019 09:47:59 +0000 https://www.fjg.co.uk/?p=12230 They say there are two certainties in life; death and taxes. Inheritance Tax...

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They say there are two certainties in life; death and taxes. Inheritance Tax is the dreaded combination of both.

Many are unaware however that inheritance tax can become payable, not only on the gifts made after their death but also on certain gifts made during their lifetime. So, whilst many believe that reducing the size of their Estate during their lifetime will bring about a reduction in the tax payable on their death, this is not necessarily the case.

After your death, the person(s) you left responsible for administering your estate will look at any gifts you made within 7 years prior to your death. These may be monetary gifts, gifts of property or items of value such as jewellery or antiques. Whether inheritance tax will be payable on these gifts will depend upon their value and whether you made any other gifts in the same financial year. In most cases, if you live longer than 7 years after the date of the gift, the recipient will not have to pay inheritance tax. If you live less than 7 years after the gift was made, that gift might be subject to inheritance tax unless one of the following provisions apply;

Gifts falling within your ‘annual exemption’

During your lifetime, you are entitled to an ‘annual exemption’ of £3,000. This is effectively a yearly gift allowance. Inheritance tax will not be charged on gifts made within this annual allowance, regardless of when they are made.

If any part of your annual exemption is not used in one financial year, it can be carried forward to the following tax year. For example, if you have made gifts of £1,000 in the year 2018/19, your total allowance for the year 2019/20 would be £5,000. Please note, you may only carry over one year’s allowance so the maximum allowance for any one year is £6,000.

Other ‘tax-free’ gifts

There are number of lifetime gifts upon which inheritance will not be charged regardless of when they are made, these include;

  • Small gifts – these are gifts not exceeding £250 to any one person in any one year. You can make as many of these small gifts as you would like.
  • Marriage gifts – each parent of a couple to be wed may gift up to £5,000 in contemplation of the marriage.
  • Gifts to charity
  • Gifts to a spouse or civil partner domiciled within the UK

If you require further information on inheritance tax or would like to prepare a Will, we at Fisher Jones Greenwood are here to help. Please call 01206 700113 or email contact@fjg.co.uk.

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