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We've woken up to the news this morning that, following a public vote in a general election, the Conservative party will be forming a government after winning the biggest majority vote in over 30 years.
I wrote a blog recently about why it is important to seek legal advice when seeking an attorney[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/always-seek-legal-advice-when-nominating-an-attorney/]. This related to some published findings about those acting on behalf of a vulnerable person – and whether or not their intentions were genuine.
In an article published recently by the Law Society Gazette[https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/practice/actions-over-powers-of-attorney-at-record-high/5101707.article], a law firm in London published findings of a survey relating to Lasting Powers of Attorney – specifically for those who act on behalf of a vulnerable person.
Young people are facing some of the highest rents of all time, according to the latest findings from the Office for National Statistics.
I’ve written a number of blogs[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/] about the importance of writing a will. But, in an article published in the Times recently, it really brought home the truth of what happens if we fail to write one and die ‘intestate’. The law then determines who will inherit depending on your family circumstances.
Whilst the housing market continues to stagnate, it looks as though there could be some unexpected perks where a property has fallen in value.
It’s an unavoidable fact of life, yet when it comes to death, we do everything we can to steer away from the subject. But, it’s an important one – because it means you and your family can have peace of mind.
It’s true that many consider trust funds as an outdated concept, but it might be time to dust them off – particularly if you’re looking to protect elderly or vulnerable members of the family.
One of the busiest times of the year for a family lawyer is January. There are more new divorce clients than at any other time of the year. This is often attributed to the pressure of the family being together at Christmas. Yule being the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Provision of care among the older generation has been under the spotlight for a long time, but, as Britain heads to the polls to vote in the upcoming election, some parties are making the subject of care a political hot potato.
We’ve all misplaced things occasionally, but a will is something that you’d hope would be stored correctly for a time when an executor would need to administer an estate. However according to a recent article, Lloyds bank has uncovered a number of wills that couldn’t be matched to owners.
The departure of McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook at the weekend for having a consensual relationship with another employee created headlines for numerous reasons. Not least because of the $675,000 severance payment, but because he was the company’s Chief Executive and don’t things like that get conveniently swept under the carpet? No longer it seems.
Christmas and the lead up to it should be an exciting and memorable time for children and rewarding for their parents. Christmas is a busy and sometimes stressful period, getting everything prepared for the big day. For parents who have separated, this stress is magnified significantly as they try to organise themselves, their own families and agreeing what’s best for the children.
* *According to recent statistics by Zoopla, renting a home in the UK has become much more affordable. With many still struggling to get on the housing ladder, and renting becoming the no-choice option, where in the country can you get the most for your money?
The Government has announced plans to scrap the rises in probate fees, which will no doubt be welcome news to many bereaved families.
Not many people relish the idea of writing down wishes relating to their death, however, according to research by Royal London, more than half of us in the UK still don’t have one – and 5.4 million don’t even know how to get one[https://www.which.co.uk/news/2018/12/half-of-adults-dont-have-wills-but-what-happens-to-your-children-when-you-die/].
Whilst many see flexible working as an opportunity to juggle a work life balance more successfully, a lot of work needs to be done around overall wellbeing for the employee – and ways in which the employer can help facilitate that.
Whilst this may sound like the opening to a punchline, there is a serious side to this question. Do you know the difference between the duties of an attorney and the role of an executor?
Talks surrounding the possibility of a shrinking economy are increasing by the day, however, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK might just avoid a recession.
According to recent news, the average self-employed worker faces working until they are 79 to secure a big enough pension pot to support them in later life.
In my line of work, I tend to see the statistic of one in three marriages ending in divorce in real life. Whilst many will say signing a pre-nup is one of many things they wish they knew before they get married[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/things-i-wish-i-knew-before-i-got-married/]quite often, separated parties will ask me things they need to know before they get divorced.
If you thought you never stood a chance of moving up in the London property market, now could be your chance. According to the latest data from the Land Registry, some homes in London are falling faster than anywhere else in the UK[https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49016543] – although still remain higher than the national average.
If you’re under 18, how do you pay a £50,000 tax bill? This might sound like the opening of a riddle, but actually, it’s a very real situation for one family that has been caught in an IHT trap – and it’s perfectly within the law.
No one likes to think about death, but unfortunately it’s a fact of life. People not wanting to talk about death is one of the main reasons why 60% of us risk dying without a will – and without the legal protection of our wishes for our families. It is also very important to think carefully about who to appoint as an executor. This can be a very onerous responsibility.
No sooner have we published a blog about British Airways’ largest GDPR fine on record[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/ba-faces-largest-gdpr-breach-fine/], we find another story in the news.
If someone you knew had fallen down the stairs and suffered serious injury as a result of a missing handrail, whose fault do you think it would be?
Going through the heartache of caring for an ill or elderly family members is difficult enough, yet for those who have secured a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) are still trying to jump through financial hoops.
Whilst reading an article in the Times recently, it occurred to me that there is quite often more than financial issues at stake when it comes to legal battles. In the case of two stepsisters, it can also be true that heartache and relationships can also be put at risk – but perhaps the cruellest fact is, that all of this could have been avoided, simply by making a will.
Whilst writing wills or nominating an individual for a Lasting Power of Attorney, protecting physical assets, such as property or cash, might be the first things to spring to mind. But, in an increasingly digital age, what about any online assets to an estate?
British Airways (BA) looks set to face the largest GDPR penalty by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) of £183m for last year’s data breach that put 500,000 customers’ details at risk.
For anyone suffering from news of a disappeared loved one, it is made even harder that any family, friends or even spouses are unable to take over any of their legal affairs or act on their behalf. However, that may be about to change.
Until recently, parents of children who lack capacity to make their own decisions, for example if they have a learning disability, have had limited rights when it came to making decisions affecting the health and welfare of their children. However, thanks to a successful campaign from families in London, Brighton and Windsor, that could all be about to change.
According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), stress, depression and anxiety were the main factors for time off work in 2017/18, equating to 15.4 million working days lost.
It’s holiday season, so people are off on their travels. It is also the time of year when people start to think about their wills – either writing them for the first time, or updating them.
In all the excitement of a new partnership or business venture, sometimes we forget the serious side too. Fact is, without a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA as it is more commonly known, you risk exposing some of the valuable, and saleable, secrets of your success.
As a professional who works in wills and probate, I find that people deal with death in very different ways. Grief can strike a number of reactions and the thought of death itself has a lot to answer for in terms of effective planning – but perhaps that’s why a particularly story caught my eye over the weekend.
We are waiting longer than ever to get married. According to recent statistics from Royal London, marriage rates at younger ages continues to decline, there are an increasing number of men are getting married over age 60, as well as women aged over 50. Whilst we are waiting longer to find the love of our lives, what can the implications be of finding love later in life?
Weddings can be stressful enough. Organising venues, avoiding family mishaps and funding are just a few stumbling blocks many people come across – but after the wedding, there’s the actual marriage itself.
When you start a business, there is a phase at the very beginning when you are trying to do several things at once. All of a sudden, you are a business consultant, an accountant, a marketer and a writer - as well as being the expert in your chosen field. It can be easy to lose sight of a few things along the way, but here are five top tips to help you stay on track and help turn your start-up into a thriving business.
I think it’s fair to say it is a truth universally acknowledged that our society does not cope with the idea of death. I think it is the fear of it and the fear of the unknown which makes us bury it away deep into our subconscious – but it is also perhaps one of the most important things we have to think about too.
People are living longer and therefore, they are working longer. According to the latest data from the ONS, there has been a rise in the number of over-50s in the workplace due to changes in the state pension age and shortfalls in pension payments.
According to recent figures, men are more likely to get married after hitting the age of 80 than they were under the age of 20. As more of us consider marrying later in life, you might just want to make sure you check a few things before you do, including the security of children and inheritance rights.
Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) are key for any trading business, setting out the terms on which contracts are formed, operated and terminated. They can be in various forms and contain all manner of arrangements which are bespoke to the relevant industry, transaction and customer including matters such as price and payment, method of placing orders, responsibilities of both parties, delivery arrangements, returns, and warranties and liabilities. They also detail what happens when things go wrong, for example the customer fails to pay an invoice or the goods supplied are defective.
According to a recent story[https://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/equityrelease/article-6978091/Beware-equity-release-rogues-theyre-just-data.html], there’s been a massive increase in the number of over-55s being targeted for cash which is locked up in their homes.
There’s been recent media attention surrounding property trusts, sold to people as a promise to “escape legal fees” upon someone’s death. But, all is not as it seems and people should think twice before entering into such an agreement.
Prenuptial agreements, or pre-nups, have been increasing in popularity over recent years. Older people are marrying later in life and living together longer are just a couple of reasons why pre-nups have been thrown into the spotlight. So, when it comes to gathering a lifetime’s worth of assets, it is hardly surprising that people are increasingly looking to protect them.
Many people are tempted to write their own wills to avoid the expense of a solicitor, however, a poorly-written will can quickly lead to mounting costs – as well as a legal minefield.
This week, 13 - 19 May 2019, is Mental Health Awareness Week. So, what better time to talk about mental health within the workplace.
Self-employment is on the rise with more people “going it alone” than ever before. With a rise in easy-to-use, on the go technology more accessible, it’s hardly surprising that more people are opting for self-employment to cater to more adaptive lifestyles. But, what sort of impact is it having in the wider professional environment?
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is nearly one year old, having come into effect on May 25th 2018. Many businesses in the UK and abroad have made amendments to elements of their practices to ensure GDPR compliance. As with any substantial change, there has been a steep learning curve and inevitable growing pains. With the one year mark fast approaching it seems an appropriate time to look at the impact and success, if any, of GDPR.
When do you have a “right” to cancel your contract – and does that right to do so actually exist?
Whilst Brexit uncertainty rages on, property prices are continuing their time in the spotlight. As prices and demand continue to stagnate, what is next for the UK property market?
Shared parental leave was introduced in 2015 as a way of redressing the balance between maternity and paternity leave. The purpose was to allow mothers to transfer all or part of their maternity leave to the father, allowing them to return to work.
Consumer website, MoneySavingExpert, has embarked on a long-running campaign to raise awareness of council tax discounts that are available to those who are considered “severely mentally impaired” – and it can include carers too.
Lasting Powers of Attorney, or LPAs are legal documents that outlines for an individual who is or are appointed as an attorney/s in the event that the person making the LPA is not able to make decisions for themselves during their lifetime. There are two types of LPA, one covering property and financial affairs and the other in relation to health and welfare decisions including medical. LPAs are extremely important – as without one, your wishes and feelings may not be properly taken into account and there is no one to step in and make any decision needed in your best interests. In some cases sadly without an LPA the result in arguments amongst the family, particularly where there is a second marriage.
Here at Downs Solicitors, we have been closely following the changes in the law surrounding “no blame” divorce – today we were really pleased to hear the news that the law will be changed.
Whilst the housing market continues to struggle in the UK, it looks as though the number of buyers of property abroad is still in good shape.
When it comes to wills, some clients come to me following the loss of a loved one, questioning whether their will was written fairly. It is often quite surprising to know what many of these clients are unaware that it is possible to contest a will, despite the fact it is a legal document.
According to a recent article in The Times, which reported statistics from the Public Guardian, around 2,000 cases a week are linked to allegations of financial and physical abuse.
This is a question we regularly get asked, particularly where a marriage has broken down and the children are not biological descendants of one of the parents. It can also be a worry if the biological parent has died and leaves the step parent in the child-caring role, as many can be concerned with legal stances surrounding the rights they have to that child.
According to Land Registry data, selling your home at certain times of the year could be key to achieving a high selling price.
As the war on Brexit rages on, there has seemingly been a knock-on effect on the housing market – according to industry experts.
Each April, the Government may amend employment regulations and set new deadlines for Companies to meet. The following are deadlines and updates which Managers and HR professionals should be aware of:
Close followers of Downs’ blogs will know that we have been keeping an eye on the law surrounding divorce, particularly where no member of the party is at fault.
None of us like to think about getting ill, but if you run a business, it can be helpful to identify the leading causes and reasons for sickness in order to effectively manage workflow.
The Chancellor has just delivered his Spring Statement for 2019 and despite lasting just under half an hour there were certainly a few surprises in store.
Here at Downs, we quite often keep an eye on house prices and their effect on the local economy. Whilst there has been a cloud over the growth of house prices, could there be better things on the horizon for 2019?
Thankfully, will writing is being given more air time than it used to, but, it still doesn’t stop nearly two thirds of us not having one.
This is a very common question, because, sadly, so many of us die without making a will for one reason or another.
As if Ms Dolly Parton’s appearance at the recent Grammy Awards wasn’t enough, her new Netflix series beginning in 2019 will soon have reminisces tapping their feet to some of her major hit records. Perhaps working “9-5” is one that resonates most – and what a way to make a living indeed. Since writing her hit, the workplace has changed considerably and it is interesting to see how employers and employees alike are adapting to that change.
Friday 8 March is International Women’s Day – an annual celebration of gender equality. Despite leaps in progression for a number of women, I still find it surprising how stereotypes continue to be challenged, even in 2019.
It’s been nearly 12 months since the first companies began publishing information about their gender pay gap. One year on, it looks as though we have still quite a way to go as the newest round of pay gap snapshots hit the headlines with Britain having the largest gap between the sexes in the European Union.
An up-to-date will written by a solicitor is the best way to ensure your wishes will be respected. It allows you to provide for your family and friends and leave a gift to your chosen charities too. It is also a chance to think about updating your will if you have not done so in a while.
Valentine’s Day has gone for another year, but it got us thinking about the consequences of romance in the workplace, for both employees and employer.
According to recent reports, falls in factory outputs and car production, and uncertainty surrounding Brexit, have taken its toll on the UK economy, which is now seeing the slowest economic growth in 6 years.
According to new research by Civitas, around one million more adults in the UK are living with their parents compared to two decades ago. It looks as though more people will be relying on the bank of mum and dad for a little bit longer.
Regular followers of Downs’ news will know that we have
closely been following the law surrounding no-fault divorce.
In an update published
As always our IP Alerter provides you with a snapshot of the key developments and insight into key cases. The cases covered in this issue include:
Whilst the jury is still out about how Britain-of-the-future will look after March 2019, but still, the headlines continue to tell us of companies that have been blighted by Brexit.
The story about Google[https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-46944696]and its hefty fine for breach of GDPR is perhaps a reminder to all of us about the seriousness of data protection.
The long-awaited Registration of Overseas Entities Draft Bill has finally been published. Even though it is unlikely to come into effect before 2021, there could be a few things to do to prepare – and there are severe sanctions for non-compliance.
Monday 21 January has become known as Blue Monday. It has been saddled with lots of negative connotations, from long, dark, cold days to distant paydays and the festive season a distant memory. However, one of the major contributions to Blue Monday is debt as the Christmas credit card bills start to land on the doormat. But, addressing debt early doesn’t have to be scary – and it can help you avoid a whole host of problems later on.
As the Brexit debate rages on in Parliament, it seems there are still some problems to be resolved a bit closer to home. Property prices have been named as one of the biggest concerns surrounding Brexit, and, as a number of property experts come forward expressing concern, what can homeowners come to expect?
You’d think the answer to this question would be easy and that anyone would choose family over any situation. However, it seems at times we forget how our assets, such as property and finances, can tear families apart.
If you were keeping an eye on our legal updates[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/] during Christmas, you may have noticed we stuck to a slightly less festive topic. Divorce season is well and truly upon us and with a forecast spike in the number of separations, have we simply made divorcing a spouse far too easy?
All eyes will no doubt be on the property market this year as Brexit starts to get underway. However it would appear that UK house prices actually grew at an annual pace of 0.5% in December – although this is the slowest rate in nearly 5 years.
Whilst the fun and festivities are over for another year, a number of people can find the effects of debt and stress finally take their toll. It is one of many reasons why this time of year is known as Divorce Season. However, there could be a solution to marriage breakdown and over the years I have certainly seen some of the simplest remedies become the most effective.
In 2017 there were 3.3 million cohabiting couples who were neither married or in civil partnerships. This for the last 20 years has been the fastest growing group of couples. A significant proportion of this group are in single ownership or tenanted properties. This is a concern when considering the limited rights that cohabiting couples have versus married couples.
Tis the season to be jolly, but, we address a slightly more morose topic for a reason. Divorce Day will soon be upon us once again. It is the first working Monday of every year and gets its name due to a surge in divorce applications.
Apparently, around 9 out of every 10 businesses have had an employment related issue as a result of Christmas party antics[http://www.consulthr.co.uk/avoid-tears-tantrums-legal-actions-following-office-christmas-party/]. One of the most commonplace issues is the hangover and staff calling in sick the next day after drinking too much at the Christmas party the night before.
We’ve all probably heard of a pre-nuptial agreement, but what about the lesser-known post-nup? What exactly is it and why are more people looking to write them?
To guard against the possibility that UK immigration requirements might remain the same for longer than one second, the Home Office laid further changes to the immigration rules before parliament on 11 December 2018. Immigration rules enter into force by negative resolution, which means proposed rules come into force without much, or any, debate or pro-active approval by Parliament. The proposed rules are wide-ranging. Most will come into effect on 10 January 2019.
It may seem a strange sentiment, but this time of year actually sees the highest number of divorces than any other time of the year. Dubbed “divorce day” by many of us in the legal profession, January 7 2019 is the first working Monday after Christmas. It is also predicted to be the day we see a predicted spike in the number of divorces – but maybe there is something we can do about that.
We are probably all guilty of it, but, seeing as it is divorce season, perhaps now is the best time to be thinking about some of the things we do that cause unnecessary bitterness.
The most popular day to start divorce proceedings is in early January. Whether it is the pressure of the cost of Christmas, or working longer hours in the lead up to the festivities, the first working Monday of the new year is commonly referred to by many lawyers as “Divorce Day.”
Whilst the fun and festivities come around, a number of people can find the effects of debt and stress finally take their toll. It is one of many reasons why this time of year, we often term as Divorce Season. However, there could be a solution to marriage breakdown and over the years I have certainly seen some of the simplest remedies become the most effective.
If you hold any overseas shareholdings, you might just find a very costly sting in the tail on your estate – so inheritance planning is key.
This week is Good Divorce Week, aptly named as a way of raising awareness of the wider impact a separation can bring, particularly for children. Whilst divorce is always difficult, a number of studies have revealed the long-term serious impact on children, specifically around the conflict a divorce brings. Good Divorce Week aims to address the issues affecting children and how separating couples can mitigate any complications by providing practical help and support.
GDPR seems to be the word of the year, but as many businesses still try to get to grips with it, the Court of Appeal have issued details surrounding a case of data protection. Is an employer responsible if an employee deliberately breaches a data protection law?
We really do seem to have a reluctance to write a will in this country. According to recent research, around 60% of adults in the UK have not written a will. We may shrug it off as something we’ll “get around to” or “maybe someday” – but there is a very serious underlying issue. If you do not write a will, your estate is likely to be claimed by the Crown.
Read Samar Shams, Head of Immigration, recent article in the Employment Journal which considers what the UK’s immigration policies may look like when free movement of EU nationals ends.
According to stats from the Nationwide Building Society, house prices rose at their slowest annual rate for five years, due in part to a sustained period of economic uncertainty.
It’s that time of year where the seasons change and we celebrate a few festivals. But, whether it is a hellish Halloween, or November 5 goes off with a bang, employers need to beware. They could be held responsible for any mishaps during any celebrations – including the parties.
An extremely controversial, yet lucrative source of income for the Treasury, inheritance tax has been in the news again highlighting the contrast around the country.
As we count down the days until the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget here are a few things to expect – as well as a few of the need-to-knows.
As the frenzy builds as to what the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget may contain, all eyes are once again on the property market.
Right-to-work checks and dismissal have always posed a challenge to employers. Recent inconsistent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) judgments have exacerbated the difficulties. What is an employer to do? Head of Immigration, Samar Shams recent article in the Employment Law Journal goes back to basics and extracts the most important lessons from the muddled judgments.
The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) launched a refund scheme earlier this year for Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) registered between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017[https://www.gov.uk/government/news/power-of-attorney-fee-refund-scheme-launched]. If this applies to you, you might be eligible for a refund from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).
The following blog came about following a recent experience with a client. They had used a will writing company to prepare a will around 10 years ago. Since then they have paid £18 per year to cover the ongoing costs associated with storing the will. However, nine days after the client signed the will, it was deposited with the Principle Probate Registry for a one off fee of £20. Once received the Registry issue a Certificate of Deposit of Will confirming that it is held by them.
If you needed any further persuasion to plan ahead and consider your options for later life, you might the following interesting to know.
More than 60% of adults in the UK still have no will. This tells us that many of us are still not planning for later on in life – but believe it or not, there is a really good reason to do so.
The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on 25 May this year. It, together with the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018), replaced existing laws in the UK relating to data protection and became an obligatory requirement across the whole of the European Union. Even though this had been bubbling away in the news for several months, there were concerns that businesses remained relatively in the dark about what they had to do. In the end, the majority of cases saw a last-minute scramble to implement the new regulation – and it appears to be still on-going.
The benefits of Inheritance Tax planning should not be overlooked. Many of us don’t like to think ahead to later life, but it is important to plan ahead as far as possible to mitigate any heavy costs to our families.
Back in June, we reported the story of Universal Wealth[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/are-you-caught-up-in-universal-wealth-preservation/]. The story surfaced to the front of my mind again at the weekend when I read a comment on the legalities around offering advice that is outside of your professional expertise.
Following on from our recent blog[http://www.downslaw.co.uk/stay-informed/legal-updates/stopping-the-divorce-blame-game] calling for a review of divorce law, more plans have now been revealed to address some of the outdated areas of the law.
To follow up on a couple of recent news stories relating to flexible work, for employers thinking of adopting change, you will also need to know how to effectively manage a more flexible workforce.
It seems the debate about “working hours” rages on. We recently wrote a blog[[sitetree_link id=926]] about how working hours have changed and that people are moving towards much more flexible models.
No one likes to think about getting old, or even what would happen to our family’s wellbeing and personal finances if we weren’t here. However, now is as good a time as any to be thinking about it, as yesterday, Sunday 9 September, marked Grandparents Day.
According to recent research by Lancet Public Health Journal, and reported by the BBC, the number of elderly people needing 24 hour care is set to double by 2025. This puts the spotlight firmly back on why families need to be taking advice and planning ahead for the future, now.
For regular followers of our blog, you may have noticed a string of stories relating to cases of unmarried couples losing out, simply because they haven’t tied the knot.