THOMAS DUNTON SOLICITORS

NEWSLETTER Number 3

 

(You can download this edition of our Newsletter here – PDF, 7MB)

WELCOME to the latest issue of our Newsletter containing articles on legal topics that affect many of us in our everyday lives. We know from the response received to our series of free talks at Orpington Library, that members of the public are keen to find out more about various issues. We hope that this Newsletter, together with our new website, will offer legal guidance on some of your questions.

As a leading Kent-based firm of solicitors, we provide a wide range of services to both private individuals and businesses. Our reputation is founded on a tradition of personal service at an affordable cost and this was recognised earlier this year when the Law Society granted us their Lexcel Award for our commitment to client care and best practice.

We have been serving the public throughout Kent and the South East for over 35 years with clients from all areas including Bromley, Chislehurst, Orpington, Petts Wood, West Wickham, Bexley, Dartford, Swanley, Biggin Hill, Sevenoaks and Westerham.

In a changing world, where we can never be sure what the future holds, you can be sure that we at Thomas Dunton will always provide the expertise and personal attention that you need.

 

 Are you thinking of helping your children to buy their first home?

MANY young people are struggling to find the necessary capital for a deposit to get their foot on the property ladder.

There is pressure from some in government to make it easier for parents and/or grandparents to release money from pensions so that the “bank of Mum and Dad” is more readily available.

If you are thinking of providing financial support to your children, we have given some guidance below to some of the questions that we are regularly asked.

I want to pay part of my child’s deposit.  Do I make a gift or a loan?

Firstly you need to decide whether you will need the money back at any time.  If the answer to this question is “yes” then the money must be loaned.

If you decide to make a gift of the deposit you need to be aware that, once paid, you have no right to reclaim the money whatever yours or your child’s financial circumstances.

My child is buying the property with another person – How do I protect the investment?

If you are making a loan to your child this can be protected by a charge being registered at the Land Registry.

If your child is raising a mortgage to finance the purchase they will need to obtain consent for you to have a second charge. Whilst some lenders may object initially it is worth persevering as a charge is the best way to secure your money.

If you are making a gift you need to decide and document whether the gift is just to your child or to them and their partner.  If the gift is to your child then you need to ensure they protect their interest by entering into a deed of trust and/or a co-habitation agreement.

Are there any taxation issues I should consider?

If you gift money to your child, provided you survive for seven years, the gift will be a potentially exempt transfer (PET) for Inheritance Tax purposes. If your child lives in the property as their principal/main residence, any gain will be exempt from Capital Gains Tax (CGT).

Gifting money to your child to invest in a property can therefore be a very efficient method of tax planning.

If you make a loan to your child any interest payable will be part of your income for tax purposes.  In addition, if the loan is for a percentage share of the property, any increase in value over your annual exemption (currently £10,600) will be chargeable to CGT.

Will I need to see my own Solicitor?

The answer to this question is almost certainly yes – particularly if the money advanced is a loan. Whilst this will increase costs, if you wish to protect yours and your child’s investment, it is important to ensure the nature of the transaction and the intentions of all parties are properly considered and protected.

Please click here to access the Property section on our website.

 

Keep cycling. Keep safe.

IF Sir Chris Hoy, Bradley Wiggins and Victoria Pendleton have inspired you to take to the roads on your bike, take care to avoid being one of over 20,000 cyclists who are injured each year.

With the superb range of sports bikes now available, cyclists can achieve greater speeds but outside the safe environment of the Olympic Velodrome you are at the mercy of cars, buses and heavy goods or agricultural vehicles. Nearly 75% of accidents happen in built-up areas but around half of cyclists’ deaths occur on country roads.

Sadly, over 4,000 cyclists are seriously injured and over 100 deaths occur each year.

Road rage

Cycling accidents often happen because the rider is not seen until it is too late. Typically, most accidents happen at road junctions or roundabouts where the driver of a vehicle simply does not see the cyclist, but there has also been a growth in the incidence of “road rage” being taken out on a cyclist.

Helmets not compulsory

Given the high proportion of major head injuries such as skull fractures and brain damage in cycling injuries, particularly in fatal accidents, there is much talk as to whether wearing a cycling helmet should be made compulsory, as it is for motorcyclists. However, some experts suggest that a helmet would only make a difference if the cyclist is travelling at less than 12mph.

Do you have a claim?

If you, or a loved one, have been injured in a cycling accident within the last three years, which was not your fault, then you should consult our Personal Injury Team. They will be able to advise on whether you may be entitled to claim compensation for your injuries.

Expert advice is necessary, not only because serious injuries may require long term care funding, but also because insurers are seeking to place more responsibility on cyclists for their own safety, including arguing whether wearing a helmet would have made any difference to the injuries suffered.

Free interview

For a free interview where we can assess your case and discuss funding your claim, please contact our Personal Injury Team on Freephone 0800 146 340 or email accident@thomasdunton.co.uk

Please click here to access the Personal Injury section on our website.

 

Lexcel

Thomas Dunton secures top accolade from national Law Society

CHOOSING a solicitor can be difficult, especially when they all seem to offer the same services. Making a decision may be a little easier now that Thomas Dunton in Orpington has secured the national Law Society’s law management quality mark, Lexcel.

Since this new mark of excellence was introduced, little more than 10% of solicitors in theUKhave acquired the distinction. Firms who apply undergo a rigorous examination before they receive the award and are checked each year to ensure standards are being maintained.

Whether a legal problem is straight forward or complex, Lexcel accreditation gives an assurance that a practice meets high client care and business management standards.

John Wotton, President of the Law Society of England andWales, said: “Lexcel acts as a beacon of quality to clients and potential clients alike.”

 

You always have a choice

A lawyer advertising on television or someone employed through your legal expenses insurance will rarely be able to provide the added benefits and personal service of a local, independent and experienced Solicitor. To learn more about how you can gain from these benefits yourself, please go to our new website at www.thomasdunton.co.uk

Please remember, you always have a choice!

 

Family Law

IF your relationship breaks down you need sensitive, practical, clear and cost effective advice to support you through the process during what may be a distressing and emotionally overwhelming time.

Our Family Law Team of Accredited and specialist lawyers at Thomas Dunton offer you the highest quality of service and representation on all legal issues arising from a family or relationship breakdown, particularly in connection with finances and the division of assets on separation and divorce or where children are involved.

For more information please call our Family Team on 01689 822554 or email family@thomasdunton.co.uk

Please click here to access the Family Law section on our website.

 

Buying or selling  your home?

APART from choosing the right estate agent, choosing the right solicitor is equally important in ensuring everything goes as smoothly as possible.

We will guide you

We can help guide you through all aspects of your sale and/or purchase and we’re readily available at the end of the phone, e-mail or fax and, of course, in person if you want to pop in and see us – whether you need a general chat to point you in the right direction or the re-assurance as to how the conveyancing process works with all the estate agents, mortgage advisors, other solicitors and surveyors that could be involved.

Local knowledge

We enjoy good relationships with all the local estate agents and others with whom we have to deal and this can certainly help in keeping things on track.

We can introduce you to a reputable surveyor and help obtain the necessary Energy Performance Certificate.  We will also point out any potential problems, for example a major infrastructure project that could have a long term impact on the property to which you are considering moving. Other issues, such as with rights of access or a restrictive covenant, which you would like removed, can be dealt with by our specialist lawyers within the team who can advise you on a potential solution

Protecting your investment

We may also be able to advise you in your negotiations and maximise the sale price achieved. We especially pride ourselves on putting our clients and their needs first.  This, we believe, helps to achieve what we hope will be a stress-free move.

Don’t forget that when you buy a property it is one of the biggest investments you will make in your life. It is important to make sure you have the right legal team working for you to protect your investment and make sure that it is saleable in the future.

For more information or to obtain a free quote, please call Freephone 0800 371 219 or email quote@thomasdunton.co.uk

Please click here to access the Property section on our website.

 

Plan for the future… insure your family!

WE insure our life, our home, our cars, our holidays and even our pets against misfortune.

So why do so many of us fail to guard against costly problems for our loved ones that could arise from our serious illness or death?

Only a minority of the population have a valid Will. An even smaller number have taken steps to create a Lasting Power of Attorney – leaving their relatives to face a potential nightmare of bureaucracy and expense if they lose mental capacity due to old age, a serious accident or illness such as Alzheimer’s.

Don’t put it off

Too often, people put off preparing a Power of Attorney as they assume that it will only be a problem in old age and their partner will take care of them. Unfortunately, accidents happen to the young and old and time and time again we see problems occurring which could have been prevented with forward planning.

Similarly, most people happily put off making their Will for another day. By failing to plan for the future, they are potentially creating costly and stressful problems for their families should they die or lose mental capacity and risk putting their finances and healthcare into the hands of the government.

Like a one-off insurance policy

Most of us do not get on with making a Will or a Lasting Power of Attorney as we simply do not like to think about our own death or serious illness and believe that it can be put off to another day. However, by doing so, we are preventing our families from managing our finances and healthcare without court approval.

A Lasting Power of Attorney can be likened to a ‘one off’ insurance policy to protect yourselves and your family in the unfortunate event that you are unable to communicate your wishes in the future. Like any insurance policy, the hope is that it will not be required, but you can rest assured that you have taken appropriate precautions to protect yourself and your  family in the event that it is needed.

Contact us

For more information about preparing a Lasting Power of Attorney,

please call our Wills and Probate Team on 01689 822554

or email wills@thomasdunton.co.uk

Please click here to access the Wills and Probate section on our website.

Please call us for our

free information leaflets on a variety of subjects

 

Free talks at Orpington Library

During the year, we have worked with Orpington Library and Bromley Council to give free talks to the public on a number of subjects that affect us all including Health and Safety, Powers of Attorney and Redundancy. The talks were very well attended and we look forward to holding more in the near future.

 

Panorama highlights dangers of using Will writers

JUST over a year ago, a BBC Panorama programme highlighted the risks in using a Will writing service.

Many people are under the false impression a ‘Will writer’ is a solicitor. Unlike solicitors Will writers do not have to undergo any training or have insurance. They are not regulated by any organisation which ensures that they conduct their activities in the interests of the consumer and provide some form of redress if things go wrong.

If they go out of business, there is little that can be done. Sometimes the Will cannot be found, even where charges have been made for storing it.

Experience is essential

One lady on the Panorama programme had used a Will writer but the Will failed to include any provision for her husband, leaving the entire estate in trust for his stepdaughters.

A spokesperson who appeared on the programme, expressed concern that a spouse had not been provided for. She said, ‘A specialist solicitor would have asked why a spouse was left out, kept a detailed record of those reasons and advised of the high risk that the Will would be challenged. Solicitors are in the business of giving legal advice and taking into account the client’s domestic and financial circumstances – it does not appear that this lady received any such advice’.

Potential for getting it wrong

Panorama highlighted the potential for getting it wrong without full legal advice. It can be very costly to undo after you have gone and, at an already emotionally difficult time, it can leave your family in disarray when they have to pick up the pieces as problems often only come to light after you have died.

Peace of mind

Melanie Dunton says “We set out in writing the basis of our charges. In many cases Wills are undertaken for a fixed fee with free storage of Wills and other documents. The average cost of a basic Will is £200 + VAT which is good value for the peace of mind in knowing that your estate and dependants are protected. Whilst we can advise on possible ways to avoid or reduce care home fees, this must be done carefully to ensure that your security and financial independence are properly protected”.

For more information please call our Wills and Probate Team on 01689 822554 or email wills@thomasdunton.co.uk

Please click here to access the Family Law section on our website.

 

 Thomas Dunton’s new website

AT Thomas Dunton we are very pleased to announce the launch of our new website. It is full of information and easy to use features that we hope will make us your first choice whenever you need to explore a legal issue.

The site is very user friendly with simple drop down menus that expand when clicked to bring you additional information on the specific areas you are researching.

No website can replace the personal attention you receive when you actually talk to your solicitor. However, we hope our website will guide you to possible solutions to your problem, make you aware of associated issues that you should consider and remind you that we are here to help and take things forward when you are ready.

You can also listen to editions of the LBC 93.7 radio phone-in programme “Ian Dale’s Legal Hour”, during which one of our senior partners, Vernon Hadida, answers questions from the public.

Please log on to www.thomasdunton.co.uk – for all your legal advice.

 

 A legal issue may be simpler than you think.

Come and talk to us, we have been helping people for over  35 years.

The information in this Newsletter is of a general nature and details are prone to change. Individual advice should always be taken.

 

Thomas Dunton Solicitors,217-219 High Street,Orpington,KentBR6   0NZ   www.thomasdunton.co.uk   enquiry@thomasdunton.co.uk   t: 01689 822554

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