2017 was a busy year for Tallents Solicitors across its offices in Newark, Southwell and Mansfield. Several new team members were welcomed to further enhance the legal capability on offer to clients. The Mansfield office was remodeled to take account of their expanding team and to provide a new and comfortable appointment room. The free family law clinic, held every Tuesday evening at Southwell entered its fourth successful year, providing free 30 minute appointments to those who needed it. And Tallents Solicitors was confirmed as the largest fundraiser for Will Aid in the Midlands. A short review of the key events follows and more information on all topics can be found on the Tallents website: www.tallents.co.uk
Being a celebrity in 2016 seemed to be a dangerous occupation as we lost one big name after another throughout the year. However, the losses of these famous names had a positive effect on the general public as appointments to make and revisit Wills were noticeably up on the previous year. Ann Farnill, Head of Wills, Trusts and Probate commented: “You really can’t be too young to consider writing a Will, making clear what you want to do with your estate after you die. And you certainly don’t want to leave your loved ones with a tangled financial mess because you died without a Will.”
Property disputes, particularly those regarding boundaries, seem to move towards a litigious process very quickly, with what was often a minor disagreement over the exact placement of a boundary quickly escalating into a stressful and expensive legal case. Senior Litigator, Stephanie Whitchurch, reminded us that the legal dispute resolution expertise at Tallents Solicitors could be utilized quickly and efficiently at the early stage of a dispute to try and resolve matters without turning to the courts.
The Private Client teams at Newark and Mansfield were astounded when it was confirmed that they had raised a staggering £11,329 for Will Aid in 2016, making them the top fundraiser in the Midlands and 6th overall across the UK. To mark their incredible efforts, they were visited by John Coulthurst of British Red Cross, who said their charity, one of nine that benefit from the funds raised by Will Aid, were incredibly grateful for the efforts of the staff and for the generous donations made by their clients.
Clients worried about paying inheritance tax on their estates were encouraged to review their Wills before the government’s new family home allowance was introduced. By 2020, the residence nil-rate band allowance (RNRB) will allow couples to pass on estates worth up to £1m tax-free, but only if Wills are worded to take advantage of the new rules. The launch of the first phase of the RNRB on 6th April 2017 was a good opportunity for clients to review their Wills to take advantage of the allowance.
Grazing agreements were highlighted in anticipation of the grazing period of May to October, when many landowners would be considering allowing the grazing of animals on their land. Agricultural solicitor, Alistair Millar advised: “Agricultural land can attract significant tax benefits but only when strict guidelines have been followed or obligations have been met. The wrong agreement with the grazier could lose the landowner vital agricultural grants, single farm payments, affect inheritance tax planning arrangements, or even possession of the land, both temporarily or permanently.”
After 10 years of legal wrangling, the Supreme Court overturned a Court of Appeal judgment which awarded an estranged adult daughter more than a third of her mother’s estate, after she was originally disinherited in favour of three animal charities. Ross Pierrepoint reviewed the decision and commented: “Whilst the decision by the Supreme Court does allow testators to ignore adult children when making their Will, it does not prevent a subsequent claim under the Inheritance Act 1975 for reasonable financial provision, if it is felt that the estate has not provided for the claimant fairly.”
Service Charges in commercial leases is one of the most popular blogs on the Tallents website, annually attracting nearly 2,000 readers. So, Mandy Kaur answered several common queries from tenants and landlords alike, such as: What exactly are service charges? What can Service Charges include? How are Service Charges calculated? Can Service Charges be limited? She commented: “A balance will always have to be struck between landlords and tenants when drafting commercial leases, so it’s key that both parties understand how the Service Charge provisions in a lease will work and how best each party can protect their interests.”
Sobering research from the University College, London predicted that 1.2 million people in England and Wales will have dementia by 2040, prompting a recommendation from Ann Farnill for people to consider planning for their old age with at least one of two types of Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA); the Health and Welfare LPA and the Property and Financial Affairs LPA.
Landowners were reminded that they must show a duty of care towards anyone entering their land in relation to the dangers presented due to the state of the land or premises. “Although this might seem like stating the obvious,” said Alistair Millar, “all care must be taken, as is reasonable, to ensure third parties will not suffer injury or damage. This might include erecting warning signs to alert anyone to possible danger or perceived risk.” Landowners were urged to seek legal advice if they had any concerns about their land or property or were concerned about Occupier’s Liability.
The urban myths surrounding divorce were busted by Helen Shaw as she explained the valid reasons for grounds for divorce in English law. She said: “Couples wishing to divorce must prove that the marriage has broken down irretrievably by reference to one of five ‘facts’: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, 2 years’ separation with consent or 5 years’ separation without consent.” She confirmed that until a couple has been separated for at least two years, then the only facts available for a quick divorce are unreasonable behaviour or adultery.
To streamline court-based business dispute resolution, the High Court’s business specialist courts were brought together under one umbrella term, namely the ‘Business & Property Courts of England and Wales’ (B&PCs). In addition to the main court in London, five regional courts in Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Bristol and Cardiff were also confirmed. Senior Litigator and solicitor, Stephanie Whitchurch said: “It’s hoped that the new term for the B&PCs will be more easily understood by both the domestic and international business and legal communities as the UK moves towards agreeing terms for Brexit.”
The Newark and Mansfield offices participated in Will Aid again this month, encouraging everyone to make a Will in exchange for a donation to the Will Aid charity. The firm hopes to beat their fundraising efforts of 2016 but will have to wait until early 2018 to find out how much they raised in total.
Senior Partner, Jeremy Blatherwick said: “2017 has been another successful year for Tallents Solicitors, advising and supporting clients across all three offices. 2018 will no doubt be equally busy for our teams, containing many unknown challenges ahead but, just as we have done since 1774, we look forward to servicing the legal needs of our clients within our communities as quickly and efficiently as possible.”