Support for carers – when caring for a loved one

It is reported that, 1 in 5 carers are forced to give up work altogether due to the significant demand of their caring role. It is also reported that informal carers tend to become lifelong carers for their disabled partner or adult children. The main carer’s benefit, Carer’s Allowance, is £62.10 for those “who regularly spend at least 35 hours a week caring for someone with substantial caring needs”. This equates to a mere £1.77 per hour – well below the national minimum wage which currently stands at £7.20 for those 25 and over.

Therefore it is understandable that historically, many carers often felt that their own well-being was overlooked and under supported. Under the old law, carers did not have a legal right to receive support, merely the Local Authority could exercise their discretion to provide support if the care provided was deemed to be “regular and substantial”. The Care Act 2014, which came into force 1st April 2015, finally gives Carers the same recognition and respect as those whom they provide care for.

Often people don’t see themselves as a “carer”, but simply looking after a loved one. However the Care Act symbolises a shift in our attitude towards carers, and more importantly, it places a duty on Local Authorities to carry out a Carer’s Assessment where a carer appears to need support – irrespective of the amount or type of care provided.

Once the Assessment is complete, the Local Authority will decide whether the carer is eligible for assistance, and if so, what help might be available such as a break from caring, help with housework and support going back into employment.


Did you know that you may be able to recover legal costs if you have paid privately?

If you are a successful defendant, i.e. you are acquitted or the case against you is dismissed, and you have paid your solicitor privately, you are entitled to recover your legal costs under the Defence Costs Order regime.

The definition of legal costs includes fees, charges, disbursements and other amounts payable in respect of solicitor and barrister fees. The regime came into effect for criminal proceedings commenced after 1 October 2012 so if your case started after this date, you may be eligible. The amount that is recoverable is, however, limited to the amount that would be payable under legal aid rates, so you will not get the full amount of legal costs that you paid returned to you.

The regime applies to, amongst others, proceedings in a magistrates’ court, when a warrant, requisition or summons relating to the proceedings is issued and on an appeal to the Crown court, when a notice of appeal is served. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on whether this applies to your case.

If you are eligible for a claim under the Defence Costs Order regime, you must submit your claim within three months’ of the date the court proceedings ended, otherwise you risk having your claim rejected or a penalty imposed. Submitting a claim under the Defence Costs Order regime is something that you will normally have to do yourself, however at MTG Solicitors, your solicitor will be able to do this for you.


To make a WILL or not to that is the question?

“To do or not do” is indeed the Shakespearean question of our time; our lives have become so fast paced that its all whizzing too quickly these days. So when the question of making a Will comes up, little time for consideration is given and left back on the mantle piece for a another rainy day.

Its time for you to take a serious look into making your will.

Your Will is likely to be one of the last set of instructions you leave behind. It will deal with your instructions and wishes and will be the last remnants of your legacy. Making a Will makes it easier for both you and your loved ones.

However, If you decide not to make a will it can cause great confusion for your family and friends as to what your last wishes may have been. This can lead to family disagreements, disputes and even break ups; and remember you will not be there to clarify or explain those wishes. Unless you’re the “ghost of Christmas Past”!

Therefore, in order to ensure that your wishes are carried out correctly and your assets are distributed in accordance with your desires it is highly recommended to plan and make your Will today.

To protect your legacy, it is in your best interests to ensure that your will is drafted and executed in the correct way. Without this your will is open to interpretation and challenges which may invalidate your will, which would mean that gifts and legacies may not be distributed as per your original wishes. It seems a simple task to draw up your own will using a standard template and have it executed in the presence of two people, however it is easy to make mistakes and this could be one of the biggest pitfalls you could make.

By planning your Will with a solicitor specialising in wills you can have the peace of mind that your last testament has been drawn up correctly and with your full wishes intact:

Some of the various benefits of planning with a specialist solicitor include the following:

  1. You will be given advice on the options surrounding your will;
  2. You will be advised confidentially and your best interests will be put first;
  3. Your will be drafted and checked according to your instructions-your instructions may not be followed or you will may even be invalid if the incorrect wording is used;
  4. And most important of all your Will would be witnessed and executed in the correct way. One of the biggest problems of incorrect execution could mean that your will is invalid.

So there you have it, avoid the pitfalls and don’t risk your assets and legacies being handled in the incorrect way. So “to do” is certainly the way to go!


Children matter, but sadly procedures matter more?

Children are often the worst affected after the breakdown of a relationship. It is therefore important for both parents to amicably reconcile their differences in the best interest of the children. Sadly at this stage emotions are high and children can find themselves embroiled in the issues and on occasions being forced to take sides of either parent.

The longer it takes for the child to see the absent parent the more damaging it is for the child in the long term.

Should there be a route directly to the court to avoid delay for parents who are not having contact with their children?

The delay to commence court proceedings often invokes a status quo and the main person affected is the child who does not understand why he/she has not seen the absent parent. A child can therefore be left feeling rejected whilst the parents try to resolve issues through mediation and the court.

Currently unless there is evidence of domestic violence, involvement with the police, doctors or involvement of a refuge the parents have to access mediation before an application for contact can be issued.

Should the child not have a voice and a right not to be estranged from a parent when there are no other welfare issues?

One solution could be a procedure to make a fast track application to the court where there has not been any of the above issues but parents have simply not been able to agree arrangements and the children have been left with no contact with the non-resident parent as a result.

Sadly, there’s no plans for a speedier service as yet, but we shall wait and see whether a process or a procedure is set to help enable a “fast-track” service at the family courts, which will eventually help reduce the suffering of any child going when parents separate.