With more than 240 years of business behind them, Tallents Solicitors watched as the UK economy continued to strengthen in 2015 as it started to emerge from the deepest recession in living memory.
An increasingly elderly population, living longer than ever before, lead Ann Farnill, Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate, to advise everyone to plan for their future with a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA):
An LPA will allow you to appoint someone you trust to make key decisions by way of a Health and Welfare LPA and a Property and Financial Affairs LPA. You can decide to make either, or both LPAs, to give you peace of mind.
Tom Gibbons, commercial lawyer at Tallents in Newark commented on some New Year legal resolutions that could keep your business on track for success in 2015. These included: checking commercial leases for expiry dates, documenting business relationships by way of Shareholder/Partnership agreements, reviewing customer and supplier contracts and re-evaluating employment contracts and policies. Tom said:
Use the impetus of the New Year to take action on any business points that have been awaiting attention.
Imminent changes to Shared Parental Leave meant that employers needed to consider how their businesses might be affected. Janine Lawton, employment lawyer explained:
Employers need to prepare for requests from mothers who intend to share a proportion of their parental leave with the father or partner of their child and understand how to handle these requests.
Farmers were advised to review their wills to ensure that their farming and business assets could be redirected in a tax-efficient manner under succession planning. Agricultural lawyer, Alistair Millar said:
The legal rules surrounding succession planning for farms are complex and it is too easy for farmers to miss out on Agricultural Property Relief and other associated reliefs by not satisfying all the detailed conditions in the legislation. Seeking legal advice is always advised before making any changes to the way a farm business is run.
The Voice of the Child will now be taken into account when decisions are being made about childcare arrangements following separation or divorce. Said family lawyer, Andrew Stout:
Children from the age of 10 will now be able to express their views in legal cases which directly affect them. As a member of the Children Law Accreditation Scheme, we at Tallents will always ensure that a child’s emotional wellbeing is looked after during a dispute.
Commercial lawyer Tom Gibbons highlighted the issues surrounding commercial lease assignments by tenants and steps that landlords can take to ensure their property continues to be well looked after. Tom’s advice included:
Ensuring commercial leases are well drafted, that the lease is not reassigned without the landlord’s prior consent and that the existing tenant should act as guarantor for the assignee for the remainder of the lease.
Farming businesses, which included more than one generation of the same family, were advised to consider drawing up Partnership Agreements to provide clear guidance and provisions for the exit of any partner at any time. Agricultural lawyer, Alistair Millar said:
As farming businesses are often asset-rich but cash-poor, it’s important to get early clarity on what will happen to the partnership when the exit provision is triggered, rather than running the risk of dispute and significant financial consequences at a later point.
The Wills, Trusts and Probate team across the three Tallents offices in Newark, Southwell and Mansfield expanded to eight this month; offering clients a one-stop-legal shop for all of their estate planning needs. Ann Farnill commented:
With one team working on a client’s requirements, the client retains control over the whole process. We are able to help with writing wills, drawing up Lasting Powers of Attorney, drawing up advance health directives and establishing trusts for future financial planning.
Concerns were raised after a Newark man was prosecuted for fraud for his role as a ‘legal consultant’. As part of a gang of eight, this man cold called and conned local pensioners by pretending to be a legal expert in wills, trusts and Lasting Powers of Attorney. Ann Farnill, Tallents’ Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate warned the public to only trust a qualified solicitor to look after their finances and future welfare:
It may seem as if you can save a few pounds here and there by not consulting a solicitor, but in my extensive legal experience, this thinking always leads to a disastrous situation in the end.
July marked two years since the launch of the weekly free family law clinic on Tuesday evenings at Tallents’ Southwell office. Partner Andrew Stout commented:
We knew it was often very difficult for some people to attend appointments during office working hours and we wanted to offer a more flexible arrangement to our potential clients by opening a free drop-in family law clinic. Over the last 24 months, we’ve managed to help numerous people with family law issues who work, or are otherwise occupied during the day, to receive clear, unbiased family law advice at a time that suits them. Due to demand, we’re delighted to confirm that this free clinic will continue to offer valuable family law advice during 2016.
Honesty is definitely the best policy when responding to buyer’s enquiries, said Alistair Millar:
It’s absolutely vital that sellers disclose any and all information when selling a property, even if they do not think it is totally relevant at the time to avoid delays in the sale.
Landowners were urged to always be aware of how to prevent third parties from acquiring rights of way over their land.
Rights of way are notoriously difficult legal cases to make and defend as final rulings often depend heavily on individual circumstances and previous actions taken by the landowners. A clearly-worded and visible sign expressing objection to and prohibiting pedestrian and vehicular use might be all that’s needed to prevent unauthorised use developing into a use ‘as of right’ or as a public highway in the future.
However, Alistair Millar recommended that landowners consult an experienced agricultural lawyer to establish the correct action to take.
The Law Commission recommended that ‘Qualifying pre-nuptial agreements’ should be enforceable in the UK. Partner Andrew Stout commented:
If adopted by the government, this recommendation could mean that it would be easier for couples to manage their financial affairs on divorce or at the end of a civil partnership as a pre-nuptial agreement would reduce financial uncertainty upon separation. The recommendations must first be considered and approved by Parliament in order to become law and therefore enforceable.
Farmers who have entered into telecommunication lease agreements with mobile phone operators were advised to check the break clauses on their lease agreements, following a series of mergers and collaboration agreements between phone operators. Alistair Millar commented:
This is a rapidly changing environment and we always recommend that landowners should consult an experienced lawyer before negotiations begin. We have recently seen several phone operators trying to exercise break clauses and terminate lease agreements early, so farmers should check to ensure they receive their full early-exit payments.
Ann Farnill, Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate at Tallents Solicitors explained the key changes to the intestacy laws and how these will affect the distribution of your wealth after your death. The key changes to the intestacy rules give new inheritance rights to: spouses and civil partners, adopted children and unmarried fathers. These changes will be applied in the absence of a valid will. Ann commented:
Separating partners should be especially aware of how the changes affect them. If you have separated but not divorced, and die without a will, then your estranged partner will inherit everything from your estate. If you die leaving children behind, then they could inherit more than your children.
The introduction of a compulsory National Living Wage from April 2016 meant that employers needed to take action now to fully prepare for the increased wage commitments and to avoid fines of up to £20,000. Employment lawyer, Janine Lawton said:
The National Living Wage will only affect workers over the age of 25, but employers should be planning for these changes now.
It’s estimated that some 2.7 million low wage workers will be given a direct boost of up to £900 pay rise per annum by the changes. Read more…
For the fifth successive year, Tallents is sponsoring the Newark Palace Theatre’s Pantomime Charity Gala Night. Alistair Millar commented:
Tallents has been deeply involved in the community spirit of Newark for over 240 years now. I hope that the people of Newark and the surrounding areas are able to support and help this event and enjoy the fantastic Cinderella pantomime that the Newark Palace Theatre is showing this year.
Tallents is preparing for a very busy time ahead and looking forward to continuing to serve the people and businesses of Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire during 2016 with great enthusiasm and optimism.
Jeremy Blatherwick, senior partner, finishes:
Tallents Solicitors has been a successful legal firm for over 240 years and our commitment to delivering the best service possible to our clients is as strong as it was in 1774. The people, businesses and communities of North Nottinghamshire can be assured of our commitment to them and their legal needs for many years to come.
Tallents offers clients advice and support on a wide range of legal services, as this review of their year shows. Check the website (www.tallents.co.uk), or follow Tallents on Facebook (www.facebook.com/tallentssolicitors) or Twitter (@TallentsSols) to keep abreast of key legal issues that may affect you or your business, or make an appointment with one of our talented lawyers to discuss your personal circumstances.