New Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) now in force

6th April 2017

Since the Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) was announced in 2015 it has been the topic of much discussion. The new band came into force on 6th April 2017 and now that it is finally here, it is time to ask what this new tax break means for you.

The RNRB has been described as increasing the amount that individuals can pass inheritance tax free from £325,000 to £500,000, however, that is not quite true. Currently everyone can pass £325,000 to anyone they like. This current ordinary nil rate band can be set against any asset. The RNRB is different. It is initially £100,000 but will increase every year until 2020 when it reaches £175,000. When added to the ordinary nil rate band, this brings us to £500,000 but it can only be set against your family home, and only if you leave that property to your direct descendants. This stipulation may cause problems to those using a discretionary Will trust to benefit their family. The situation for married couples and civil partners is slightly different as anything left to a surviving spouse passes inheritance tax free and on the survivor’s death their estate can claim both nil rate bands and both RNRBs. It is important to remember Inheritance Tax when making your Will and you should review your Will in light of these changes. With additional tax savings on offer, it would be a shame to miss out.

For more information on this subject or on Wills, Estate and Tax planning, please contact Claire Thompson on 01837 512100 or Richard Walford on 01392 424242


Gilbert Stephens attend the annual Devon County Cricket Club Quiz night at Sidmouth CC

5th April 2017

On Tuesday 4th April 2017, a team of quiz masters from Gilbert Stephens attended the annual Devon County Cricket Club Quiz event at Sidmouth County Cricket Club.

The purpose of the evening was to celebrate the launch of the seasons 2017 Souvenir Brochure and raise funds for three local charities; Sidmouth Hospiscare, The Sid Valley Admiral Nurse Appeal, Memory Café and The David Shepherd Cricket Trust through a charity raffle.  The event attracted a bumper attendance of over 80 people making up 15 competing teams.  The team consisting of Alastair Bates, Richard Shorey and Carolyn McAndrew (below) hoped to repeat their success of last year but alas, history was not to repeat itself with the team finishing a respectable mid table position behind the worthy winners Enchanted House Beds of Okehampton (above).  Everyone had an enjoyable and fun evening.

The Brochure, now in its 2nd year has been designed to help Raise the Profile of Devon County Cricket. Through the goodwill and support of local business sponsorship the brochure offers 40 page of news articles, photographs plus all the home fixtures for the 2017 season and will be distributed free of charge from this month.


Unique Painting Sold For Exeter Fire Fundraising

4th April 2017

A painting depicting everyday life in Exeter’s Southernhay district has been auctioned to raise funds for a new cultural tribute after the Cathedral Yard fire and has been purchased for a policeman who helped in the response to the blaze.

Property Search Group wanted to bring together the city’s law firms to raise money by commissioning and auctioning the painting, created by Devon artist and illustrator Sara Nunan.

Solicitors and colleagues gathered at the Mercure Exeter Southgate on Thursday (March 30) for the auction, conducted by TV’s Homes under the Hammer auctioneer Scott Gray.

The auction of the painting was won by 24-year-old Tom Backhouse, of TerraFirma, whose father Inspector Mark Backhouse, was involved in the emergency response to the blaze.

He said: “It’s an original piece of artwork and the money is going to a good cause which is the most important thing. I’ve never owned a piece of original art so that’s definitely a first. I was born in Exeter, my parents have lived in Exeter most of their lives, my dad works in the police force and was involved in the fire so it has a personal tie.”

The original was sold for £310, with an accompanying painting by Sara of Cathedral Yard selling for £320. Combined with donations from the 13 law firms for involvement in the painting, and the sale of limited edition prints, £2,620 was raised.

The money will go to the Devon Community Foundation for the cultural tribute, following the fire that destroyed the Royal Clarence Hotel last October.

Andy Towers of PSG, which provides conveyancing search services to legal firms across the region, said: “We’re thrilled that so many of Exeter’s legal firms have helped support a lasting legacy following the terrible fire in Cathedral Yard.

“I’m sure the cultural tribute will be a fitting tribute to remember what happened but also a positive statement about the future of the wonderful city of Exeter.”

Terry Bastyan, Managing Partner of Gilbert Stephens said: “The firm is delighted to have been involved in this initiative as a way of showing our respects to the brave people involved in putting out the devastating fire and people and businesses effected.”

The painting depicts a ‘day in the life’ of the area, traditionally the city’s legal hub adjoining Cathedral Yard. It features individual solicitors and colleagues from legal firms who have donated money – Browne Jacobson, Crosse and Crosse, Dunn and Baker, Everys, Foot Anstey, Ford Simey, Gilbert Stephens, Kitsons, Magdalen Chambers, Michelmores, Morgan and Pope, Stephens Scown and WBW Solicitors.

Young Professionals Network – Breakfast at Tea On The Green

30th March 2017

This month YPN members took a break from their busy schedule to enjoy a hearty breakfast at Tea on the Green.

Due to the location, the view of the aftermath of the Royal Clarence Fire could not be avoided as members enjoyed their breakfast. This incited much discussion on the current proposed plans for the restoration of the building and there was a general consensus that the building should be restored to its former glory and everyone was excited to hear that a proposed further storey is also to be erected.

Gilbert Stephens attend the Devon & Somerset Law Society Skittles event

28th March 2017

On the 27 March 2017, Gilbert Stephens attended the Devon and Somerset Laws Society (DASLS) skittles event in Dawlish.

Sadly our team comprising Antonia D’Alessio, Luke Kitteridge and Annabel Rowan didn’t win but did put up a valiant attempt with some good scores along the way. However Dunn & Baker were on top form that night and won overall.

22 February 2017 – Tenpin bowling at Haven Banks Retail Park.

22nd February 2017

Gilbert Stephens LLP laid down the gauntlet to their Young Professionals Network by hosting a ten pin bowling competition at Haven Banks Retail Park on 16 February 2017. All teams who entered showed a competitive streak and Luke Kitteridge, IT Assistant at Gilbert Stephens stole the show by winning both games. Mat Bennett from Bishop Fleming accountants and Rachel Philips of Frosts Estate Agents in Exeter, both showed good form when coming in as joint runners up.


Now Open in Okehampton

20th February 2017

Gilbert Stephens officially opened its newest branch in Market Street, Okehampton today.

On the afternoon of Friday 17th February 2017 a pre-opening event was held where Philip Horlock and Emma Bellamy, the office’s permanent staff, were joined by Managing Partner Terry Bastyan, Head of Private Client Richard Walford, Wyatt Loake, IFA manager from Gilbert Stephens Financial Services to welcome members of the town’s professional firms and business leaders. The town’s Mayor, Jan Goffey, was on hand to cut the ribbon on the new branch.

Philip said this morning ‘we have already had a fantastic response from the residents of Okehampton, with a number of instructions already taken. I look forward to meeting many more as the week unfolds.’

The ribbon cutting image is subject to Copyright and remains the property of the Okehampton Times.


26 January 2017 – Dinner at Turtle Bay

26th January 2017

The YPN hosted a successful dinner at Turtle Bay in Exeter’s Guildhall. Attendees were in good spirits following the seasonal break and we were pleased to welcome a number of new members


A lot can happen in a year!

6th January 2017

There tends to be the view that Probate law never changes. That the Will you wrote years ago will still be valid and that the plans you have made for your estate don’t need to be changed. To a certain extent, this is true. It’s difficult to argue that Probate law is constantly evolving when the act that contains the formalities for making a legally valid Will was passed into law by Queen Victoria! However, a closer look at Probate law reveals that it has changed more that you might think.

It’s easy to overlook the significance of 2016 because the seeds of change were planted in 2015. It was in 2015 that you will have heard about the introduction of the nil rate residential band for inheritance tax but it was in 2016 that it actually became law.

This means that, from 6th April 2017, if you die and leave your residential property to direct descendants, the first £100,000 of the property will pass inheritance tax free. When added to your existing nil rate band of £325,000 (which can be set against any assets) this means that £425,000 of your estate will not be subject to inheritance tax. As this new residential nil rate band is set to increase by £25,000 a year until 2020 it is likely that this will have an impact on a large number of people’s approach to inheritance tax planning.

2016 was also the year that the well-publicised Ilott v Mitson case reached the Supreme Court. This case, seen by many as an attack on a person’s right to chose who to put in their Will and who to leave out, highlighted one of many aspects of Will writing which many people overlook if they don’t seek legal advice … that leaving people out of your Will is not always as simple as not including them!

If you would like advice on how recent changes in Probate law might effect your Will and estate planning or if you would like to discuss any aspect of Probate law, contact Gilbert Stephens and arrange an appointment to speak to a member of our knowledgeable and approachable legal team.