News

Redesigning Care

We all know people are living longer than they were and that care has become a real issue in society. Clients often come to see us to find out more about care costs and of course cost is a very real problem. However, perhaps even more important than the cost, is the quality of the care that will be, is being, or that was received. Many agree that this period in the later stages of a person’s life, and immediately after death, needs some major rethinking, and indeed, redesigning. In April this year, Marie Curie launched their Design to Care programme. The programme is being led by Dr Stephen Barclay from the University of Cambridge and will involve palliative care specialists...

 

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Tips on finding the right Family Law solicitor for you

So lets go back to the basics, what does Family Law actually cover? Well, it can cover a wide range of different disputes and claims including:
  • Divorce
  • Separation
  • Adoption
  • Child custody
  • Visitation rights
  • Financial settlements and distribution of assets
  • Domestic violence
  • Guardianship
  • Child abuse and neglect
All of these areas are very emotional and personal matters to deal with, so it’s really important that you select the solicitor that is right for you and your circumstances. If you need some help deciding on the right solicitor for you then the following 5 points are worth considering. 1 – Price We have listed this as no.1 as it is potentially the first thing that many of us consider when selecting a solicitor. However, it would be...

 

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Why home buyers should consider having a drain survey before purchasing a property.

Surveyors regularly identify damp proofing and wall tie failure as problems with the properties they survey. Recently another major concern has arisen; the condition of the drainage system of the property. Leaking drains can cause property subsidence, a percentage of homes have fallen victim to this in the past year alone. A Home Buyers Drain Survey can help you to find any issues with your current house or a house you are looking to buy. Click this link to find out more: A Home Buyers Drain Survey Infographic by Paul at Quinn Developments.

 

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FREE clinic for destitute migrants

We would like to formally announce that we are running a FREE clinic for destitute migrants. We can assist:
  • asylum seekers,
  • victims of domestic violence whose immigration status in the UK has been compromised by having to leave their partner,
  • stateless persons,
  • unaccompanied minors, and
  • persons who may require a fresh application on the basis of their Human Rights, but do not qualify under the Refugee Convention.
Following initial assessment we will advise on the best process and whether appointing a lawyer is necessary. We are also able to prepare cases if needed. The clinic is open on the second and fourth Thursday afternoon of the month (5 to 8 pm). So far the clinic is proving to be really popular so advance booking...

 

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The effects of Brexit on the property market

In June alone, UK house prices rose for the first time in four months, with the average price of a UK home up 1.1% at £211,301, following a drop in prices in the previous three months. This pushed the annual rate of growth to 3.1%, from 2.1% in May.

Source June 2017

In light of the political unrest and the unknown effects of Brexit over the coming months/years, this is positive news. Looking at Cambridge specifically, the outlook and current property trends indicate that there are still plenty of buyers and investors looking to make returns on property in Cambridge and the surrounding area.

However, the observation is buyers are taking more time over their decisions.

 

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Launching our Immigration ProBono Unit

On Sunday, as part of Refugee week, we are launching our Immigration ProBono Unit. Our immigration team will be working for free for destitute asylum seekers, people who need to make an application on humanitarian grounds and/or on the basis of the domestic violence provisions of the Immigration Rules and the European Convention on Human Rights (as well as the British interpolation of the European Rules). If you need any assistance or know of anyone who needs help please contact Silvia on secd@millersands.com.

 

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JOB OPPORTUNITY

Residential Conveyancing Solicitor Miller Sands are a friendly firm of solicitors dedicated to helping with divorce, wills and probate, conveyancing, immigration and litigation. Our busy residential conveyancing team has a reputation for providing a thorough, efficient, highly personalised service. In order to maintain this level of service to our clients, we are seeking an energetic and enthusiastic full-time Residential Conveyancer to join the team. The successful candidate will be either a residential property solicitor, legal executive or a licenced conveyancer with at least three years of residential conveyancing experience. Some commercial property experience is desirable but not essential. You will be dealing with a high volume of work for a broad range of clients including individuals, estates, charities and companies, including leasehold and...

 

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Social Care Funding – the new Conservative party proposals

Following the introduction of the Care Act 2014, we have been waiting for an announcement regarding changes to social care funding. The original proposals included a cap of £72,000 on any one person's contribution to his or her care over the course of their lifetime. Living costs would be charged in addition. It came as a little bit of a shock this week when the Conservatives released details of their manifesto and abandoned plans to cap care costs at £72,000. Instead, they announced that there will be no cap at all and care costs could potentially go well beyond £72,000. Whilst under current rules, everyone with more than about £23,000 must pay for their own care, these new proposals...

 

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Our advice on Permanent Residence application – be prepared. Make sure you submit an application now

The Home Office has recently begun to suggest that EU nationals sign up for email alerts about relevant updates on their position, rather than applying for residence documents to evidence their right to remain in the UK. What does this mean? Well – the only thing that we can know for sure is that this means that the Home Office is overwhelmed by the number of applications which are being received, which has increased from c. 10,000 Permanent Residence application in the trimester at the end of 2015, to nearly 50,000 in the last trimester of this year. Irrespective of the 240 employees which were apparently hired by the Home Office last month to try and limit waiting times...

 

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Snap poll halts the proposed new probate fees

On death, someone such as an executor, will have to apply for a grant of probate and this incurs the payment of probate fees. Until the executor gets the grant, the assets are frozen. In April 2017, the government announced that the existing fixed fee of £215 would be replaced by sliding scale based on the value of the estate. If less than £50,000 the fees would be zero. This applies to 58% of all estates and widens the number of estates exempt from fees. However, as far as larger estates are concerned, the new scale meant a substantial increase in fees. For Estates £50,000 to £300,000 the fees would be £300 going up in...

 

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Two steps forward, one step back?

Society and its values are like a river, always moving, always changing and evolving. In an ideal world, the law regulates the way we live, according to the values we hold dear. As those values change, hopefully, the law would evolve to keep pace. Divorce law is only making halting progress into the 21st century. Our law was made in 1973, and is so old it is creaking at the seams. To dissolve a marriage, we have to show a Court that the marriage has broken down “beyond retrieval” and there is great difficulty in getting a simple divorce, by consent, and without blame. “Irreconcilable differences” isn’t available in this country, although many and...

 

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What does family law mean?

Family is at the heart of everyone’s lives. Therefore, it is unsurprising that a lot of people, sooner or later, need some legal advice in relation to Family Law. But what does family law mean? Common family law subjects include pre and postnuptial agreements, divorces, annulments and separations in unmarried couples and civil partnerships. This could involve discussing and agree the division of assets, child support payments, and spousal maintenance. Family law also specifically deals with children, tackling questions such as who the children should live with, how often they should see the other parent, which school the children should attend and whether the children can be taken abroad. Family lawyers also regularly advise on matters relating...

 

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What are Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements ?

Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are official documents that the two people may choose to enter into before they marry, to set out the property and financial rights of each spouse in the event of a divorce. However, in England and Wales, these agreements are not as easily enforceable as in other jurisdictions. In 2010, the Supreme Court held that courts ‘should give effect to a nuptial agreement which is freely entered into by each party with full appreciation of its implications unless in the circumstances prevailing it would not be fair to hold the parties to their agreement’. Whilst promising, the above judgment does not clarify what constitutes fairness, and when can it be argued that the parties’ needs are met....

 

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Winners of Law Firm of the Year

Over 110 lawyers and their guests joined the Law Society President Grace Brass and guests Professor Dominic Regan, and eminent judge, Robin Chaudhuri at the black-tie dinner and presentation ceremony on Friday 31 March 2017, in Cambridge. We were delighted to have been announced winner in the category of Law Firm of the Year which, amongst other things, recognises those firms who can demonstrate continued commitment to the promotion of quality, innovation, and client service. After the awards ceremony, Miller Sands’ Senior Partner, William Cowell, said “ Winning the CDLS Firm of the Year award endorses Miller Sands’ forward-thinking approach to client care and good management in what is still a tough marketplace. We recently appointed Gurpal Singh, an experienced...

 

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The new Residence Nil Rate Band

The new Residence Nil Rate Band comes into force from 6 April 2017. This is an additional inheritance tax relief, in addition to the standard Nil Rate Band of £325,000 that each person has at their death. The new Residence Nil Rate Band will eventually amount to £175,000, but starts out on 6 April 2017 at £100,000, increasing by £25,000 each tax year until the figure of £175,000 is reached in April 2020. An individual could therefore have up to £500,000 inheritance tax allowance on death by 2020. Transfer between spouses If you transfer assets to your spouse or civil partner on death, there is no inheritance tax to pay as your spouse is tax exempt. For nearly a decade,...

 

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Siôn Hudson appears on BBC Radio discussing Inheritance Tax

Our Wills and Probate Partner Siôn Hudson appeared on the Jeremy Sallis Lunchtime Live show on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire on 7 March.  He spoke about the upcoming changes to Inheritance Tax which are coming into force from 6 April 2017.   If you want to listen to what Siôn had to say, then you can listen again to the programme here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p04tgmct Siôn is on from about 2 hours 36 onwards.   Watch this space for a detailed article on the new Inheritance Tax changes shortly, who they apply to and what you should be doing about it.    

 

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How will Divorce affect you financially

Going through a divorce is an emotional time. So when it comes to dealing with the financial side of the separation it is a good idea to have gathered your thoughts before you commence the process. We recently came across this really useful guide of Do’s and Dont’s when it comes to negotiating your financial settlement: Do’s and don’ts of divorce or dissolution Do • Try to reach agreement with your ex-partner about who will pay bills in the short term • Try to agree as much as you can with your ex-partner – it will save time and money • Be aware that what you think is ‘fair’ and how your money may be divided in law can be two completely different things Don’t • Don’t try and get...

 

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Meet our Apprentice Jenna Smith

As anyone who has ever worked in a law firm will know, there is a lot of paper and administration in the law. Last year, to help with all this administration, Miller Sands decided to turn to Cambridge Regional College and their Apprenticeship scheme… … the result, was Jenna! Jenna, what got you interested in the Apprenticeship scheme to start with? Well, I wanted to work in admin. I studied art at college, which I really enjoyed, but I wasn’t sure what to do after I finished and having spent some time working in retail, I wanted to find a job that was stable. The apprenticeship scheme was a great way to get some relevant experience, earn money and get a qualification...

 

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Changes to Immigration Rules for EEA Citizens

If you are thinking of submitting an application on the basis of your life in the UK as a European National or as a person who is in a relationship with or otherwise a dependant of one, you must look out for the changes in the legislation. The new Immigration (European Economic Area) Regulations 2016 will come into force on 1 February 2017. Whilst the majority of the rules will not change, there will be a few new provisions dealing with civil partnerships, marriages and durable partnerships, introducing a test of genuineness. These have been introduced to ensure that  those who are in a relationship ‘of convenience’ will not be successful in obtaining a visa. Definitions to these effects were not...

 

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5 Reasons to Write Your Will

Writing a Will is often overlooked or put off for another day, understandably so, its not something that any of us really want to think about. However writing a Will is really important to ensure that your loved ones are protected and looked after in the event of your death. Here at Miller Sands we are passionate about ensuring that you are fully informed on the decisions to make when creating your Will. We have a team of specialist solicitors that have not only assisted in creating Wills but also seen the effect of not having a Will in place. So here are a few reasons to take action and get your Will in place. 1 -...

 

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Dispute Resolution Legal Update: Developments in the Law of ‘Loss of a Chance’

In a claim for including a breach of contract, the Court of Appeal held that a football agent could claim damages for the lost chance of earning commission on a player’s transfer, even though he could not establish that he was more likely than not to have been paid the commission if it hadn’t been for the breach. The case was remitted to the High Court to determine the value of the lost opportunity: Anthony McGill v Sports & Entertainment Media Group & 8 Ors EWCA Civ 1063.  Although this case does not establish new law, it is a useful example of the courts’ willingness, in certain circumstances, to award damages for the “loss of a chance” where the claimant’s...

 

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Miller Sands Christmas Closing Period 2016

  Miller Sands will close for Christmas at 1.00pm on Friday 23 December 2016, reopening at 8.30 a.m. on Tuesday 3 January 2017.   We will not be sending cards this year.  The partners are instead making a donation to local charities.   All the staff at Miller Sands wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

 

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Helpful Buying and Selling Property Checklists

With over 1.2 million property transactions in the UK per year and the average property price in Cambridge recorded at £422,100 (Sept 2016) it is important to get your property transaction right ! Source Buying or selling a home is one of the biggest financial transactions most people will ever make so it’s important to do it efficiently. Before you take the step to either buying or selling your home why not take a look at these handy Buying and Selling Property Checklists These checklists offer a great summary of the things that you should consider before you make that initial contact with the estate agent. If you have decided to sell your property then it’s worth taking 5...

 

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Miller Sands now offering Immigration advice

If you are planning to visit, reside or extend your stay in the UK, our specialist Immigration team can assist you. We will tailor our advice to your needs, managing your costs efficiently, but without compromising the quality of our service and your application’s likelihood of success. We can assist foreign nationals planning to work, study or settle in the UK as well as those who are already to settled here and feel it is now time to become a British citizen. Our team has a lot of experience in a wide range of applications under the European rules, UK visa and nationality application. We can provide advice, practical assistance and professional representation to guide you through applications, appeals, reconsideration's...

 

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The Latest News in Family Law

What is family law? Family law is a practice area that encompasses the many legal issues that families may face. These issues include: • Divorce • Spousal support • Child support • Custody • Division of assets and liabilities due to divorce • Adoption • Paternity • Child Protection It has recently been reported that more than a third of cases in the family court have no legal representative for either party. Quarterly statistics for the period from April to June show neither the applicant nor respondent were represented in 34% of cases.

(Source: www.lawgazette.co.uk)

As family law specialists these are concerning facts. We know that family is at the centre of many lives and any kind of relationship breakdown can be traumatic and painful. However, managed and...

 

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Lewis v Warner [2016] EWHC – the meaning of maintenance in an inheritance act claim

This recent case on appeal from the County Court provides some interesting discussion on what constitutes maintenance under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (the ’75 Act). From the point of view of the practising solicitor, it reminds us that we must advise a client very carefully when disinheriting anyone who has been in some way supported by them. In the case of Lewis v Warner, this was a matter of providing a home. Mr Warner and Mrs Blackwell had lived very happily together as unmarried partners for nearly twenty years until Mrs Blackwell’s death. The house they lived in belonged to Mrs Blackwell only. Mr Warner had assets of his own and by his own admission did...

 

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Lasting Powers of Attorney and the Court of Protection

Re YW – A recent case

In this recent case in The Court of Protection, Senior Judge Lush has ordered that a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) be suspended due to ongoing arguments between two sons (the eldest and youngest of four siblings) appointed as attorneys, together with a solicitor.

A LPA gives an attorney the authority to make financial decisions on another’s behalf and can usually be used before and after that person has lost capacity. The LPA in this case is the second set-up by the donor (a lady called Yvonne born in 1935 and who lives in Cornwall). The first LPA, which appointed the eldest and middle son, was revoked some years previously by...

 

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Miller Sands raises £2,607 for Addenbrookes with Make a Will Week

Miller Sands raised £2,607 this year in conjunction with the Addenbrookes Charitable Trust’s (ACT) Make a Will Week. During the week beginning the 25 April, clients who came in for new, straightforward Wills were encouraged to give as much as they could to ACT (with a suggested minimum donation), whilst we as solicitors waived our normal fees altogether. Unlike many of the charitable Will schemes available, ACT’s Make a Will Week is open to anyone, of any age, who wants a Will. This is the second year Miller Sands has been part of the scheme and so far it has proved extremely popular with clients. This year’s appointments were booked well in advance and every slot was taken. The team at Miller...

 

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Life after death – online

What can you do about your online life after death? What can your family and friends do for you? A recent article published by the BBC featuring the story of Caroline and Iain Twigg identifies just how troublesome this issue has become. Iain Twigg died at the age of 33 following a seizure during a period of chemotherapy for a brain tumour. As his wife Caroline says in the article, he had not been a person who particularly liked the internet or computers, yet there were still so many online accounts to deal with after his death (all of which no doubt required passwords). We seem to have passwords for everything these days, and, to make matters more complicated, individual accounts often have...

 

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The Family Court and the need to have a solicitor

A recent article in the Law Society Gazette citing a study by the charity Citizens Advice suggests more and more people are acting for themselves in the Family Courts (this is known as being a Litigant in Person). The article highlights how people do not realise the value of a solicitor in Family cases and points out that it can be lonely, stressful and extraordinarily time consuming to represent yourself. Ultimately, the article suggests, it can also lead you to a worse long-term outcome. Of the people surveyed, 70% of those who had been through the Courts, responded that, with hindsight, they would have appointed a solicitor. 90% of Litigants in Person also admitted that the experience had negatively affected their...

 

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Powers of Attorney and the rise in complaints

According to a recent article in The Telegraph the number of complaints made in relation to Powers of Attorney has doubled in the last five years. There were 71 complaints made to the Financial Ombudsman Service in 2010 and 178 in 2015. Of those 178, 79 were upheld. The Telegraph reported that staff members working in banks are not trained to deal with Powers of Attorney. They fail to understand the rights they give to the attorney (the person appointed to manage someone else’s affairs) and can make strange demands, such as insisting the attorney open a bank account with them. They have even been known to ask for the donor (the person who appointed the attorney) to visit the...

 

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Pancake Day

It's Shrove Tuesday (or Pancake Day!) so Siôn Hudson made us all a selection of pancakes to enjoy with our elevenses!   IMG_7104 IMG_7106

 

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The Transferrable Inheritance Tax Nil-Rate Band

Leaving assets to a spouse or civil partner An estate is exempt from Inheritance Tax if the deceased left everything to their husband, wife or civil partner, who lives permanently in the UK. This is known as ‘spouse or civil partner exemption’. Transferring Inheritance Tax thresholds If you transfer more than £325,000 (the Inheritance Tax threshold) to someone who is not your spouse or a charity on your death, then your estate will attract inheritance tax. If you transfer £325,000 or less to a non-spouse or charity, then you won’t pay inheritance tax. The amount of the Inheritance Tax threshold that remains unused can also be transferred to your surviving husband, wife or civil partner’s estate when they die – even if they remarried. This...

 

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The risks of failing to settle finances post divorce

A divorce can be one of the most stressful times in any families life, especially with vitriol and legal matters to settle it can be especially hard to break down exactly what needs to be done in order to achieve a clean break. Obviously no break is preferable but in some cases there is no choice. We're here to help you get through this awful point in time and let everyone receive what they deserve after the proceedings are over. Settling finances can be especially difficult when you're so focused on everything else. Not settling finances post divorce is risky at best and can lead to further failings months or even years after the break has occurred. It is...

 

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Challenging a Will – is there another way?

From time to time we meet with a client who has come to see us because of a grievance with the Will of a family member who has died. In this country a Will is a private document until after death. If someone is unhappy with a Will made by someone who is still alive there is very little that can actually be done in law. It is only after death that a claim can be made to dispute the Will. There are a number of reasons why someone might be unhappy with the Will of a family member, but whatever the particular reason may be, the process of challenging the Will is normally very costly and time consuming. Despite that, reports...

 

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Is our marriage law outdated?

Our marriage law is ‘restrictive, confusing and inconsistent’ according to the Law Commission. The law that governs how and where couples can marry in England and Wales is 66 years’ old. Most marriage services must take place within an approved premise, registry office or place of religious worship. Yet the commission suggests that some people wish to marry somewhere that is more ‘personal or meaningful to them’, somewhere outside for example. Some people also wish to include certain holy readings despite not wishing to marry in a formal place of worship. Professor Nicholas Hopkins, law commissioner for property, family and trust law, said: ‘Our modern society deserves a clearer set of rules that gives all couples greater choice and certainty, while...

 

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Changes to Stamp Duty (SDLT)

Following on from the government’s Autumn Statement 2015 changes have been announced with regards to the payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). Higher rates of SDLT will now be charged on purchases of additional residential properties such as buy to let properties and second homes from 1 April 2016. The higher rates will be 3 % above the current SDLT rates but will not affect transactions with a purchase price of up to £40,000. The changes will also not apply to the purchase of a main residence or to corporates and funds making significant investments in residential property. It means the tax bill on a buy-to-let property costing £250,000 will jump from £2,500 to £10,000. More examples are in the table below:  

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Can we use our common sense when interpreting Wills?

The Judge in the recent case of Guthrie v Morel & Ors suggests we must. “There is no need for the matter to go forward to trial as that would serve no purpose and not be a proportionate use of resources” - Mr John Baldwin QC (sitting as Judge of the Chancery Division). This particular case concerned the Will of Brian Morel, deceased, who some years before his death, wrote a letter to his solicitor listing how he wished his estate to be distributed. The assets were listed individually and the letter had been signed and witnessed. Following Mr Morel’s death, the letter was admitted to probate as the last Will. In the letter, the deceased gifted two Spanish properties, listed as...

 

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Is the client acting under any kind of influence or duress?

Occasionally we find ourselves working with a client who appears especially vulnerable. In those situations it is very important that we find out as much as possible about our client, their family and the general circumstances around the instructions they have given. Crucially, as solicitors, we need to be satisfied that our client is not acting under any kind of duress. If we think they are, we will not be able to act for that client. Occasionally, it might be necessary to contact other organisations which protect vulnerable adults, but this is an unusual course of action and we hope we never have to assist in this way.

 

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Siôn Hudson displays his Volvo at the NEC Classic Car Show!

You may not be aware that our Wills and Probate partner, Siôn Hudson, is a classic Volvo fanatic: he owns five of them! Last weekend, he very proudly displayed his 1976 Volvo 343 at the Classic Car Show at the NEC in Birmingham, which is the biggest show of the classic car calendar.  The car is the earliest 343 in the UK, and attracted a lot of interest and good comments. If you want to see what Siôn gets up to with his cars, follow him on twitter @sionhudson  

 

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Delay in the Care Funding Cap

You may have heard the fanfare last year that the Care Act 2014 brought in a cap on the amount that an individual can be expected to contribute towards their care costs for their lifetime.  However, what you may not have heard is the less popular news that the implementation of the cap has been delayed, now until at least 2020. The current position is that anybody with more than £23,250 can be expected to fund the whole of their care costs.  The cap which was initially to apply from April 2016 would have meant that the maximum amount anyone would have to pay in their lifetime would be £72,000.  Good news, until you read the detail of the rules...

 

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Inheritance Tax and Taper Relief

Taper relief is not as straightforward as it first seems. Many people think that if they live three years or more after making a lifetime gift, then taper relief starts to apply to the value of the gift or to the amount of inheritance tax that will be due from their estate when they die. This is not strictly true. How inheritance works Every individual has a nil rate allowance (currently set at £325,000). This nil rate band is the sum of money you can give away on your death free of inheritance tax. Any more and the difference is taxed at 40%. Married couples can combine their nil rate bands and give away a figure of £650,000 between them. Any...

 

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Trainee Vicky Austin qualifies as a solicitor

Our trainee solicitor Vicky Austin has now qualified as a private client solicitor. Vicky has worked for Miller Sands since 2012 in a number of different roles and departments. She started her solicitor’s training contract with the firm in May 2014 and during her training she chose to spend the majority of her time in the firm’s private client department. Now qualified, Vicky’s time is spent helping clients with probate work, lasting powers of attorney and will writing. Vicky worked as a teacher before training as a solicitor. She enjoys working with people from all walks of life and helping her clients through difficult decisions and situations. You can contact Vicky by telephoning 01223 202345 or by emailing vicky@millersands.com

 

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The Value of a Will

Drafting a Will requires skill and knowledge and surely this is worth paying for? Do free, simple Wills lead to ‘incremental damage to both the perceived value and the skill and knowledge required to carry out this work to a high standard’? Richard Burcher, chairman of Burcher Jennings thinks so as he explains in his recent letter to The Law Society Gazette. http://www.lawgazette.co.uk/analysis/letters/not-all-wills-are-simple/5051631.article It is certainly interesting that many people find the standard cost of a solicitor drawn-up Will hard to accept, when it could be the one document that ensures that should they die, the people they love most are provided for and the one document that gives those left behind the final evidence that the deceased person did everything they...

 

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New Facebook Feature

Back in February, I wrote the following article about a new feature introduced by Facebook. At the time the feature was only available in the USA. It has now been released to UK users as well. The idea is that you have some control of your profile after you die. Have a read of my February article to see what your options are… NEW AFTER DEATH FEATURE FOR FACEBOOK USERS Facebook is introducing a new setting so that users will have the option to delete their account permanently when they die. The new setting will initially only be available in the USA, however it is likely that it will soon be offered in the UK. The move follows a string of cases...

 

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Siôn Hudson attends Modern Succession Law Conference

Our Wills and Probate partner Siôn Hudson recently took part in a conference on ‘Current Issues in Succession Law' held at All Souls College, Oxford.  The conference was an opportunity for academics and senior practitioners whose specialism is succession law and inheritance tax, to discuss the latest developments in this highly important area of law. The participants at the conference discussed some interesting issues about the revisions to the Intestacy Rules which came into force in October 2014.  Many academic attendees thought that the new rules did not go far enough to reflect the growing complexities of modern families. However some practitioners, who were certainly sympathetic to this view in terms of its reflection of modern social changes, did feel...

 

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Vacancy: Residential Conveyancer

Our busy residential conveyancing team has a reputation for providing a thorough, efficient, highly personalised service.  In order to maintain this level of service to our clients, we are seeking an energetic and enthusiastic full-time Residential Conveyancer to join the team. The successful candidate will be either a residential property solicitor, legal executive or a licenced conveyancer with at least three years of residential conveyancing experience. You will be dealing with a high volume of work for a broad range of clients including individuals, estates, charities and companies, including leasehold and freehold sales, purchases, lease extensions, transfers of equity and new build plot purchases.  You will be running your own files to a high standard, and supported by a paralegal and...

 

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The evolving concept of ‘parents’ in English law

Families take many forms in today’s society, with people outside of the traditional concept of ‘parents’ being involved. Also, with assisted conception, surrogacy and the amendment to the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 2008 to allow the use of mitochondrial DNA, modern parenting is ever evolving. The term “parent” is a fluid term. How is the person involved a parent? Are they a gestational parent, a genetic parent or psychological parent? With the use of mitochondrial DNA, there is now the chance that a child could have three genetic parents. In English law, the gestational parent and the genetic father will generally be the child’s legal parents at the time of birth, unless the gestational parent is married to another man...

 

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Your Final Legacy

I am a Trainee Solicitor here at Miller Sands in Cambridge and in just over three months’ time, I’m hoping to qualify into our Private Client department as a Solicitor. People often say to me, when I tell them what my intentions are, that it must be very depressing and a bit grim dealing with probates and Wills, as we do in the Private Client department. Well, I couldn’t work in a hospital. I would then be surrounded by illness, even death, and that is something I personally would find hard to deal with. But, the job I do is nothing like that. Essentially the work involves putting someone’s affairs in order, organising and making good loose ends; all in accordance...

 

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Pre-Nuptial Agreements

What is a pre-nup? A “pre-nup” is an agreement entered into before marriage or a civil partnership, between the couple who are about to contract with each other. It lists what assets should not fall into the matrimonial “asset pot”. This is often of particular importance for those marrying following the dissolution of a previous marriage. A pre-nup can also cover other matters such as inheritance claims, child residence and child contact arrangements. Why have a pre-nup? If a marriage or a civil partnership is about to be dissolved, the Courts have certain powers to order that one party should pay maintenance, money, or transfer property - or even pension rights - to the other. These are wide ranging powers, and for...

 

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Mediation: What and How?

Why mediation? A wise man once said “If your only tool is a hammer, all problems look like nails”. Nowadays, there is too much pressure on the Courts, and they can’t cope. There are other, better ways of solving problems, and Mediation is one of them. It has its strengths and weaknesses of course: For: You have better control over the cost of the process - it’s much cheaper - and how long it takes. The process is simpler than litigation - the mediator is only trying to build a bridge between two conflicting points of view. Against: The mediator cannot give you advice on the fairness of the proposed settlement. You may feel that you aren’t getting a fair hearing of the thing...

 

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The importance of having a Will: the LGBT perspective

I recently read an interesting blog post by Dr Antu Sorainen of the University of Helsinki (https://tuhat.halvi.helsinki.fi/portal/en/persons/antu-sorainen%28c19141d4-16d0-440b-a583-ced53141aa37%29.html) about the relevance of will writing to LGBT people. The link to the original blog post is here http://revaluingcare.net/inheritance-system-and-care-queer-will-writing/ Dr Sorianen makes an interesting point that LGBT people have not traditionally ‘owned’ the concept of writing a will, with the implication that a will is thought of very much as a ‘nuclear family’ concept, to pass wealth down the generations.  She also points out that making a will gives an LGBT person the opportunity to look after “the well-being of people who they really care for”, and not just their blood relatives.  This could be, she argues, lovers, friends, community, and other...

 

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Guardianship for Property and Affairs of Missing Persons

The Ministry of Justice has published a response to the recent consultation on proposals to create a new legal status of guardian. The terminology is a little confusing, as a guardian currently refers to someone who is responsible for a child. These new guardians would not be appointed to look after children, but rather they would be there to oversee the financial affairs of missing adults. Current law provides no mechanism to deal practically and legally with the financial affairs of a person who goes missing and this can lead to all kinds of problems for dependents and family members, especially a spouse or a dependent child. The missing person is considered to be alive for seven years and no-one...

 

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Wright v Waters – a challenging inheritance

In a case of sister versus brother, His Honour Judge Behrens rejected Patricia Wright’s claim to half her late mother’s estate. The case illustrates how in England and Wales a child has no automatic right to inheritance, but that if children are not treated equally, then the most bitter of disputes can ensue. Patricia Wright, the daughter of the deceased Mary Waters, brought the action having been left nothing in her mother’s Will, whilst her brother and his family inherited everything. Mrs Wright, now in her sixties, had not spoken to her mother for nine years prior to her death and her mother had left a letter accompanying her Will explaining her decision to exclude her daughter from her Will....

 

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Children and the breakdown of relationships

When relationships break down, there can be disputes over what is to happen with the children. In the midst of our own hurt feelings, it is easy to forget that children suffer too when parents part. The law focuses very much on the needs of children. The wishes or needs of the adults concerned are not part of this process, and they are not considered. There is an assumption in the Children Act 1989 that both parents should be involved in a child’s life, unless it would cause harm. Children are vulnerable, so we should secure their well-being first. The Children Act 1989 governs the sort of situations which can arise. It brought in some new concepts, and has itself been amended...

 

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Our senior partner going over the edge!

IMG_1514   This is the moment on Saturday when our senior partner Will Cowell stepped over the edge of the Orbit at the Olympic Park to abseil 275 feet in order to raise money for the Solicitors Benevolent Association.   Will said "my stomach was doing backflips as I was nearing the edge, as I really hate heights.  But eventually, I put my faith in the rope and the professionals around me, and as you can see from the picture, even managed to crack a smile on my way down!"   Will has raised nearly £500 for the SBA so far, but if you would like to sponsor him even after the event has taken place, please...

 

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Poster Campaign for Wills and Powers of Attorney

The Government has launched a new scheme aimed at encouraging those who haven’t already done so, to write a Will and organise Lasting Powers of Attorney. The campaign is aimed at those between the ages of 25 – 50. People of this age group are often busy with work and young families and think they are just too young to worry about these sorts of things. The campaign is also being used to encourage people to donate organs. There are currently 10,000 people in the UK waiting for a transplant. Three people a day will die waiting as there are not enough organs available. It can be very uncomfortable thinking about such things as death, accidents and disease, but the consequences of...

 

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The Importance of Finality in Divorce

As the Supreme Court’s judgment regarding Vince -v- Wyatt is finally published, it highlights the importance of recording any agreement that divorcing couples reach at the conclusion of their marriage. Increasingly, people are representing themselves and therefore not getting full legal advice relating to all aspects of a divorce. When focussing on just getting marriage dissolved, issues regarding finances may fall to the wayside particularly if the parties do not wish to make a claim on each other and just want to go their separate ways. In this case, the parties divorced when neither party had significant assets. They did not finalise their matrimonial finances with the Court. Mr Vince subsequently founded a successful wind power business and amassed a considerable...

 

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What are you really leaving your children?

Even in my relatively short time as a trainee solicitor in the Private Client department at Miller Sands, I have met a few people who have chosen to exclude their children from their Wills, entirely. Sometimes there is a very valid reason for doing so, but all the same, it is an act to think through very carefully and in most situations, there is a way around it. Trusts can be used if you are concerned about a child’s ability to handle money for example. If a child is left without what they consider to be a fair inheritance, that child can apply to the Court, under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, for, “reasonable financial provision”. In...

 

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NEW AFTER DEATH FEATURE FOR FACEBOOK USERS

Facebook is introducing a new setting so that users will have the option to delete their account permanently when they die. The new setting will initially only be available in the USA, however it is likely that it will soon be offered in the UK. The move follows a string of cases in which bereaved family members have wanted to recognise a loved one’s death online. In response to these, Facebook promised to look at how they could help families when a relative dies. The feature Facebook is introducing will give the user two options. The first will allow them to delete their profile on death and the second will allow them to nominate someone to manage their profile after they...

 

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Government launches a digital wills archive

The Government has recently launched a digital archive of wills held by the Probate Registry. The service is online and available to anyone. Wills have been public documents since 1858, but this new service makes it far easier to access them. The archive currently contains more than 41 million wills. Apparently, the service is already proving popular as people search for wills of deceased family members, celebrities and historical figures. It costs £10.00 and takes up to ten days to receive your electronic copy. Visit the archive here: https://www.gov.uk/search-will-probate

 

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Will Cowell’s handy guide to the key steps in divorce

  Divorce Most people think of divorce as the whole process, and everything connected with it. Lawyers have to be less general in their use of words:
  •  Divorce means “getting the marriage dissolved”. Just that, nothing else.
  •  Financial orders means “sorting out the financial loose ends.” This is a new term meaning any form of help with sorting out financial or property matters in connection with any family case, not just divorce.
Sometimes, a divorce has to be put “on hold” while problems over children are resolved. An application under the Children Act 1989 might be needed. This is actually quite rare. Most disputes are resolved by agreement these days.   1.  How do I get a Divorce? It is normal to use the local County Court....

 

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What do you know about Wills? Test yourself!

According to reports regularly published in the media, the majority of people in the UK do not have a Will. Are you one of them and what do you know about writing a Will?  
  • “My family know what I want so I don’t need a Will.”
FALSE. If you die without a Will, your family have absolutely no authority over what happens to your estate. Everything will be distributed according to the law. Your loved ones could be left out altogether, or inherit only a fraction of your estate. Probate is likely to take longer and be more difficult too. If you die leaving minor children, then they may have no legal guardian and could even end up being the subject...

 

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Wills, the Mental Capacity Act and the test for mental capacity

The High Court has dismissed the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA) as the test for testamentary capacity (the capacity needed to make a Will). Instead, Nicholas Strauss QC sitting as Deputy High Court Judge in the recent case of Walker v Badmin concluded that the test for capacity remains the one set out in the old case of Banks v Goodfellow 1870. The test as stated there is threefold. The testator (the person whose will it is) must understand the:
  • nature of the act and its effects;
  • extent of the property of which he/ she is disposing; and
  • nature of any claims upon him/ her.
In his judgment, Strauss concluded that the MCA test is more stringent than the test in Banks v...

 

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Have you ever thought about what would happen if you weren’t around to look after your children?

It’s not a nice thing to think about, of course, but perhaps not thinking about it is worse than thinking about it… If a child under 18 is left without a person with parental responsibility (usually a natural parent), the first place the executors (the people looking after the deceased’s affairs) will look is the Will of the last surviving parent. The same applies if the last person having the benefit of a Child Arrangement Order dies.  If a guardian is named in the Will, that person then assumes parental responsibility for that child by law. If there’s no Will, then the child could be left with no-one to look after him or possibly at the centre of a bitter...

 

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A wonderful gift from a grateful client!

  We've just had this lovely gift basket delivered by a very grateful client, it's very much brightened up our afternoon! Fruit Basket

 

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Autumn Statement: Transfer of ISA Allowance to Spouse on Death

It was the reforms to Stamp Duty Land Tax which stole yesterday's headlines following George Osborne's Autumn Statement, but there was another interesting little concession made which some people may have missed. Traditionally, individuals have been able to use their own annual ISA allowance to build up a bulk of tax-free savings.  When one spouse (or civil partner) dies, the annual ISA allowance dies with them, and the surviving spouse simply continues saving with his or her own allowance for the rest of their life. Since midnight last night (3 December 2014), if an ISA holder dies, they will be able to pass on their ISA allowance to their spouse via an additional ISA allowance which they will be able to use from...

 

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FREE Digital Legacy Vault Launched

Miller Sands are very proud to launch our new Digital Legacy Vault, which is FREE for our clients to use.  We are the first firm of solicitors in Cambridge to offer this service to clients, demonstrating that we are constantly innovating to offer services which take advantage of new technologies.   What is the Digital Legacy Vault? In an increasingly digital age, the Digital Legacy Vault is a service that allows you to store your online personal information in a secure and safe place. It can be used as a way to manage your online profile during your lifetime, as well as a way of controlling who has access to your information after your death. The service is offered free of charge...

 

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Are you buying a house and getting married? You’re not alone!

Getting married involves a lot of planning and effort, and despite being a very special time for you both, it can also be quite a stressful time making sure everything works out just as you want it.  On top of organising the ceremony itself, it may be the occasion when you buy your first home or possibly a new home. Conveyancing is the name of the legal process and that is what Miller Sands specialise in doing for people just like you, regardless of whether you are buying a studio flat or a mansion. Our aim is to take the stress out of the conveyancing process.  Each of our conveyancers is a qualified solicitor and is experienced in all the ins...

 

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Please review our services!

We at Miller Sands pride ourselves on doing a great job for our clients, and we have hundreds of happy customers who are delighted with how we have handled their legal issues.   If you are one of those people and have a few spare moments, we would love it if you could post a short review on our Google Plus page: just click here and post a review.          

 

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Important changes to Intestacy and Inheritance Claims

The Inheritance and Trustees’ Powers Act 2014 was given royal assent in May and is due to come into force on 1 October 2014. The law will see significant changes to the intestacy rules as well as the statutory powers given to trustees of a deceased’s estate. The law will simplify the provision for bereaved spouses, notably giving them 100% of the deceased’s estate in the event of there being no children. The act will also remove the life interest trust that is currently created when a deceased leaves a spouse and children and the estate is worth more than £250,000.00. Under the new rules, the spouse will inherit the personal chattels, £250,000.00, plus half the balance of the estate outright....

 

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Update on Tlilli the cat

For those of you who read Tlilli’s Tale back in February (http://www.millersands.com/tale-tlilli-cat/), we thought you might be interested to hear how she is getting on. It is now a year since she has come to live with us and I wonder whether she remembers anything of her previous life, whether she still holds onto some feeling of a bygone time. Either way, I think she has settled in well and our home is now definitely hers too. If I had to describe Tlilli in three words, I would say that she is cautious, communicative and loving. She takes a long time to trust something, or someone, and it takes quite a while for anyone to get to know her....

 

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Forget money or children, what happens to your pet dog on divorce?

As a nation of pet lovers, it is quite surprising how a beloved family pet is treated when a marriage breaks down. Under English law, a pet is considered in the same way as a car or television – another inanimate object that needs to be dealt with during the financial settlement. There is no consideration to the relationship that a person may have with the pet or what is in the pet’s best interests. As with other matrimonial property, the Court has a duty to consider the needs and resources of each party to the divorce. This could impact significantly on whether you can afford to keep the family pet. If you cannot afford to meet your income needs...

 

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Is your Enduring Power of Attorney in safe hands?

Enduring Powers of Attorney (EPAs) were in the news again recently with The Telegraph publishing an article calling the whole system, ‘flawed’. The case mentioned in the article relates to two step-sisters whose father Albert granted an EPA  appointing his financial adviser as his attorney back in 2002. The EPA was never registered and the financial adviser went on to abuse his power, eventually defrauding Albert’s estate by an estimated £30,000.00 even after the financial adviser’s firm paid £90,000.00 back to Albert’s estate. Registering an EPA requires notifying certain people and these security checks were, it seems, deliberately avoided by the financial adviser. An EPA should be registered when the donor (the person giving the EPA) loses capacity. In Albert’s...

 

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Proposed Munby Changes to Divorce Law – Will Cowell sets the record straight

There has been a lot of talk lately in the media about reforms proposed by Sir James Munby, President of the High Court’s Family Division.  He suggests that the divorce process should no longer be handled by the Court, but by a Registry Office of Births, Marriages, Divorces and Deaths.  He stressed that this would only be for marriages where no children were involved, and there was agreement that the marriage was over. He says this would make the process simpler, and remove any suggestion of blame. The current process for divorce does involve the Courts, but it is essentially a paper process.  Parties very rarely have to go to the Court for a contested divorce hearing. What Sir James Munby...

 

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Importance of Health and Welfare LPAs highlighted by a recent ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ case

The Court of Appeal has ruled that doctors now have a legal duty to consult with patients before they place a Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) order on a patient’s medical notes. Medical guidelines previously advised that DNR orders should only be issued after discussion with patients or their family. However, according to a recent BBC article, the guidelines had to be reinstated in 2000 after a number of seemingly healthy patients discovered they had DNR orders written on their medical notes without any form of consultation. Yet, it seems even the reinstated guidelines did little to prevent the lack of consultation. On Tuesday 17 June 2014, Addenbrookes Hospital, Cambridge was found to have acted unlawfully by the Court of Appeal...

 

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A warning by the Court to Deputies and Attorneys

Janet Miller and Margaret Johnson were last month publicly named by the Court of Protection after a previous ruling had come to the conclusion that they regarded their roles as deputies to Gladys Meek as a ‘licence to loot’. The original deputy order in their favour had authorised Ms Johnson and Ms Miller, who were Mrs Meek’s nieces, to ‘make reasonable gifts to any charity likely to be agreeable to Mrs Meek, and on customary occasions to friends or relations’. The Public Guardian, however, saw the gifts of £171,000, together with the purchase of expensive cars and £46,000 worth of other expenditure, as excessive and revoked the deputyship. Judge Hodge of the Court of Protection made the decision to name the...

 

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Miller Sands on Practitioners Directory of Leasehold Advisory Service

We are delighted to be one of the few firms in the Eastern region to be featured on the Practitioners Directory of the Leasehold Advisory Service. If you own a leasehold flat we are able to advise you on buying the freehold of your building (the process called Leasehold or Collective Enfranchisement) or on extending the lease under the Leasehold Reform legislation. We can also advise on taking over the management of your building (the process known as Right to Manage).  Alena Aston-Dive is a specialist in this highly complex area of the law. For more information, please visit the relevant section of our website by clicking here, or alternatively email Alena on aad@millersands.com.

 

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Changes to reporting IHT 400 amendments

HMRC is urging legal practitioners or personal representatives to delay reporting a valuation change to an item in a deceased’s estate, so that all changes can later be reported in one go. More for administrative efficiency than anything else, the changes will still see executors charged for any interest due on a change in the valuation, but will remove the penalties previously enforced for not reporting the change immediately. Under the new rules, legal practitioners or personal representatives can delay for up to 18 months from the date of death, providing the property in question is not land, building or unlisted shares. The rules also exclude estates where there is a qualifying interest in possession (for example a life interest trust),...

 

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Important Changes to Family Law – Lisa Churchill explains

Many changes made to the Children Act 1989 officially came into force on 22nd April 2014 with the introduction of the Children and Families Act 2014. Firstly before any private children law application is made, which includes resolution of any issues over contact or residence, the Applicant has to attend a Mediation Initial Assessment Appointment (MIAMs) to decide whether mediation is suitable for the case. There are very few exemptions. A Form FM1 has to accompany any application made to the Court in these matters to ensure this requirement is complied with. Mediation is being keenly endorsed by the Government in an attempt to avoid matters going to the Court. The old ideas of “residence” and “contact” have now been swept...

 

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Miller Sands welcomes a new Trainee Solicitor

We are delighted to congratulate Vicky Austin on her appointment with us as a Trainee Solicitor.  Vicky starts her traineeship today, and joins the Private Client team in her first seat. Vicky has worked at Miller Sands since December 2012, first as our receptionist, then as a Conveyancing Assistant and most recently as a Conveyancing Paralegal. Vicky studied English Literature and Philosophy at the University of East Anglia and worked as a teacher for several years before choosing to retrain as a solicitor. She studied her Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course at BPP in London.          

 

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Siôn Hudson speaks at Modern Studies in Property Law Conference

On 9 April 2014, Siôn Hudson gave a joint conference presentation to a packed audience of property law specialists at the Modern Studies in Property Law conference in Liverpool.  The conference is held biennially,  hosted by different universities throughout England and Wales, and attracts speakers and participants specialising in all aspects of property law, including wills and succession.  A  link to conference programme is here. The presentation was a warning against the dangers of mutual wills, a concept in English law which allows persons to draw up wills and at the same time make a binding agreement not to revoke the wills.  Siôn explained that this severely limited the testamentary freedom of the survivor, who may outlive the...

 

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The tale of Tlilli the Cat

I’m not sure what it is about cats. I just love them. Ever since I was a little girl when I used to spend hours following them around and pretending I was one, I have felt some peculiar connection with the feline species and living without one leaves me feeling bereft of a friend somehow. Anyway, Tlilli is the cat in question here - her name meaning ‘black’, or ‘black ink’ in Aztec - her previous owner being a Professor of Aztec Art and Architecture. For days we pronounced her name wrong, then with squeals of delight in response to “Klilly”, we hit upon the correct pronunciation one morning in August last year, about a week after she had come...

 

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How does the Help to Buy Scheme work?

Help to Buy Equity Loans If you are a first-time buyer or a home mover and buying a new-build property as your only home, you may qualify for this Government Scheme if the purchase price is up to £600,000 and you are buying from a Help to Buy registered builder. You will need to provide a deposit of at least 5% of the purchase price. You will need a mortgage of up to 75% of the purchase price. The Government will give you a loan of up to 20% of the purchase price which will be registered as a second mortgage on your property. You will not need to start paying off the Equity Loan in the first five years of...

 

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Miller Sands secures Law Society’s new quality mark

Miller Sands in Cambridge has secured membership to the Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme - the mark of excellence for the home buying process. Miller Sands underwent rigorous assessment by the Law Society in order to secure CQS status, which marks the firm out as meeting high standards in the residential conveyancing process. Law Society President John Wotton said that the Law Society introduced CQS to promote high standards in the home buying process. “CQS improves efficiency with common, consistent standards and service levels and enables consumers to recognise practices that provide a quality residential conveyancing service. "Buying a home is one of the largest purchases anyone will make in their lifetime, so it is essential that it is done to the highest...

 

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Christmas can be a difficult time for separating families with children

Christmas is a time for families and getting together with loved ones to celebrate the festive season.  However, for families where the parents have separated, it can be a time of increased tension and arguments as it is decided who has the children and when. Christmas can be particularly painful for couples who have recently split, where it is the first time that the absent parent has been away from the children over Christmas. The social and media pressure to achieve a ‘perfect’ Christmas often heightens emotions and puts any issues that you may have with your ex-partner under the microscope.  As each family is very different, the key to agreeing Christmas contact is to plan early, be flexible and...

 

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Miller Sands 120-year celebration Reception

We had a wonderful time at the reception held at Robinson College last week, to celebrate both our 120 years in service, and Julian Landy's retirement. The prosecco and the conversation flowed freely, and Julian was delighted with his digital radio and pen set - he's now all set to enjoy his retirement! Here are a few pictures to enjoy! From above 4 IMG_1412  canapes JL centre 2 IMG_1414 and now go dammit! IMG_1438  SH to JL IMG_1437 McKechnieJarvis etc watching speech IMG_1436  WSC... 
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Divorced Couples in the East are facing a “stressful, lonely” Christmas

A new poll of the UK’s ‘Christmas stress factors’ finds that people in the Eastern region, particularly divorced or separated couples, are bracing themselves for a stressful festive season. According to the research more than one in five people (22%) in the region say they’re not looking forward to Christmas, rising to almost one in three (30%) for people who are divorced or separated. The new data, published on 25 November – exactly one month before Christmas – assesses a range of festive stress factors and finds that making family arrangements, a fear of loneliness and deciding where to spend Christmas are all causing "significant" concerns for many families in the Eastern region "particularly divorced couples" according to experts. The survey...

 

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Separating? Think of the children…

If you have children, but your relationship is under enough strain that you are thinking of separating, please remember that how you manage that process will impact on the children, for better or for worse.  Several organisations offer guidance for separating parents, to help them manage this process. We recommend this publication from CAFCASS, the Family Court advisers: http://www.cafcass.gov.uk/media/2756/FINAL%20web%20version%20251108.pdf This useful document should help.  

 

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Clarifying the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme

“Help to Buy” is a scheme introduced by the present government to try to assist people to buy their own homes.  It is only available to people buying new houses in the course of construction. From next year, it will be extended to cover buyers of existing houses up to the same value.  Help to Buy will run until 31 March 2016, or earlier if the funding is taken up. The scheme allows you to purchase a new house and borrow more than would otherwise be the case. The government is prepared to guarantee up to 20% of the purchase price by way of mortgage.  The equity loan must be repaid after 25 years or earlier if you sell your...

 

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Celebrating changes at Miller Sands!

We are celebrating some key changes at Miller Sands this week. After over a decade as senior partner and 18 years with the firm, Julian Landy has decided to retire from Miller Sands.  He must have thought that writing books and messing about with National Trust properties were much more interesting than spending his days in a busy law firm! We are delighted that Julian will be staying with the firm for the foreseeable future as a non-practising consultant, to assist with business development and marketing, and we are very grateful for his experience and knowledge. Emma-Jayne Sheehan, who has worked closely with Julian for several years, is now Head of Property and will take over Julian's current matters and clients.  She...

 

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Reduced Fees for registering Lasting Powers of Attorney

The Office of the Public Guardian has reduced its fees for dealing with the registration of Lasting Powers of Attorney.  Previously, they charged £130 per Lasting Power of Attorney, but from 1 October this has dropped to £110 per Lasting Power of Attorney. Lasting Powers of Attorney must be registered before they can be used. Lasting Powers of Attorney are important documents that allow your family to make financial and medical decisions on your behalf if you lose your capacity to make these decisions yourself.  Siôn Hudson specialises in drawing up Lasting Powers of Attorney at Miller Sands, and we charge a competitively priced fixed fee which includes advising you on the choices available within your Lasting...

 

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120-year Raffle in aid of Arthur Rank House

Cambridge solicitors Miller Sands were formed in 1893 and are currently celebrating their 120th birthday. To celebrate the firm is launching a wonderful prize draw in support of Arthur Rank Hospice Charity. Prizes include:
  • £500 fee legal advice
  • Free will
  • Dumbletons photography session x4
  • 2 bottles of Champagne
  • Coulson boiler service
  • 2 bottles of whiskey
  • Highclere Castle book signed by Lady Caernarvon
  • Day of golf for 4 at Gog magog Golf Club
  • Simon Taylor cut and blow dry
  • Bottle of Cognac
  • and many more prizes.
To be drawn at 4pm on 9 September 2013 at Miller Sands, Regent House, 133 Station Road, Impington, Cambridge, CB24 9NP. Tickets £2 each or £10 for a book. To buy raffle tickets, please call 01223 202 345 or email info@millersands.com Registered Charity No. 1133354

 

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Shared Equity – Explained!

“Shared equity” is a means of purchasing a property without actually paying the full price. It sounds too good to be true but it does work. In essence a purchaser buys part of the property, say 60% as an outright owner. The balance of the property is owned on a normal tenancy. In other words you borrow money to purchase the 60%, if necessary through a mortgage. The lender’s interest is secured on the 60%. The balance is paid for in normal rental payments every week or month based on the rental value of the property in the normal way. This does enable you to buy more property for your money than would otherwise be the case. It should be that...

 

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Are your company assets up for grabs on divorce?

Businesses and business assets have frequently been an issue in matrimonial finances. Companies, and the assets they hold, are protected by the “veil” of incorporation – the company is viewed as a separate entity in law. For this reason the “piercing of the corporate veil” has been almost impossible.  This has been turned on its head by the recent landmark case of Prest v Petrodel. The facts of the case were that the Husband and Wife were going through divorce, including proceedings relating to their matrimonial finances. There were seven properties owned by companies that were wholly owned and operated by the Husband.   The Court initially ruled that under s24 (1) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 they had the power...

 

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Shake-up of Law relating to Contact and Residence for Children on Divorce

The Government have made the most sweeping changes since the Children Act 1989 by way of the Children and Families Bill, currently being pushed through Parliament. The idea of the Bill is to change the mindset by removing the words “residence” or “contact” and replacing them with Child Arrangement Orders. This is in line with the Court’s current thinking that, wherever possible, parenting should be shared. The Child Arrangement Orders arrange who the child lives, spends time or otherwise has contact with and when they do so. It gives both parents equal responsibility for the child without the idea of “ownership” implied by residence orders. The idea of residence and contact, as with the previous terms of “access” and “custody”, implies...

 

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