Free Wills Month

Free Wills Month

Free Wills Month

GoodyBurrett are proud to be working as one of the Legal Partners to the Free Wills Month campaign again this year.

Free Wills Month brings together groups of well-loved charities and offers the public the chance to have their simple Wills written for free.

As well supported as some charities appear to be what most people do not know is that they rely on legacies for up to half of their income.

As such the fundraising that is done by charities is vital to the charities ability to keep running and in all cases to keep providing and improving the services that are so vital to the communities they serve.

A gift in your Will to a charity will make a huge difference to your chosen charity for years to come.

An amazing £59,650.00 of future income was raised last year.

In addition to the meaningful difference your gift will make, during “Free Wills Month” in March the cost of having a simple Will drawn up is free in order that we can support you to support your chosen charity.

Slots for Free Wills Month always fill up fast so we advise you to contact your local office without delay once the scheme has opened on Tuesday the 1st of March. Participants must be over 55 or if taking out mirror Wills one party has to be over 55.

Our Solicitors will work with you to make the process as straight forward as possible and can take you through all the options regarding the best way for you to remember your chosen Charity in your Will.

We look forward to your support.

Colchester Office

01206 577676

Dunmow Office

01371 873277

For more information on Free Wills Month

Contact either of our offices, Colchester 01206 577676 or Dunmow 01371 873277 or you can email [email protected]

I want to take legal action but can’t afford to pay expensive fees …

I want to take legal action but can’t afford to pay expensive fees …

I want to take legal action but can’t afford to pay expensive fees …

“A grave and widespread problem….” is how Wilson J (as he then was) referred to the question of how can a spouse, usually the wife, who is not entitled to legal aid but has few assets, secure legal advice and representation in order to pursue her rights against her husband.

Sometimes, life leaves you no option but to think about going to court.  Perhaps you’ve tried talking, tried Mediation, or are in a situation where you are afraid and need help.   Legal Aid may be available for some types of application if you can prove you or your child are victims of domestic abuse but if you are not or you have no proof, what can you do?

The first thing to do is research: find out what options are available.  This could be:

1. Making an application yourself to the court.  This means completing the application forms and sending them or taking them to the court yourself.  You will be a ‘Litigant in Person’ ie, representing yourself.

2. Applying for a litigation loan. There are numerous financial organisations that will loan you money specifically to fund your court case.  You – or more likely a solicitor on your behalf –  have to provide a lot of information about your claim and the prospects of success but if you are reasonably certain of recovering assets so as to be able to repay the loan at some point, this might be worth considering

3. You could consider making an application to the court for a Legal Services Order. Under s 22ZA of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, the court will be able to order your spouse to pay you an amount for the purpose of enabling you to obtain legal services. This requires very careful assessment before any application is made.

4. Speak to a solicitor to find out if you can set up an arrangement to pay in regular monthly instalments rather than have to pay in one lump sum. Some solicitors may agree to take their fees only once you have recovered assets with which to pay.  This is called  a ’Sears Tooth’ agreement, named after the firm which created the notion.

Before taking legal action, be realistic about whether you can get what you want if you take a case to court. If your dispute is about a misunderstanding or communication breakdown, court is usually not the best place to sort it out. It’s usually better to try other options first.

Taking a case to court can be stressful. It can take a lot of time and money – for example, if you lose and you have to pay the other side’s costs.

At this point, you may benefit from some advice or representation from a solicitor. It is possible to instruct a solicitor to represent you at any point in the proceedings, even if you originally made the application yourself.  This would still mean that you save the costs of the initial steps and making the application, but it may be more costly for a solicitor to repair any errors made in the early stages.

It is always worth considering an initial session with a solicitor prior to making an application, so that we can advise you on your case.   Every case is different therefore fact-specific.   You will find an early meeting with a solicitor  to be more cost effective in the long run and it should ensure your application starts on the right track

For more advice please contact Sue, our Family Solicitor on 01206 577676 or email [email protected]

For more information please contact Sue in our Family Department

Contact our Family Department on 01206 577676 or email [email protected]

Buying a house with a septic tank!

Buying a house with a septic tank!

Buying a house with a septic tank!

GoodyBurrett LLP serves rural and town clients alike and we get a large number of residential property transactions for houses that are not connected up to the mains sewerage systems and have to have independent options. 

The most popular are modern sewage treatment plant systems that attend to the waste and then produce a treated, clean water (suitable for discharging into nearby water courses or ditches). However, there are other options such as septic tanks which you are likely to find in an older property.

What is a sewage treatment system?

These are usually quite small systems, often located above ground, that will work quickly and odourlessly to attend to the household waste.  Some very modern solutions have panel displays to alert you straight away to issues within the system.

While ongoing maintenance and emptying is required it is needed much less frequently and is a much smaller job than with traditional systems like septic tanks.

As mentioned above, because the water produced by these types of systems is much cleaner there are fewer environmental issues to attend to and much less paperwork re: permits etc.

What is a septic tank?

It is a tank usually located underground that collects waste matter from the house and uses the natural bacteria within the waste to encourage decomposition. Any waste-water from the system needs an area to drain into, preferably a soak away or drainage field.   It will need regular maintenance and emptying which can easily be attended to by local specialists.

It is likely any septic tank will have been in situ for decades as the more modern options are more cost effective and space saving and appeal more to rural developers.

A septic tank is likely to require a permit and other formal paperwork to ensure that any emissions from the tank flow to a secure area.  This is important to ensure there is no compromise to local wildlife or beauty spot.


In many cases both septic tanks and sewerage systems are shared between households (i.e. neighbours) so it is important to be aware of the capacity and location of the system itself so maintenance can easily be arranged when required.

If you are looking to install a new system you may need planning permission and you will be building regulations. As referred to above depending on the system you may also need further environmental paperwork.

If you are looking to sell a property with an existing sewage system you must make sure you meet the General Binding Rules 2020 which are the regulations keeping track of the safety and cleanliness of the systems used in this way.

If you have any questions about buying or selling a house which is not connected to mains sewerage we will be more than happy to assist.  You can call us on 01206 577676 or pop us an email to [email protected]

If you would like any advice on buying / selling your house

Contact GoodyBurrett on 01206 577676 or email [email protected]

Inheritance Tax – are there any benefits for Married Couples and Civil Partners?

Inheritance Tax – are there any benefits for Married Couples and Civil Partners?

Inheritance Tax – are there any benefits for Married Couples and Civil Partners?

Inheritance Tax is currently paid at the rate of 40% on the remaining value of a deceased’s estate above the current ‘nil rate band’ personal allowance of £325,000.  So, for example, if an individual’s estate was valued at £500,000 – £325,000 would not be liable to Inheritance tax – but £175,000 of the estate could be taxable at 40%, which would mean a potential payment of £70,000 to HMRC!

However, there are benefits if you are married or in a civil partnership.  Firstly, transfers on death between spouses or civil partners domiciled in the UK are usually not subject to Inheritance Tax.

Furthermore, if the whole of the estate of the first to die is left to the husband, wife or civil partner in its entirety, then on the second death (when the estate may become liable to Inheritance Tax) the first nil rate band can be transferred and added to the second nil rate band doubling the Inheritance Tax exemption from £325,000 to £650,000.

Even where the first spouse or civil partner has left a gift to another individual, the remainder of their nil rate band can be transferred.  For example, if a legacy of £25,000 is made to a friend by the first to die and the rest of their estate passes to their spouse or civil partner – £25,000 will be deducted from their available nil rate band, but the remaining £300,000 can be transferred to their spouse or civil partner on the second death; still giving them a total £625,000 Inheritance Tax exemption.

Another advantage is the main residence nil rate band, which is also transferable between spouses and civil partners.  This allowance is available where property is left to a direct descendant (e.g. children and grandchildren), and the current rate for 2021/22 is £175,000 per person.  Where married couples and civil partners jointly own their home and leave their estate to each other on the first death and then on the death of the survivor their property passes to their children, the combined ‘residence nil rate band’ allowance could be £350,000.

Therefore, if on the death of the surviving spouse or civil partner the combined residence nil rate band is available and is added to the combined personal nil rate bands, the potential total Inheritance Tax exemption is £1 million!

GoodyBurrett are here to help.  If you would like further advice regarding Inheritance Tax planning, please contact our Private Client Team at Colchester office on 01206 577676 or our Dunmow office on 01371 873277.
Any email enquiries can be sent to [email protected]

If you would like any advice from our Private Client department

Contact GoodyBurrett on 01206 577676 or email [email protected]