• Many people now cohabit instead of marrying, including same sex couples. They think that they will be provided for if their partner dies. Without a will your next of kin may inherit everything instead of your partner.
• Do you have children from more than one relationship? If so you will need to specify how
much of your estate they are to inherit and why.
At Emmersons we have designed a comprehensive questionnaire covering a range of issues that you should consider when making a will. We can also advise on the best way to reduce the potential for care home fees. Our aim is to ensure that your wishes are carried out without anyone being able to challenge your will. It could cost thousands of pounds and a lot of heartache if a will is challenged.
We also deal with Powers of Attorney and Contested Estates.
The buying and selling of houses can actually be quite complicated. No two cases are the same. It is obviously more complex than buying your groceries or even a new car. There is more to your dream home than a can of soup!
It is essential for the buyer’s solicitor to raise the correct enquiries and check the title deeds to the property. There are many types of searches, in fact there seems to be a never ending array of new searches on offer.
At Emmersons Solicitors we provide clients with a summary of the main types of search and why they are necessary. In one case recently we discovered that the entrance to a mine shaft was only 50 yards away from the front door of a property our client was about to purchase. Needless to say they didn’t go ahead.
Is the land you think you are buying owned by the seller? It may be that years ago money changed hands in respect of an extra strip of land but neither party instructed a solicitor to deal with the registration at the time.
In all cases where a mortgage is involved, your solicitor is not just acting for you but also your lender. They have very strict requirements that solicitors must follow. The demands of lenders are many. They are extremely cautious having been too lax prior to the recession. Many have lost money as a result.
In addition there is a huge amount of fraud taking place at the moment in respect of property sales and purchases. A favourite trick is for someone to spot an empty property, find out who owns it, impersonate them with numerous
documents and then sell that person’s home without their knowledge.
At Emmersons Solicitors, we have extra ID checking facilities in place; we require proof of the source of funds in order to avoid money laundering. Our staff regularly attend money laundering courses. Nearly every month there is a new scam taking place on a national basis. Last week alone the Law society alerted us to six new scams.
So what should you be looking for in a solicitor?
Speed of service- Emmersons has a state of the art case management system so that cases can be turned around in about half the usual time. In one recent case we had a new build matter ready to exchange in one week. We also have access to the Land Registry online service; this means that we can obtain documents in hours rather than days.
An ethical firm – Look for the Conveyancing Quality Mark scheme awarded by The Law Society. This means that a firm has reached a high standard in terms of service offered to clients.
A clear indication of costs – Don’t always plump for the cheapest firm. You need quality of service, a property solicitor who checks documents properly and who is able to protect you as you deal with the biggest purchase of your life.
This is obviously a common situation which raises certain urgent issues.
1. Make sure the house is secure. If there were a number of carers from an agency visiting the house did they have keys? If yes, then you may wish to consider changing the locks.
If the house has window locks then lock them. Insurers will insist upon this.
2. As a matter of urgency look for an insurance policy in respect of buildings and contents. If you can’t find a paper version there may be reference to a policy in your uncle’s computer. Or you could go back through the last year of bank statements looking for payments to insurance companies. At this stage you may need to instruct a solicitor to find out as financial institutions may not be prepared to give you information.
3. The house may not have been insured. Emmersons Solicitors Probate Department has dealt with a number of cases recently where this was the case. Some older people may overlook this especially if they are in ill health.
4. If there is an insurance policy in place then inform the insurer immediately. Some companies will allow the policy to continue until renewal time. However, they will place conditions upon the policy. Eg. That the property must be visited weekly, or that the water is switched off. Some companies will refuse to renew the policy once it has expired. You need confirmation of the position in writing.
5. If there is no insurance or the existing company will not allow a policy to continue then you will need an Empty Property Policy. They can be quite difficult to purchase. Most solicitors deal with specialist insurers in this regard.
6. Is there a funeral plan? This will be linked to one company. If you use another company for the funeral then the plan is wasted.
7. Freeze all bank accounts. If you need money for the funeral and there are sufficient funds in your relative’s bank account then the bank will release money directly to a funeral director. At Emmersons we regularly arrange for this to happen.
8. Check damp garages and outhouses for paperwork. You would be surprised at how many people keep the deeds to their house in the garage! I always advise my clients that we can store their deeds free of charge.
9. Is there a will? If you cannot find one in the house then contact your uncle’s last known solicitor. Many people do not keep a copy of their will in their home. If this applies to you then obtain a copy from your solicitor and advise your relatives which solicitor is storing the original.
As you can see there is a lot to do very quickly. Some people are happy to sort out all of the above without help. However, should you find the task too daunting then ask a solicitor for help.
Some clients are willing to take part in a round table discussion (sometimes referred to as mediation) to resolve their differences.
In other situations the hurt felt by one or both parties is so strong that the support of a lawyer is required. The simplest method of utilising a lawyer is to sign up to a collaborative law resolution process. Often this approach can also be cheaper than the traditional litigation approach.
What can drag out the process is where one party for whatever reason is not willing to be collaborative and wants their pound of flesh. Unfortunately there are lawyers who promote such behaviour, even when they are members of organisations such as Resolution.
At Emmersons we work to resolve issues amicably and cost effectively if at all possible.
If you live in Northumberland, Tyne and Wear or County Durham then why not call in to see us or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you live overseas and you are looking to divorce in England or Wales then we can advise you too. Contact email@example.com
You can get more information from our webite www.emmersons-solicitors.co.uk
Divorce or separation or dissolution does not have to be like the War of the Roses. Emmersons will help you separate in a friendlier way.