Adele Bebbington-Plant

Do you need to review your Powers of Attorney?

By Adele Bebbington-Plant, Head of Private Client

 

There is always lots of talk about the importance of reviewing a Will to ensure that it is fully in line with current circumstances.

Less talked about, but equally important, is to ensure that any Powers of Attorney that have previously been made, also reflect current circumstances with a degree of future protection.

 

There are four types of Power of Attorney:

General or Ordinary Powers of Attorney: These enable the person making them (the Donor) to appoint people they trust, called their attorneys, to make financial decisions on his / her behalf during the Donor’s lifetime.

They are relatively quick to make as they are valid and capable of use as soon as signed. They are useful for short periods of time or to cover specific transactions, such as allowing a property sale to take place while on holiday or to cover a stay in hospital.

Ordinary Powers of Attorney cannot cover health and welfare issues and are only valid while the Donor has mental capacity (the ability to make decisions).  Therefore, if the Donor loses mental capacity, the Ordinary Power of Attorney will no longer be of use.

 

Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs): It is not possible to make EPAs anymore, but provided they were made correctly prior to 1st October 2007, existing EPAs are still valid.

Like Ordinary Powers of Attorney, EPAs only cover property and financial matters and are capable of use without being registered with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) – the government body that oversees the registration of powers of attorney and regulates their use.

EPAs, in the absence of a written restriction, can be used while the Donor has mental capacity. Unlike Ordinary Powers of Attorney, EPAs are still able to be used if the Donor loses mental capacity. However, EPAs require registering when the Donor is becoming incapable of managing his or her affairs.

With backlogs at the OPG seeing registration times exceeding 16 weeks, it is often the time when the document is most needed that delay occurs. It is not possible to plan ahead and register an EPA in advance when the donor has mental capacity.

 

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) for Property and Affairs and Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) for Health and Welfare: LPAs replaced EPAs from 1st October 2007 and separated the Donor’s affairs into financial and health and welfare matters.

Property and Affairs LPAs and Health and Welfare LPAs are separate documents, so if the Donor wishes to cover both areas, as we would recommend, he or she will need to make 2 LPAs, both of which require registering with the OPG before they can be used.

Once registered, depending upon the provisions made by the Donor, the Property and Affairs LPA is capable of use both while the Donor has mental capacity and if he/she loses mental capacity.

Due to the nature of the decisions covered by the Health and Welfare LPA – such as where the Donor lives, medical treatment and life sustaining treatment – Health and Welfare LPAs can only be used by the attorneys if the donor loses mental capacity.

In my experience having a Health and Welfare LPA in place is critical when a person loses mental capacity. Without it, family and friends can find themselves unable to make decisions or have input on medical issues and where the person is to live; care at home or which care home is suitable. I’ve known families left heartbroken by this.

It is crucial to understand that being ‘next of kin’ gives no legal standing to manage a person’s finances or health and care issues during lifetime.

The one thing that all powers of attorney have in common is that they can only be made while the person giving the power to his or her attorneys has mental capacity. It is therefore vital that they are made in advance.

An Alzheimer’s or dementia diagnosis does not in itself prevent a person from making LPAs, the question is whether they are able to understand the nature and effect of the documents they are making.

I would always advise a review of any powers of attorney as soon as possible in these circumstances. As a team we have previously taken dementia friends training, which provided valuable insight into taking instruction in these circumstances.

If a person loses mental capacity and does not have an EPA and or LPA in place, or the Power of Attorney they made no longer covers their circumstances, then an application to the Court of Protection is required to enable a court appointed deputy to deal with that person’s affairs.

This is a costly, lengthy and intrusive process and while it can eventually give wide financial powers, it rarely gives a satisfactory blanket power to deal with health and welfare issues.

Both types of LPAs also give a large degree of flexibility in that the Donor can:

  • Choose up to 4 attorneys and up to 4 replacement attorneys.
  • Choose how and when the attorneys can act.
  • Include preferences and instructions for their attorneys on how they wish their finances and health and care matters to be handled, providing valuable guidance and sometimes additional powers for the attorneys.

The documents must be registered with the OPG before they can be used and registration can take place as soon as the LPAs have been made. In contrast to the EPA registration process this can be done in advance of loss of mental capacity. We usually recommend that they are registered as soon as made so that they are ready for use in an emergency without delay.

With the different types of Powers of Attorney, each having their own pros and cons, it’s important that the Donor revisits the powers of attorney that they have made periodically to ensure that they still meet their requirements.

As a long-established firm, with expertise in this important area of private client work, we have a large bank of all types of powers of attorney which we store for our clients. We actively encourage our clients to review the documents we hold for them to ensure they are current.

The type of power of attorney itself may require review. Whereas an EPA only covers financial matters and has different registration requirements, LPAs go further and cover both financial and property and healthcare decisions.

We would therefore advise any client with an EPA to make a health and welfare LPA and to consider whether a property and affairs LPA may better suit their needs.

In addition to the type of document made, personal circumstances change over time and it is important consider whether the provisions you made are still as you would wish.

A common review concerns changes to the attorneys who were originally chosen.

Are they still the best people to manage your healthcare and financial decisions? Do they know you best? Has there been a breakdown in a relationship with one or more of your original attorneys? Is someone no longer able to act on your behalf? Has one of your attorneys been declared bankrupt?

When the original power of attorney was made you may have had children who were under 18 and therefore chose other people to be your attorneys. If your children have since become adults they may now be better placed to assist you.

If you have a business it is also wise to consider if your power of attorney enables your attorneys to manage your business and the powers and skills they need to do so.

As a rule, we would recommend reviewing an LPA/EPA every two or three years or following a significant life change. It doesn’t always result in having to make changes to your power of attorney, but it gives you the opportunity to ensure that it fully reflects your current situation and wishes and ensures that you have provision for someone to manage your affairs in your lifetime if you are temporarily or permanently unable to do so.

How we can help
If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Wills & Probate team simple click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Leaseholders: Right to Manage your Block

By Megan Bedwell, a Paralegal in our Commercial Litigation Team.

Many leaseholders are finding that their service charge demands are increasing but the level of service is not improved because of those additional charges.

Most leaseholders are aware they have a statutory right to collectively purchase their freehold but there is another and much cheaper route to consider if they wish to take control of the management of their block, without having to find the funds to buy the freehold.

Right to manage is available to leaseholders in a building which enables them to take over management responsibilities of the freeholder.

There are several qualifying factors which allows the leaseholders to exercise their right:

  1. The building must be made up of flats (houses don’t qualify).
  2. At least two-thirds of the flats in the building must be leasehold – with leases that were for more than 21 years when they were granted.
  3. At least 75% of the building must be residential – for example, if there’s a shop in the building, it can’t take up more than 25% of the total floor area.
  4. They must live somewhere else if there are less than 4 flats in the block – unless the block was purpose-built as flats, rather than converted from another type of building.
  5. There is no requirement (unlike collective enfranchisement) to hold no more than two leasehold properties so one person owning all the flats can still exercise their right to manage their block.
  6. Any number of owners can set up an RTM company – but at least half of the flats in the building must be members of the company before it can take over management.

The tenant who wishes to be part of the right to manage must be a long leaseholder (has a lease of 21 years or more) and the lease must not be a business tenancy. The leaseholder does not have to reside in the property, and they can hold more than two flats and still be involved, unlike the enfranchisement route.

There are many benefits to pursuing the right to manage route as opposed to enfranchisement.

Right to manage is a procedure which leaseholders can pursue without permission or authority from the Landlord or Management Company. If the requirements above are satisfied, then the right to manage can proceed.

If leaseholders are frustrated by their landlord’s actions of poor management or upkeep of the building, there is no requirement for the leaseholders to prove that this is the case and therefore no requirement to justify their application of a right to manage. This provides a substantial benefit for leaseholders in that they can proceed down the right to manage route without needing to gather evidence to support their decision. It provides ease for all leaseholders pursuing this route.

The right to manage is a cheap and cost-effective route in comparison to looking to acquire the freehold.

Legal costs will still be involved, but this will not involve the leaseholders covering the costs to purchase the freehold. The right to manage process is also quick, especially if it is not disputed with a counter-notice.

The leases do not need to be varied when the transfer of management takes place. The management responsibilities are acquired once the acquisition date is provided.

Another advantage has been shown in the recent case of Eastpoint Block A RTM Company Ltd v Otubaga [2023]. The Court of Appeal held that a right to manage has a right to enforce untransferred covenants ‘in the same manner’ as the landlord and they can commence an action for damages for breach of covenant or for an injunction restraining breach (in the county court) or a claim for section 168(4) determination (in the First Tier Tribunal). This allows the right to manage company the opportunity to recover losses where they have experienced a breach of a covenant, which provides members of the company with more confidence and reassurance in pursuing the process.

The overall process of right to manage is straightforward and can save you money in the long run. It provides you with control over the building, enabling decisions to be made mutually between parties who hold the same interests. It can help maintain a positive relationship with your neighbours and allows discussions to take place that are in each other’s best interests in establishing the best way forward on crucial management matters for the building.

If you would like to arrange a free initial consultation with a member of our litigation team, please contact us on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

 

Retirement Planning: Are you avoiding the conversation?

By Dom Richmond, Head of Financial Services at Cullimore Dutton

I spend a lot of my time advising couples on their retirement planning.

Sometimes, couples arrive for their first meeting having given the subject plenty of thought and agree as to how they would like their later years to pan out.

It doesn’t follow that they have the means to fulfil their retirement dreams, but at least they have a joint plan.

But more often than you would think, couples have spent years avoiding the subject of retirement and what emerges at their first session with me or one of my colleagues can come as a surprise to one or both partners.

In fact, it is often the case that couples have invested more time in choosing their pet dog than how they would like to live between the ages of 65 and 90.

This can be as simple as one partner telling me that they would like to spend a few months of the year living abroad, only for the other partner to reveal that they would never countenance this because they would miss their social life at home.

The difference between getting your financial planning right for retirement or failing to plan can be stark.

People often make assumptions that they will be able to enjoy a certain lifestyle upon retirement, but that can be fraught with danger.

Clients will come to us for the first time at different ages, but commonly they will be in their 50s.

We will always spend time at the first meeting trying to understand what their retirement aspirations are and how they will be able to achieve these, whether that is from savings, pensions, property or other assets.

Our team has a range of tools that enable us to model what a couple’s retirement will look like based on the various elements outlined above. These are the same for most clients.

Sometimes, we will start the conversation about the ‘R-word’ at the first meeting and then ask our clients to do a little bit of homework before returning for the next meeting. Occasionally, if it is a clear a couple are not on the same page regarding the kind of retirement they want, we will have separate discussions and then bring the couple back again to try and find common ground.

Our job is to help our clients put in place the right financial plan for them, one that is aspirational but achievable and that will enable them, at the right point, to enjoy the retirement that they want.

Every client’s retirement plan is different due to their means and also how they want to spend their later years. Some clients want to be able to enjoy multiple holidays abroad, while others prefer to be more UK based but have the financial freedom to be able to travel across the country seeing their children and grandchildren.

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Financial Services team simply click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Louise Holmes​, Cullimore Dutton Wills, Trusts & Estates

The Inheritance

New TV drama puts spotlight on protecting your inheritance

Channel 5’s new drama, The Inheritance, which started last night is set to be one of the TV hits of the Autumn. With an all-star cast including the actors Larry Lamb and Gaynor Faye, Channel 5 says: “Secrets are exploded, relationships ripped apart, and lives lost as the siblings try desperately to claw back their inheritance and make sense of what is happening around them, asking the question: Is blood really thicker than water?”

The subject of inheritance, and the likelihood of another family battle, has also been in the news following the death of the former Harrods tycoon Mohamed Al Fayed. Reports have suggested the scene is set for a Succession-style fight for the 94-year-old businessman’s £1.7billion empire involving his second wife and his four surviving children.

While the amount of money, assets and complexity surrounding the above may be greater than the norm, a lot of the issues are the same.

This is particularly the case when people have children from previous relationships and the first to die leaves everything to their new partner.

The new partner then rewrites a will to leave everything to their own children thus disinheriting the first spouse’s children. People often don’t think it will happen to them, but it happens more than you think.

The key to avoiding issues further down the line is to put in place the necessary protections at the outset, the benefits of which we will always explain to clients who come to see us.

This could be a couple embarking on their first marriage or someone setting out on a new relationship following the death of their partner or because of a divorce.

One popular option is to create a Life Interest Trust, something that is written into a will and which allows you to provide future security for particular individuals, such as your spouse and children.

In such a trust, the entitlement to an asset is split into its capital and income elements. One good example of this in action concerns an investment property whereby the capital is the property and the income is the rent received. The person who has the ‘life interest’ is entitled to the income from the property, but once the life interest ends (usually when the ‘life tenant’ dies) the capital passes to the beneficiaries stipulated in your will.

The Wills, Trusts and Estates team at Cullimore Dutton specialise in protecting our clients and pre-planning what may be required in the future, such as a Life Interest Trust, something that is becoming ever more important, not least with the increase in blended families. Putting the right protection in place at the outset of a relationship can help to avoid a lot of unnecessary heartache and bitterness further down the line.

Life Interest Trusts are also commonly used to protect people’s assets from care home fees.
By including a Life Interest Trust in your will, you can ring-fence your share of the property and place this into a Trust, giving your partner a life interest in it.

This means that when you die, your share of the property will not pass to them, but they will still be able to live in the property for the rest of their life, or sell it if required. The deceased’s share will be held in a Trust and can be passed on in line with the terms of your will when your partner dies.

It means that your share of the property should not be used to pay for your partner’s care home fees, but instead is ringfenced for your children or grandchildren.

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Wills & Probate team simply click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Sarah Mansfield

Public right of way claims – what are they, and can they be prevented?

Public right of way claims

What are they, and can they be prevented?

As a landowner, you may have heard of the term ‘public right of way’ and wondered what it means. A public right of way is an area of land that is open to the public for passage, such as a path or roadway. In some cases, this right of way may be established through legal means, which can be complicated and frustrating for property owners.

In this article, we will discuss what public right-of-way claims are and how to prevent them.

What is a public right of way claim?
A public right of way claim is a legal process that allows the public to use a certain area of private land for passage. These claims can be made by government bodies or by individuals, and they are typically made when there is no existing public access to a particular area. Once a claim has been made, the landowner is required to allow public access to the claimed area.

How are public right of way claims made?
Public right of way claims can be established through various legal means, including:

Right of way through lengthy time period
When someone uses a portion of private land for a specific period of time without the owner’s permission, rights of way can occur. This is known as prescriptive easements. If this use is continuous and open, the user may be able to claim a right of way easement.

Voluntary
When a landowner voluntarily gives a portion of their land to the public for a specific use, such as a road or pavement, this is known as dedication. This dedication can be done through a written agreement or by simply allowing public use of the land for an extended period.

How to prevent public right of way claims
If you own land and want to prevent public right of way claims, there are several steps you can take. First, it is important to be aware of any existing rights of way or public access points on your property. This can be done by reviewing your property survey or consulting with a real estate solicitor.

If there are no existing public access points on your property, you can take steps to prevent claims from being established. One way to do this is to clearly mark the boundaries of your property with fences, signs, or other barriers. This can prevent people from entering your land and claiming a right of way.

Protecting your property
Public right of way claims can be a complicated and frustrating process for landowners. By understanding how these claims are established and taking steps to prevent them, you can protect your property rights and avoid potential legal disputes. If you have questions about public right of way claims or other property issues, it is always best to consult with a property solicitor for guidance.

If you have any concerns about public right of way claims and would like to arrange free half hour consultation with a member of our litigation team, please contact us on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk.

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Louise Holmes​, Cullimore Dutton Wills, Trusts & Estates

Estate Planning for Blended Families

Estate Planning for Blended Families: Navigating Wills and Inheritance

Blended families have become increasingly common in today’s society. As relationships evolve and individuals remarry or enter into new partnerships, estate planning becomes a crucial consideration to ensure the fair and smooth transfer of assets to loved ones.

In the context of blended families, where there may be children from previous relationships, navigating wills and inheritance requires careful thought and legal expertise. This article aims to provide valuable insights and guidance for UK residents in such situations.

Understanding the unique challenges
Blended families face unique challenges when it comes to estate planning due to the complex dynamics involved. Considerations such as protecting the interests of biological children from previous relationships, providing for a new spouse or partner, and addressing potential conflicts among family members require thoughtful planning.

Updating your will
One of the most critical steps in estate planning for blended families is updating your will. A well-drafted will ensures that your wishes regarding asset distribution are clearly outlined. Failing to update your will after entering a new relationship may lead to unintended consequences, with assets potentially passing to the wrong beneficiaries or even causing legal disputes.

When updating your will, it is essential to consider the following points:

Spousal/civil partner inheritance rights
In the UK, a spouse or civil partner has certain automatic inheritance rights, regardless of what is stated in a will. It is important to understand these rights and ensure that your wishes align with them. Consulting with a knowledgeable solicitor will help you understand and navigate these legal requirements effectively.

Provision for biological children
If you have children from a previous relationship, you may wish to ensure that they are adequately provided for in your estate plan. This can be achieved through specific provisions in your will, such as leaving assets or establishing trusts to benefit your children.

Providing for a new spouse or partner
Many individuals want to provide for their new spouse or partner while also ensuring that their children receive their fair share. Various strategies, such as life interest trusts or discretionary trusts, can be implemented to strike a balance between these competing interests. Seeking legal advice will help you determine the most suitable approach based on your specific circumstances.

Guardianship of minor children
If you have minor children, it is vital to address guardianship arrangements in your will. Clearly, designating who will assume guardianship responsibilities ensures that your children will be cared for according to your wishes.

Communication and managing expectations
Open and honest communication is essential when navigating estate planning matters within blended families. Discussing your wishes and intentions with all relevant parties can help manage expectations and minimise potential conflicts. Consider involving family members, especially those directly affected by your estate plan, in the discussion process. While conversations about inheritance can sometimes be uncomfortable, addressing these matters proactively can help avoid misunderstandings and resentment later on.

Seek professional guidance
Given the complexities involved in estate planning for blended families, it is strongly recommended to seek professional guidance from a reputable law firm specialising in estate planning and family law. An experienced solicitor can provide tailored advice, help you understand the legal implications, and ensure that your estate plan is comprehensive and legally sound.

Regular review of your estate plan
Lastly, it is crucial to periodically review and update your estate plan and will to reflect any changes in your family dynamics, financial situation, or legislation. Life events such as births, deaths, divorces, or significant financial changes may necessitate adjustments to your Will or other estate planning documents. By conducting regular reviews, you can ensure that your estate plan remains up-to-date and aligned with your current wishes.

Navigating your will
Estate planning for blended families requires careful consideration and professional expertise. Updating your will, effectively communicating with your loved ones, and seeking the guidance of an experienced solicitor will help you navigate the complexities and ensure that your wishes are met. By undertaking these essential steps, you can achieve peace of mind, knowing that your estate will be distributed according to your intentions, ultimately providing for both your new family and your children from previous relationships.

How we can help
Our expertise and assistance can provide you with confidence when Estate Planning for Blended Families and ensure that your wishes are accurately reflected. Our team are all specialists in this area of law so we can ensure the best possible outcome for you and your family.

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Wills & Probate team simply click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Ajith Prasad

It’s time to mediate

It’s time to mediate

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has recently confirmed that mediation will soon be compulsory for civil claims valued up to £10,000 (small claims track), with changes coming into effect during 2024. This will see mediation become more common in most small claims proceedings.

Compulsory mediation
Compulsory mediation will apply only to specified money claims, but it will eventually expand to all small claims i.e. claims up to £10,000.

In terms of how this will look in practice, a Claimant will bring proceedings in the usual way, however when a defence is filed and the case allocated to the small claims track, the parties will be advised by the court that they must now mediate.

The parties will complete a directions questionnaire (a document used by the Court to determine how to allocate the case) and the claim will move to the Small Claims Mediation Service where mediation appointments will be offered within 28 days.

Crucially, the mediation will be free, and the parties will have a separate 1-hour long telephone conversation with a mediator. If a settlement is agreed, a legally binding formal agreement will be recorded with the court. If agreement is not reached, the dispute will be heard by a judge in the usual way. The judge will be able to impose sanctions on parties that did not comply with mediation. The sanctions could include automatically ruling in one party’s favour or ordering that one party pay part or all the other sides legal costs.

Pros and Cons
There are a number of advantages of mediation including claims being settled more quickly and at less cost to the parties when compared to litigation. Also, compulsory mediation may remove the stigma of being the first party to propose it, which might encourage more parties to engage in mediation.

In terms of downsides, forcing parties to mediate where it is clear the parties will not reach an agreement may lead to time and resources being wasted.

While compulsory mediation will only apply to cases up to £10,000 for now, it is likely that the MoJ will increase the scope to higher value claims up to £25,000 (fast-track) and possibly those over £25,000 (multi-track).

While compulsory mediation may not be to everyone’s liking, it is ultimately a positive step by the MoJ and should help parties resolve disputes more effectively and alleviate pressure in the court system.

If you are considering filing or defending a civil claim and would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Litigation team simply click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Isabella Martindale

Garden Alterations and Neighbour Disputes – Resolving Summer Conflicts

Garden Alterations and Neighbour Disputes – Resolving Summer Conflicts

With summer here, many residents take to their gardens to enjoy the warm weather and make alterations to enhance their outdoor spaces. However, these garden alterations can sometimes lead to disputes between neighbours, causing tension and impacting the enjoyment of the summer season.

From planting trees on boundary lines to a new fence or maybe even a new shed for your new gardening plans, conflicts between neighbours happen, but resolving these conflicts amicably and understanding the legal considerations surrounding garden alterations can help you maintain harmonious neighbourly relationships.

In this article, I will explore common garden alteration issues, offer guidance on resolving disagreements, and shed light on the legal aspects relevant to property owners.

Common Garden Alteration Issues
Garden alteration issues can arise due to a variety of factors, including changes to garden structures, planting of trees or hedges, installation of fencing, or construction of outbuildings. Concerns may include obstructed views, loss of privacy, noise disturbances, potential damage to property, or impact on natural light.

All of these occurrences can impact you or your neighbour’s enjoyment of their property, so it is important to approach these issues sensitively. Understanding the specific concerns and interests of all parties is crucial when attempting to find mutually agreeable solutions.

Open and Respectful Communication
Resolving neighbour disputes begins with open and respectful communication. Initiating a conversation with your neighbour to discuss concerns and explain your perspective can help alleviate tensions. Listening to their concerns and demonstrating empathy are equally important. A calm and respectful dialogue can often lead to compromises or mutually beneficial solutions that address both parties’ interests.

Mediation and Alternative Dispute Resolution
If direct communication does not yield a resolution, seeking mediation or alternative dispute resolution methods can be effective. Mediation involves a neutral third party facilitating a discussion between the parties to find a mutually acceptable solution. This process encourages constructive dialogue and can help neighbours identify common ground and reach compromises. Alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, such as arbitration or expert determination, may also be considered, depending on the nature and complexity of the dispute.

Understanding Legal Considerations
Garden alterations must comply with local planning regulations and legal requirements. Familiarise yourself with the relevant laws, such as permitted development rights, which dictate the types and sizes of structures that can be built without planning permission. If planning permission is required, ensure that the necessary approvals are obtained to avoid potential legal issues. It is advisable to consult with a law firm specialising in property matters such as ourselves to ensure compliance and mitigate any risks.

Boundary Disputes and Encroachments
Garden alterations can sometimes lead to boundary disputes or encroachments. It is crucial to ascertain the exact boundaries of your property and engage a professional surveyor if necessary. Clear documentation, such as title deeds and land registry records, can provide clarity on boundary lines. If a dispute arises, seek legal advice to understand your rights and options for resolution, which may involve negotiation, mediation, or, in extreme cases, legal action.

Seeking Legal Advice
When neighbour disputes become challenging to resolve or involve complex legal issues, seeking advice from a law firm experienced in property disputes is highly recommended. Property lawyers can provide expert guidance, assess your legal position, and help explore potential solutions. They can also represent your interests in negotiations, mediation, or court proceedings if required, but by taking proactive steps to address disputes, property owners can maintain harmonious relationships with their neighbours and enjoy a peaceful and pleasant summer season.

If you have any concerns about garden alterations and neighbour disputes and would like to arrange free half hour consultation with a member of our litigation team, please contact us on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk.

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

Sarah Gill

Why use a legal professional to make an LPA

Why use a legal professional to make an LPA

Using legal professionals such as Cullimore Dutton to make a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) offers several benefits and can provide peace of mind throughout the process.

Here are some reasons why engaging with legal professionals can be advantageous:

  1. Legal expertise: We specialise in this area of law, including wills, estate planning and LPAs. We possess in-depth knowledge of the relevant laws, regulations, and formalities associated with creating an LPA. This expertise ensures that the document is correctly prepared, reducing the risk of errors or invalidation in the future.
  2. Tailored advice: Your circumstances are unique, and as legal professionals we can provide personalised advice based on your specific needs. We will take the time to understand your situation, explain the legal implications, and guide you through the decision-making process. This can help you make informed choices regarding your LPA, such as selecting the most appropriate attorneys and specifying their powers.
  3. Ensuring legal requirements are met: LPAs must comply with certain legal requirements to be valid. As legal professionals we can ensure that all necessary forms are completed accurately, witnessed correctly, and signed by the relevant parties in the appropriate order. This reduces the risk of your LPA being rejected or challenged on technical grounds.
  4. Safeguarding against abuse or disputes: As legal professionals we can help safeguard against potential abuse or disputes by ensuring that the LPA is clear, comprehensive, and accurately reflects your intentions. We can guide you on the appointment of suitable attorneys and advise on any restrictions or conditions that can be included in the document to protect your interests.
  5. Managing complex situations: If your circumstances involve complexities such as business interests, overseas assets, or blended families, as legal professionals we can provide invaluable guidance. We can help navigate these complexities, identify potential issues, and develop appropriate solutions to address them within the LPA.
  6. Continuing support: As legal professionals we can offer ongoing support beyond the initial creation of the LPA. We can keep a copy of the document in safe custody, provide advice on amendments or revocation, and assist in the event of challenges or disputes relating to the LPA.

How we can help
While engaging a legal professional involves some cost, our expertise and assistance can provide you with confidence in the legal validity of your LPA and ensure that your wishes are accurately reflected. Our team are all specialists in this area of law so we can ensure the best possible outcome for your LPA.

If you would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Wills & Probate team simple click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 729 073 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

 

Sarah Mansfield

Renters Reform Bill – Update

Renters Reform Bill – Update

The government introduced the Renters’ Reform Bill on 17 May 2023 to deliver on the it’s commitment to “bring in a better deal for renters”, creating “safer, fairer, and higher quality homes”.

The aim of the bill is to tackle some of the problems in rented housing, namely lack of homes, lack of security for tenants and failure to meet basic decency standards.

The Second Reading of the Renters Reform Bill – expected some weeks ago – will now not take place until the autumn. The House of Commons went on it Summer recess on July 20th 2023, but this Bill was not included in the business timetable released by the government. Although there has been no progress on the Bill being debated, government has released some information related to the proposed Private Rental Sector Ombudsman.

This Scheme is proposed to operate as a non-profit body and may also be utilised as a combined letting agent, tenant and landlord redress scheme. Many of the details are still being discussed. A round table discussion between a member of the Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee, and senior representatives from lettings agencies is proposed this Summer. There is currently a survey being conducted with letting agencies to prepare for this opportunity to discuss the terms of the Bill.

The main items in the Renters Reform Bill include:

  • Abolishing ‘no fault’ 2 months’ notice pursuant to section 21 Housing Act 1996 and assured shorthold tenancies, instead making all tenancies assured and periodic. Government states they hope this will provide more security for tenants and empower them to challenge poor practice and unfair rent increases without fear of eviction. Concerns envisaged from these substantial legal amendments are that it will become more difficult for non-commercial landlords, such as landlords with one or two properties as their pension, to evict tenants and manage their assets. Many Landlords are turning to short term lets such as Air B&B as the return is better and the management costs and compliance requirements much lower. There is a risk this change will have a “knock-on” effect, compounded by increased tax burdens for landlords will reduce the amount of private rental property, rather than make it more freely available.
  • Government intends to introduce more comprehensive possession grounds to counter the effect of removing “no-fault” grounds for eviction, by including a ground enabling a landlord to sell their property or move in close family and to make it easier to repossess properties where tenants are at fault for rent arrears and anti-social behaviour. It must be noted these grounds are already partly included in current grounds, but these new grounds cannot be used if a tenant has been present for less than 6 months. By default this will create a fixed term even though the new tenancy will be periodic, if action cannot commence for six months for some grounds.
  • The Government highlights the right for a tenant to appeal excessively above-market rents purely designed to force them out, however, it is questionable whether this is a serious problem for many tenants. Landlords retain the right to increase rents to market value. The First-tier Tribunal will continue to be able to determine the actual market rent of a property if an application is made by a tenant or a landlord. Rents are increasing due to the increased costs of living with most landlords not charging “excessive” rents, simply market rents. This provision will assist a minority of tenants struggling with excessive rent increases but may not change the position of most tenants but will increase costs for landlords if faced with a number of rent review challenges.
  • Government plans to introduce a Private Rented Sector Ombudsman which they hope will be faster, cheaper, and less adversarial than the court system. It is unclear how this will be funded at this stage and what powers will be provided to the Ombudsman as Regulations for the Scheme are not yet being considered.

A proposal to create a Privately Rented Property Portal to assist landlords with understanding their legal obligations and compliance requirements; linked to local councils’ licensing schemes. This is to assist with targeting enforcement action, but that is already the aim of local licensing schemes. In reality the licensing schemes need proper funding so without that will this proposed scheme improve the position for tenants or landlords?

We now wait for Government to put this Bill before the House of Commons for the Second Reading and await feedback from ongoing discussions on the proposed changes.

If you are a landlord or tenant who would like a free initial consultation with a member of the Proerty Litigation team simple click on the “Speak to Our Experts” button on this page, call us on 01244 356 789 or email info@cullimoredutton.co.uk

Please note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.