The sale of our children’s nursery was being conducted by our selling agent Redwoods Dowling Kerr. They recommended Coupe Bradbury solicitors to act on our behalf dealing with the legal process. We purchased the children’s nursery some 14 years ago and the ‘asset sale’ was a reasonably straightforward process. The Nursery, now a limited company, was being sold as a ‘share sale’ which appeared to be a much more complicated and difficult process to understand. Additionally, the nursery was situated almost 200 miles from both the selling agent and solicitor office which initially gave us concerns of communication especially with a share sale.
Both the selling agent and the solicitor allocated to us, Matthew Scott, assured us that most of communication could be done by phone and email. Throughout the process Matthew guided us through the difficult to understand Due Diligence requests as well as the Share Purchase Agreement. Matthew communicated the legal jargon down to a level that we could understand and was very efficient dealing with the sale. The buyer was demanding a very fast turnaround and thanks to Matthew and his Assistant Debbie this was accomplished.
We have no hesitation in recommending Matthew Scott of Coupe Bradbury solicitors in dealing with the sale of a business.
Matthew Scott at Coupe Bradbury had been recommended to us by the agents selling our nursery business. At first I felt a little reluctant to appoint a solicitor some 60 miles away but after an informal chat with Matt he reassured me that the distance would not be a problem. Most communications would be by email with a couple of essential visits required to sign documents etc. We already had a solicitor appointed to the business; they dealt with day to day issues like employment law but I felt I needed someone with more expertise knowledge of the nursery business. Matt certainly was that person. He knew all about Early Years Education Funding, staffing ratios and the change over in Ofsted registration and much much more.
During the process of the sale I found Matt to be brilliant. He and his staff were very easy to talk to, professional and very knowledgeable. Yes we did come up against some problems whilst going through the sale process but without the help of Matt we wouldn’t have been able to have got through it. The results were the successful sale of our business.
Many couples in Britain are co-habiting; more than 36% have been in relationships where they have cohabited and 11% do so at present. Very few of these couples have taken steps to safeguard their positions.
Many couples have learned, to their great shock, the legal remedies available to them, following the breakdown of their relationship, are costly and limited.
In the midst of separation, a cohabiting couple experiences the same emotional turmoil as a married couple going through a divorce. This is compounded by the trauma of being told that unmarried cohabiting couples do not have the same legal rights as married couples or those in a civil partnership.
The Law Commission’s report on the reform of property rights for cohabitees focused on:
– Periodical and/or lump sum payments or transfers of property on separation – The automatic right of a surviving cohabiting partner to inherit where the deceased partner has not left a will – A review of the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 as it applies to cohabitants and their children – Whether contracts between cohabitants, setting out how they will share their property in the event of the relationship ending, should be legally enforceable, and, if so, in what circumstances
Currently, none of the above applies to cohabiting couples. There are over four million couples living together in England and Wales in cohabitation, and they are given legal protection in several areas. However, they and their families have significantly fewer rights than people who are married or who have formed a civil partnership.
Many people think that, after living with their partner for a few years, they become ‘common law husband and wife’ with the same rights as married couples. This is not the case. In fact, couples who live together have hardly any of the same rights as married couples or civil partners.
There is no such thing as ‘common law marriage’.
The government has announced that it will not be taking forward the Law Commission’s recommendations for reform of the law governing the property rights of unmarried cohabiting couples during the life of the current Parliament. It is unclear whether the government intends to implement the proposals in a future Parliament.
Cohabiting partners are strongly advised to seek legal advice in connection with their rights and put in place Wills and other legal documentation that will help to protect them on breakdown of the relationship or death of their partner, before it is too late.
Sources:- direct.gov.uk law commission projects: cohabitation marilyn stowe of stowe family law practical law company
For most people, estate planning is more painful than a root canal without Novocain. Among other things, it forces us to acknowledge that we may become demented: decide who gets what after we pass away; and make provisions for end of life care.
Facing our mortality is one of the hardest things we must do in life; to help implement your wishes, trusts and estate lawyers need to ask very tough questions. Some of them might make you squirm. Thinking about the following issues in advance can help you prepare for a meeting about your estate plan.
1. Who will raise your children if both parents die?
Many people find it very difficult to decide on a guardian for their minor children. If you do not name a guardian, then the court will do it for you, based on what it deems to be in the best interest of your child. Unless you have confidence that a judge who never knew you has better judgment than you do about matters involving your children, it is best not to stick your head in the sand for 18 years.
2. What if you all die in a common disaster?
Even if you are certain about where you want your estate to go – commonly to a spouse or partner, followed by descendants – you need to address what would happen if the whole family died together. For some clients the natural answer is “my parents,” “my siblings” or a particular charity. For others it raises issues that could take years of therapy to sort out. A client may be estranged from his or her family; not have other close friends; or have been too busy to develop a commitment to a charitable cause. For these people, addressing this remote possibility becomes the biggest stumbling block to completing an estate plan.
3. Are there any other descendants you haven’t yet mentioned?
If your lawyer asks more than once if there are any other descendants he or she needs to know about, it isn’t because the lawyer forgot about just asking the same question. Sometimes it isn’t until the third time that clients disclose information about children from a previous relationship, which their current family did not know about. Far better they are discussed at this stage rather than at your funeral when an unexpected face appears laying claims to your estate.
4. Have you told me about all the important relationships in your life?
Whether you are married or single, your lawyer may prod and ask if you are in a relationship with someone and if it has a legal status such as marriage or civil partnership. There may be legal obligations that come with these relationships that you need to know about.
Your lawyer can’t educate you about the rights and obligations unless they have the full picture. If you did not get around to finalising a divorce, or, you have another long-term relationship, or, children you have not previously mentioned, your lawyer needs to know, in order to mitigate the risk of long drawn-out court proceedings erupting after your death, consuming your estate in legal fees. You might think that this is what lawyers hope for, but it truly isn’t. It is a hard way to make a living and an even harder way to watch someone’s legacy destroyed.
5. Do you have genetic material on ice?
When thinking about children and descendants, science is pushing the boundaries of those definitions. Even if the lawyer doesn’t ask, you should disclose “what’s in the freezer.” In other words, do you have genetic material, such as fertilised embryos, eggs, or sperm, preserved for later use? If you do, it is critical to consider whether you want to provide for beneficiaries conceived after your death. And if you do, for how many years do you want to leave the window open for that birth to take place?
There are legal and logistical limits and complications to work out and your wishes might not be possible to carry out. But they should be openly discussed with your estate planner.
6. Are you transgender?
You may not want to disclose that you are in the midst of gender transition, or that you have been through one already. But there are legal implications that need to be considered if this is the case. Again, even if your lawyer doesn’t ask, this is something that you should bring up. It is critical to ensure that all of your legal documents and the gender identification contained in them reflect how you now present yourself.
7. Have you have ever made large gifts to others?
Often this is a question that we don’t want to think about, especially if we are supporting family members or friends who have fallen on hard times, aren’t able to support themselves, or got into financial trouble. This can be a difficult issue between couples who disagreed about making a gift that the other made.
Your lawyer isn’t asking this question to be nosy. Most gifts in excess of £3,000 per person, per year need to be reported in the inland revenue account. The gift might not actually be taxable, but it may still need to be reported. So, your lawyer can help you correctly report past gifts and get you back on track for future ones. We can also advise you on techniques to mitigate reporting and/or tax consequences. It is important to get this information on the table to get the advice you need to defend enquiries later on.
8. Who is going to take care of your pets?
You may not need to set up a full-blown pet trust, but you may need to set aside sufficient funds to be put in trustworthy hands to take care of Fido. If you have racehorses or animals with long life expectancies, you may need more sophisticated planning, including a pet trust. Or, if you don’t have someone you can rely on to take on your pets, especially if you have 17 cats or even two spiders, you will need to find an organisation to take care of your companions for the remainder of their natural lives. Your estate planner can help you do this.
9. When do you want the plug pulled?
Almost certainly your lawyer will ask you to sign a health and welfare lasting power of attorney. We each have a definite idea as to when quality of life has diminished too far. It is helpful to share that information with your attorney who has to be a part of carrying out instructions. If you don’t share that information, people may let loved ones linger on when if they had had more insight they might have ceased aggressive medical intervention sooner.
10. What are your passwords, user names and security questions?
Until a few years ago, we didn’t really worry about your digital life. Your e-mail and Facebook accounts will go dormant. But some people have self-published books that are only accessible on line, journalists and photographers may have their life’s work on a hard drive or saved in cloud storage. Plus there could be bank accounts you only receive e-mail statements for, blogs, music, Twitter, photo storage, and countless other financially and emotionally valuable assets accessible only by computer.
Your lawyer can help you figure out what needs to be preserved, what can be left to lapse, and who should be able to access these various accounts. There are a number of cloud storage sites, where you can store your passwords, and then you only need to give someone the password to access that information. Alternatively, you can leave the password to access your personal information in a safe deposit box or with your lawyer. Dealing with digital property is still in its infancy, and technology is ever changing, so there are no perfect solutions. But you and your estate-planning lawyer can explore the options and pick the one you are most comfortable with for now.
11. Did you enter into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement?
These documents may be long forgotten and long ignored as irrelevant. But after your death, a disgruntled heir could surface them and derail your best estate planning intentions. Even if you don’t consider them relevant any more, disclose them. If they really aren’t relevant, your estate planning attorney can help you legally terminate them. But to provide that assistance, the lawyer has to know that the documents exist.
12. Have you had any serious or chronic health issues?
You might not think this is relevant to estate planning. No, your lawyer isn’t wondering if he or she needs to put off a holiday for your imminent probate. Rather, a lot of sophisticated planning is based on actuarial life expectancies. The reality is that those techniques are only useful if the actuarial tables approximate what we think to be true. If you have particular health concerns or health conditions that could change assumptions of life expectancy, we would plan differently.
Whether or not your lawyer concludes with the catchall question, “Is there anything else I should know?” don’t be afraid to speak up. Chances are you’ve covered a lot of territory. Conversations can be circular, rather than linear. Maybe you started to say something and got distracted. Or perhaps you haven’t gotten to something you expected to cover. That additional little detail might not be relevant. Or it might make all the difference.
In this digital age of internet banking, social media websites and digitally stored photos and music; when someone dies or becomes incapacitated difficulties in accessing digital assets are becoming more and more common. Social media sites, in particular, can be upsetting for family members when messages and comments, sometimes cruel, are left on the Loved One’s page.
The personal representatives or attorneys need to be able to access secured information in order to deal with what, in many cases, are valuable assets, whether sentimental or monetary.
It is important that the issue of passwords is addressed at the same time as making a Will, or, in the preparation of a Lasting Power of Attorney. The Will itself is not the appropriate place to store details of passwords which are usually changed regularly, new accounts opened, changed or added.
When providing instructions for a Will and/or Lasting Power of Attorney, the lawyer should be provided with a detailed list of all digital assets, including bank accounts, shareholder accounts, pensions and/or policies, with the passwords for each account, in the form of a memorandum which can be stored with the Will and/or Lasting Power of Attorney.
Alternatively, the password list can be stored in a safety deposit box or other secure place to prevent anyone gaining access to this information whilst the Testator/Donor is alive and capable. However, in this case, it is important that the details of the place and access codes for the safety deposit box are provided to the lawyer so this information can be kept securely with the Will/Lasting Power of Attorney.
If this procedure is followed it will reduce delays and upset when it is necessary to access digitally stored assets and information.