Crane & Staples are pleased to support the Isabel Hospice Make a Will Week scheme from the 10th-14th March. We hope for another very successful year for the hospice. If you weren’t able to make an appointment during this time don’t forget to keep your Wills under review and our team are always happy to speak and meet with you to discuss making or updating your Will.
A recent episode of Dragons Den saw applicants from Jollyday Luxury Campsite fail to secure funding for their established ‘glamping business’ as a result of possible misinformation regarding their business lease.
The glamping enthusiasts were impressing the dragons with their business proposals but failed to convince them that their investment would reap reward on a long term basis. In particular, Peter Jones was concerned that they had only secured a 15 year lease of premises upon which the new luxury lodges would be located, meaning that potentially their occupation could be terminated after the end of that 15 year period.
It was suggested that a 40 year lease would have been more appropriate however, this is of course of a much higher risk and almost unheard of particularly in recent markets.
However, the business owners could (and perhaps have!) secure their occupation beyond the initial 15 year period provided that the benefit of the protection of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 was not excluded when they originally took the Lease. Subject to certain exceptions, the LTA 1954 gives business owners the automatic right to renew their lease at the end of the term and therefore continue their business from premises within which they have often generated goodwill.
If you need any advice or assistance in relation to Landlord & Tenant matters please contact Bonnie Twiggs on 01707 387072.
During the latter months of 2013 some local residents received a notification from HM Land Registry that the Marquess of Salisbury had applied to enter a unilateral notice to register pre-existing ownership rights over their properties. Naturally, this caused fear, distress and anger amongst the residents.
It is my guess that the following 5 questions are amongst the most common concerns for people affected by these rights.
1) What exactly are Manorial Rights?
Manorial Rights are very old interests which belonged to a Lord of the Manor and, in some cases, were kept by the Lord even when his land was sold. The rights enable a Lord of the Manor to exercise sporting rights, rights to mines and minerals under the land, rights to hunt, shoot and fish, and rights to hold fairs and markets.
2) Why did we not know about them?
Prior to the Land Registration Act 2002, there were some interests which could affect (bind) an owner’s property that were very difficult to find out about. They were not visible on the property’s title register nor was there any readily-available information to check for their existence. Manorial Rights are an example of these and they were collectively known as ‘overriding interests’. Importantly, ‘overriding interests’ did not need to be registered in order to remain in existence.
3) Why have they suddenly come to light?
The Land Registration Act 2002 changed the law. It gave owners of ‘overriding interests’ (such as the Marquess of Salisbury) 11 years (until 13th October 2013) within which to register their interest with HM Land Registry. Failure to register the interest resulted in it being lost forever. So, the interests were registered with HM Land Registry, who in turn notified the owners of the affected properties (e.g. the local residents). HM Land Registry is likely to notify the Freehold owner of a property, not the Leasehold owner. If you only own the Leasehold of your property I suggest you contact the Freeholder to find out whether he / she / they have received any notification(s).
4) Will I be able to sell my property?
There is no reason why, as the owner of your property, you will not be able to sell as and when you wish. You may find that some potential buyers are put-off from buying your property once they become aware of the Manorial Rights. However, this could also be the case with a property in a flood-risk area, or where a Tree Preservation Order is in existence, for example. In my experience, buyers have different levels of cautiousness when it comes to making a purchase and it is very much down to the individual.
5) Can anything be done to remove them?
If you receive a notification from HM Land Registry the first thing you must do is read the Explanatory Notes (part of the notification) very carefully as these provide key information. You will normally have three options. You can:
1. Do nothing and leave the unilateral notice on the title register.
2. Contact the Beneficiary of the interest (details will be on HM Land Registry’s notice) and ask them to withdraw it.
3. Submit a form UN4 to HM Land Registry to apply to have the unilateral notice cancelled. We could do this on your behalf and also handle any subsequent communications on your behalf should you wish to pursue a rejected UN4 application
We would be happy to assist you by checking your title deeds or by submitting a form UN4 on your behalf. For more information, please contact Tim Wild on 01707 329333 or email@example.com
January is the time for new beginnings, taking stock and planning ahead. Employment law continually changes, both with new legislation coming into force and case law constantly being created by the Tribunals and Courts. Now is the time to consider if all your policies and procedures are in place, particularly given the reforms that have been made to employment law in the last few months.
Employment is a fundamentally important area of law for business clients, as well as employees who find themselves made redundant. It is constantly changing and many employers struggle to keep up with their obligations and responsibilities. I believe that clients want solutions to their problems, not further complications. What we try and do is give employers a “road map” to help them navigate the employment road from beginning to end with as little fuss as possible. The key is being prepared in the first place.
My approach is to provide sensible legal advice in plain English to employers to try and avoid problems occurring in the first place. It is a legal requirement that every employee should be given a written statement of his or her terms and conditions of employment, within eight weeks of starting work. Better still, a business should offer written contracts that go beyond the basic terms and conditions to give themselves more flexibility over their staff. I can advise on contracts of employment and other key documents that can be required, such as staff handbooks and consultancy agreements.
Many employers also worry about employees misusing social media at work or taking confidential information with them (such as client and supplier lists) when they move on. We can help with serious issues like this or more mundane, but often equally important issues like parental leave, maternity/paternity issues and so on.
At the other end of the employment relationship we can help you navigate disciplinary/grievance processes and also redundancy situations. We can draft settlement agreements to resolve employment disputes and can also advise individual employees who have been handed them by their employers, provided there is no conflict in us acting. In my experience most people, be they corporate clients or individuals, want to avoid litigation and mediation can be a good way of avoiding a protracted and expensive court dispute.
From this Spring, ACAS will offer Early Conciliation in every dispute heading to an Employment Tribunal. The aim of the scheme is to reduce the number of claims that get issued but for those that do, we can provide representation throughout the whole process from drafting the ET1 to the final hearing and all points along the way.
We’re local, based in Welwyn Garden City town centre with good parking nearby. If you have an employment law issue please get in touch to see how we can help.
The Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, has announced advisory notes will be published to help prevent social media users from committing a contempt of court. This advice will be made available via the gov.uk website and the Twitter feed of the Attorney General’s Office, @AGO_UK.
The Independent online (4.12.2013) reported: “The move represents a concerted effort by the Government to make the online world – described by Lord Justice Leveson last year as “a megaphone for gossip” that was governed by “mob rule” – aware of the rules that govern traditional media. In particular senior lawyers fear that the explosion in social media use threatens the chances of defendants in prominent cases receiving a fair trial.”
Mr Grieve said: “I hope that by making this information available to the public at large, we can help stop people from inadvertently breaking the law and make sure cases are tried on the evidence, not what people have found online.”
It seems that the traditional form of receiving an inheritance when a loved one has passed away is becoming old fashioned as parents and grandparents give money away during their lifetime to help children cope with rising costs, university fees or to help them buy a house.
Research by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) revealed that more than half of sums left behind in Wills are less than £10,000. Only 3.6% of adults – 1.6 million – received an inheritance of £1000 or higher between the years 2008-2010. Nearly half of these inheritances came from a parent or parent in law, and a further 22% from grandparents. Just over one in ten came from an uncle or aunt, but only one in 20 inheritors received assets from a non-relative.
The combined total of all inheritances received in that period stands at £75 billion.
Erica Pearce-Howard, Associate Legal Practitioner at Crane & Staples believes that the research suggests legacies are reduced because people are making lifetime gifts in the hope of avoiding inheritance tax whilst still helping their family in such difficult times.
A survey by Aviva found that a quarter of over 75s had given a cash loan to family members instead of leaving an inheritance.
She says “we are told that £75 billion was inherited over this 2 year period and given the amount of tax that would have been paid on such a significant sum, proper tax planning either through lifetime gifts or via a Will has never been so important”.
“Tax planning has, in the past, had a cloak of mystery and complexity surrounding it. However, with the right advice properly given people can make an informed choice as to how to mitigate the amount of tax payable upon death, from life assurance trusts to gifting out of income.”
“Of course we are always mindful of HMRC changing the rules on complex tax planning but don’t forget simple vehicles such as ISAs – which are extremely tax-efficient products and which anyone over 18 can have.
However, she also warns people to remember that the size of any potential inheritance could be reduced due to the cost of care fees in the future.
She says “one never knows what the future holds so we always recommend reviewing your affairs on a regular basis to see what can be done to protect and preserve your hard earned assets”.
For more information on Wills, tax planning, and long term care planning please contact the Private Client team on 01707 387074 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Following the tragic death of Matthew Crawley at the end of the last series of Downton Abbey, the first two episodes focused on the resultant problems of a husband and young father not having a Will.
As the sole heir to the family estate, his Will was “something that he was going to get around to eventually”. Only a note found in his personal papers setting out his wishes for the family estate in the event of his death, later confirmed to be a Will, saved the day.
Erica Pearce-Howard, Associate Legal Practitioner at Crane & Staples is pleased that such a popular programme as Downton Abbey clearly recognised the importance of writing a Will.
She hopes that the plot will send a message to millions of people that writing a will is one of the most important things a person can do to protect their loved ones from unnecessary costs, upset or, potentially, loss of their home.
“None of us like to think about our own death but Downton Abbey showed that having the right advice and making a Will can ensure that whatever you hold precious will pass to those of your choosing, not that of the law – whether it be your loved ones, friends or charities.
Without a Will, a person’s estate does not automatically pass to those you may think. There is no such thing as “common law husband or wife”. Partners do not benefit at all. Spouses will only inherit personal possessions and the first £250,000, which, in Hertfordshire, may not even cover the value of your property. Even more reason to speak to us.
Here at Crane & Staples we can advise and guide you every step of the way. Whether it’s to pass on your treasured Fender Telecaster guitar or make sure your beloved pets are taken care of, we can ensure that your wishes are carried out when you are no longer here. We can also advise on planning for long term care, whether inheritance tax would be payable and what steps can be taken to reduce or avoid such tax and of course, protection of your children by the appointment of a guardian.’
Much is said about the cost of qualified legal advice. We do not hide our fees in the small print. We are upfront and transparent with how much it will cost. You will know right at the start what you will pay – there will be no nasty surprises.
We understand that no client’s wishes are the same. We do not all fit into the same box. Everyone’s circumstances are different and we are confident that we offer expert advice, guidance, clear choices and ultimately, peace of mind. What more could you ask for from your local solicitors?
In April this year, the Government implemented the new Help to Buy equity loans for first time buyers. If a first time buyer secures a mortgage for 75% of the purchase price and can provide 5% of the deposit themselves, the government will provide an equity loan for the remaining 20%. There is no interest for the first 5 years and the loan can be paid off once the house is eventually sold.
The popularity of the scheme has exceeded expectation and there are currently 500 loans being taken out each week.
The scheme is due to run until 2017.
We were delighted to be finalists in three categories in the 2013 FSB Hertfordshire Business Awards, and even more so to win two of them and come runner up in the third!
We were crowned Herts’ most Enterprising Business and voted best in Training and Development. Alistair Williams, our marvellous Office Manager was declared runner up Employee of the Year.
The judges expressed their admiration for Crane & Staples and said: “…a traditional business which is exploring new ways of growing and maintaining their success and profile” “A well established business that has embraced the changes in its industry and is looking forward with vision and action.”
Of our staff Training and Development policy, comments included: “They certainly understand the need for well trained staff, this is reflected in their investment financially.” “Shows how a great training strategy can positively impact on profits.”
We feel this is a great achievement and recognition from the FSB and a credit to each and every one of the firm, who has contributed to our success.
Please find below our top tips for first time buyers of a residential property:
- You will need to save up a 10% deposit and remember that there will be other costs such as Stamp Duty Land Tax, searches and solicitors costs.
- Compare mortgages. You may want to use a mortgage broker who will advise you on the best mortgage and help you set it up.
- Find a property and agree a price with the seller. Seller’s prefer first time buyers as you are not selling a property and so there is no additional chain.
- Choose a solicitors practice to represent you in your purchase. Ask family and friends for their recommendations or contact the Law Society for advice on solicitors in your local area. You should also check that the solicitors you choose are on the panel of solicitors authorised to act for your mortgage provider. You should inform your mortgage provider of your chosen solicitors as soon as possible. Be aware that some mortgage brokers and estate agents take referral fees to refer new clients to particular firms of solicitors.
- It is a good idea to instruct a buildings surveyor to report to you on the property you intend to purchase. Hidden structural problems can prove very costly! You can find information on surveyors in your area by going to the website of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
- Most homebuyers will need to take out buildings insurance themselves. Start looking into building insurance early on and make sure you put your policy into force by the time contracts are exchanged.
- Choose a removal company. Again look for recomendations by family and friends but be aware that the company you choose might not be available for your completion day so keep a few mind.