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Knowing Where to Start

I was talking to someone earlier this who said if she’d known how she’d have incorporated her business, i.e. become a limited company. Instead, she continues to trade under her own name. There is nothing inherently wrong with this but it can lead to paying higher taxes or exposure of personal assets to liabilities of the business.

Many of the simplest things people can do to help their businesses or personal affairs are straightforward and picking up the phone to ask their solicitor should at least get them pointed in the right direction.

This lady had assumed to incorporate would have been costly and asked me if it was a big job. I told her she could do it herself online with 10 mins and a debit card to pay the £13 fee.

There are numerous advantages to incorporating but it won’t suit everyone. Transferring a business into a limited company will protect the individual’s non-business assets from debts that might arise from trading. If an individual is simply trading as themselves their own money and property could be vulnerable should the business rack up debt it’s unable to pay. The current tax system also seems to favour a limited company but this can change as easily as a government.

This wasn’t meant to be a post about the pros and cons of a business structure. It’s about knowing where to start in a given problem.

One of the best ad campaigns the Law Society ran was ASK – a solicitor knows. Which is great! Provided the solicitor in question does actually know the answer you’re looking for.

Be it business structure, leases, employment contracts or supplier/customer contracts a solicitor can make sure you’ve got the best foundation to make your business successful. For private client matters, having a will, power of attorney, and some consideration of the ownership of your assets will provide you with what’s needed in 90% of cases.

Office Closure for Easter

Please note that we will be closed the following days for Easter holidays:

  • Good Friday
  • Easter Monday
  • Tuesday 22nd April

We will be reopening on Wednesday 23rd April.

The Long-Awaited Second Munger Post

This is the second post in a series of posts on the wit and wisdom of Charlie Munger, a former lawyer and investing savant. Part 1, in which we covered his maxim that the most important marketing a solicitor can do is the current work on his desk, can be found here.

“A great business at a fair price is superior to a fair business at a great price.” Charlie Munger

In this quote, Munger is able to distill into a sentence one of his investing maxims. First, focus on the product you are buying, then see whether the price is fair. It’s better to pay a fair price for the product that is good and fit for purpose than pay a cheaper price for an inferior product. Some may call it being cheap.

Of course, if you’re buying plastic cups where one product is indistinguishable from the next (i.e. a commodity) then the price can become the differentiating factor with little to no downside.

When you’re purchasing something that isn’t a commodity (e.g. a service like legal advice) the product or service offered needs to be of sufficient quality to get the job done. Otherwise, potential disaster awaits. And it follows if potential disaster awaits, then what price savings you gained are lost in the ensuing problems.

Of course, some may suggest that legal advice IS a commodity, something you’ll be shocked (SHOCKED I TELL YOU) to hear I disagree with. Given the disparity in backgrounds, offices, and personnel it would be foolish to suggest “one size fits all” legal advice will be sufficient.

So when next deciding between products and services decide whether you want a great product at a fair price or a great price for a fair product.

Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be legal advice or research but if you do wish to receive advice on any of the content discussed please contact us on 028 3752 5400 and we will be happy to help you. Please note that whilst we will aim to provide accurate information the world changes at a fast pace so always follow up with your solicitor to ensure you are fully up to date with same. For complete Terms and Conditions please see the relevant section of our website.

No Will; No Problem?

New research suggests that 60% of adults in the UK don’t have a Will, but is this a problem?

If you die without a Will you are known as intestate, the rules of which are covered under the Administration of Estates Act 1955 (peruse at your leisure).

Who’s your Executor in an intestacy? Well, technically no one. Instead, you have an Administrator who will likely be the person or people who will inherit the majority of your estate.

So no big deal, right? Someone, although you won’t know who, will be there to administer your estate, but how will it be administered. Enter the 1955 Act again.

Priority of inheritance in an intestacy:

  1. Your spouse/civil partner will inherit the first £250,000, with everything above £250,000 split between spouse/cp and children.
  2. If your spouse/cp predeceased you, all shall be split between your children in equal shares.
  3. If no surviving spouse/cp or children, your estate shall pass to your parents.
  4. If no surviving spouse/cp, children or parents, your estate shall pass to your brothers and sisters (or their children) in equal shares.
  5. If no surviving direct family, next of kin (eg. aunts and uncles) shall inherit your estate.

Maybe you’re happy with the above legislation’s forced order of inheritance and think it will suit your estate. The important thing is you’ve thought about your affairs.

Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be legal advice or research but if you do wish to receive advice on any of the content discussed please contact us on 028 3752 5400 and we will be happy to help you. Please note that whilst we will aim to provide accurate information the world changes at a fast pace so always follow up with your solicitor to ensure you are fully up to date with same. For complete Terms and Conditions please see the relevant section of our website.

Terms You’ll Hear When Making a Will

When making your will we’ll try and keep things as clear as possible. You’ll occasionally hear terms you might not be familiar with. So for the curious, here’s a glossary of the legalese.

Jargon Buster –

Administrator – A person appointed by law to finalise your affairs if you die without leaving a Will.

Beneficiary – Anyone who receives something from your Will.

Bequest – (also often called a legacy) A gift in a Will. Gifts are normally pecuniary (a specific sum of money), residuary (generally stated as a percentage share of what is left after all other gifts have been made) or specific (a particular item or property).

Codicil – An addition or amendment to an existing Will.

Estate – The total value of everything you own at your time of death, minus any outstanding commitments.

Executor – A person you appoint to make sure the wishes stated in your Will are carried out.

Guardian – A person appointed by a parent to look after their children in the event of their death before the children reach adulthood.

Intestacy – The situation that exists if you die without a valid Will. Currently provisions for dealing with this are covered under the Administration of Estates Act 1955.

Inheritance Tax- A tax levied at 40% of the value of your estate over the first £325,000. Gifts to your spouse or a charity are exempt. There are other reliefs (agricultural and business property) available.

Nil-rate Band – The portion of your estate you don’t pay inheritance tax on. Currently set from £0 up to £325,000 each, there are ways to increase your nil-rate band if necessary (making less inheritance tax to pay).

Probate – The process that determines whether your Will is valid. It is an application to the Court combining the Executor’s oath and the Testator’s completed inheritance tax account.

Testator (male) and Testatrix (female) – The person making the Will.

Trust – A provision you can put in your Will to treat part of your assets in a particular way after your death.

Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be legal advice or research but if you do wish to receive advice on any of the content discussed please contact us on 028 3752 5400 and we will be happy to help you. Please note that whilst we will aim to provide accurate information the world changes at a fast pace so always follow up with your solicitor to ensure you are fully up to date with same. For complete Terms and Conditions please see the relevant section of our website.

The Answer to Fraudsters – Constant Vigilance

The Law Society has received a report of fraudsters sending people emails purporting to be from their solicitors. The scammer pretends to be the solicitor firm and requests they deposit money into a new client bank account.

To our knowledge, this has never happened to any of our clients but please be aware. We will never send you emails changing our bank details! But be on the look-out, and if anyone does every contact you; let us know.

Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be legal advice or research but if you do wish to receive advice on any of the content discussed please contact us on 028 3752 5400 and we will be happy to help you. Please note that whilst we will aim to provide accurate information the world changes at a fast pace so always follow up with your solicitor to ensure you are fully up to date with same. For complete Terms and Conditions please see the relevant section of our website.

Christmas Office Closures

That, as they say, is a wrap🎁 for 2018.

From 1 pm on Friday 21st December the office will be closed.

We will be reopening bright-eyed and bushy-tailed on Wednesday3rd January 2019.

We wish you a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year.

DIY PPI

From 1990 until 2010, 64 million payment protection insurance (PPI) policies were sold by banks and financial institutions on loans, mortgages, and credit cards. Often these policies were sold without the knowledge of the customer.
PPI is an insurance taken out by a customer in case you lost your job or became ill and were unable to repay the borrowings. The insurance was often sold with minimal or no financial advice and therefore not compliant with FSA (now the FCA) regulations. Once the existence of these policies came to light, customers sold PPI have had recourse to reclaim all payments made to the policies, together with interest, and it has been an ongoing scandal in the financial sector.
Following a Supreme Court judgment in November 2014 (known as the ‘Plevin ruling’)  the definition of mis-selling was expanded. You can now claim if your provider earned a high level of commission from your PPI and this wasn’t made clear – millions more may be able to claim as a result.
Thanks to ongoing bank lobbying, who have been keen to put a limit on the money set aside for their past misdeeds, the FCA has issued a claims deadline of 29th August 2019.
You don’t need a solicitor or claims management company to reclaim your PPI and many (particularly claims management companies) may charge extortionate rates to do. Do it yourself. It’s a simple form and to complete it a claims company or solicitor will need to ask you for the answers anyway.
So what are you waiting for? For a comprehensive guide, I’d recommend the consumer champion Martin Lewis here. Don’t be put off by saying “I’m not someone who makes claims”. This is money wrongly charged to you, and you are due it back.
Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be legal advice or research but if you do wish to receive advice on any of the content discussed please contact us on028 3752 5400 and we will be happy to help you. Please note that whilst we will aim to provide accurate information the world changes at a fast pace so always follow up with your solicitor to ensure you are fully up to date with same. For complete Terms and Conditions please see the relevant section of our website.
Enduring Power of Attorney NI

Power of Attorney = Peace of Mind

Enduring Power of Attorney NIMost people would agree that a Will is an important document for everyone to have, however, for those of us who will lose the mental capacity to act for ourselves an Enduring Power of Attorney is even more essential.

An Enduring Power of Attorney enables you, as Donor, to appoint one or more Attorneys who will deal with your property and affairs should you become mentally incapable of managing your affairs. Your Attorneys will essentially ‘step into your shoes’ and make appropriate decisions for you in relation to your property and health care.

The strength of having the Enduring Power of Attorney document is three-fold;

  1. Flexibility – You can appoint one or more Attorneys, whom you can instruct to act together or empower each Attorney to act separately. Restrictions can also be placed on the powers of your Attorneys or you can limit their powers to certain property or affairs.
  2. Cost – An Enduring Power of Attorney is a simple document, that can be completed at any time, not just when it appears that you may have capacity issues in the future.  The simplicity of the form allows legal costs to be kept low, during both creation and registration of the Power. Once completed, the Enduring Power of Attorney will be placed l in our safe for safekeeping.
  3. Certainty – I know you don’t want to think about how may one day you may lose the capacity to act for yourself, no one does, but having the Enduring Power of Attorney in place acts as a fail-safe. The alternative, Controllership, requires an in-depth application to the Office of Care & Protection and a larger burden on your Controllers by way of higher costs, increased Court oversight etc.

The hope is to never need to register the Enduring Power of Attorney, but if the Power is required the Attorneys’ must give Notice by post to three close family members. A Notice must also be given to the Donor in person and any of the family members or the Donor can file objections in the Office of Care and Protection if they don’t feel it is appropriate to register the Power of Attorney. These safeguards protect the Donor from an Attorney registering the Power prematurely.

As part of our comprehensive and holistic estate planning service, we now provide Power of Attorney advice, regardless of age, when dealing with Will or other estate planning instructions. If you would like to find out more about how an Enduring Power of Attorney could factor into your estate planning please contact our office.

 

Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be legal advice or research but if you do wish to receive advice on any of the content discussed please contact us on 028 3752 5400 and we will be happy to help you. Please note that whilst we will aim to provide accurate information the world changes at a fast pace so always follow up with your solicitor to ensure you are fully up to date with same.

Christmas Holidays

As another year comes to an end, I’d like to take the opportunity to wish you a very happy and safe Christmas holidays.  Whether your holidays consist of carol services, friends & family, overeating, or simply watching too much TV, I hope that you receive all that you wish for.

For your information will be closing for Christmas holidays on Friday 22nd at 12 noon and will be returning on Tuesday 2nd January. If you want to get in touch, enter your details into our contact form here and we will get back to you as soon as possible once we return.

There’s nothing left to say except we hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a happy, prosperous New Year.

 

Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be legal advice or research but if you do wish to receive advice on any of the content discussed please contact us on 028 3752 5400 and we will be happy to help you. Please note that whilst we will aim to provide accurate information the world changes at a fast pace so always follow up with your solicitor to ensure you are fully up to date with same.