News Archive for November, 2011

Applying for the Right to Administer an Estate

The probate system gives people the legal right to handle the estate of a dead person - and you can obtain it either with the help of a solicitor or without.
In general, you will end up going through the probate service if you have been named as the "executor" of someone's estate in their will. These executors are responsible for collecting money, paying off debts and distributing any legacies that are left to individuals and organisations.


Once a person dies, any Powers of Attorney are revoked. If there is no will and you are the next of kin, or named to receive some or all of the estate, you may be able to apply for probate.


In order to get at the estate, the executor needs to apply to the probate registry for a document called a Grant of Representation. This establishes who can legally collect money from banks and other organisations. The Probate Service deals with all applications in England and Wales, and can be contacted on jus-tice.gov.uk.


In some cases none of this will be needed - for example if there is a surviving spouse with a joint bank ac-count and a home in joint names. Similarly, if the amounts involved are very small you may be able to con-tact the companies to see if they will release the assets without a grant.  Unless the person entitled to the estate is under 18, only one person needs to apply for a grant of represen-tation. If the beneficiary is under 18, you need two people to apply for probate.


If you have a solicitor, they will handle this process for you. If not, you will need to complete a probate appli-cation form, which can be found on the HMRC website or from your nearest probate register. You also need to complete a tax form, whether or not inheritance tax is owed. These are also available from HMRC.


When you receive the grant, you may need several copies. Many organisations need to see official copies, so unless you want to wait a long time while each bank and building society releases assets, you will want to send separate ones for each account.


You will need the official death certificate, original will and any other documents the Probate Service has asked for, and then you will be interviewed and asked to swear that the information you have given is true.
 

Once you have received the grant you will have the legal right to ask any person or organisation to give you access to these assets. Once the grant has been issued, the legal responsibility of the Probate Service ends and the Service cannot advise you on how to administer the estate.
If you require any legal advice in relation to estate administration, please do not hesitate to contact DPA Law via email [email protected] or by telephone 01554 749144

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Original article published in The Sunday Telegraph, November 27, 2011
 

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Wednesday, November 30, 2011 at 04:34 PM

Employment Law Changes on the Way

THE Government has confirmed plans for a "radical" reform of employment law.


Tribunals received 218,000 claims last year. The Government says each claim costs an employer an average of £4,000 to defend. According to the British Chambers of Commerce, almost one in four cases are settled before a hearing because it is the cheaper and easier option for employers.


Earlier this week Business Secretary Vince Cable unveiled a package of measures including an overhaul of employment tribunals and moves which could see a reduction in the current 90-day consultation period for firms making over 100 people redundant.


The moves included plans for all claims to go to the conciliation service Acas before reaching an employ-ment tribunal, and a "rapid resolution scheme" to offer cheaper, quicker decisions on more straightforward claims.
 

Mr Cable also confirmed plans to increase the qualification period for making a claim for unfair dismissal from one to two years of employment from next April, and a consultation on "protected conversations" to al-low employers to discuss issues such as retirement or poor performance without it being used at a subse-quent tribunal claim.


The Government believes the reforms will save employers £40 million a year. Mr Cable said: "Our labour market is already one of the most flexible in the world. These flexibility benefits businesses, staff and the wider economy, but many employers still feel that employment law is a barrier to growing their business." Tribunals should be a last resort for workplace problems, he added.

DPA solicitors act for employees and employers in employment matters. If you require legal advice in relation to any Employment Law matter please do not hesitate to contact us via email [email protected] or by telephone on: 01554 749144

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Tuesday, November 29, 2011 at 05:08 PM

Mike Davey Partner at DPA Law gives an insight into the seminars he will be delivering over the forthcoming months.

DPA Law Seminar 13th December 2011

Mike Davey is a Partner at DPA Law offering legal advice to businesses.  Mike is presenting a seminar on “Common Problems Facing Small Business” outlining common and potentially costly mistakes that business make.

At this event, Mike will present an overview of problems associated with businesses employing staff, the need to protect your business through documenting important decisions, as well as tips on how businesses can improve their trading terms and cash-flow. 

Also presenting at this event is Roger Bowen of Tax Assist, a firm of accountants based in Llanelli, who will be offering advice based on “Tax Saving Tips” for businesses.

What type of businesses target audience will find it useful?

  • Any business that employs staff or is considering employing staff.
  • Any business where there is more than one owner.
  • Any business seeking to improve its trading terms and cash flow.

Why your business should attend future DPA Law seminars?

  • They’re free.
  • They’re a great opportunity to network with other local businesses.
  • You may pick up useful tips and advice which you can implement into your business.

Future Seminar titles likely to include:

  • Family Business - Strategic Planning
  • Employment Law & HR requirements: Policies and procedures
  • Shareholders agreements and Partnership agreements - in detail!
  • Welsh Government Grants and Loans
  • Commercial contracts and agreements.
  • Pension Reforms.

If you would like to attend any of DPA Law’s seminars, please contact our Practice and Operational Manager via email [email protected] or by telephone on 01554 745604

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 12:50 PM

Press Release: Law Society Warns That Will Writing and the Handling of Assets is Open to Abuse

Will writers must be regulated in order to protect consumers from exploitation

The Law Society had warned that consumers risk losing everything if they allow unqualified and unregulated will writers to have full control of their estate's assets. The Society has highlighted the potential risks during the estate administration process in its submission to the Legal Services Board's call for evidence into will writing, estate administration and probate activities.
 

The Law Society has been running a campaign to warn consumers of the dangers of using will writers who are not properly qualified, and is calling for will writers to be regulated at the earliest opportunity to stop the exploitation of consumers.  Law Society President John Wotton said that at the moment anyone in England and Wales can operate as a will writer and sell products that are not fit for purpose.


He said that writing a will is one of the most important financial and personal decisions that someone will make, and the public should be protected accordingly.  People who are preparing a will should engage a solicitor who can make sure that the will is legally water-tight and advise on complex financial issues such as inheritance tax and trusts planning.
 

The original press release can be found at: www.lawsocietymedia.org.uk/Press.aspx?ID=1543


For advice in relation to Wills, Probate and Trust matters, please feel free to contact us via email [email protected] or by telephone on 01554 749144

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Thursday, November 24, 2011 at 10:17 AM

Having Trouble with Clients Paying, DPA offers some advice

Mike Davey, solicitor for DPA Law, offers advice to businesses regarding credit control.

My cash-flow is suffering as I have a client that won't pay.  The real question is whether your client can't pay or won't pay. Knowing your client well, getting regular credit checks, having appropriate terms and conditions and maintaining good credit controls, will reduce the risk of having a client that can't pay.
 

If the client falls into the “won’t pay” category, you will need to establish if this is due to a dispute over the debt or for some other reason. Where there is a dispute, taking the usual debt recovery steps of issuing a statutory demand and so forth is dangerous because a dispute is a reasonable defence to such action. If the dispute is over part of the bill, you should always try to get the undisputed part paid. Indeed, taking action over an undisputed element would be more effective.


A useful tactic to employ when a client is being awkward is to offer to accept post-dated cheques. Your client may agree to this, even though it has every intention of cancelling the cheques before they are due to be presented. Sending a post-dated cheque is normally proof that the debt is undisputed and, so, if it is subse-quently cancelled, you can initiate formal recovery proceedings. Once a statutory demand has been issued and remains unpaid for 21 days, it is prima facie evidence that the debt is good and undisputed (it can be disputed in the first 18 days), and this will allow you to petition to wind up the debtor.
 

Of course, if the client really can't pay, then threatening liquidation is unlikely to offer the best outcome. How-ever, such proceedings may advance you up the queue when there are limited resources to pay the credi-tors.
 

Additionally, you could consider offering discounts for early settlement, if the impact on your cash-flow could be critical. The cost of legal action can be high and far greater than a settlement discount. However, setting such a precedent is dangerous if you intend to go on trading with this client.


If you require any advice in relation to the above issues, please do not hesitate to contact us via email [email protected] or by telephone 01554 749144.  We are always happy to discuss any debt collection instructions that you may have, or alternatively if you are facing debt recovery proceedings from another party, then we will be more than happy to assist you in defending these.


The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 05:01 PM

DPA Law offers some simple guidance on estate administration

My widowed mother died recently and, as executor, I am responsible for selling her house. How do I go about this?
 

The first thing you need to do is to have the property valued, since your late mother's entire estate will have to be assessed for inheritance tax. Most estate agents will happily provide a formal written valuation of this kind for a small fee, which may either be waived on the understanding that in due course they will be in-structed to handle the sale, or deducted from their commission if and when that sale is achieved. 
 

Obviously, if for some reason you choose to get more than one valuation, then it is likely that you will end up paying at least one fee upfront. However, you are entitled to be reimbursed by the estate for any such ex-penses you incur while discharging your duties as executor.


As for the actual contents of the house, these also need to be valued for inheritance tax purposes - although in the case of ordinary household goods and personal possessions, you can easily do this yourself by provid-ing a lump sum figure. This need only reflect their current market value, not their price when new. However, with items of any real value - for example, anything over pounds 500, such as jewellery and so forth - it is advisable to have a professional valuation.


You will also need to apply to the court for a grant of probate - the legal authority you must obtain before you can begin administering the estate. Probate will only finally be granted, however, once any tax liability has been paid in full.
 

Once you have been granted probate, you are then free to put the house on the market and sell it in the usu-al way (always remembering, of course, that as executor you are legally bound to get the best possible price on behalf of any beneficiaries), as well as distributing the contents in accordance with your mother's will, or disposing of them as appropriate.
 

If time is critical, the law does actually allow you to put the house on the market before probate is formally granted. However, this must be in place before contracts can finally be exchanged. In such a case, you should ensure that any prospective buyers are made fully aware of the situation.
 

If you require any legal advice in relation to estate administration matters, please do not hesitate to contact DPA Law via email [email protected] or by telephone 01554 749144
 

The contents of this article are intended for general information purposes only and shall not be deemed to be, or constitute legal advice. We cannot accept responsibility for any loss as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 at 04:29 PM

Preparing Your Land for Sale or Security

For many farmers, property is the key asset of their business. But, whilst cultivating their land, many farmers neglect legal issues which reduce its value, or will lead to avoidable expense. Find out more here...

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 01:14 PM

Dealing With a Dispute

Neil Richards, Partner for DPA Law, offers practical advice on Disputes.

Disputes are to be avoided (of course they are!) but sometimes you might be left with no alternative but to fight your corner.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Thursday, November 17, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Autumn General Newsletter 2011

Please take a look at our Autumn 2011 General DPA Law Newsletter

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Monday, November 14, 2011 at 04:26 PM

Autumn Employment Newsletter 2011

Please take a look at our Autumn DPA Employment Law Newsletter

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Monday, November 14, 2011 at 04:24 PM

Employee Unfairly Dismissed for Negative Comments

The recent case of Whitham v Club 24 Ltd t/a Ventura offers timely guidance for employers dealing
with conduct issues arising from employees' use of social networking websites.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Monday, November 14, 2011 at 03:08 PM

Smaller Businesses Suffer the Most

Is your business struggling due to late paying clients?

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Thursday, November 10, 2011 at 09:54 AM

Three Quarters of Small firms Dismissing Staff Unfairly.

Three Quarters of Small firms Dismissing Staff Unfairly.

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Wednesday, November 09, 2011 at 05:15 PM

Are you ready for the big freeze?

DPA Law offers guidance to businesses on "snow leave"

Posted by Peter Nicholas on Wednesday, November 09, 2011 at 12:35 PM