Relationship and Divorce Mediation
Relationship Counselling, when done well, typically enjoys a high success rate. Sometimes, though, divorce is the only way forward. In the matters of divorce mediation, I work in partnership with a highly experienced solicitor Mr. Scott Holmes, specialising in matrimonial law.Scott worked as a solicitor in Bath and London, specialising in matrimonial law. Scott also worked as in-house counsel for a US Fortune 100 multinational in PR China. He has financial services experience and understands trusts, pensions, UK tax and international assets. “The primary objective of divorce lawyers’ in private practice, when dealing with fee paying clients, is to encourage animosity so that the case is settled as late in the day as possible - ideally on the courtroom steps immediately prior to the Judge’s final decision. This ensures profit costs payable to all the legal representation involved are maximised.” For a fee paying couple contesting some aspects of divorce in the UK, lawyers will typically reap £100,000 from the misery. When in fact, aside from some situations - eg.custody/access disputes with minor children - most of the way forward is 90% common sense with a dash of formulas. A court need only rubber stamp a mutually agreed consent order.
Another formula, if you are embarking on a new relationship, is to do a pre-nuptial agreement. These are increasingly popular for couples who want to put their financial cards on the table. ‘Lack of trust’ and ‘unromantic’ arguments are falling by the wayside in favour of the positives. Amongst other things, pre-nuptial agreements protect assets, protect children from previous relationships and help set expectations within a marriage. The divorce rate for couples with a pre-nuptial agreement in place, is low. Knowledge is power and information is knowledge. Scott offers a discrete, bespoke service to help facilitate an informed and workable outcome for all concerned. My 35 years dealing in the law in several countries have taught me to cherry-pick the useful bits and leave the rest to those with more money than sense and who like paying lawyers who bill in 6 minute slots. With the psychological and financial welfare of individuals and families in mind, I have selected three often overlooked areas which, if employed correctly, can save a great deal of unnecessary heartache and cost.
Inheritance / Estate Tax
Inheritance Tax (IHT) is an outmoded and unnecessary tax which should have been revoked decades ago. Introduced in 1894 in the UK to fund the Napoleonic Wars It remains only because it brings an effortless £5,000,000,000 or so a year to UK government coffers. The tax has spread. Countries that levy estate tax / inheritance tax include: France, UK, Ireland, USA, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Netherlands, South Korea and Japan. IHT is inappropriate - most of us do not want to fund wars these days. IHT is also wrong - originally intended to apply to rich estates only, these days you find very rich estates do not pay it. This is because over generations the very wealthy have learned how to plan ahead. To see for yourself, have a look at big estates in the Telegraph obituaries - they are always under the IHT zero tax threshold. You do not have to be super rich to pay IHT. For instance, an estate with assets over £325,000 in the UK (every asset is included) is potentially liable to the tune of 40%. For a rough idea how much you would be paying (unnecessarily) to the Exchequer of your country, take a minute to complete it with the link in the next section
Outdated, penal, and despite much lobbying to have it scrapped, IHT nevertheless remains with us. It is, however, solvable. Like the big family estates do, management is a question of using the tools available - Wills, Trusts, PET’s, Gifts, Allowances and suchlike - to mitigate its impact. First though, it is important to overcome the psychological fear of parting with assets before the deathbed. Easy to say, difficult to do but one for which your family should be forever grateful.