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16

2015

August

Support with Family Law issues

In April 2013, the Government introduced the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act commonly known as LASPO.

Whilst the Act continues to have far reaching consequences for the legal industry, it is the effect on the users of legal services who have, arguably, felt the full force of its impact.

The devastating effect on Family Law, with the removal of legal aid for most areas of family issues such as divorce and children and financial arrangements, has perhaps hit the hardest.

Figures from Cafcass (Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service) showed that between April 2014 and March 2015 there was a 27% drop in new private law cases from the previous year.

So is the removal of legal aid the reason for the fall in family law cases?

Family lawyers have warned that firms have closed due to the abolition of legal aid leaving separating couples with restricted access to legal advice.

Indeed, the chairman of the Law Society Family Law committee has commented, ‘The cutbacks in legal aid meant a lot of firms are now disappearing. If someone has a family law problem, there are no lawyers in the local community anymore.’

Despite this, help is still hand at hand on a local level.

Here at Pudsey Legal, we believe that legal services are a resource everyone should be able to access. We understand family problems can be an incredibly stressful time in life and are available to help and guide you through the maze of the family law process.

We can offer fixed prices on many of our services and our family Law solicitor, Helen Starmer, is accredited by the Law Society under their Family Faw scheme.

Helen is also a member of Resolution, a national organisation of family lawyers  committed to the constructive resolution of family disputes by promoting a non-confrontational approach to family problems. Members encourage solutions which consider the needs of the whole family - and in particular the best interests of children.

So don’t think you have to go it alone, call us to arrange an appointment.

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11

2015

August

Pudsey Carnival

18 May 2015

It was all the fun of the fair on Saturday 16 May as we once again took part in the annual Pudsey Carnival.

This year we were part of a team challenge to cycle the 'Pudsey to Paddington Bear Dash' - a 200 mile static cycle ride to raise money for the British Heart Foundation.

Beginning with our taking part in the parade at 12pm, we successfully completed the challenge at around 4.30pm.

Once again , the local community gave us fantastic support throughout the challenge and we thank everyone for their incredible generosity.

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31

2015

July

Wills & Inheritance accreditation for Pudsey Legal

31 Jul 2015

We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded accreditation under the Law Society's 'Wills & Inheritance Quality Scheme' (WIQS).

The scheme is aimed at law firms which offer Will drafting, Probate, and Estate Administration services.

Accreditation allows us to demonstrate our commitment to the highest standards of client service.

Eligible forms have undergone a rigorous assessment by the Law Society to gain the WIQS accreditation.

In endorsing the scheme, the Law Society president Nicholas Fluck said:

'WIQS is an important tool in reinforcing the importance of using a solicitor for will writing and estate management.  It offers reassurance to consumers and helps law firms stand out in an increasingly crowded market.

Anyone can set themselves up as a will writer, but only a law firm with qualified solicitors meeting high standards can be a member of WIQS.  Accredited firms can use the branding to promote their business, while consumers can make informed choices about who is best placed to write their will or administer probate.'


We believe strongly that such accreditations are not merly badges, but do give real reassurance to our clients that we have standards in place which allow us to be awarded these kite marks.

That's why we already hold accreditation under both the Conveyancing and Family Law schemes and are also an accredited practice with the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.

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17

2015

July

Don't add insult to injury

FACT: Accidents do happen.


FACT: Quite often they are just that – accidents – where nobody is at fault.

On the other hand, there are ‘accidents’ when someone is very definitely at fault and, for the unfortunate victim, the consequences can be serious and, sometimes, life changing.

Injuries sustained in accidents can range from bumps, bruises and strains to broken bones and injuries of a far more serious nature.

You may also suffer financial loss. If you’ve been involved in a road accident, you might need to pay for your car to be repaired or your insurance excess and you may need to hire a car whilst yours is off the road. If you cannot work due to your injuries, you may also suffer a loss of earnings.

Find out more about our Personal Injury service here

All these are expenses that you would not have incurred had the accident not happened, so why should you be out of pocket?


There has been a lot of talk recently about the rights and wrongs of making a claim following an accident. The government are, quite rightly, clamping down on fraudulent claims and a number of new measures are now in place to help tackle this.

However, have we reached a stage where there is almost a stigma attached to anyone claiming compensation?

Maybe we have, but let’s not forget that the possibility of something going wrong - eg. an accident-  is precisely why we take out insurance in the first place.

So, with that thought in mind, if you have been involved in an accident which wasn’t your fault and have suffered injury and financial loss, ask yourself three questions:

  1. Why shouldn’t you receive compensation for your pain and suffering?
  2. Why shouldn’t you recover any expenses you have incurred?
  3. And why should there be a stigma to claiming compensation?

Here at Pudsey Legal we have a team of experts on hand to help and guide you through your claim and get you back on the road to recovery. From arranging early rehabilitation and recovering your financial expenses to advising on the correct level of compensation, you can be sure that your welfare is our number one priority.

Regards

Andrew Charuk
Personal Injury Solicitor

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09

2015

July

Pudsey Legal back in the classroom!

09 Jul 2015

We’ve had a busy few weeks as year three of our involvement with Crawshaw School came to a close.

Over the years we’ve held interview practice days, Mock Trials and Dragons’ Den events all under the ‘Make the Grade’ scheme. This is a great initiative which seeks to help students bridge the gap between school and the world of work through partnerships with businesses like ourselves.

The school year wound up with Michael and Andrew concluding their student mentoring sessions followed by Frances and Lesley, who held an interview practice day with years 12 and 13.

Our last event saw Year 13 students set the task of designing a new Road Safety campaign.  Year 13 is around the time when they are beginning to learn to drive and we asked them to aim their campaigns at educating young drivers.

The teams gave their presentations which covered topics such as:

  • Using mobile phones when driving
  • How to stay legal on the road
  • Drink/drugs and driving


We were hugely impressed with the enthusiastic and creative ways the teams had approached their campaigns which included educational videos and posters.  The fact that they were completely at ease when the judges grilled them following their presentations, demonstrated the depth of effort and research they had put into their topics

We hope they learned some valuable lessons as they begin their driving careers – we certainly did!

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23

2015

June

Thinking of a Pre-nup agreement?

I’m sure we’ve all heard to term pre-nuptial agreement and then quickly dismissed the idea as something unromantic or only for the rich and famous.

Whilst Hollywood superstars or premiership footballers might want to protect the considerable assets they may ‘already have in the bank’ when they get married, why should this protection only apply to a select few?

In general terms, a pre-nup agreement sets out the assets which you already owned and which your spouse would have no claim on should you divorce. These assets maybe a home, an anticipated inheritance or even a pet!

However, the current law does not recognise prenuptial agreements as binding and whilst there is no guarantee they will be upheld, they will be examined on a case-by-case basis following the landmark Court ruling in Radmacher v Granatino. This case significantly strengthened the weight of pre-nups by saying they were likely to be upheld if they were not considered unfair.

So it seems the courts will generally take the agreement into account and see it as evidence of parties’ intentions when ordering a division of assets on divorce unless there is good reason to disregard it.  More general points the court will likely consider include:  

  1. Have the parties had independent legal advice?
  2. Have they entered the pre-nup of their own free will?
  3. Did both parties give full disclosure of their assets?


A pre-nup agreement could help you avoid bitter disputes and high legal costs. Whilst the idea of arranging one may sound ‘unromantic’, pre-nups can be a useful way of actually reducing the tension when couples split by limiting the issues to argue over.

Many now see pre-nups as having the practical foresight to plan ahead, bearing in mind the latest statistics show the UK divorce rate sits at around 42%. Indeed, a recent survey found that over half of under 35’s would consider a pre-nup before tying the knot.


If you are considering a pre-nup, or would like advice on whether to make one, please call me to arrange an appointment.


Regards

Helen

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19

2015

June

Andrew at Farsley Live at Home scheme

19 Jun 2015

Thursday 18 June saw Andrew Gullet give one of his regualr seminars on Lasting Powers of Attorney to members of the Farsley Live at Home scheme.

Rather than grab a coffee and chat during the break, Andrew couldn't resist entertaining the audience with his musical skills.

For those who remember Richard Stilgoe on the BBC's That's Life show, we might just have hit upon a novel idea of delivering legal seminars!

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01

2015

June

Can I see your ID please, sir?

Have you moved house recently? Ever wondered why your solicitor has asked to see proof of your identity and address?

It might seem a bit ‘over the top’ and inconvenient to have to prove who you say you are by providing your passport, driving licence and utility bills etc. after all, it’s your money and your house!

However, due to the large amounts of money which can be involved, transactions involving property can be a huge target for money laundering.

Money laundering is simply the process by which ‘dirty money’ ie. money obtained through criminal activity is ‘cleaned’ to make it look legitimate.

When you think of money laundering, it is easy to associate it with large-scale, international organised crime (think Lethal Weapon 2.) However, this is not necessarily always the case - it does exist on a much smaller scale. Did you know that a report last year by the Solicitors Regulation Authority highlighted that it is estimated up to £57 billion (yes, BILLION!) is laundered through the UK every year?

The housing market plays a key role in the health of the UK economy and this ultimately affects us all in one way or another. As lawyers involved in the home moving process, we have a duty to protect it from abuse.

As a result of this, all solicitors and conveyancers are governed by a multitude of rules and regulations which require us to carry out thorough checks and monitor activity. Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, we even have a duty to report any suspicious activity to the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA).

So, the next time we ask for proof of your identity, please do not be offended. We are not being overly fussy; it is all being done for serious and necessary reasons and is ultimately for your benefit and protection.


Regards

Keely

Smart guides

To help you understand the process involved with buying or selling a house, we can lead you through a typical scenario using our PDF smart guides. To get an idea of what's involved, simply click the icons below.

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29

2015

May

Fun at the Farsley Festival

29 May 2015

After our exploits at the Pudsey Carnival, it was onto the annual Farsley Festival on bank holiday Monday where this year’s festival theme was ‘Seaside Special.’

Our first task was to take part in a world record attempt -and it sure was an unusual one - the largest number of people in one place wearing knotted hankies on their heads! The final count came in at 838 so it’s now over to the Guinness World Record people to verify the record.

Our stall certainly kept in with the seaside theme and everyone had a great time with our ‘Soak the Solicitor’ event – we just couldn’t understand why this was so popular?

Thanks to some impeccable sponge aiming and our ‘Name the Bear’ competition, we raised a total of £168 which we have split equally between the Farsley Live at Home scheme and the Festival organising group as they seek to raise funds to make sure next year’s event is even better.

Now for a rest!

 

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19

2015

May

Dementia and future proofing your affairs

Dementia in numbers

  • 850,000 - people with dementia in the UK
  • £26 billion - cost of dementia to the UK
  • 40,000 - people with dementia under the age of 65 in the UK
  • 66% - of people with dementia are women

 

What do you think of when you hear the word Dementia?

Do you think of it as ‘old person’s disease’ or ‘a natural part of ageing’?

Understanding dementia is important.
Dementia is not a disease in itself. It is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life.

The most common cause is Alzheimer's disease. Other forms include Vascular dementia, which can occur after a stroke. It is possible to have one or more causes at the same time.

Perhaps one of the saddest aspects of Dementia is that it is progressive, meaning the symptoms will gradually get worse.

I am a member of Solicitors for the Elderly and, in my line of work, dealing with Wills, Probate and Lasting Powers of Attorney, I have seen, at first hand, the devastating effect Dementia can have on families.

So what can we do, as a business, to support our clients?
Here at Pudsey Legal, we are members of the Leeds and Bradford Dementia Action Alliance groups and have also been awarded 'Dementia Friendly' status by the Alzheimer’s Society which has involved our staff receiving Dementia awareness training to help us better understand the needs of those affected by Dementia.

Part of my job involves advising people on how to protect themselves legally should the unthinkable happen. This can range from Protective Property Trust Wills to give some protection against care home fees or Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA’s) to ensure that someone nominated by you can make certain decisions to handle your affairs.

Whenever I am asked "Why should I make an LPA?" I always describe them as an 'insurance policy' and an important tool in your future financial planning. You might recall an earlier blog I wrote about mental capacity and LPA's. In this, I advised it is not possible to make an LPA once you have lost mental capacity. This is why I see them as an insurance policy, tucked away just in case the worst should happen.

Regards

Andrew

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01

2015

May

Time to change the Divorce laws?

It’s a sad fact of life that marriages do break down.

Official statistics show that there are around 118,000 divorces a year and that 42% of all marriages are estimated to end in divorce.

But what happens when couples do decide to go their separate ways?

The person filing for divorce must show that the marriage has irretrievably broken down by establishing one of the following:

  • Adultery
  • Unreasonable behaviour
  • Desertion
  • You have lived apart for more than two years (and both agree to the divorce)
  • You have lived apart for more than 5 years (even if one party does not agree to the divorce)


So, aside for the last two, as things stand there has to be an element of blame for a divorce. It is not possible to say ‘we just grew apart.’

This has led to some groups calling for the introduction of a ‘No fault’ Divorce system. As a family lawyer, I know only too well the hurt and stress a marriage breakup can cause for both parties and the notion of ‘attaching blame’ often only adds to this.

I am a member of Resolution, a group of family lawyers who are calling for radical changes to the family legal system designed to transform the process, ensuring it keeps pace with the ever changing needs of modern family life.

One other area of proposed change is the law relating to unmarried (cohabiting) couples.

The most up to date statistics show the number of cohabiting couples stood at 2.9m in 2013. But did you know that cohabiting does not give you the same rights as married couples or anyone in a registered civil partnership? The rules are different and affect things such as rights involving children, finances and property.

Unless the law is changed it is always a good idea for couples to enter into a Cohabitation Agreement (also known as a Living Together Agreement.) These are similar to, the more commonly known, pre-nuptial agreements, and set out in clear terms what is agreed between the parties should they separate.

Having such an agreement in place could help to minimise stress and conflict and also reduce the risk of costly and lengthy court disputes.

If you would like to consider making a Cohabitation Agreement, please feel free to call me to arrange an appointment

Regards

Helen

Helen Starmer is a family law solicitor with Pudsey Legal and is certified under the Law Society’s Family Law Accreditation Scheme

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28

2015

April

Paul completes London Marathon

28 Apr 2015

Keen marathon runner and Pudsey Legal director, Paul Kaye, fulfilled a lifetime's ambition when he ran the London Marathon on Sunday 26 April.

This was Paul's 34th marathon and he was delighted to finish in a time of 4hrs 47mins and particularly by beating Chris Evans by 6mins and a rhino by 2 hrs!

Well done Paul.

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17

2015

April

Latest 'Cash for Clubs' members

17 Apr 2015

We are delighted to announce the newest members of our 'Cash for Clubs' scheme - Calverley St. Wilfred's CC.

We wish the club all the very best for the coming season and look forward to forming a successful partnership with them.

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17

2015

April

Mental capacity and Lasting Powers of Attorney

I've written previously on what Lasting Powers of Attorney are and why they provide vital insurance for your future planning.

Here, I'm going to go into the process a little further and talk about one important aspect of them.

A person can only make a Lasting Power of Attorney whilst they still have the requisite mental capacity.

The test of this is set out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (MCA)

The MCA says that a person is unable to make their own decision if they cannot do one or more of the following four things:

  • understand information given to them
  • retain that information long enough to be able to make the decision
  • weigh up the information available to make the decision
  • communicate their decision – this could be by talking, using sign language or even simple muscle movements such as blinking an eye or squeezing a hand.

  
There is a specific section of the Lasting Power of Attorney which needs to be completed by what is called the Certificate Provider.

This is either one of the following Professionals:

GP, Psychiatrist, other treating Physician, Nurse, Social worker, or Solicitor

Or, the Certificate Provider can be a person who has known the Donor personally for at least 2 years.

They will need to interview the Donor (the person making the LPA) and then after the Donor has signed the LPA, the Certificate Provider completes the relevant section of the LPA to confirm the following:

  • That the Donor understands the purpose of the LPA and scope of its authority.
  • No fraud or undue pressure has been applied to the Donor

If a Solicitor is used to make the LPA, the Solicitor will normally act as the Certificate Provider . However, there are often occasions when this is not possible, due to the fact that the Solicitor is unable to make an assessment of mental capacity. This can, for example, be where the Donor has had a stroke, as result of which they have suffered impaired communication. The Donor may well still have capacity but their treating Specialist would be the most appropriate person to act as the Certificate Provider.

Sadly, all too often, people leave it until it is too late to make a LPA. Strokes and dementia can strike at any age and result in a sudden or very quick loss of mental capacity.

Please ensure that you are not one of these people……


Regards

Andrew

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02

2015

April

Is Equity Release right for you?

The market for schemes allowing the elderly to release cash from their homes is rising as property prices and equity increase. Figures show that £1.4bn was withdrawn by homeowners from their property in 2014.

So, how do we turn this equity into cash?

Here, Keely Thomas, of our conveyancing team, gives some insight into how these schemes work.

Downsizing is always an option. However if you want to stay in your own home, there are alternatives.

If you’re aged 55 or over and own your home, Equity Release could give you a lump sum, additional income, or maybe both.

How does Equity Release work?

You can borrow money secured against your home (called Lifetime Mortgages), or sell all or part of your home (called Home Reversion schemes). The two work differently and it’s important to get professional advice before deciding which scheme, if any, works best for you.

Here’s the difference …………………

Lifetime mortgages are loans secured against your home which are not repaid until you die or go into long-term care. They can free up some of your equity whilst you still continue to live in your property.

There are different types of loans with different costs and risks. These are:

  • Roll-up mortgage. You receive a lump sum or regular payments and are charged interest, which is added to the balance. This means you don’t have to make any monthly payments.
  • Fixed-repayment lifetime mortgage. You receive a lump sum, but don’t pay any interest. Instead, the final sum to be repaid is agreed in advance and is higher than the lump sum originally received. When the property is sold, you pay the lender the agreed sum.
  • Interest-only mortgage. You receive a lump sum and pay a monthly interest payment, which can be fixed or variable. The amount you originally borrowed is normally repaid when your home is eventually sold.

Some important factors to consider:

  • With a roll-up mortgage the total amount you owe can grow quickly and could eventually exceed the value of your home, unless you have a no-negative-equity guarantee. Make sure your mortgage includes this guarantee.
  • A fixed-repayment mortgage becomes a better deal if you live longer than the lender anticipates. However, if the home is sold earlier than you planned, you could be worse off.
  • An interest-only mortgage with variable interest rates may not be suitable if interest rates rise.

 

Home Reversion involves you selling all or a part of your property with you receiving a cash lump sum or a regular income.

You’ll usually get between 20% and 60% of the market value of your home because the buyer:

  • Allows you to carry on living there, either rent-free or at a lower-than-market rent
  • Cannot sell it until you die or go into long term care


Generally, the older you are when you start a home reversion scheme, the higher the percentage you’ll get of your home’s market value.

Both options carry risk and could have major implications for tax, benefits and your long-term financial planning

 

"However, these schemes are not for everyone. Please do remember that with any of these schemes, your beneficiaries’ inheritance will be affected, as on your death your home will be sold so the debt – plus any interest – can be repaid.

You should always take professional advice before proceeding and consider involving your family or beneficiaries in this."

Regards

Keely

Contacts

Telephone
0113 254 9733

Pudsey Legal
Cringlebar House,
415 Bradford Road, Pudsey,
Leeds, LS28 7HQ

Pudsey Legal
Trinity House,
32 Church Lane, Pudsey
Leeds, LS28 7RF


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