DIY legal guide for handling basic legal matters

Following on from our previous article, we remain passionate about providing legal support to those who need it most, regardless of financial status or position. We believe that navigating basic legal matters can be more accessible than you might think, provided you have access to and follow the right guidance.

Within this article, we provide you with a whistlestop, step-by-step DIY legal guide on two of the most common legal topics:

  • Writing a will
  • Filing for divorce

Within this guide, we aim to empower you to handle these essential tasks confidently and correctly. However, we are not stating that this is a substitute for working with a legally trained professional. Of course, should you require our legal assistance, don’t hesitate to contact one of our team today.

Writing a Will

Step 1: Understand the basics

  • Purpose: A will ensures your assets are distributed according to your wishes after your death.
  • Legal requirements: In most areas, you must be of legal age and sound mind, and the will must be in writing, signed, and witnessed.

Step 2: Gather relevant information

  • Assets and liabilities: List your assets (property, bank accounts, investments) and liabilities (debts, loans).
  • Beneficiaries: Decide who will inherit your assets.
  • Executor(s): Choose a trusted person or persons to execute your will.

Step 3: Draft your Will

  • Introduction: State your full name and declare the document as your last will and testament.
  • Executor Appointment: Name your executor and an alternative executor.
  • Beneficiaries and bequests: Clearly describe who receives what.
  • Guardianship: If you have minor children, name a guardian.
  • Signatures and witnesses: Sign your will in the presence of at least two witnesses who also sign the document.

Step 4: Store your Will

  • Safe location: Keep your will in a safe place and inform your executor where it is stored.

Step 5: Update regularly

  • Life changes: Update your will after major life events such as marriage, divorce, births, or significant changes in assets.

For a more in-depth look into wills and the will-writing process, read our previous article, Wills and probate solicitors Manchester.

Filing for Divorce

Step 1: Understand the legal requirements

  • Residency: Ensure you meet the residency requirements for where you currently reside.
  • Grounds for divorce: Familiarise yourself with the acceptable grounds for divorce where you live, such as the more recent no-fault divorce grounds, or more traditional fault-based grounds.

Step 2: Complete the necessary legal forms

  • Petition for divorce: Fill out the petition or complaint for divorce, detailing your marriage and reasons for seeking divorce.
  • Financial affidavit: Provide detailed information about your finances, including income, expenses, assets, and liabilities.
  • Parenting plan: If you have children, outline custody arrangements and a visitation schedule.

Step 3: File the forms

  • File with the courts: Submit your completed forms to the appropriate family court.
  • Pay any outstanding fees: Pay any filing fees required by law. More information can be found at Gov.UK

Step 4: Serve your spouse

  • Service of process: Ensure your spouse receives copies of the divorce paperwork.

Step 5: Attend hearings (if required)

  • Initial hearing: Attend the initial court hearing where temporary orders for custody, support, and other matters may be issued.
  • Mediation and settlement: Participate in mediation sessions to try to reach an agreement on contested issues.
  • Final hearing: If a settlement is reached, attend the final hearing where the judge will review and approve the agreement. If not, prepare for a trial.

Step 6: Finalise the divorce

  • Judgment of divorce: Once the judge signs the divorce decree, ensure you obtain a certified copy for your records.

For a more in-depth look into divorce and the process as a whole, read our previous article, What is the divorce process?

Legal matters – our expert word

As much as we wish for our article to help you get a starting point when it comes to tackling a legal matter, please don’t underestimate the wealth of knowledge and experience you need when independently facing legal matters.

At Higgins Miller Solicitors we are proud to offer each potential client an initial consultation with one of our friendly team, should you find yourself needing expert legal advice and guidance. Once you have attended your consultation, we will happily arrange an initial hour meeting in our Stockport-based offices.

This service will always include you as our client leaving with a detailed, written report of our initial discussion together, with our professional advice instructing you on how to progress your case.

For all further information on anything covered in this article, or if you still feel you have any unanswered divorce-related questions, or you wish to speak with a divorce lawyer Manchester please don’t hesitate to give us a call at 0161 429 7251. For those clients who prefer to communicate online, feel free to email us at [email protected].

We look forward to helping you start the divorce process, with our expert guidance and support of divorce solicitors Manchester.

Kaley W

July 4, 2024