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The Legal Guidance Blog. Straight-talking, No Nonsense Legal News & Views. Accessible Legal Advice For All.



Updated: 2017-09-08T01:19:06.343+01:00

 



Inheritance tax threshold set to rise

2015-07-07T12:35:33.623+01:00

Plans to increase the inheritance tax threshold to £1m was first pledged by the Conservatives seven years ago. This proposal made in the Tory manifesto has since been altered so that when pensioners decide to downsize in terms of property any potential children will not miss out on the tax break. This decision comes as George Osborne unveils plans to finally end inheritance tax on properties worth up to £1m.

This policy is said to take an estimated 94% of people out of the inheritance tax altogether. The current system means that individuals who inherit will have to pay a 40% tax on wealth over £325,000 for a single person or 40% on £650,000 for a married couple or civil partners. Therefore, from 2017 changes will see the current thresholds raised to £500,000 and £1m retrospectively. It is important to note that this increase will only apply to property and not other forms of wealth. This £175,000 increase is set to be called 'family home allowance'.

This change is set to come into force April 2017 and is to be funded by pension tax reliefs for those who earn over £150,000. In addition, the Chancellor will allow people who have owned valuable homes to defer their allowance until death, even if they moved out of the property decades earlier.

Stay tuned to find out more...



Plan ahead for your future with a Power of Attorney

2015-06-22T09:47:13.912+01:00

It can often be heart-breaking to have to watch a family member or a close friend suffer and be let down, unable to do anything about it due to an illness or mental incapacity. However there is something that you can do to ensure that both your care and finances are looked after.A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which enables you to choose someone to make decisions for you when you no longer can or are unable to. Your chosen attorney will usually be a loved one or someone you trust. Two people can jointly be appointed to act of your behalf.  You will be able to specify within the documents what actions the attorneys’ are allowed to take once you become ill.A Lasting Power of Attorney is often seen as an under-used tool in ensuring that loved ones are treated fairly and with dignity. News stories from over the last few years have seen a surge in the number of families who are unhappy with the level of care family members are receiving whilst in hospital or in care homes. However the families concerned had failed to secure a Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare, which meant that their power over what happened was limited.By creating a Health and Welfare LPA, you could ensure that someone has the authority to make decisions on your behalf once you become ill or are mentally incapable. This type of LPA will give your attorney the power to make decisions about things like medical care, care homes, daily routine and more.By having a Health and Welfare LPA in place you can also ensure that solicitors will be able to challenge social services, care homes and hospitals should anything go wrong. Over the years many people have believed that by having an Enduring Power of Attorney or Lasting Power of Attorney for Property and Financial Affairs will cover them for issues regarding health and welfare. This however is not the case and both types of Power of Attorney should be treated differently. A Property and Financial Affairs Power of Attorney with only give your attorney the power to deal with your finances and not your personal care. It requires a separate power to be set up, and just as with financial power, it has to be done before capacity is lost and the person is no longer able to declare that they give their consent for this to happen.When it comes to your finances it is essential that you create a Property and Financial Affairs Power of Attorney. This type of LPA will give your attorney the power to make decisions about things like paying bills, collecting your pension, managing your bank account and more.  With a recent increase in pension freedoms and equity release plans, it is more vital than ever before to ensure that you have an attorney to manage your financial affairs when you no longer can.To find out more simply visit our Power of Attorney page.At MTA Solicitors, we can assist you with drafting or creating your Lasting Power of Attorney ensuring that all restrictions and conditions are set out exactly how you want them. We also offer straightforward advice to ensure that your LPA is both accurate and legally binding. To make an enquiry or to create your LPA, simply call us on 0208 437 0731 to speak with one of our friendly legal advisors.[...]



So what are your rights when your flight has been delayed or cancelled?

2015-06-19T14:43:59.310+01:00

So the summer holidays are just on the horizon which means millions of us will be jetting off to somewhere hot or even somewhere cold. But what can you do if you are left grounded by your airline?

Research carried out by Which? has revealed that 30% of UK holidaymakers have experienced delayed flights and consider it as their top holiday gripe. Although this is the case, many people do not know their rights when it comes to cancelled or delayed flights.

It has been estimated that around 3.27 million passengers to and from UK airports each year could have a potential claim. In addition to this, an average of £320 is demanded as compensation.

By law, customers have 6 years to submit a claim and airlines must pay compensation for delays caused by technical issues. In order to make a claim you must have been delayed for more than 3 hours. The amount you are entitled to however, will depend on the delay and the distance.

However, holidaymakers must be aware that the amount of compensation you receive can be halved if the actual arrival time is within two hours for short haul flights, three hours for medium flights and within four hours for long-haul flights.


If your flight has been delayed, airlines have a duty of care to provide those affected with refreshments and accommodation, if required. Even if you have booked your flight through a tour operator, the airline still owes you a duty of care.

Compensation is usually paid in cash, bank transfer or cheque. If the airline is looking to pay you in vouchers for other services, you must agree to this, so don't accept anything you do not want.

So what are extraordinary circumstances?

Extraordinary circumstances account for issues such as security risks, weather events, and dust clouds for example. Basically, the term mean anything which is beyond the airlines control. If this is the case, you will unfortunately not have a claim. It is important to note however that recent rulings have excluded mechanical failures from 'extraordinary circumstances'. If you feel that the airline is not acting fairly in regards to what actually counts as 'extraordinary circumstances', you may challenge them. If your flight was cancelled or delayed in the UK then you can raise it with the Civil Aviation Authority.

What else am I entitled to?

During your delay, the airline must look after you, providing that you are flying from an EU-based airline or are flying from an EU airport.

This Denied Boarding Regulation covers cancellations and delays, and entitles travellers to welfare packages from their airline. Short-haul flights must be delayed by more than two hours, medium-haul by more than three hours and long-haul flights by more than four hours. Once the designated time has passed, passengers are entitled to meals and refreshments, two free telephone calls and potentially accommodation if needed.

If your thinking of making a flight delay or cancellation claim MTA Solicitors can help you! To find our more or to make a claim simply click here or call us on 0208 313 7804 today!



Make a Will to help your family avoid arguing

2015-06-03T14:43:43.798+01:00

When famous actor Rik Mayall died last June intestate (without a Will), his family had to pay an unexpected inheritance tax bill. With an estate valued at £1.2 million, the family of Rik Mayall are facing an IHT liability of up to £60,000. With this mind, it is also important to note that you do not need to be a wealthy celebrity to leave your family with an unexpected and unnecessary IHT bill.

According to research conducted from Macmillan Cancer Support, an estimated 1 million Britons have had a serious family argument after a relative passed away without leaving a Will. Out of these 1 million Brits, nearly a fifth had said that the row had gone on to break up the family.

It seems however, that despite the dangers of dying intestate, almost 6 out of 10 UK adults have failed to set out exactly how they want their estate to be divided once they pass away. The main reason given for this was that they "just never got round to it".

In addition to the research conducted, 1 in 3 people who have already written a Will failed to include something they had promised to a loved one. Many have argued that dying intestate can also pile financial stress onto grief. Making a Will does not have to be expensive but it essential in helping to avoid family breakdowns and legal issues once you pass away.

In terms of IHT payments, research from the website Unbiased.co.uk has shown that Britons wasted £550 million in 2015 on unnecessary IHT payments by failing to make plans. Many have suggested that this vast amount of wasted money is due to a combination of an improving economy and rising house prices which may have resulted in more estates exceeding the £325,000 threshold.

Yet to come into force however, during the 2015 general election, the Tories pledged a new allowance relating to family homes which will effectively take the IHT threshold per couple to £1 million. Currently, everybody can leave £325,000 worth of assets tax-free. Anything above this amount will incur a 40% tax.

To find out more about making a Will or about Inheritance Tax simply click here.



How to protect your business legally

2015-05-27T11:33:53.964+01:00

Whether you are about to start up your own business or you have been running your own business for years, protecting your business legally is essential. Any ideas, copyrights, patents, software and financial information should be protected with a non-disclosure agreement. Protecting these can help keep your business safe against other businesses, that may wish to replicate your work. Non-disclosure agreements can also offer some protection in relation to the information you disclose. Non-disclosure agreements can be used by just one person as way of disclosing information or can be used by two parties as a deterrent against disclosing confidential information. If you own or are setting up a limited company, a shareholders agreement must be set up. A shareholders agreement outlines and regulates the arrangements between you and other shareholders in the business. With this in mind, it is essential to agree to the shareholders agreement as well as writing down who owns the shares and in what amounts.In addition to this, the framework of how your company is operated also needs to be set out, as well as who makes the decisions and how they are going to be made. Signing and setting up agreements such as these are also essential for avoiding any future disputes.If someone decides to invest in or loans money to your business an investor agreement should be made. By setting up such an agreement, investors will be able to see the terms on which they are giving money formally written down. With this you must write down how many shares they get, what type they are and what their value is. This agreement should also address the following questions/issues:·         Will their shares get diluted if more money comes in?·         What are the procedures for running the company and its exit?·         How much control will you be giving them?·         If you fail to address potential situations such as this, it may come back to bite you later.If your business has a website, your consumers should be able to see your sites terms and conditions. Your websites terms and conditions should set out how your business is run and how you expect your customers to behave. Copying and pasting another sites terms and conditions is not an option as there may be certain laws that you must adhere to which is not included in theirs.If your business has a website or you are an online business it is more than likely that you will have software developers helping you build your business. Setting up a software agreement is important and can help you avoid any potential pitfalls. This type of contract should include answers to questions/issues such as:·         What’s the price? ·         When will it be paid? ·         What are the development milestones? ·         Who will own the software? ·         Who will deal with bugs, changes and maintenance and at what cost?Your businesses software could be a key factor in running your company so ensuring that the paperwork is correct is vital.If you are thinking of starting your own business or if you already have your business but lack the legal documents which could protect you, LawStore Business can help you! LawStore Business provides legal packages for both startups and established businesses.Legal services may seem like a costly, overwhelming expense but ensuring that the right legal procedures and documents are in place from the outset will help prevent against any unforeseen, costly difficulties that your business may face later on. They will also ensure that your businesses identity is protected rig[...]



Letting agents to publicise fees charged to landlords and tenants

2015-05-27T10:03:11.082+01:00

As from today (27th May 2015), it is a statutory duty for letting agents to fully publicise the fees they charge to both landlords and tenants. Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015, letting agents must visibly display a list of their fees at each of their offices, including their website.


These new requirements have been issued by the Department for Communities and Local Government with some input from the Advertising Standards Authority. The new guidelines state that, "all fees, charges or penalties (however expressed) which are payable to the agent by a landlord or tenant in respect of letting agency work and property management work carried out by the agent in connection with an assured tenancy. This includes fees, charges or penalties in connection with an assured tenancy of a property or a property that is, has been or is proposed to be let under an assured tenancy.”


All fees must also be inclusive of VAT. Letting agents however, do not need to publicise the rent which is payable to a landlord or the tenancy deposit which is taken as security against any damage or violation of the tenancy agreement.



These guidelines are enforced by Trading Standards. Non-compliance will result in a fine of up to £5,000. Lower fines will only be applicable to those in extenuating circumstances. Common excuses including, ‘I did not know about the law’ or ‘I did not know what to do,’ are no longer acceptable.


This change now means that a breakdown in costs are required. All fees should be clear without surcharges or hidden costs. Fees for things like 'administration fees' will no longer be acceptable, with all charges being displayed inclusive of tax.


In addition to these changes, letting agents must also display which redress scheme they have joined. There are three redress schemes and they include:


- The Property Ombudsman


- The Property Redress Scheme or Ombudsman Services


- Client Money Protection (CMP)



But what do you think? Start your own discussion in the LawStore Social Landlord and Tenant forum.



MTA Solicitors took part in Will Aid

2015-05-18T17:03:52.321+01:00

MTA Solicitors LLP has been mentioned in the Bromley Times online. In an article entitled "Solicitors waive Will fees to raise £1.75m for charity", MTA solicitors is one of twelve solicitors in the Bromley and Bexley area who have helped raise money for nine charities by taking part in Will aid. The Will aid campaign takes part each November and is designed to encourage people to protect their families by ensuring that they have a properly drafted Will as well as support charities. It is estimated that around 70% of people in the UK do not have a Will.


Click here to find out more.


See below for other blog posts about Wills

Don't have a Will? Neither does 73% of the UK

What you need to consider when making a Will



Personal Injury Claim - Hit and Run

2015-05-14T16:08:36.150+01:00

A hit and run on celebrity Actor Ryan Reynolds has recently made headlines causing many to ask ...can I make a personal injury claim for hit and run injuries?

Being left to suffer after a hit and run can leave many feeling both frustrated and helpless, especially if the accident has left you with an injury. If you failed to get the details of the driver, you may still be entitled to compensation for your injury and any loss suffered.

The procedure for making a claim will depend on:
  • whether the driver is traced by police following the accident
  • whether the driver was insured at the time of the accident

A 'normal' personal injury claim can be made if the driver responsible is traced and holds a valid insurance. However, if the driver is traced but fails to hold valid insurance your chosen solicitor will be able to assist you with making a claim to the Motor Insurers Bureau (MIB) under the Uninsured Driver Scheme.

If the driver responsible is unable to be traced, the MIB may still be able to assist you with your claim. The MIB is designed to help deal with claims from the innocent who have suffered an injury or damage to their property as a result of an uninsured or untraced driver. Before making a claim, it essential that you seek expert legal advice from a solicitor as procedures involving the MIB can be complex.

Gathering any evidence relating to your accident will also help to strengthen and support your case, especially if the driver responsible does not have insurance. With hit and run accidents, it is unlikely that you will be able to get the drivers name and address, however it would be an added advantage if you could remember the following details:

  • vehicle model
  • registration number
  • details of damage to your vehicle
  • photographs
  • witness details
It is important to note that if you have been involved in an accident, that you ask for the other driver's insurance details. If the other driver has fled or refuses to give over insurance details, you should report the accident to police within 5 days.

Claims to the MIB can only be made once the police and your insurance company have attempted to find the driver responsible. Therefore, it is extremely important that the accident gets reported to the police.

If you have been hit and injured by an uninsured or untraceable driver, Acorn Law can help you claim the compensation you deserve. Find out more at www.acornlaw.co.uk or call 0845 602 6938 to speak with an advisor.



Consumer Law - Know your rights!

2015-04-30T11:34:45.992+01:00

The rights of a consumer will depend on the type of business and the agreement or terms and conditions of the trader. Consumer rights can be divided into 3 main categories:The Sale of Goods ActsUnder this Act, goods sold to a consumer must be of a reasonable quality, fit for their intended purpose and must match any descriptions which have been given on the product. It is common thought that there is a fixed time limit for rejecting goods which are not of reasonable quality for instance. However it is important to be aware that there is no such time limit and the only obligation required is to notify and claim against the seller within a reasonable time.The Sales of Goods Act also covers services, which requires that the service is provided with reasonable skill and care within a reasonable time. The right to return  goods based on the consumer not being happy with the product is also a myth. Although the vast majority of retailers will accept returns even when the goods are not faulty or as described, they are not any under obligation to do so. This type of returns policy is more of a goodwill gesture.With this in mind, traders should be aware that if they do not offer a returns policy for non-faulty items, then that time limit will not apply if a consumer wishes to return goods which are faulty and the consumer has notified the trader within a reasonable time.Distance Selling/Consumer RegulationsThe supply of goods and services 'at a distance' which include products bought over the internet or phone for example are now covered by the Consumer Contracts Regulations (Consumer Regulations). It is important to be aware that Consumer Regulations can be rather complex and traders should be aware that:there is an obligation as a business supplying goods or services at a distance to give consumers a no questions asked 14-day right to cancel their order.an easy way to cancel their order needs to be provideda specific form for cancelling must be given to consumerstraders must make consumers aware about a consumers right to cancelHowever there are some products and services such as personalised items or perishable goods which are exempt from this right to cancel.If a trader fails to inform consumers of their right to cancel, the consumer will be entitled to up to a year to cancel the contract and receive a full refund.  It is a criminal offence if they fail to tell consumers about their cancellation rights.Delivery costs can also be confusing. The consumer is required to pay for the return shipping but must be refunded for any delivery costs paid. If a consumer asks for services to commence during the 14 day cancellation period, whilst they still have a right to cancel, the consumer will lose their right to a refund  for the services which were provided up to the cancellation. However it is important that the consumer agrees to this.The regulations also prohibit pre-ticking boxes for additional charges and there are separate regulations which prevent charging an exaggerated mark up for credit card payments.Unfair Contract TermsThe Unfair Contract Terms Act and the Unfair terms in Consumer Contract Regulations help to protect consumers against unfair contract terms. Unfair terms cannot be enforced against a consumer.Unfair terms can include:unreasonably excluding liabilityunreasonable timescales given to consumers for complaints and disputesbiased cancellation policiessupplier changing the price of goods without consumers knowledge As a result, traders should ensure that their terms and conditions meet the requirements of fair.[...]



Is employers liability insurance legally required?

2015-04-28T12:04:13.373+01:00

What is employers liability insurance?

Employers’ liability insurance protects employers from liabilities such as staff illness or injury at work.

Is employers liability insurance legally required?

A recent survey on 1,507 SME's from Aviva has revealed that 11% or 1 in 10 SME's are unaware that employers' liability insurance is a legal requirement. Further results showed that SME's only believed it was only a legal requirement if the business had more than 1 employee. In addition to this, figures from the Health and Safety Executive suggested that employers without the liability insurance are at “risk of fines of £2,500 for every day the business is not properly insured”.

Out of the 1,507 SME's studied, 29% were confident they had the right cover whilst 12% admitted to not having any business insurance at all. Aviva also went on to discover that the priority of having business insurance differed depending on how long the business had been running. A quarter of SME's who have been operating for less than a year, had no insurance, whilst 5% of businesses which have been operating for around 8-10 years had none.

The managing director of commercial lines at Aviva, Angus Eaton has argued that "SMEs need a strong understanding of their legal obligations and how they can protect their business and employees to keep it trading. One claim without adequate cover could easily be enough to put severe financial pressure on an organisation or even close it down completely.”

Looking to protect your business should a claim arise?

MTA Business Legal Advance is an upfront membership club which allows you to protect your business and access immediate legal assistance when you need it most. Your business could encounter a legal issues at any time, whether it be an HR issue, employment contract or trading dispute, a regulatory, property management or office premises problem.

Who would you call for immediate legal assistance? How would you pay?

With MTA Business Legal Advance membership you have instant access to legal advice across all our services and peace of mind that your costs will be less if you need to use a Solicitor.


Find out more at business.legal-advance.co.uk or simply call us 0208 437 0880.



Landlords to register deposits or risk facing a fine

2015-04-22T14:48:16.535+01:00

Buy-to-let investors have until the 23rd June to register for an official deposit scheme or face a fine of £3,600. Thousands of landlords could face a penalty if they fail to register their tenants deposits. This warning comes as the government runs a 90 day amnesty for buy-to-let investors who have not put theirs tenants deposits into an official scheme.

If a landlord fails to register by the 23rd June, the fine will be unlimited. The fine is calculated by tripling the initial deposit. The average initial tenant deposit is £1,200. Despite legislation enforced in 2007, it is estimated that around 1 in 3 of the 1.5 million private landlords in England and Wales, are not registered with a deposit protection service.

It is important to note however that not all landlords fall under this scope of legislation. For instance, arrangements which are different to a tenancy, including lodgers and university lets are excluded. All landlords which have an 'assured short hold tenancy' agreement must register with a government backed scheme.

As well as potentially receiving a penalty fare due to a failure to register, landlords will also face being powerless if the tenant wishes to leave at the end of their contract. This is also the case if the tenant wished to raise a dispute with the landlord.

Introduced in April 2007, deposit protection was set up as a compulsory scheme eight years ago to mediate disputes at the end of the tenancy.

Richard Lambert of the National Landlords Association has suggested that "there are now a large number of deposits that need protecting despite not previously needing to be, and it’s likely that many landlords won’t even be aware of what they need to do". In addition to this, he has also highlighted that "landlords who still hold a deposit should protect it if they haven't already done so, which will ensure that you can legally regain possession of a property [if you need to]." 

Do I need to register with a deposit scheme?

Buy-to-let properties which have an 'assured short hold tenancy' contract in place should have the tenants deposit protected within a government approved scheme. There are however certain exceptions such as a university hall of residence or a lodger renting a room in the landlord's home.

Landlords have 30 days from receiving the deposit to register it with one of the following:
  • Deposit Protection Service
  • MyDeposits
  • Tenancy Deposit Scheme
In the case of a dispute between landlord and tenant, the deposit will be protected in the scheme until the issue is sorted out.
 



Employment law changes for 2015

2015-04-14T11:45:07.441+01:00

Commencing April this year significant changes will be made to employment law in the UK. Specific changes will apply to family leave. As an employer and an employee, here are the main main changes you will need to be aware of.

Shared parental leave

If you are expecting a child on or after the 5th April 2015, a shared parental leave and pay will be available. SPL enables the mother to take the first two weeks off after the birth. The rest of the mothers leave and pay can then be shared between the parents, either in turns or at the same time. This equates to 50 weeks leave and 37 paid leave available to be shared.

Additional paternity leave

Additional paternity leave has been replaced by SPL where the child is expected on or after the 5th April 2015.

Adoption leave

Adoption pay has increased to match maternity pay. The main adopter will now receive 90% of pay for 6 weeks and then the basic rate for 33 weeks. Adoptive parents are no longer required to have 26 weeks service in order to benefit from adoption leave and pay.

A single adopter will also be able to attend up to 5 adoption appointments as payable. However with joint adopters, one parent will be able to attend up to 5 appointments with pay, whilst the other parent can attend 2 appointments unpaid. Each appointment can last up to 6.5 hours. Adoptive parents are also entitled to SPL.

Surrogate parents

Prior to this change, surrogate parents had no rights to any statutory leave or pay. However, from 5th April 2015, the main new parent in the surrogacy arrangement will be able to take adoption pay and leave. Both parents will also be able to take SPL. The birth mother retains the right to maternity leave and pay.

Extended parental leave

Parents with 1 year's employment are entitled to up to 18 weeks of unpaid leave, if the child is under the age of 18. This right also applies to adoptive parents.

Tribunal awards

Tribunal compensation limits have risen in line with inflation. The maximum compensatory award for an unfair dismissal is £78,335 or 52 weeks pay if less. Awards for a weeks pay for unfair dismissal and statutory redundancy payments will increase to £475. The maximum basic award or statutory redundancy payment will increase to £14,250.

Statutory payment rates

As from the 5th April, statutory adoption, paternity, additional paternity and shared parental pay will be £139.58 per week.  From 6 April, statutory sick pay will be £88.45 per week.

If you would like any further information or advice regarding changes to employment law simply visit us online or call us on 0208 437 0731 to speak with one of our employment law experts.



Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act

2015-04-07T17:00:49.389+01:00

Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act is the first ever SBEE Act to become an official law after receiving Royal Assent. This Act will enable businesses to get improved access to finance and put an end to zero hours exclusivity clauses.

Business secretary Vince Cable has suggested that "The Small Business Act will create the right environment for small businesses to continue to thrive by giving them greater access to finance to help them innovate and grow, and make it easier for them to export goods and services made in Britain." Cable has also argued that the Act means that firms that do not play by the rules will not be able to hide. This will mean that companies will not be able to abuse zero hour contracts or not pay minimum wage.

The Act focuses on the following key areas:

  • Access to finance
  • Regulatory reform
  • Public sector procurement
  • Childcare and schooling
  • Company transparency
  • Company filing requirements
  • Directors’ disqualification
  • Insolvency
  • Employment
  • Pubs Code Adjudicator and Pubs Code
  • Education evaluation
The Act now means that when businesses try to access finance, banks are required to pass on details on any small or medium sized business they decline for a loan to online platforms. This will then mean that they can be matched with other alternative finance providers.

In addition to this, Business Minister Matthew Hancock has added that "the bill had taken radical action on prompt payment to end the late payment culture where the largest companies will now have to report on payment practices twice a year." As a result, this Act will enable businesses to start up more easily and grow more rapidly than before.

The Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 was passed on 27 March.



What you need to consider when making a Will

2015-04-02T11:08:14.197+01:00

When it comes to making or in some cases changing your Will, there are many things you need to consider. Discussing your Will with a qualified solicitor will also help you to ensure that your estate goes to exactly to who you want it to after your death. Prior to seeing your solicitor you should perhaps consider the following:Who are the executors and trustees of your Will?Always think carefully about who you would like to be your executor and trustees to your Will.An executor is responsible for dealing with your affairs and implementing the terms of your Will. Your executor is also usually appointed to be trustee of your assets whilst your affairs are still being sorted. Full names and addresses should be given to your solicitor.Do you have any children?If you have any children under the age of 16, you should consider carefully as to who is going to look after them should you pass away. Guardians can also be appointed in your Will. Full names and addresses should be given to your solicitor.Do you want to give any specific gifts or items?Always consider whether you would like to gift money or a specific item to a particular person named in your Will. Make a list of the items and the amount of money you would like to gift as well as the names of the beneficiaries. Please note that all these details should be given to the solicitor.Whats going to happen to your residuary estate?The residuary estate is the remainder of your assets/property once any liabilities have been paid off as well as when any gifts or money have been given. Always give careful consideration as to who you would like to receive this. If you are intending to give to a minor child, any funds will need to be held in a trust by your chosen executor until they reach a particular age. This is usually between 18 and 25.How much inheritance tax needs to be paid?It is important to note that the current inheritance tax threshold is £325,000, although there are exemptions and reliefs available which can help reduce the amount of tax payable. Make a list of your assets and their value. This list should be given to your solicitor so that they can advise you on the best way to reduce inheritance tax.Register you WillOnce your Will has been signed and dated, you should ask your solicitor about registering your Will. Once your Will is registered, it will protect you should it get accidentally lost or destroyed.Where can I store my Will safely?It is very important to store your Will in a safe place. Your executors should also be aware as to where your Will is being stored.If you are thinking of storing your Will, we would suggest an online option as it will protect you should your home flood or should you become a victim of theft. My Online Vault is a fully secure, protected and interactive document management system where you store your documents online within your own online vault. Find out more here.Do I need to review my Will?Yes it is recommended that you review your Will at least every 3 years, although this should be done more frequently should your family or financial circumstances change. Depending on your situation a Will can either be changed via a codicil or it may need to be renewed altogether. Your solicitor will be able to advise you on this and what is best for your situation.Do you want to leave money to charity?Through your Will you can leave gifts to your chosen charity. Anything left to charity is exempt from inheritance tax. Whatever your charity, make sure it is clear in your Will and your solicitor is made aware.If your thinking of making a Will, MTA Solicitors can help you! To find out how our dedicated team of Wills and probate solicitors can help you with your Will or protecting your estate simp[...]



The importance of ‘terms and conditions’ in business

2015-03-31T14:17:39.822+01:00

Many small businesses and startups feel that setting out good terms and conditions is not a priority. However, getting it right can ensure that your businesses cash flow stays healthy. When starting a business, the never-ending list of things to do can seem daunting, leaving many elements to go unnoticed. Many startups focus on ensuring that their product is market ready, sourcing customers and marketing the product. Sorting out terms and conditions is definitely not at the top of the to-do list.However neglecting this vital step in your to-do list can impact your cash flow through delayed payments as well as having to pay for materials before you have even taken any payments. The long-term effect of this could lead to unnecessary money and time being spent on debt collections.Late payments within small business are now a common occurrence as customers often deprioritise bills from smaller companies. However with the right terms and conditions in place, your business can be assured that it gets paid first. Getting your terms and conditions right equals no more excuses!Protecting your business is essential. Terms and conditions should be specific and never vague to avoid uncertainty and any misunderstandings. Covering yourself will help to ensure that clients have no opportunity to go back on their word.  Putting your terms and conditions in writing is an absolute must! Without any written agreement, there is no proof and without proof late payments can occur.The founder of Enterprise Nation, Emma Jones has argued that “essentially, having terms and conditions protects you as a business. Terms and conditions certainly have an important role to play when it comes to two parties (customer/supplier, joint venture partners) understanding their duties, rights, roles and responsibilities."So what should terms and conditions include?Emma Jones also goes on to state that “terms and conditions can also save a lot of money by addressing all issues at the outset. This in turn avoids disputes later on about what might or might not have been agreed." Points which should be included in your businesses terms and condition vary depending on your type of business, however you should consider including:·         Clear description of products/services provided ·         Setting out late payment terms (deadlines) ·         Guarantees/warranties offered ·         Delivery times ·         Queries? ·         What happens if either party fail to deliver, pay or terminate contract ·         Terms of the agreement ·         Notice required ·         Law governing the contractIt is important to note that there is no legal requirement to include terms and conditions on your company’s invoices. However many print their terms on the back to avoid any potential disputes or late payments.If you have an existing business or are a startup, LawStore Business can help you! LawStore Business provides legal packages for businesses at affordable prices. Our cost effective, fixed fee solutions enable business to focus on their marketing and customers while we do the rest. Our packages can also be bespoke and tailored to your business’s needs. Our services include:·         Terms and conditions·         Privacy policy·  [...]



Compensation: Airlines threatened with legal action

2015-03-24T11:03:30.610+00:00

Three of some of the biggest airlines could end up in court if they fail to 'shape up' over flight delay claims. Legal action could soon be taken against the airlines Jet2, Wizz Air and Aer Lingus who are not abiding by consumer law. This threat comes as the above airlines fail in the handling of passengers affected by flight disruption. As well as failing to alter their policies despite extensive discussions, according to the Civil Aviation Authority.The CAA, has claimed that both Jet2 and Wizz Air have "failed to satisfy the regulator that they are consistently paying compensation for disruption caused by technical faults, despite a Court of Appeal ruling clarifying that airlines must do so."In addition to this, the CAA has also claimed that the same two airlines are also imposing a 2 year time limit on passengers who wish to take a compensation claim to court. This is despite the Court of Appeal ruling that passengers should receive up to 6 years in order to make a claim in court. Further failures also exist with Jet2 and Aer Lingus who have failed to give satisfactory evidence that they 'proactively' provide passengers with information regarding their rights when disruption occurs. The information provided to customers regarding flight disruption should be in line with the requirements set out in the European regulation.If these airlines fail to comply, the CAA will launch enforcement action and will seek a court order against them. However, Jet2 have suggested that these claims are 'materially inaccurate' and that "Jet.com is paying compensation for disruption caused by technical faults in line with the landmark Huzar ruling and have already confirmed this to the CAA." Compensation received by passengers is up to 400 euros (£289) per a person, with the average fare equating to £80.In addition to this a spokeswoman added, "Airlines are entitled to limit to two years the period in which claims can be made by contractual limitations and these have been upheld by the court on a number of occasions. Jet2.com strictly abides by court decisions and is acting in accordance with the law, not contrary to it. No enforcement action has been taken. The CAA is obligated to consult with Jet2.com before considering enforcement action. This process has not started. Given the misapprehensions of the CAA, Jet2.com expects that following the mandatory consultation process the CAA will not wish to take the matter any further."This failure to comply with consumer law comes as passengers who suffer with long delays bare witness to airlines employing various tactics in order to avoid paying out compensation. Rather than airlines admitting to a technical fault, many passengers will receive a letter stating that the delay was caused by a 'hidden manufacturing defect'. Others have argued that they are simply ignored by airlines who fail to give a response.Under EU Regulation 261/2004, passengers are entitled to £465 in compensation if their flights lands more than 3 hours late. However, claims cannot be made due to 'extraordinary circumstances' such as bad weather or crew strikes.Prior to this change, airlines would refuse to pay out for delays caused by a technical fault. However last year, 2 Supreme Court rulings and a 6 year legal battles opened the floodgates to 2 million holidaymakers to make claims. As a result, the court declared that airlines should pay out when a delay is caused by a technical fault. This change could see airlines fitting a bill of around £3.89 billion for cases dating back 6 years.If your thinking of making a claim for a delayed or cancelled flight, MTA Solicitors can help you! At MTA Solicitors we have expert[...]



MTA Solicitors launches new Debt Recovery site

2015-03-17T16:20:17.576+00:00

debtrecovery.mtasolicitors.com is a mico site of MTA Solicitors and has been designed with a specific focus on debt recovery and how MTA Solicitors can help you and your business. This debt recovery site focuses on:

  • commercial debt
  • credit control
  • personal debt
  • mortgage repossession

MTA Solicitors works with Positive Collections, who offer both individuals and businesses the opportunity to manage their own invoices through a FREE online credit control system. Positive Collections also provides an innovative online debt recovery system and has a 98% success rate in recovering debts they chase.

debtrecovery.mtasolicitors.com is great way to find further information and advice regarding personal debt, commercial debt and mortgage repossession.



Extending the lease on your property

2015-03-16T10:26:00.288+00:00

Extending the lease on your property can be a costly and complicated process, so seeking the appropriate legal advice from a property solicitor is important. The lease on a property can be extended providing you have owned the leasehold property for at least 2 years. In most cases, an owner does not need to start the process of extending the lease until there is less than 95 years remaining. If you are planning on selling your property, it is often advised that you extend the lease. Increasing the lease can also add value to the price of the property.

It is usually worth extending the lease if the lease length falls below 80 years, as you will need to pay marriage values. Marriage values come into force once the lease falls below 80 years. This is due to the leaseholder having to pay marriage fees. The marriage value is calculated based on the properties market value with its current lease against the market value of the property with the extended lease. The marriage fee payable is half of the difference.

It is important to be aware that if the lease length falls below 70 years, it will be a challenge for the new buyer to secure a new mortgage on the property. Properties however, can still be bought regardless of the lease length, but the majority of mortgage lenders will not give you a mortgage if the lease is lower than 60 years.


So whats the process of extending a lease?


Once you have decided to extend the lease, you should contact the freeholder to informally negotiate and offer a price for the lease. By coming to an informal agreement with the freeholder, it can save you both time and money.

The next step is to instruct a valuation surveyor and a lease extension solicitor. It is best to go with a solicitor who has experience in the lease extension process. Once this is done, a formal offer will then be made and rest will be dealt with by your chosen solicitor.

The final steps of this process will be agreeing on a final price and paying the deposit required. Please note that the lease extension process can take up to a year.

If you are looking to extend your leasehold, the LawStore can help you! The LawStore uses a panel firm of solicitors who will adopt the best course of action, tailored to suit you and ensure your lease extension process runs as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

For further information or advice simply call the LawStore on 0845 603 6544 or visit us online to find out more.



UK Parliament votes YES to ban on cigarette branding

2015-03-13T12:03:27.628+00:00

As of 2016, branding on cigarette packaging will be banned in the UK. With legislation approved on the 11th March 2015, Britain's parliament has voted in favour of banning branding on cigarette packs by 367 votes to 113. However, the tobacco industry which is worth an estimated £19.43 billion in the UK, is threatening legal action as a result.

This dramatic change to the law comes as a way of helping to improve public health and reduce the amount of child smokers. This change is also set to decrease the amount of profit made by tobacco companies. Coming into force by May 2016, Public Health Minister, Jane Ellison  has argued that "we want all children in our country to grow up free from the burden of disease that tobacco brings".

However, final approval has still not been granted as this proposal must still be debated and passed by the upper house of parliament before becoming law.

According to the World Health Organisation, tobacco is responsible for 6 million deaths a year globally with an estimated rise to 8 million by 2030. A recent opinion poll carried out in February by YouGov has revealed that 72% of the British public supported plain packaging, with only 15% against the change.

However, in stark contrast, tabacco companies have fiercely resisted this new legislation suggesting it will infringed upon their intellectual property rights. This comes as product names will have to be printed in standardised fonts. In addition to this this they have also argued that it will lead to increase in both counterfeit goods and smuggling.

But what do you think?



Need a Conveyancing Solicitor? LawStore Conveyancing can help you!

2015-03-13T10:46:52.005+00:00

LawStore Conveyancing based in Bromley, Kent offers straightforward and jargon free advice when it comes to buying a property or selling your home. LawStore Conveyancing uses a panel firm of solicitors who are all members of the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), ensuring that they meet the high standards set by the Law Society. Our property law solicitors will adopt the best course of action tailored to suit you, ensuring that your transaction runs as quickly and efficiently as possible.LawStore Conveyancing also offers peace of mind with a NO SALE NO FEE policy. They also understand house stressful buying a selling a property can be. So whether you are a first time buyer, a property developer, a landlord or a business trying to secure a commercial property LawStore Conveyancing can help you!In addition to this, lawstore conveyancing provides a FREE no obligation conveyaning quote online. They also offer price match guarantee, so if you find a comparable quote elsewhere, they will either match it or beat it!Click on the button below and get your FREE conveyancing quote today![...]



Don't have a Will? Neither does 73% of the UK.

2015-03-12T12:19:16.367+00:00

With January and February gone and March passing us by, its time to ensure that your Will is set up and says exactly what you want it to say for when you pass away. And for those of you who have a Will, when was it last updated and is it actually valid?Latest statistics from the Law Society has revealed that the majority of people in the UK do not a have a Will. Results showed that a staggering 73% of 16-54 year olds do not have a Will, whilst 64% of over 55 year olds do. In addition to this, men are also more likely to make a Will than women.The main reason given for not making a Will, is that they believe they have nothing of any value to leave. However, many people forget to account for their property when adding up the value of their estate.Out of those who have a Will set in place, 47.2% stated that their reason for making a Will was due to the fact that they were now old enough or realised the negative impact by not having one. Many people were also revealed to have made a Will as a result of a divorce.Divorces are often a common reason behind people creating a new Will or changing a Will through a Codicil.Dying intestate (without leaving a Will), can often be a nightmare for the family members involved. As many as 23% of those surveyed believed that if they passed away without making a Will, their estate would automatically go to their family. This however is incorrect as in some cases intestacy rules will determine who inherits what. In some cases, the state may be entitled to the estate. In 2014, around £8m was received by the government due to those passing away without an estate.So what are the Intestacy rules?If you pass away without leaving a Will in both England and Wales, your property will be divided and distributed under the intestacy rules in the Administration of Estates Act. These rules were updated after new regulations came into force on 1st October.If you are married or are in a civil partnership and you have children, the surviving spouse/partner will receive everything including personal possessions up to the value of £250,000. Anything above this value is then divided equally between the children when they reach 18 years of age and the spouse/partner.If you are married or are in a civil partnership and you have no children, the surviving spouse/partner will receive everything.If you are unmarried and have children, your children will receive everything once they reach 18 years of age. If you are cohabitating, your surviving partner will get nothing.If you are unmarried and have no children, your estate will go to your relatives in the following order:parentsbrothers and sisters (if parents have passed away)grandparents (no brothers or sisters)aunts and uncles (no grandparents)the crown (no living relatives)Inheritance Tax?Making a professional valid Will can also reduce the amount of inheritance tax you will have to pay. Inheritance tax, is the tax payable on a property once you pass away. However, some can be passed on tax-free via the 'nil rate band'. The nil rate band for 2015 is £325,000.Married couples and civil partners can pass on their property to each other tax-free. As from 2007, the surviving partner  can use both tax-free allowances, providing one was not used at the first death. This means that the amount the surviving partner can leave behind is tax free up to £650,000.If you're thinking of making a Will, the LawStore can help you! The LawStore offers a wide range of affordable and easy to use legal documents regarding your Will. For fu[...]



Storing your Will online with My Online Vault

2015-03-06T12:19:13.735+00:00

The newly launched website MY ONLINE VAULT, is an online platform which securely stores all your personal and important documents in just one place. My Online Vault is a protected, secure and interactive document management service which allows you to upload and store any document you wish in your very own online vault. My Online Vault offers a wide range of features which makes it unique in its market. Both our living and end of life vault enable you to easily upload your valuable documents for keep safe, ensuring that they are always protected and secure. Your vault can be accessed from all over the world 24/7 via your iPad, iPhone, computer and any other internet enabled device. As well as storing your personal documents, My Online Vault also features additional services such as debt recovery, online documents and legal cover and more.My Online Vault is a great place to store critical documents such as your Will. Don't have a Will? With every new account, they offer a FREE WILL. My Online Vault features two types of vaults, the Living Vault and the End of Life Vault. Our Living Vault allows you to effectively store and manage various types of documents such as birth certificates, divorce papers, wills, financial statements, tax bills and more. Our End of Life Vault has been designed to store critical documents such as Wills, funeral plans, life insurance details and much more, so that everything is covered. In addition to this, our online document service allows you to set up any legal documents which you may be missing or you may require for the future.My Online Vault is a fully protective, secure and interactive document management service which allows you to store and manage all your essential and critical documents online. Our vaults contain the tightest online security which requires both passwords and security questions for easy access. Your documents can be reached from anywhere across world 24/7 for added convenience and accessibility. My Online Vault is your solution to storing invaluable documents such as Wills, deeds, plans, bills, photos and much more at just a click of a button.At My Online Vault, our affiliates ensure that we cover all your needs from legal documents to legal cover. These additional services are all linked to our partners MTA Solicitors, a nationwide law practice which offers both expert and affordable legal services. To find out more or to register for a vault account simply click here.[...]



Ten-minute parking leeway comes into force

2015-03-06T10:53:50.824+00:00

Expected to come into force at the end of March 2015, council-owned car parks in England will now have to provide a 10 minute grace period before issuing a fine. This new leeway is to apply to free and paid-for parking spaces on both streets and in off-street car parks. Britain is estimated to 30 million drivers.This change is just one of several which also includes new restrictions on the use of CCTV cars issuing automatic fines. This change comes as more and more drivers begin to complain about being hit with a penalty just as their ticket expires.The changes include:guidance for councils to highlight that they are not permitted to use parking in order to generate a profit.rights given to both residents and businesses to demand parking reviews in the area via petition to the council.powers given to parking adjudicators to hold councils responsible.protection to prevent drivers from being fined for parking at out-of-order meters.ban on CCTV 'spy cars' (excluding no-parking areas such as bus lanes and near schools)Many have argued that the current parking rules have caused enormous damage to shops and businesses. In addition to this argument, the AA president Edmund King has suggested that "this is a common sense move. All too often there are discrepancies between the car clock, the civic clock, the pay-and-display clock, the parking attendant's clock and the driver's watch, which all result in disputed tickets."According to figures from the RAC Foundation, councils in England made a combined surplus of £667 million from their on and off-street parking operations in 2013-14. By law, an surplus made by councils must be ploughed back into transport projects such as road improvements.[...]



Are DIY Wills really worth it?

2015-03-05T17:01:39.334+00:00

Making a Will is essential to ensuring that your savings and assets are distributed according to your wishes. However many people in the UK fail to make a Will due to the sadness of the subject and due to the cost. On a whole, solicitors will charge between £100 and £300, with a £600 plus fee for inheritance tax advice or for other complex planning.

However, in contrast to this, DIY Wills offer a cheaper alternative, usually costing around a mere £20. Some have suggested that with just a quick look online, you will find a wide range of DIY kits to help you make a Will.

Whilst this 'off-the-shelf' option may seem more attractive due to its price, many argue that this is a risky approach. Using a DIY Will, comes with many risks such as errors and if strict witnessing rules are not followed correctly, your Will document could become invalid.

These types of errors can have serious implications and can often lead to your estate being eaten away by legal bills or unnecessary tax. A report from the Co-operative Legal Services has revealed that poorly drafted or ineffective DIY Wills caused a prolonged probate ordeal for 38,000 families a year. As a result, up to 10% of the value of a persons estate is then taken away by additional fees incurred by an ineffective Will. So with the average estate in the UK standing at £160,000, around £16,000 would be wasted away to probate fees.

If you are looking for a solicitor to help you with your Will, it is advised that you choose a Wills and Probate Solicitor who is accredited with the Law Society. Will writing services are also available from other providers, however before instructing them it is essential that you ensure they are governed by a regulatory body such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

So what are the rules of Intestacy?

If someone dies intestate (without a Will), the persons estate is then distributed according to the rules of intestacy. In October 2014, these rules where changed for the first time since 1925 in order to simplify the old system. One of the biggest changes made was for couples who are married or are in a civil partnership but have no children, will now inherit the entire estate if their partner dies intestate.

Under the new rules and when children are involved, the surviving spouse or civil partner will get:
  • all the property of the person who passed away
  • the first £250,000 of the estate
  • 50% of the remainder of the estate
  • remaining assets are held for the deceased's children
However, it is important to note that these new rules do not apply to those who live together and are not married. This means that cohabitees do not automatically have rights to their partners estate if they die without leaving a Will.

For further information and advice on Wills and Probate visit willsandprobate.mtasolicitors.com



Working Time Regulations - Know the rules?

2015-03-05T14:01:11.266+00:00

Working Time Regulations states that employees are entitled to a minimum of 5.6 weeks paid holiday each year. This equates to 28 days paid holiday for those employed full time. If an employer chooses to provide additional paid holiday then this too is acceptable.

This 28 days provides an entitlement of 20 days paid leave per year (or the pro rate equivalent for part-timers) plus the 8 bank and public holidays in each year. Therefore, the 8 public holidays would count towards a workers 28 days statutory paid annual leave entitlement.

Holidays

Companies which operate on a holiday year running from 1st January to 31st December will provide at least 8 public holidays. However holiday running from April to March will see 5 of those public holidays fall on different days each year. This means that holidays running from April to March could fall foul of its statutory obligation to provide 28 days paid leave if Easter falls early one years and late the next.

So for example, if a holiday year runs from 1st April to 31st March 2016, the employer will have 10 days of public holidays. However by contrast for example, if a holiday year runs from the 1st April to 31st March 2017, only 6 days of public holidays will go towards the statutory allowance.

Contracts

The regulations should not be breached if an employers contract states that they are entitled to 28 days holiday (or pro rata equivalent) inclusive of bank and public holidays. This is also the case when employers are entitled to more than the minimum of 20 days plus bank and public holidays. However, if a full time worker's contract states they are entitled to 26 days for the 2016/17 period, the regulations would be breached. In circumstances such as this, an employer should allow for an extra 2 days paid holiday in order to comply with the law.


Payments in lieu

Organisations which will be affected by this Easter time anomaly for 2016-17 may be persuaded to make a payment in lieu of 2 extra days holiday. However, this would be contrary to the regulations. It is important to be aware that it is unlawful to 'buy-out' an individuals minimum right to leave except where employment has ended.

Possible Solutions

Where there are 10 public holidays in the year such as 2015-2016, productivity can be affected. This suggests that employers should consider a longer term solution. In order to prevent breaching the contract, employers could seek workers agreement to:

  • change the holiday year
  • change the wording in the employment contract
  • carry leave over into the following year (this will account for the additional 1.6 weeks leave provided by EU law)
Before the 2015-2016 years starts, employers should consider checking their employment contracts and how to make amendments if necessary.

If you would like further information or advice on working time regulations simply click here. Or alternatively you call MTA Solicitors on 0208 313 5121.