Our Herts B2B expo competition winner Katy Doherty

Many congratulations again to our prize winner Katy Doherty of Knebworth Barns who was delighted with her much coveted prize of a helicopter flight over Hatfield House, complete with cream tea and a tour of the house and grounds.  Katy scored top at the Crane & Staples Hatfield House inspired game of quoits and was presented with her prize by Tim Wild.

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Herts B2B Expo – a great time had by all!

The Crane & Staples team was out in force yesterday at the Herts B2B Expo at Hatfield House. This year we used the location to pick our theme, featuring the oak tree made famous by Queen Elizabeth I and a traditional game of quoits, with a fantastic prize of a helicopter flight over the house and grounds and cream tea afterwards.

Congratulations to Katy Doherty from Knebworth Barns who won the top prize!

Everyone who played also got one of our tasty branded red velvet Crane & Staples cupcakes made by our very own member of staff Tom.

We made some excellent contacts and look forward to catching up with them soon.

 

 

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Winners again at the FSB Herts Business Awards 2014!

We were absolutely thrilled to win the FSB Herts Business Awards for Best Training and Development for the second year running.

It was an excellent awards dinner at Shendish Manor in Hemel Hempstead, and we’d like to congratulate all the finalists, winners and runners up.

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SKYPE appointments for your Wills now available

Crane and Staples is pleased to announce that they are trialing appointments for Wills via Skype thus removing the need for clients to visit the office during normal working hours and instead instructing the firm via the internet.

Erica Pearce-Howard of the Private Client Department believes that Skype enables the firm to adapt to people’s needs and changing lifestyle, which means they cannot always come into the office between 9am and 5pm or indeed they may require a home visit but if they have access to the internet we can chat to them in the comfort of their home or office.

Erica says “our research has shown that people are asking for more flexibility in the way we offer our services and appointments.  Skype offers clients the opportunity to speak to either myself or my colleague Samantha Webb as though they were in the office but from the comfort of their home or office”.

Of course, clients looking to make or revise a Will still have the option to come into the office or have a home visit if preferred.  It is not intended for Skype to replace our traditional service at all as we know that some people do want and are able to come in to see us in person.

Erica says “if we have any doubt as to the capacity or vulnerability of our client, or we have suspicions of undue influence, then we will not continue with the Skype appointment and we will ensure that the usual precautions of a visit in person or indeed a capacity report from a suitably qualified medical practitioner is undertaken”.

Once the initial appointment has been carried out the rest of the work can be undertaken via email, letter or telephone.  Clients can opt to come into the office to sign their Will or have the document sent to them with signing instructions prior to returning to us for checking.

At present this service is only available to clients making appointments with either Erica Pearce-Howard or Samantha Webb in the Private Client Department but if successful it may be rolled out to other areas in the firm.

Given that only one third of the adult population has a Will, Erica hopes that this new trial service will encourage those who have put off making a Will due to time constraints to finally take action and ensure they give themselves and their family peace of mind.

If you are interested in making an appointment (either by Skype or in the office) please contact Erica or Samantha on 01707 387074 or email: e.pearce-howard@crane-staples.co.uk or s.webb@crane-staples.co.uk

  Erica Pearce-Howard, Private Client Department

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Do you really want strangers looking after your children?

When I ask my clients why they haven’t prepared a Will, the answer most of them give me is “appointment of guardians”.  Parents just don’t know whom to ask to look after their children should they no longer be around to do so themselves.  They don’t want to upset family members by asking friends and don’t want to upset friends by asking family members – and is your own parent an appropriate person to look after a growing toddler or teenager?

It’s easier to forget about it and not worry about it (for now) than to actually sit down and talk about it.  According to the Office of National Statistics, two thirds of us die without a Will and given that over 24,000 children are bereaved of a parent each year in Britain I do wonder why so many parents are willing to risk our child’s future happiness, safety and wellbeing by not writing a Will or at least appointing a guardian.

The longer you delay, the more you are exposing your family to intense disputes played out in court and even having your child placed into foster care whilst waiting for a guardian to be appointed to care for them.  Is this what you really want?

Your children may not receive what you intended financially, or at an appropriate age as the laws of intestacy would apply or indeed your children may not inherit at all.

Make sure you to talk to both guardians and children about any plans for the future if anything should happen to ensure your children are left with a sense of security and the feeling that they will be loved and wanted by those whom you have appointed to look after them if you are no longer around.

Many people believe that writing a Will is going to cost lots of money.  What with the rising cost of living, wage freezes and energy bills it is no wonder Wills get put on the back burner.  However, depending upon your circumstances, here at Crane & Staples Wills, can cost from as little as £250 for two people – which when compared to court costs, uncertainty as to whom may be appointed and you, as parents, not having a say in any of it, can you put a price on your child’s future?

Whilst writing a Will is not something we necessarily want to do, I strongly believe it should be something we must do not only for our own peace of mind but for our children because we care for them, we love them but no matter what, if we cannot be there for them, we always want the best for them.

If you want to know more about writing a Will or appointing a guardian, please speak to one of the team in the Private Client Department on 01707 387074.

   Erica Pearce-Howard – email: e.pearce-howard@crane-staples.co.uk

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Judge Free Divorces

You may have seen in the national press reports that the Head of the Family Division Sir James Munby has suggested that divorce will be made easier by making it an administrative process that could be dealt with by the same Registrar who marries you and issues birth certificates.

This may be considered a sensible idea but the Judge also stressed it would only be appropriate in cases of divorce by agreement and where there were no children.

 This in itself is surprising and recent changes in divorce procedure which came into force on 22 April mean that divorce Judges no longer consider the arrangements for the children of the marriage at all.

It is important that the public understand that this all relates just to the process of ending the marriage.  It does not relate to the financial matters.  It is the discussion of financial matters such as the ownership or sale of the house, the payment of maintenance and division of pensions that causes the most disputes and expense in divorce situations.

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Inspiring Herts Finalists

An excellent night had by all at the Inspiring Herts Awards finals last night at the Porsche Garage in Hatfield.

We were absolutely delighted to have been nominated finalists in both categories we entered – Best Small Business and Excellence in People Development and feel proud of our achievement, particularly given the fact that entries were up 20% on last year and the competition fierce.

We’d like to congratulate all the finalists, and particularly to the winners.


Many thanks to Kerigh Palmer for this great photo.

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Protect Your Business – Handling Disciplinary Issues

Last Wednesday we hosted the second in our series of events aimed at employers and how they can protect their businesses by following the correct processes and procedures in employment law.  We were delighted to welcome Barristers Smair Soor and Ben Isaacs from 7 Bedford Row Chambers in London to present an interactive role play session on how to handle disciplinary situations in the workplace.

Smair and Ben gave us a scenario involving a press officer from a fictional women’s charity who posts inappropriate comments on her Facebook page concerning the infamous novel ‘50 Shades of Grey’.  The employer took exception to these posts because it conflicted with their ethos and because the subject matter of 50 Shades of Grey arguably promotes violence against women. The session then explored various scenarios that might potentially unfold, from disciplinary proceedings, the employee going off ill with stress, to issuing a grievance. Delegates had a chance to sit in the hot seat whilst being subjected to cross-examination of their actions in response to each scenario.

The message that came out very strongly is that employers need to ensure that any disciplinary action that is taken has to be reasonable and the employer needs to act within the range of reasonable responses test laid down by the tribunals.  In other words, the issue for an employer in these situations is not so much whether the employer was right to discipline the employee for posting this material on her private Facebook page, but whether they followed the correct process in investigating what she had done; whether the charity had suffered any reputational damage as a result and those are the factors that the employer would usually be relying upon when considering social media faux pas. To put it in a nutshell: don’t jump into a disciplinary procedure without fully investigating the situation first.

The role play was useful because there were a number of scenarios, in which either the employee was contrite, or she went off on sick leave with stress or filed a grievance complaining about the chief executive of the organisation.  These are all potential scenarios which can occur in real life and it was useful to go through each alternative scenario to see how these situations can arise and how easy it is to get the response wrong without giving careful consideration to the options available.

Over the last ten years or so there has been an increasing trend for employees to get “lawyered up” earlier in these internal disciplinary processes and because ACAS has the power to uplift an award of compensation for unfair dismissal by up to 25% if an employer acts unreasonably, there is a significant incentive on employers to handle disciplinary processes sensitively and adroitly.

As of yesterday, every workplace dispute that looks like getting litigious will now have to be submitted to ACAS for “early conciliation” before Tribunal proceedings can be issued.  This only emphasises the need for employers to conduct  fair disciplinary procedures to avoid being in an awkward position in that conciliation process.

If you are an employer wrestling with a disciplinary issue and need advice please call me on 01707 387075.

Thank you again to Smair Soor and Ben Isaacs, and their clerk Paul Eeles of 7 Bedford Row for making it such an enjoyable and thought-provoking evening.

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Crane & Staples supports Isabel Hospice charity runners

Crane & Staples is proud to support the local charity Isabel Hospice by donating £250 to local runners, Eleanor and Dennis Draper as well as members of staff giving their own time to the Make a Will Week campaign which managed to raise over £2700 in donations.

Eleanor and Dennis Draper have been running marathons since they were in their 50s and they are now 79 and 78! This year’s Virgin London Marathon was Eleanor’s 200th and Dennis’s 188th which is an amazing achievement.

Over the years, the Drapers have raised over £11,000 for Isabel Hospice and they show no signs of stopping! Eleanor says she takes each mile as it comes, with her secret weapon being a quick nibble on a jelly baby to keep her energy up. Dennis told us how proud he and Eleanor are to run to support such a well-loved charity as Isabel Hospice.

Erica Pearce-Howard says “Crane & Staples is always willing and proud to support local charities and those who go the extra mile for them (literally 26 miles in the case of Mr and Mrs Draper!) and was more than happy to support both them and the Isabel Hospice Make a Will Week scheme.”

If you were unable to take part in the scheme but would like to discuss writing a Will, please contact the team on 01707 387074 or email e.pearce-howard@crane-staples.co.uk

Erica Pearce-Howard (e.pearce-howard@crane-staples.co.uk)

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Crane & Staples at Herts B2B Expo – see you there?

A great article in the Comet today about the June Herts B2B expo, will you be going?

We should be in good company with HSBC, RS Partnership, Costco and Corona Energy, hope to see you there too!

 

Crane & Staples exhibiting at Herts B2B expo

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