A good day for husbands and wives

wills and trusts

What happens to your money when you die without a Will?

For the past nine decades the answer, at least in the UK, hasn’t varied significantly. But today that changes.

Today, the Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Bill comes into force, the first major change to British inheritance law since 1925. From now on, if a married person with no children dies without a Will, their surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit everything. When someone dies without a Will and leaves a spouse and children, their surviving partner will receive a Statutory Legacy of £250,000 and half of their estate, with the children sharing the rest in a trust until they turn eighteen.

I doubt that too many people saying “I do” in recent weeks had this thought uppermost in their minds, but any change in the law affecting how our loved ones are provided for is bound to impact on our lives.

It emphasises the importance of clear communication in legal matters, and in a multicultural Britain where 49 languages have at least 15,000 speakers each, it also emphasises the importance of accurate legal translation.

Legal translators and interpreters need to demonstrate just as much aptitude as the solicitors and barristers they support. They need competence in legal writing style and verbal communication, thorough grounding in the terminology of their specialism and a working knowledge of the legal systems of both source and target languages. This isn’t simply a question of translating words on a page. It’s a question of conveying meaning with pinpoint precision. It takes someone very talented indeed to work with a source text designed to follow one legal system and convert it into a target text suitable for another.

The right translation partner will tick all of these boxes and more, and before doing anything else they will establish exactly what the final translation will be used for and why. Tone, sentence construction, terminology and phraseology will then be balanced to your exact needs.

At Language Connect we work with professionals whose understanding of legal language is sophisticated, specialised and constantly refreshed. When the smallest mistake can have measureless consequences, you can hardly settle for less. Two summers ago a single translation phrasing error almost threw Sri Lanka into chaos. A certified English translation of the constitution of the Tamil National Alliance mistakenly called for Sri Lanka to be divided into two separate sovereign countries, one Tamil and one Muslim. Sri Lanka’s Constitution bans political parties from seeking the establishment of a separate State. Until the mistake was retracted, there was a genuine danger of conflict and bloodshed.

Whatever problems may arise between husbands and wives, we hope civil war won’t be among the consequences. But unnecessary conflict and unnecessary confusion can be sidestepped when you choose your partners wisely. It’s a good day for everyone when they put their trust in a professional translation service.

David Jones

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