Probate: heritage assets - could your artwork or antiques pay the inheritance tax bill?
This is an example of the work we do for our clients. Yvonne and Stephen are based on an amalgamation of some of our clients.
Yvonne came to see us following the breakdown of her marriage with Stephen. Yvonne and Stephen were both French, although they had been living in London for some time. They have one child, Sophie. Stephen is the sole shareholder of a very successful company. Yvonne had previously worked in HR, but had stopped working in order to care for Sophie.
We advised Yvonne that it was likely that there was jurisdiction for her or Stephen to issue divorce and financial proceedings in either England and Wales or in France. Jurisdiction would be seised by the Court in whichever country the divorce petition was issued first in time.
As a general rule, the jurisdiction of England and Wales is more generous to the weaker financial party, which in this case was Yvonne. We have a number of close contacts in many countries who are able to give advice about financial proceedings in their jurisdictions, so that we can in turn advise (where there are competing jurisdictions available) as to which jurisdiction is more beneficial for our client. In this case, we were able to advise Yvonne that it would be in her best interests to issue proceedings as soon as possible in England and Wales.
Notwithstanding the urgency to issue proceedings, Yvonne was keen to proceed as amicably as possible in order to maintain a civil relationship with Stephen, which would benefit Sophie. We discussed the different options that were available to Yvonne, including mediation, collaborative law, or issuing Court Proceedings.
Although Yvonne liked the idea of collaborative law, she did not feel that it was suitable for her own situation, as Stephen had a history of procrastination and she felt that Court proceedings would be needed to keep the process moving. She was reassured that it is possible for settlement negotiations to take place at any stage of the Court process, although she accepted our advice that it was important to receive full financial disclosure prior to making any decisions about financial settlement.
We were able to agree to the instruction of a jointly appointed accountancy expert to value Stephen's company and, once all the financial information was available, we were able to advise Yvonne as to the parameters of the Court's discretion and the factors that a Court would take into account in dividing the assets at a final hearing. This advice allowed negotiations to take place at a Financial Dispute Resolution Appointment, which led to a mutually acceptable financial settlement.
For more information, please contact Charlotte Bradley on +44 (0)20 7814 1279 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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