When faced with a legal issue it is likely you will consider turning to a solicitor.
You will want sound and clear advice at a price that is explained beforehand.
Once satisfied with your solicitor, you will always know where to turn if you face another legal issue.
PRE MARITAL AGREEMENTS
We draft pre-marital agreements and keep clients fully informed as to the affect of such agreements which are constantly under scrutiny from the Courts.
Unmarried couples often have very different and complicated legal consequences following breakdown of a relationship. This involves advising on the ownership of property or other assets, which might not be in joint names and their rights and obligations relating to their children.
It can often arise that an urgent response is required to protect the disposal of assets or to prevent harm following domestic violence.
We advise and act on behalf of individuals who need to pursue such emergency action or those who are facing it.
DIVORCE & SEPARATION
We advise and act on behalf of clients who are considering or responding to divorce or separation proceedings and the dissolution of civil partnerships.
Negotiation and mediation of any financial dispute within the family setting is the best way forward.
Financial disputes, particularly during Divorce can be very costly and we try to find an early solution. If mediation or alternative methods of resolving the dispute are unrealistic, we can advise on and act in court proceedings.
We act in small, medium and extremely large cases involving private individuals and those who are in the public spotlight. In all cases we will advise on the range of outcomes that a court might reach.
Sadly there is often some reluctance to cooperate with the court process by those trying to hold assets or even conceal them from their spouse. We often have to advise and act for clients facing that problem and we have considerable experience investigating complex financial arrangements, Family Trusts or corporate interests.
We are able to help in all matters relating to children.
This can involve disputes relating to where the children should live, how often they should have contact with both parents and their education.
Many disputes are easy to resolve once parents are advised that their primary duty is to address the children’s interests first
We advise and act for clients in the sale and purchase of residential freehold and leasehold properties mainly in the North East of England.
We also advise clients with the legal requirements and implications relating to –
We keep clients informed of their matter throughout by text, telephone, e-mails or letters.
Most people are aware that failing to make a Will can cause problems after their death, but few realise the possible outcomes.
We provide specialist legal advice on helping clients preserve and transfer family assets to family, friends and other beneficiaries (including making charitable gifts).
We are able to advise on straightforward Wills and those requiring tax planning to ensure that as much of the family wealth is retained within the family and not paid in taxes.
Why make a Will?
Making a will is a simple and responsible way in which you can protect your loved ones after death.
It is relatively inexpensive to make a simple will, and even if a more complicated will is required, in the long term, it can save expense, difficulty and upset for the loved ones who you leave behind.
Recent polls suggest that two in every three people have not made a will. Many of us prefer not to think about what will happen after we die, but failing to make a will can result in a financial nightmare which loved ones then have to resolve.
There are many situations where failure to make a will can cause problems, for example:
This list is not exhaustive.
We can advise you on the most effective way to leave gifts in a will to make sure that the people you wish to benefit from your estate actually do. We will also ensure that there are no errors in the document which would invalidate it.
Once made, a will can easily be altered if your circumstances change.
A Few Words of Warning
Although it is relatively straightforward to make a simple Will, there are dangers in using the ‘kit’ forms to make home-made wills.
For example, poor wording can mean that a gift fails and the monies are re-directed to people you would not wish to benefit in this way.
We can advise you on what can be achieved in your Will and ensure that the correct people benefit from your estate. We will help you to make wise decisions in order to assist your loved ones and resolve your estate as simply as possible after your death, and will discuss the costs involved beforehand with you.
Equally, we have seen instances where a gift has been invalid because their spouse or civil partner has witnessed the Will. This is easily avoided, but a rule which often causes problems in home-made Wills.
Where children have been brought up, but not legally adopted, by a step-mother or step-father, the step-parent must make a Will in order to ensure that their step-child receives part or all of their estate if this is their wish. If no Will is made, the intestacy rules (which operate when a person has not made a Will) means that step-children are not entitled to inherit a person’s estate. In such circumstances, a person’s closest blood relative stands to inherit the estate. A simple, inexpensive Will can ensure that beloved step-children can receive all or part of a person’s estate, where without a Will they would receive nothing.
We can also guide you through the difficult period following a person’s death, making it less worrying by leading you through the practical complexities involved in caring for their estate.
We can help and advise on inheritance, capital gains and income tax issues which arise. In certain cases Wills can be varied or rectified to ensure that the Estate is more efficiently distributed.
We have particular expertise in advising the beneficiaries of those who have not left a Will.
We work closely with a local firm of genealogists who specialise in searching for missing beneficiaries so that a Deceased’s family can locate those entitled to share in an estate. It can often arise that the deceased is unknown to the surviving family members but meticulous research and a sensitive approach ensure that the entitled beneficiaries are located and advised.
DISPUTED WILLS & INHERITANCE CLAIMS
Unfortunately it can often arise that the consequences of a Will, or lack of a Will, lead to disputes.
This might involve us advising on claims or defending claims which challenge –
CARE HOME FEES
It is usually clear when a person has long-term care needs. Who is responsible for meeting those needs, and paying for them, is usually less clear. Care needs can be met by the NHS or Local Authority. Services provided by the NHS are free but those arranged by a Local Authority are means-tested. This is where the problem often lies. If a Local Authority arrange care they might require a significant contribution towards care fees. It is therefore vital that the correct decision is reached as to who is responsible for the cost of care. We can help advise if it appears that an incorrect decision has been reached and the steps required to rectify it.
Clients sometimes seek advice on methods of avoiding the prospect of having to pay care fees if they are taken into a care home in the future. Often family members seek advice on recovering fees already paid.
POWERS OF ATTORNEY
We advise on client’s wishes to appoint an Attorney to undertake all general tasks for a client. In some cases the Power is limited to a particular task. We advise on the steps to be taken to minimise the risks to a client and their Attorney, and ensure that both understand their duties and responsibilities.
LASTING POWERS OF ATTORNEY
What are Lasting Powers of Attorney?
Lasting Powers of Attorney are documents which enable you to plan ahead and appoint another person (or several people) to act on your behalf and make decisions in the event that you were to lose your mental capacity and were not able to act or make decisions for yourself.
Is it the same as an Enduring Power of Attorney?
No. Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) have replaced the previous regime of Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPA) from 2007. It is no longer possible to make an EPA, although if you have made one before the cut-off date in 2007, you will still be able to register this.
What are the two types of Lasting Power of Attorney I can make?
Property and Financial Affairs LPAs – which give someone else the ability to manage your finances. This would cover making decisions about your bank accounts, investments and any property you own.
Health and Welfare LPAs – which give someone the power to make decisions about your personal welfare. This would include deciding where you live, the ability to discuss any treatment options with your doctors, making decisions on who is to take care of you and so forth.
Can I make any limitations within the Lasting Power of Attorney?
Yes, you can provide guidance or limitations within the LPA.
Do I have to make both Lasting Powers of Attorney?
No. You can make just the one Lasting Power of Attorney (for example, simply to deal with your finances), or you can make one of each type, appointing different Attorneys for each LPA if you want. It really depends on what you consider to be appropriate for your situation.
For example, you might simply need someone to be able to collect your pension, settle your bills and make decisions on whether to sell your house for you, in which case you might only want to make a Property and Finance LPA.
How do I make a Lasting Power of Attorney?
The LPA forms are quite lengthy, and can take several hours to draft. However, we can prepare the forms on your behalf in accordance with the instructions you give us. We will then arrange to attend your home or you can come into our office if you prefer to ensure that the forms are signed property.
How can the LPAs be used?
Once signed by all necessary people, the LPAs will need to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) before they can be used.
After registration, the LPAs may essentially be used by your Attorney(s) to act in any way (subject to any restrictions you might place upon them) in which you might yourself act. Health and Welfare LPAs can only be effective when you have lost capacity to make your own decisions.
Your Attorney will have to consider whether you are able (either alone or with their assistance) to make decisions yourself (even after you have lost capacity to make decisions independently), and must always act in your best interests.
Can I have more than one Attorney?
Yes. We can discuss various ways of appointing more than one Attorney if you wish to do this. We can also discuss the options for appointing replacement Attorney(s) to take over the role in the event that any of your Attorneys is unable to act (for example if they predecease you, become bankrupt or disclaim their appointment).
Many people are concerned about the amount of power a Lasting Power of Attorney can afford their Attorney, and the appointment of an Attorney is certainly a consideration which ought not to be made lightly. It is essential that your Attorney is a person (or people) who you can trust implicitly to make the right decisions for you, and their appointment deserves a considerable amount of thought.
Sometimes a client may have lost their capacity to manage their own affairs. This will require advising family members. In the event that a few practical suggestions do not resolve the problem an application to the Court of Protection might be required to look after the person’s affairs.
We can act on your behalf and advise in connection with personal injury claims and medical negligence claims. We have expertise in acting for people pursuing claims and also for Insurers defending such claims. We are therefore able to advise clients on the way that Insurers react to claims and the best way forward including –
We can offer NO WIN NO FEE agreements in appropriate cases so that you recover all of your compensation.
We are not authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority. However, we are
included on the register maintained by the Financial Conduct Authority so
that we can carry on insurance mediation activity, which is broadly the
advising on, selling and administration of insurance contracts. This part of our business, including arrangements for complaints or redress if something goes wrong, is regulated by Solicitors Regulation Authority. The register can be accessed via the Financial Conduct Authority website at www.fca.org.uk/register
We act for and assist in disputes between businesses and individuals in the following –
This can involve not only Court proceedings but alternative ways of resolving the dispute without the need for the expense of a Court action.
Debt recovery usually requires a fast and practical approach.
We can offer NO WIN NO FEE agreements in appropriate cases.