Your legal questions answered by Fahmida Ismail, Partner at Sydney Mitchell LLP. As featured in the Worcester News on 28th April 2015.

Q. My husband has £50,000 in the bank. If he was to die without leaving a will, would I receive the money, or would it have to be shared with his four children?

A. If that’s the sum total of what he owns you will receive it, since a spouse receives the first £250,000 of their partner’s estate under the intestacy rules. But if he also owns a house (for example) things could get slightly more complicated. If you own your home together, as beneficial joint tenants, then it will belong outright to the survivor, without going into the estate. You should both make wills. Although your husband may want to leave everything to you in the short term, he may want his children to have something after your death.


Q. When my son divorced his wife stated that she was only able to take out a £90,000 mortgage to buy him out. Since it guaranteed that his daughter would have a roof over her head, my son agreed and came away from the marriage with just £14,000. Later it turned out that his wife borrowed much more, and my son is very bitter because he would have been entitled to half the extra.

A. Whether or not your son struck a bad bargain depends on how much equity there was in the property and what other assets (or debts) the couple had. It also depends on the age of his daughter, since, if he’d turned down the offer, he might have had to wait years to get anything at all. If they hadn’t reached an agreement it would have gone to court and they would both have come away with less.


Q. I travel 182 miles a week. Am I entitled to claim money from my employer for travelling expenses?

A. There’s no law giving you an entitlement to travel expenses, but it would certainly be unusual for an employer not to have a system in place for compensating employees if they use their own vehicles for work. Check your employment contract: you should probably have checked it before taking the job if you’re expected to travel the country at your own expense. However if your 182 miles are clocked up simply travelling to and from work, neither your employer nor the Inland Revenue would class this as business mileage. The distance you commute would be regarded as your personal choice.


For further information on any of the issues raised, please contact Fahmida Ismail on 0121 698 2200 or fill in our online enquiry form.

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