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We have just received notification that our reaccreditation application in respect of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) – the mark of excellence for the home buying process – has been successful for another 12 months.
The re-accreditation process is a way of assuring residential home buyers and sellers and banks and insurers, that we have the skill and expertise to provide quality residential conveyancing advice.
We are proud to still be the only Law Practice in Carmarthenshire to have achieved CQS, WIQS – which is a mark of excellence in dealing with Wills and Probate matters and Lexcel – the Law Society’s Practice Management standard.
For more information on the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme, please visit www.lawsociety.org.uk/cqs or if you would like to speak to one of our experienced Solicitors about any aspect of the house buying or selling process, then please contact us on (01267) 237441.
Recent press articles have highlighted the exorbitant costs that some Banks have been charging families when dealing with the Estates of their loved ones.
Banks offered a low cost will-writing service as an incentive for taking out insurance or fee charging current accounts, going back to the late 1990s and early 2000s. It is estimated that 1.5 million wills have been written by Banks in the last twenty years
In these wills, the small print gave the Banks the right to appoint themselves as Executors and they then charge a percentage on the value of an Estate when they administer it. When the Banks’ customers signed up for these wills, they did not realise what exactly this percentage charge would mean and with house prices having risen in this period, it is now obvious that these fees are excessive.
A recent case in the Daily Mail highlighted an Estate worth £400,000 that Nat West was proposing to charge £11,500, yet when the Executor had spoken to a legal practice, he had been advised that their charges would be in the region of £4,000 for dealing with the same Estate.
At Ungoed-Thomas and King, we can do as much or as little of the Estate Administration work as the Executors wish and will always give an estimate at the start of a matter as to how much it is likely to cost and will advise you beforehand if we are likely to exceed that estimate. The cost will be based on the amount of time taken to carry out the necessary work, not on the value of the assets.
We are also accredited members of the Law Society’s Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme and are the only legal practice in Carmarthen to have attained this standard.
If you have a will that has been written by a Bank’s will writing service and you are concerned about the hidden costs contained in it, please contact us for a free 30 minute review of your existing will.
For more information about these matters, please contact us on (01267) 237441 – Option 2.
We are often asked whether some who is in the early stages of dementia or of mental decline of some other kind, is able to make a Will.
In order to make a valid Will, a person must satisfy a legal test of capacity:-
- does the person making the Will understand what they are doing and also its effect?
- do they understand the approximate extent of their assets and therefore what they can give away under their Will?
- do they have an awareness of who may have claims on their assets?
- and these understandings must not be impaired by any disorder of the mind or delusions.
The effect of this is that confusion of the mind, or a condition such as dementia which affects the ability of a person’s mind to satisfy the test referred to above, can mean that someone is unable in legal terms to make a Will. The only way around this is to apply through the Court of Protection for a statutory Will to be made on their behalf, which is a costly and lengthy procedure, requiring careful handling.
With this in mind, it is important that they should make a Will before it is too late. In a situation of this nature where someone is in the early stages of dementia, we would generally recommend that the Will is witnessed by a specialist psychiatrist or the like, who would also produce a report on the person’s capacity, so as to help to prevent any challenge to the Will in the future on grounds of mental incapacity.
If a person makes a Will when they are entirely lucid but they then later lose their mental faculties, the Will is not invalidated and, in some circumstances, where a person has the necessary mental ability to give instructions for the Will but they then lose that ability before they sign it, the law will uphold the Will.
This all underlines the importance that everyone should make a Will while they are fully able to do so, rather than leaving it too late. If a person’s situation is borderline, it is very important that a specialist Will-maker is involved, who understands the issues and how to deal with them correctly. We are accredited members of the Law Society’s Wills and Inheritance Quality Scheme and have an experienced and professional Team of Solicitors who specialise in this area – for further advice please contact us on (01267) 237441 – Option 2.
We often come across frying freeholds and are asked to advise upon them when our clients sell or buy properties where part of the property is a flying freehold.
A flying freehold is a legal term used to describe a part of a freehold property which overhangs or underlies another freehold. Common examples include a room situated above a shared passageway such as an arch or a balcony which extends over a neighbouring property. The owner of a flying freehold does not actually own the structure which supports that part of their property.
If a flying freehold has been established correctly, then the existence of this would be reflected in the deeds, whether they be unregistered or registered at the Land Registry, in both the overhanging and the underlying properties. This would provide the appropriate rights to enter into the neighbouring property in order to inspect, maintain or repair as necessary the freeholder’s own property. Furthermore, appropriate covenants (agreements) should be included in both properties deeds to prevent the neighbour undertaking any alterations or works to their property which may affect the structural integrity of the neighbouring property which underlies or overhangs.
In the absence of the appropriate rights and covenants over the adjoining property, the best case scenario is for an additional document to be entered into with the neighbour to create such rights and obligations. However, we are often asked to arrange (as it if often cheaper and quicker to do this), a flying freehold legal indemnity insurance policy. This provides cover when part of a residential or commercial freehold property extends over or under adjoining premises and the property owner is unable to undertake the necessary repairs or exercise the appropriate rights that would be acceptable to any purchaser or in some circumstance a mortgage lender.
The Access to Neighbouring Lands Act 1992 contains provisions which enable owners to go on to a neighbour’s land to carry out repairs to their own property, but to rely upon such legislation would require an application to the Court and this would not normally provide the appropriate level of comfort for any house purchaser.
Additionally, not all lenders are prepared to lend against flying freeholds, even with indemnity insurance and your Solicitor would need to notify your proposed lender to check whether the property remains acceptable security.
For further information in connection with selling or purchasing properties with flying freeholds or any other aspect when buying or selling a property, please contact our Property Team on 01267 237441 – Option 1.
If you applied to register a Lasting Power of Attorney or an Enduring Power of Attorney between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2017, you can now claim back some of the fees, as it has now been decided that the registration fees charges at that time were too high.
The refund will be an amount of between £34.00 and £54.00 (depending on the timing of the registration) plus interest at 0.5% and this will be paid directly into your bank account.
You can apply for a refund either by telephoning 0300 4560300 (option 6) or applying online at gov.uk/power-of-attorney-refund. Your bank account number and sort code will be needed as part of this application.
For advice on Lasting Powers of Attorney and their registration, or on the registration of Enduring Powers of Attorney, please contact our Probate Department on 01267 237441 (option 2) or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Clients who are in the course of purchasing a leasehold property are often as part of the transaction offered a share of the freehold and we are often asked to provide an explanation to this sometimes bewildering area of the Law.
The issue normally arises when a client is purchasing a flat, normally in a property which was previously a house which has been sub-divided.
Clients who purchase a house in the vast majority of cases acquire a freehold, whereas flats and apartments are granted leasehold status. If buying in a larger block of flats, the freehold will be retained by the original developer or usually by a freehold management company of which the individual flat owners can become shareholders. They can therefore take an active part in the management of the freehold to deal with issues such as the insurance of the building as a whole, the repair and maintenance of common parts and also deal with the funding and arrangement of more major projects as and when the need arises e.g. replacement of glazing, roof repairs or replacements or any structural work which remains the responsibility of the freehold or the freehold management company.
With sub-divided houses where there may be maximum of say 4 flats, it is normally the case that where there is a relatively low number of leaseholders (i.e. flat owners), it is not necessary in legal terms to go to the formality of establishing and running a freehold management company, but in these circumstances, in additional to acquiring the lease of the individual flat within the house, respective purchasers are often, as part of the deal with the seller, granted a share of the freehold together with the other leaseholders.
In short, with a sub-divided house you will find each individual flat owner will own their own lease and will also be a joint owner with the other leaseholders of the freehold property. Therefore all leaseholders will also assume responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of the whole of the building and also what is referred to as the common parts i.e. hallways and lobbies which may not necessarily be part of the flats themselves but still obviously form a very important part of the building.
These shares of the freehold are then exchanged each time a leasehold flat is sold.
For further information in connection with this issue or any other issue in connection with the selling or buying of property, please contact UTK’s Property Team on 01267 237441 or email us on firstname.lastname@example.org.
Egress Switch email encryption
In order to enhance our cyber security, as from Tuesday 9th January 2018, we will be using Egress Switch Secure Email to share confidential information securely by encrypted email, and send and receive encrypted large files. We have chosen to use Egress Switch when sending confidential information via email and file transfer to comply with data protection regulations and ensure that when this information needs to be shared with third parties, it is done so securely.
What is Egress Switch Secure Email?
Egress Switch Secure Email enables users to send and receive sensitive data securely, including emails and file attachments. The system is free to use and sending encrypted large files using Switch also overcomes the usual attachment file size limitations and it is a Government certified product.
How do I use Egress Switch to read emails sent to me?
If you receive an Egress Switch encrypted email or a large file from us, please read this guide to help you access the email. You do not need to download or install any software to read emails sent using Egress Switch, although desktop and mobile apps can be downloaded free of charge from https://www.egress.com.
- To open an email secured by Egress Switch, click on the ‘read this secure email’ link within the notification email you receive.
- You will be directed to the Egress Switch sign in page, where you can select ‘New User’ and go through the short process to create a free Egress Switch ID.
- After creating an Egress Switch ID and signing in, you will be able to read the secure email online.
Setting up a free Egress Switch account enables you to reply and initiate secure emails to us. Please note though that if you have more than one e-mail address that you use to e-mail us, you will need to register each e-mail account separately.
Need to send us a secure email?
If you have already created an Egress Switch ID, use Egress Switch you can now use the software to send encrypted information or large files to us. After signing in, you will be able to compose your email to us, adding any attachments as required. The email and any attachments will be encrypted and sent when you press ‘Send’.
Alternatively, you can download free desktop and mobile apps from the Egress website to send emails from Microsoft Outlook and mobile devices.
If you need any help using Switch, please visit the support centre www.egress.com/support
Alternatively, you can email Egress Switch support at email@example.com or if you would rather speak to a member of the support team, call Egress Europe (UK) on 0844 8000 1730.
For more information about Switch, please visit www.egress.com.
Egress will never share your information with any third parties. For more details, please refer to their privacy statement. (www.egress.com/privacy-statement)
Egress Software Technologies is committed to providing the highest level of service. View links to legal terms and conditions for the different areas of Egress here. (https://www.egress.com/legal)
As the first, and currently only, CESG CPA Foundation Grade email encryption product, Egress Switch Secure Email has been certified by UK Government to enable Public and Private Sector customers to share OFFICIAL and OFFICIAL-SENSITIVE data over the internet, without the need to manage third party credentials.
Egress Software Technologies is also certified to the ISO 27001:2013 standard, which serves as the international benchmark for information security management, and outlines how to implement and uphold an independently assessed and certified information security management
Property fraud, unfortunately, is on the increase, and case law suggests that property owners who are not in occupation are at a greater risk of identity fraud.
We have heard of a recent case where a person owned a rental property with tenants who had been there for some time. The tenant changed his name by deed poll to that of the property owner and then arranged new identification documents in the new name.
He then approached an Estate Agent to sell the property and was present for all the viewings as he lived there. He then appointed a Solicitor to deal with the sale and the Solicitor identified him via his new identification documents. The sale went through at over £400,000.
The landlord has been told that because the Estate Agent and Solicitor completed all their identification checks, it is unlikely that he will get his money back. The matter is currently with the police.
To reduce the risk of fraud, the Land Registry provides a service called “Property Alert”. This is a free service open to property owners based in England and Wales who feel their property could be at risk from fraud.
Once a property owner has signed up to this service, they will receive an email which will alert them of any activities that occur in respect of that property. Up to 10 properties can be monitored; this would allow home owners to take appropriate action in good time to prevent any fraudulent activities in order to protect their interests. All alerts are sent via email when either searches are conducted against the monitored property, or any applications are received that deal with the property.
Although Property Alert will not automatically stop fraud from happening, it could provide an useful early warning of any suspicious activity.
The following link will take you through to the Land Registry website where you can sign up for this free service.
Please click on the link below for an interesting article recently published by the Guardian about an anticipated ‘groundbreaking’ change of approach by the Family Court when dealing with cases involving parental alienation in divorce and separation.
This is a change that will, no doubt, be welcomed by many parents and family law practitioners.
Becoming estranged from a parent for unjustified reasons can cause a child real emotional harm and the Family Court, over the past decade, has started to sit up and take notice of this very real issue. It appears that in many cases, the Court will now go even further.
These anticipated changes should stand as a firm warning to any parent. A relationship breakdown will often result in one or both parties feeling hurt and anger towards the other. The message from the Family Court is clear on the matter; if an individual is not able to put aside those feelings and place their children’s needs before their own, the Court will intervene, with in the most severe of cases, some serious consequences to the parent guilty of driving the alienation.
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