Our blog this month is on famous women that have led change or made a difference to society. Due to our current situation with Covid 19 and the scientists that are working tirelessly to create vaccines for Covid 19, I thought it appropriate to focus on Marie Curie.
Marie Curie was a scientist and I think it is fair to say most people know what she discovered; and if you do not read on to find out. Marie was born in Poland and later moved to France and met her husband to be, who was also a scientist, called Pierre.
In 1903 Marie and her husband Pierre were awarded the Nobel Prize for their scientific discoveries. They discovered radioactivity and two new elements called polonium and radium. Their ground-breaking work led to the development of radiotherapy and X Rays. Did you know that the first portable X Ray machine was developed and used during World War One, all thanks to Marie and Pierre.
Then in 1911 Marie was awarded another Nobel prize. This was historically significant with the scientific discoveries and also that Marie was the first woman in history to be awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize; and the only one to be awarded the Nobel Prize twice. Marie became a professor at the University of Paris in 1906 and was the first woman professor at the university.
The Curie institute in Paris was founded in 1920 and in Warsaw in 1932; both medical research facilities are used for medical research today.
Sadly in 1934 Marie died from Aplastic anaemia from the exposure during her scientific experiments. Today we know about radiation and it’s affect on our bodies. We use precautions when using radiation to minimise the risks to the patient and medical and nursing teams.
Today we have developed further technologies, but the X Ray is still used in conjunction with other medical investigations. Without Marie and Pierre’s work in this field none of this would be possible today.
“On the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month…we will remember them.”
In Flanders Fields
By John Mccrae
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Haunting words I know however as we enter the time of remembrance, with socially distanced Remembrance Sunday services having taken place across the UK and indeed the world, remembering the fallen in conflict around the world; not only service personnel but also the civilian casualties, the innocent men, women and children who have been caught up, through no fault of their own.
Making a Will was and still is very important for the service man on active duty even in peacetime, the major difference this was and still is called a “Privileged Will”, which extended and extends to any soldier on active service or mariner or seaman being at sea. The term soldier also includes shore based naval or marine personal and members of the RAF, although the term “Active Military Service” is open to some doubt with cases including Re Jones (1976) and Re Rapley (Deceased) (1993) calling into question what active service is.
These Wills were if not written before deployment were written in the field using scraps of paper and whatever writing implement could be found, and example of which is below, taken from a national newspaper archive:
A game of noughts and crosses and a will leaving a collection of Sir Walter Scott books to his best friend and the rest of his possessions to his mother was all that was found of Philip Woollatt.
The first world war soldier’s pocketbook – containing the informal will that all servicemen carried – was found furrowed by a bullet after a battle in July 1916 in which it is presumed the 21-year-old died.
This practice still carries on today so that the service man or woman can direct their estate to the right person or persons, rather than die intestate.
During this period of remembering and reflecting, if you are worried about your own estate please contact us.
A doctor by trade, Canada’s John McCrae volunteered for World War I in 1914 and served as a brigade surgeon for an artillery unit. The following year, he had a front row seat to the horrors of the Second Battle of Ypres, where the Germans launched an assault that included the war’s first use of poisonous chlorine gas. While tending to the wounded and mourning the dead—who included his good friend, Alexis Helmer—McCrae put pen to paper on “In Flanders Fields,” a poem written from the point of view of fallen soldiers whose graves are overgrown with wild poppy flowers. “In Flanders fields the poppies blow,” it reads, “Between the crosses, row on row.” John McCrae died from pneumonia and meningitis in 1918, but not before the poem became one of World War I’s most popular and widely quoted works of literature. Among other things, it inspired the use of the poppy as the “flower of remembrance” for the war dead.
Let’s start with looking at what is meant by terms of business.
The terms and conditions outline the contract between you and your customer for your supply of goods or services. This also regulates your business relationship.
The purpose of setting out terms and conditions is to record what you have agreed and to layout the inflexible terms under which you will accept business.
Businesses focus on generating clients and selling goods or services and without a contract or terms and conditions of business, it will be difficult for businesses to clearly show what they have agreed to provide and what isn’t included in their charges.
The terms will:
Define the contract between both parties;
Set out your business procedures;
Limit your liability; and
Protect your business and your rights
You still need terms of business, which acts as a contract between you and your customer/client.
All businesses want to avoid litigation as it is stressful, expensive and damaging to your business. Terms and conditions help to avoid litigation as they should set out clearly the contract between the business and your customer/client.
Outlining the Agreement
The contract is a written agreement between two parties and details the terms of a transaction. The contract states the work that will be performed, along with important information like due dates and costs. It is better to keep the contract as simple as possible.
State the full scope of works;
Outline a general timeline if possible and if possible exact due dates for each milestone. This isn’t always possible if waiting on a third party;
Everything discussed should be included in the contract;
Payment amounts and terms. State how many days will the person have to pay the invoice and whether it is to be paid before or after work commences and payment method. Is there interest charged on late payments;
Outline the circumstances under which the contract can be terminated and how that will be handled. If dispute mediation becomes necessary, the contract should also outline how that will take place;
If necessary, one or both parties may choose to include a noncompete or nondisclosure clause; and
State terms related to failed obligations. If, for instance, payment isn’t remitted by a certain date, the contract should outline what late payment fee will apply and any interest charges.
Protecting both business and client
Having clear expectations in a contract makes enforceability easier. Knowing that the terms of business are in writing can put pressure on all involved parties to meet their obligations on time. The service provider will probably even routinely check the contract to make sure the work is progressing as agreed.
If an issue arises, having the agreement in writing will make enforcement much easier. If the client decides to work with a different agency halfway through the project, the provider could take legal action to be paid for work performed.
The contract will ensure the service provider receives payment in a timely manner. For big projects, this generally means multiple small payments as certain milestones are reached. Payments can be asked for in stages.
A written contract may not always be enough to get paid on time. It is essential to issue invoices and reiterate the terms on that invoice. Give your clients/customers different options to make payments.
Closing the Contract
No business wants to proceed with legal action but the contract between both parties lays out exact terms and conditions for that service or purchase. The contract should be kept for 6 years after closure in case a later issue should arise.
Keeping a template that you can adjust based on lessons learned from previous business transactions is a good idea.
The global COVID 19 pandemic has caused extensive socio-economic impacts and put millions of companies all over the world at risk of being forced out of business. Small businesses and entrepreneurs have been hit especially hard and had to adapt to survive.
Businesses have adapted quickly and continue to adapt to the changing circumstances. The way forward is evolving daily and Avalon Legal have developed a checklist to help other businesses survive, adapt and change.
Prioritising health and safety
Staying healthy mentally and physically
Make sure you have a COVID-19 policy that aligns with the government’s advice; and an infection-control policy to reduce possible infections. Public Health England has extensive guidance for individuals and businesses to help them re-open as COVID secure areas and to reduce the risk to the lowest possible level.
If you or your employee becomes unwell use the NHS COVID symptom checker. Have the list of symptoms accessible and updated regularly.
Mental health resources
Provide mental health resources and support for your employees in accessing them. Many people have developed COVID anxiety and will need time and reassurance to work through their anxieties. Charities such as Mind and Heads Together Wellbeing Hub are offering support that employees and business owners can access. Working from home is isolating so encourage employees to take breaks and encourage catch up’s with staff via online platforms.
If you have employees do you have up to date contact details? This is really important and easy to set up an electronic contact folder.
Communicating with employees and customers
Ensure that your employees are aware of your responses to the pandemic and ways you are mitigating risk
Staff and office space will need ongoing risk assessments, following the governments’ advice. Stay in regular touch with your employees and keep them informed of the latest advice. A really good initiative is to provide an electronic news update for your business, then email to employees. This provides reassurance and communicates efficiently the same message to everyone.
The team hub should provide your employees with policies that cover
1. Remote working
2. Schedules of working
3. Insurance information
4. Risk Assessment pro forma
Update your website and social media platforms with your working hours and any changes to availability of products. Pinning a post to your Social media outlets ensures customers don’t miss the information. Let customers know if you offer online platforms for meetings. It is a good idea to have a ‘how to guide’ for those that haven’t used a particular online meeting platform. Send this to your customer ahead of the meeting so that they can prepare. If your business is open as usual let your customers know.
Financial- cash flow
Businesses need cash flow to survive. So how do you create sustainable cash flow? Communicate with your accountant and the bank; ensure they are aware of your financial situation. The government have offered support for small businesses but some are excluded from this financial help. Your accountant should be able to provide you with advice accessing the right support. Updates on the governments support can be found on the governments’ website. Plan for a crisis and update your strategy as you progress.
Keep up to date with the rapidly changing situation and adapt as required. This is also an opportunity for taking lessons you’ve learned and will enable future management of a crisis. Mitigate risk and have a strong business continuity plan to future proof your business.
Aretha was born on the 25th March 1942 in Memphis, Tennessee, USA and she died on the 16th August 2018.
Aretha had a successful music career that spanned six decades and had record sales of over 75 million!
Aretha left four adult children to dispute over her estate as she appeared to have died without having made her Will.
It is difficult to understand that a successful musician and singer would have omitted to plan for the distribution of her estate after death.
Aretha’s four children had to list themselves as interested parties in her estate, while her niece asked the court to appoint her as personal representative of the estate.
A year and a half later her niece wrote a letter announcing her intent to resign as executor of the estate. The letter describes the disputes between family members.
When Aretha died in August 2018, no known Will was in existence but in May 2019 her niece discovered three hand-written documents that appeared to be Wills, although they had yet to be verified. That discovery led to months of legal battles and family tension.
Planning what happens to your estate after death is especially important and can reduce tensions and long and costly legal battles occurring.
It takes no more than 30 minutes of your time to avoid your family falling out for years and swallowing up your estate in legal fees.
With the ongoing coronavirus pandemic many people are understandably concerned about getting documents in place to allow someone else to make decisions on their behalf and manage their financial affairs.
With many vulnerable people currently being advised to self-isolate this means having an attorney to carry out certain tasks on their behalf is incredibly useful.
Normally when we think of powers of attorney we think of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPAs). These documents allow a donor to appoint attorneys to make decisions on their behalf should they lose capacity to make their own decisions. They can be made to appoint someone to make decisions about health and welfare as well as property and financial affairs.
In the case of managing financial affairs an LPA can also be used while the donor still has capacity to make their own decisions, making them useful for someone who has mental capacity but maybe still needs a bit of extra support.
General Powers of Attorney (GPAs) are very different. This type of document can only be used by a donor wishing to appoint an attorney to manage their financial affairs and is only valid while the donor has mental capacity. As soon as capacity is lost the GPA is no longer useable and the attorney can’t make any more decisions for the donor.
So why choose a General Power of Attorney right now?
At the moment LPA applications are progressing quite slowly. The Office of the Public Guardian is doing its best to process applications within their target of 40 days, but like many companies right now they are running on reduced staff.
This means that it’s taking longer to get an LPA registered, and if there are any issues with it it’s currently difficult to contact the OPG by phone.
The more pressing issue though are the barriers to getting the LPA completed in the first place. Completing an LPA requires a donor, a certificate provider, at least one attorney, and a witness to witness the donor and all attorney’s signatures.
In an ideal world the certificate provider could act as the witness to all people involved limiting the amount of people who need to be involved in the signing, but even without the current social distancing rules managing to gather the donor and all of their attorneys together is a rare occurrence, with attorneys often living far away from the donor.
For a person who needs someone to make decisions for them right away a GPA can be a great alternative currently. There is no registration requirement, so the document is ready to use as soon as it has been properly signed. There are also less people involved in the creation of a GPA. The only people who need to sign are the donor themselves and a witness. There is no need for a certificate provider, and no need for the attorney to sign.
The GPA is executed as a deed poll by the donor, so the rules on who can act as a witness for them are not strict. The witness must be over 18, have capacity, and can’t themselves be a party to the deed. The attorney isn’t strictly a party to the deed as they aren’t a signatory, but it is still best to avoid them acting as a witness.
What this does mean though is that someone else in the household could act as the witness, allowing the document to be made without placing anyone at any risk.
What this doesn’t mean…
This doesn’t mean that LPAs should be forgotten about altogether. Since a GPA ends if the donor loses capacity it is still best to make sure that steps are being taken to get an LPA put in place as soon as it’s possible to do so.
6th April 2020 saw the start of the new tax year and with it the usual new tax breaks and tax increases.
One of the major breaks for married couples and civil partners is the increase of the Residence Nil rate Band (RNRB) from £150,000.00 to £175,000.00 per person.
This means that the potential transferable rate between married couples and civil partners may be £350,000 in some cases, which could mean that on second death the deceased’s Inheritance Tax threshold increase to £1M before Inheritance Tax becomes payable at 40%.
For example On the assumption Mr Smith leaves everything to Mrs Smith on first death and then Mrs Smith leaves everything to the children on reaching the age of 21 on second death in their Wills then the following will apply. Basic Nil Rate Band Transferred Nil Rate Band Basic Residence Nil Rate Band Transferred Residence Nil Rate Band Total £325,000.00 £325,000.00 £150,000.00 £150,000.00 £1,000,000.00
There are certain criteria attached to the use of the Residence Nil Rate Band including the types of property to include and who are defined as children.
If you would like further advise or a review of your existing Wills please contact us.
Let’s take a look and delve into the history behind another amazing influential woman. Mary Seacole born in Jamaica and was the daughter of James Grant, a Scottish Lieutenant in the British Army.
Mary’s mother was a healer and had a vast knowledge of tropical diseases and a Doctors skill at treating illness and injuries.
Mary gained her nursing skills at Blundell Hall in Kingston, Jamaica; and had learned from her mother and the Army Doctors in treating and healing people. Mary was proud of both her Jamaican and Scottish ancestry.
On the 10th November 1836 Mary married Edwin Horatio Hamilton Seacole. They moved to Black River where they opened a provisions store; this failed to make them any money and they returned to Blundell Hall in the early 1840s.
Unfortunately Mary had a difficult time during 1843 and 1844. The family suffered a house fire in which their boarding house was destroyed and in October 1844 Mary’s husband died, followed by her mother. The boarding house was re built and Mary took control and managed the hotel herself. Blundell Hall had many European military visitors and Mary was well known and respected among them.
The Cholera epidemic of 1850, killed 32,000 Jamaican people. Mary had treated people and thought there was a link between the Cholera outbreak and a steamer, that had arrived from New Orleans.
In 1851 Mary took a trip to see her brother in Cruces; shortly after she had arrived the town was struck by cholera. Mary, having seen and managed this disease previously, was able to help care for the people. In fact Mary cared for the first person with Cholera during this outbreak; and they lived; gaining Mary a reputation for being able to heal patients with Cholera.
Mary did not charge the poor for treatment but did charge the rich. Towards the end of the epidemic Mary contracted Cholera and had to rest for a significant period of time.
Mary arrived back in Jamaica in 1853 and soon after her arrival the medical authority asked for her help with the outbreak of yellow fever. Mary reported that there was not much success in treating these sick people and many died.
In 1854 Mary Seacole had read reports in newspapers on the outbreak of war. Mary decided she would travel to England and volunteer as a nurse.
The Crimean War lasted from October 1853 until 1 April 1856 and was fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the United Kingdom, France, the Kingdom of Sardinia, and the Ottoman Empire.
Mary’s offer of help to nurse the sick soldiers was repeatedly turned down and in the end she used her own resources to travel to the Crimea and opened the British Hotel in March 1855.
In 1855, William Howard Russell, a correspondent of The Times, wrote that Mary was “a successful doctor” and “cured men”. Mary was always seen in attendance on the battlefield tending to the injured soldiers. Mary’s peers soon discovered that Mary and her knowledge of healing had good success rates.
The war ceased in March 1856 and Mary was as in a difficult financial position. Mary sold what she could and the expensive items were auctioned, fetching lower than value prices; Mary then returned to England. On returning to England Mary was bankrupt and in poor health; Queen Victoria’s nephew supported her by fund raising on her behalf. The British press highlighted Mary’s plight and a fund was established for people to donate money.
In 1867, due to Mary’s financial needs, the Seacole fund was re-started. The patrons included the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Edinburgh, the Duke of Cambridge, and many other senior military officers. This fund enabled Mary to buy land in Kingston, Jamaica, near New Blundell Hall; where she built a home and a property to rent out.
Mary moved back to London in 1870 and in 1881 Mary died, whilst boarding at a property in Paddington, London.
Mary left an estate valued at more than £2,500. Mary had written a Will, her sister being the main beneficiary, along with some legacies. Mary was buried in St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cemetery, Harrow Road, Kensal Green, London.
Even though Mary Seacole died without owning any property she knew the importance of making a Will, however even in 1881 there was a form of inheritance tax on legacies and gifts of residue, which was dependent on who received the gift.
This legacy tax as it was called ranged from 1% to 10% on anything over £20, which equates to approximately £2500.00 in today’s money.
Mary’s total estate of over £2500.00 in 1881 would be over £306,000.00 in 2020, which if she had died in 2020 meant that there would be no inheritance tax to pay; but in 1881 the duty due would be at best 3% of the estate paid to the Crown.
Inheritance Tax is not an option but by making a Will incorporating estate planning the total amount due to HM Treasury can be limited especially inheritance tax is payable at 40%, in certain circumstances.
Diana made her will in 1993 but amended it in 1996 and changed a trustee to include her sister. Diana’s mother was also a trustee. The estate was worth £21 million- after taxes this was reduced to £17 million.
The Will gave instructions for the majority of the estate to be distributed between her two sons; with instructions they were to receive their inheritance on turning 25 years of age. Diana’s brother was given the responsibility to look after Diana’s possessions until William and Harry became of age to inherit them.
Diana had written a letter of wishes as well and asked that a percentage of her personal property be given to her 17 Godchildren. Diana’s Trustees petitioned the probate court for a “variance” of the Will and the letter of wishes was discounted. The letter of wishes being discounted because it did not contain “certain language required by British law”.
The variance also prevented the estate from being distributed between her sons at the age of 25 but postponed it until they were 30. Diana’s butler was also left around £50,000 in cash.
This matter highlights the need to have a Will and letter of wishes professionally constructed rather than relying on High Street packs or writing your own.
The matter also considers the use of letters of wishes, which, whilst being instructions to the Trustees; are not legally binding.
Letters of wishes, however, can be used to great effect in detailing funeral requirements and as simple supplemental instructions to a personal possessions clause in the Will.
Hands up if you have read Vanity Fair. I must admit I have read this – and watched the series – and loved it!
This classic novel, by English writer William Thackeray, was first published in the magazine Punch in 1847; not as a book but serialised in a magazine. This is set around the times of the Napoleonic wars and charts the life and loves of two friends.
For those of you not familiar with the story I shall give you a synopsis. There is a young orphan girl Becky Sharpe and she is destitute, with nowhere to go. A strong-willed and determined girl she aims to make her fortune on the back of others.
Becky Sharpe befriends a lovely, well-refined girl called Amelia; Amelia has considerable wealth but is gullible and not worldly-wise. Becky is manipulative and conniving and aims to use her rich heiress friend to her own advantage.
Becky Sharpe is forced to become a governess and marries into wealth, while Amelia marries a man disinherited by his father.
Lets now look at the legalities in more depth.. Closer analysis of this story and the law around inheritance and succession offers good discussion points.
The right to gift your property, chattels, real estate etc. to whom you wish is specific to English and Welsh Law and differs from the rules of many civil law jurisdictions.
Matilda Crawley knows that her family want to inherit her enormous wealth but she has the upper hand and keeps them all guessing as to who will inherit her fortune. If Captain Rawdon is not left anything, he has no claim. However, if this had happened after 1975 then, possibly, he would have been able to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.
Captain Rawdon relied on the charity of his aunt to maintain his lifestyle so may qualify as a ‘person being maintained’. Historically though he had no rights.
In 1814 the primary piece of legislation governing Will writing (The Wills Act 1837) hadn’t yet come into force. In 1796 there was an introduction of taxing estates and this was to help against Napoleon.
Disinheriting a relative was also prevalent in the Osbourne’s story line. George disobeyed his Father’s request to go to war and the request to marry Amelia. George was at risk of disinheriting himself.
In the early 1800s, Inheritance law was different from when Vanity Fair was set and in 1894 a new inheritance tax legislation was introduced to help the government pay off a £4m deficit.
Death tax (as it became known), in some form, has been in place since 1694 and many tax avoidance schemes have been used by people, like Mr Osbourne, who will gift or give away assets over a lifetime to avoid any charges.
We do not advocate tax avoidance but with proper estate planning you can minimise any potential inheritance tax due.