Moving in together
Making the decision to live together is an exciting step in a relationship, be it buying or renting a home together or moving into a property that one party already owns.
As well as finding a dream home, issues spanning short and long terms have to be considered; the legal aspects of purchasing a property, including how it will be owned, protecting the parties, in particular the more limited legal rights of cohabiting couples who are not married or in a civil partnership and how to share financial responsibilities. What will work best depends on personal circumstances.
There can be other factors to consider when there are children from previous relationships or if family members are providing financial support. Putting in place robust plans before moving in together provides peace of mind and mitigates the possibility of future disputes.
How we can help
- Acting in the legal process of purchasing a new home from start to finish
- Helping with international issues connected with purchasing UK property
- Arrangements for holding property between family members, for example sibling co-ownership
- Advice on the different ways to co-own property, what is suitable for the parties and changing it where required
- Child residence arrangements where there are children from a previous relationship.
- Advice on the best way to own property over time and taking advantage of tax planning opportunities
- Documenting loans between parents and children
- Cohabitation agreements where the parties are unmarried and not in a civil partnership, setting out how financial responsibilities are to be divided while living together and what happens if one party becomes ill, dies or if the relationship breaks down.
- Helping to protect wider family interests in property and assets if a relationship breaks down
- Advising cohabiting parents who are not married or in a civil partnership going through separation and who need to put in place arrangements for children and finances
- Helping resolve residential property disputes, such as boundary and ownership disagreements.
Moving house or buying a home can be stressful, but this can be alleviated with sound advice and sensible planning. A property purchase can be a momentous life decision and significant financial commitment. Getting the right advice is vital to its success.
Marriage or civil partnership
Getting married or entering into a civil partnership is a wonderful celebration. Beyond the main event, a marriage or civil partnership creates important legal, financial and social bonds between two people, with wide ranging implications, for both the assets each party brings to the relationship and those that are built up over the course of it. Often there are wider family interests that need to be factored into succession and inheritance plans. It is important any such planning is updated to reflect the expansion of the family a marriage or civil partnership brings. A pre or post-nuptial agreement is a common and effective wealth protection tool, providing peace of mind for the couple and their respective families. Such an agreement sets out how the couple's assets are to be divided, if they later separate. A well thought out pre or post-nuptial agreement can form an important part of asset protection and estate planning for families wishing to preserve their assets and wealth for future generations.
How we can help
- Advising on the legal implications of marriage for international families
- Advising on the implications of gifting assets to a married family member.
- Negotiating and drafting pre and post-nuptial agreements
- Advising on tax planning opportunities, including taking advantage of tax exemptions and reliefs available between spouses and civil partners
- Drafting or updating Wills, particularly in light of those pre-dating a marriage or civil partnership being automatically revoked by the marriage or civil partnership
- Wider inheritance and estate planning, safeguarding interests of children from a previous relationship and looking at broader family estate planning, including advising trustees
- Advising on a loss of mental capacity, including advance decisions, drafting lasting powers of attorney and dealing with registration at the Office of the Public Guardian and deputyship applications to the Court of Protection.
- Acting in separation, divorce and dissolution
- Advising on child maintenance and other financial contributions for children in the event of separation, divorce or dissolution
- Helping with cross-border issues, for example firewall legislation in jurisdictions where matrimonial wealth may be located and disparities between recognition of marriage and civil partnership.
Planning a wedding or civil partnership is a joyful experience, which, at first glance might seem to be at odds with thinking about pre or post-nuptial agreements. However, appropriate safeguarding with advice from our lawyers can be a positive experience, giving parties to a marriage or civil partnership financial transparency and the opportunity to ask questions that will only strengthen the foundation of their relationship.
Starting a family
Starting a family is an exciting and defining time. With the joy of children comes the responsibility, including the need to safeguard their futures with proper legal planning to prepare for all eventualities. Parents or grandparents may wish to plan for how a child's financial needs will be met during their lifetime, perhaps setting aside funds for school fees or a new trust for a vulnerable child. Planning for how the next generation will be cared and provided for in the event of losing a parent is also key to peace of mind. As the family expands, the wider succession and estate planning needs to be kept under review and up to date. Families come in many different forms, and additional legal steps may need to be taken to protect everyone's interests; parents who are not married or in a civil partnership, children from previous relationships, adoption and surrogacy, for example. Sometimes questions about the care and decision-making network for children will need to be asked, like where their main home will be, who will be named on the birth certificate and what roles will be played by genetic and legal parents respectively. Depending on the family, these are all areas that can need attention when putting in place any long-term planning.
How we can help
- Advising on birth certificates and parental responsibility agreements
- Pre-conception agreements for children born via a genetic donor outside the family
- Advising individuals or families contemplating domestic or international surrogacy or adoption
- Advising on changes to business structures or employment arrangements for parents who wish to spend more time with their new family.
- Drafting and reviewing Wills, including provisions for the appointment of guardians
- Setting up or updating structures to preserve and use assets for the benefit of children
- Ensuring appropriate long-term provision for children in the wider family's estate planning
- Drafting new and revising existing pre and post-nuptial agreements, to include financial and residential arrangements for children
- Cohabitation agreements for parents who are not married or in a civil partnership setting out how to share finances while living together and what happens if one party becomes ill, dies or if the relationship breaks down
- Putting in place a 'Parenting Plan', an agreement in principle about how a child will be cared for, including in the event of separation, divorce or dissolution.
- In the event of separation, divorce or dissolution, advising on child maintenance and other financial contributions for a child
- Agreeing arrangements relating to children in the event of separation, divorce or dissolution
- Advising grandparents on their positions in relation to arrangements for their grandchildren in the event of parents' separation, divorce or dissolution.
Even before children are born, parents, grandparents and the wider family can begin to plan for new members joining the family, making them part of their financial and life decisions.
Passing on wealth within the family
Whether as custodians of long held family property or entrepreneurs and the fruits of their success, passing wealth on to the family is an opportunity to leave a legacy that persists for many generations.
The successful transfer of wealth from one generation to the next is challenging; any estate planning must be robust enough to protect everyone's interests, particularly where there is a family business, while being sufficiently flexible to adapt to an evolving tax and legal landscape and changing family circumstances. Family dynamics play a significant part in achieving that success.
Succession can be achieved using a wide range of estate planning tools. This ranges from the fundamentals, making sure there are well-drafted Wills in place, to options tailored to a particular family's needs, like creating a comprehensive family governance wealth structure that might include a family investment company, trusts, a family office and/or a family charter. Every family is unique and circumstances are ever-changing, which has to be reflected in a regularly-reviewed estate planning strategy. Good succession planning is the difference between families who succeed in growing their wealth over time and those where wealth dissipates from one generation to the next.
The process can involve difficult conversations with family members, particularly over questions of how to separate control and benefit. Managing discussions tactfully will help avoid future family disputes or inheritance claims and the benefits should be long lasting, enabling a family to flourish over the generations.
How we can help
- Advice on setting up investment vehicles, such as a family investment company
- Helping to set up a Family Office
- Acting in the purchase of property and other assets
- Structuring the family business so that it may be passed on effectively in the future.
- Family Governance and dynastic planning advice, including stress-testing existing arrangements
- Tax and estate planning, including advice on appropriate holding structures, like trusts and corporate entities
- Advising on business succession
- Discussing family relationships and dynamics
- Drafting documents required to implement succession plans, including wills, trust deeds, shareholder agreements, family charters, articles of association, etc
- Drafting and negotiating pre and post-nuptial agreements.
- Acting in inheritance disputes, such as claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975 claims and challenges to the validity of a Will
- Wealth protection on divorce, separation or dissolution
- Stress-testing existing estate planning to mitigate future disputes
- Acting in disputes between trustees and beneficiaries.
Our award-winning Private Wealth team specialises in inheritance and estate planning for high net worth families. Not only are we experienced in creating complex cross-border succession structures, we understand the psychological aspects of family succession. We get to the heart of the issues that matter to the families we work with and often act as mediators in managing family dynamics.
Philanthropy and charitable giving
In addition to providing for the needs of the family, successful individuals often harbour wider ambitions to use their wealth to make a positive impact on society. For many, philanthropy and charitable giving are a cornerstone of a family's wealth management strategy. Finding the best way to support the causes that are most important to the family is crucial to ensuring that societal benefits are maximised.
For governance and tax reasons, charitable donations and bequests require careful management within the context of a wider succession plan. Larger scale endeavours, such as setting up a charitable foundation or trust, require meticulous planning, as well as ongoing management to ensure long-term success. Regulatory and compliance issues can also be complex, particularly if a cross-border element is involved. Therefore, co-ordination of specialist advice is essential, helping to ensure that philanthropic goals are met and tax reliefs utilised.
Furthermore, sustainability and social impact are no longer viewed as purely philanthropic endeavours; they are increasingly a requirement for business and investment activities. Incorporating environmental, social and corporate governance, or 'ESG', considerations into wealth plans is growing in popularity through a rise in social investment and social enterprise structures such as B-Corps. To that extent, approaches adopted in a philanthropic arena can be reflected in a wider investment context.
How we can help
- Leading the development of a giving strategy
- Advising on optimum approaches to philanthropy and charitable giving
- Advising on the establishment and operation of charities and grant making foundations in the UK and overseas
- The use of alternative structures, such as community interest companies and B-Corps.
- Tailoring tax efficient giving by individuals and charities
- Social and sustainable investments, with a view to maximising use of funds
- Drafting robust agreements to ensure that contractual goals are met.
- Advising on the smooth operation of charitable structures, with a particular focus on governance, risk management and regulatory compliance governance, risk management and regulatory compliance
- Safeguarding reputation through comprehensive drafting of naming and recognition rights in the context of major giving.