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A Will is a legal document confirming how you wish your assets (your estate) to be dealt with following death.
Every adult who owns assets should make a Will rather than rely on the Intestacy Rules (statutory provisions) where there is no Will.
What is worse than not making a Will? Leaving an out of date or incorrectly drawn up Will.
Even if you have already made a Will, this ought to be reviewed periodically and in particular if you or your family’s circumstances have changed and following new legislation.
Have you married since making your Will? Marriage automatically revokes a Will made prior to the marriage unless it has been made in contemplation of, but not conditional upon, the marriage taking place.
Have you separated or divorced since your Will was made? A review would be advisable.
Have you had children since you made your last Will? Or perhaps you have subsequently become involved in a business which should be catered for separately in your Will.
Do you need to consider the joint ownership of any freehold or leasehold properties? Do you own as joint tenants or tenants in common and what is the difference?
Would a review of your Will ensure your property could be safeguarded against possible future nursing home fees of a surviving spouse?
Furthermore, there are Inheritance Tax considerations insofar as there is a new Residence Nil Rate Band that may be applicable to your estate and might require a review of the terms of your existing Will to fully utilise this new exemption.
If you require advice in relation to making a Will or reviewing the terms of your Will, contact a member of Adams Harrison’s Private Client Department for expert and professional advice.
Head of Private Client Department
In December of 2017 the Government announced it would prohibit nearly all future sales of new build leasehold houses and would be proposing modifications to the existing rules applicable to leasehold properties to circumvent what it has referred to as “feudal practices” and “unnecessary leaseholds, unjustifiable charges and onerous ground rent terms.”
Although for flats leasehold ownership is often practical, the Government sees little reason, other than additional profits for developers, for houses to be sold on a leasehold basis. A ban on leasehold house sales will only protect future purchasers of newly built properties and would not present any respite for the millions of people in the country who already own leasehold houses.
To assist existing leasehold homeowners the Government has asked the Law Commission to prioritize modifications to the current enfranchisement scheme. Leasehold property owners have “enfranchisement rights” which include a right to purchase the freehold interest in a property or to extend the leasehold term. However, at present, the rules relating to enfranchisement are complex, technical and burdensome.
The Law Commission has published a summary of proposed modifications to the leasehold enfranchisement scheme relating to leasehold houses. The modifications proposed are aimed at simplifying the regime to make enfranchisement more accessible for leasehold property owners and include recommendations for the removal of unnecessary technical hurdles, modifications to the eligibility rules, and simplifying the enfranchisement procedure. Under the current scheme a leasehold owner must have owned the property for at least two years before the rights can be exercised, however, the proposed changes would do away with this time requirement to allow leasehold house owners to seek immediate relief.
At this stage the proposed modifications are just that, proposals, however the Law Commission has advised that an in depth Consultation Paper will be published this month and it is our hope that the proposals will lead to substantive changes in the enfranchisement regime which will make the enfranchisement process simpler and less expensive for our clients.
If you have any questions please contact our Conveyancing team.
On 1 October 2015, big changes were made to section 21 of the Housing Act 1988 for tenancies in England.
These changes were brought in by the Deregulation Act 2015 for tenancies that came into effect or were renewed on or after the 1st October 2015. The notable provisions were as follows:
From 1 October 2018 these rules will apply to ALL tenancies. This includes tenancies granted before October 2015.
The only exception is the requirement to provide the How to Rent Guide (because this did not exist before October 2015).
These requirements make it more onerous for landlord to evict tenants and make the service of a section 21 notice even more important than ever before.
If you require further advice on these changes and how they can effect you please contact Anton Bilinski who is able to guide you through these changes and act for you when a landlord or tenant dispute arises.
The question of where exactly the edge of your property ends and where the adjoining property starts is one that frequently becomes an area that our property dispute department is asked to assist with.
Establishing the precise location of a boundary is not always as easy as it would first seem. It is a common misconception that the title plan for your property, as registered with the Land Registry is the definitive guide to the boundary location. However, registered title filed plans usually show general boundaries only and not an exact boundary line.
Therefore, if a dispute arises it is necessary to look at a number of factors in an attempt to establish the boundary. The case of Acco Properties Ltd v Severn in 2011 set out the principles to be applied to boundary disputes:-
Litigation can be complex, uncertain and expensive. Therefore, various Alternative Dispute Resolution measures are the preferred option for many to resolve any dispute. This includes mediation.
Also, a recent, new protocol for use in boundary disputes has been developed. This sets out a suggested procedure that the parties to a dispute can agree to adhere to in an effort to resolving matters amicably.
The main aim of the protocol is to agree the instruction of a surveyor on a joint basis to provide an expert opinion on the boundary. We can assist with implementing the protocol and corresponding with the other party.
We also advise and assist clients when they decide to participate in mediation so we can be on hand to provide legal advice, something a mediator does not do. If you have any boundary dispute issues or question please contact us.
You may be surprised to learn that it is possible to alter someone’s Will after their death, providing that any beneficiaries left worse off by the changes agree. The changes can be made by what is known as a deed of variation.
If someone dies intestate (without a Will) then the intestacy rules govern who inherits. A deed of variation can also be used to change the inheritance in the same way as if there was a Will.
There are various reasons why it may be a sensible idea to change a Will or redirect inheritance under the intestacy rules. These include:-
Deeds of variation are a useful inheritance tax (IHT) planning tool because any inheritance from an estate that is redirected to others will be treated as if the deceased made the gift. This means that the person allowing the redirection does not have to survive the gift by seven years in order for it to fall outside of their own estate and therefore not be subject to IHT. A common example would be a child who is to inherit from their parent’s estate. If the child is already financially sound then they may not require the inheritance which would only increase the size of their estate, giving rise to further IHT charges on their own death. In this situation, the child may wish to redirect the inheritance to their own children who could benefit from the money.
A deed of variation could also be used to alter the division of a Will to benefit a charity. Making such a change could potentially attract a lower 36% rate of IHT of the estate that is chargeable which would reduce the IHT bill.
It is important to know that a deed of variation must be made within two years of the date of death. Furthermore, once a deed of variation is signed it cannot be revoked so it is paramount that careful consideration is taken before entering into a deed of variation.
For more information, please contact our Private Client department for expert and professional advice regarding wills and probate issues.
Hayley Ford, Private Client Solicitor
In the past few years there has been much debate over the treatment of victims of domestic abuse in Court proceedings. The Criminal Courts have made important changes to ensure the victims of abuse are protected during criminal proceedings but the Family Courts have not implemented similar changes.
At present, if a perpetrator of abuse does not instruct a lawyer to represent them in Court proceedings then they will go before the Court in person. If the case progresses to cross examination then there is a risk that the perpetrator of the alleged abuse is able to question and potentially interrogate their victim about the alleged abuse. A Judge would do their utmost to limit the occasions when a perpetrator of the abuse can question their victim and will closely monitor the line of questioning, however the reality is that there is a genuine risk that the victim may be further abused under the cloak of Court proceedings.
In 2016 Women’s Aid published a report that dealt with the damaging effect this type of cross examination can have on a victim. It reported that many victims felt that their welfare and safety was being jeopardised by being interrogated about the abuse by the perpetrator. Some felt that the perpetrator of the abuse was being allowed to treat them in a degrading manner during cross examination and that further abuse was being allowed to continue through the Family Court process.
The report called for the Government and all Family Courts to make the court process safer for victims of domestic abuse. The report was part of the Child First Campaign which sought to ensure that the safety of children remains at the centre of all decisions made by Family courts.
Following this report, Women’s Aid were able to secure a commitment from the Government to create a new law banning alleged perpetrators of abuse from being able to cross-examine their victims in Family court proceedings. In February 2017 the Prisons and Court Bill provided for amendments to be made to current legislation to ensure that anyone with a current conviction for a domestic violence offence was prevented from cross examining their victim during Family court proceedings.
The Commons Public Bill Committee were scheduled to consider the Bill in April 2017 however following the announcement of the snap General Election on the 18th April 2017, the Bill was not able to progress and fell when the Parliament dissolved on the 3rd May 2017.
Despite this initial set back, the Queen’s Speech delivered on the 21st June 2017 made a commitment to introduce a Court’s Bill to reform the court systems and address the treatment of domestic violence victims during Court proceedings.
Following a consultation period from March to May 2018, Parliament is to debate the issue of the progress on protecting victims of domestic abuse on the 18th July at Westminster Hall.
Ahead of the debate Penny Scott, the Chair of the Family Law Committee at The Law Society, Margaret Heathcote, the National Chair of Resolution and Katie Ghose, the Chief Executive of Women’s Aid wrote a joint letter to the Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice, David Gauke MP calling for the Government urgently to ban cross examination of victims by their abusers in Family courts. The letter highlighted the fact that the perpetrator of the abuse interrogating their victim is in itself abusive.
It is with great hope that the Government will now take immediate action in respect of this long running debate to ensure that in the future, victims of domestic abuse will not have to experience further abuse in Family Court proceeding designed to protect them.
We received this very nice comment Sawston Village College, where Adams Harrison sponsor an award for their sports award evening.
I just wanted to say thank you for supporting our Sports Awards Evening which ran successfully this evening. These events are not possible without the support of Sponsors, like yourself, so thank you for investing the time and resources into our awards evening.
Miss E Rogers, PE Teacher
01799 523441 Saffron Walden
01440 702485 Haverhill
01223 832939 Sawston