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Legal Updates

Coronavirus Update - Furlough Announcement


Chancellor Rishi Sunak  announced on Friday 29 May changes to the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. 

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Will lighter lockdown mean limbo is eased for probate?


The relaxing of lockdown rules will no doubt be welcome news to many - particularly those currently involved in the buying or selling of property. However, if you are also in the process of probate, an already lengthy process would have been made even longer, thanks to the delays with lockdown.

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SSP Test and Trace


It has been announced that the entitlement for  statutory sick pay has been extended, under The Statutory Sick Pay (General) (Coronavirus Amendment) (No. 4) Regulations 2020, to people who have been told to isolate under the new 'Test and Trace' system, which has started in England today.

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Get ready for SSP rebate scheme set to launch next week


On 19 May 2020 the Government announced the launch of the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme, part of a package of measures designed to support businesses through the Coronavirus pandemic.

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The war over wills is on the rise


There has been a sharp rise in the number of disputes relating to wills, according to the Law Society. It is thought this is down to the complex nature and changing family circumstances, so it is wise to make sure your will is kept up to date.

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Don’t make BYOD into a disaster


Working from home on mobile devices such as laptops could introduce new security concerns when returning to the office after lockdown - so now is the time to ensure all software and network security is up to date.

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Covid-19 can be cruel enough - without the additional paperwork


The recent pandemic has hit hard in a number of ways, but most of all grief and bereavement. In an article published in the Times, we heard of a son who struggled dealing with his Mother’s estate and some institutions in particularly after his Mother passed away  in February this year.

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Furloughed Staff and Holiday – What is the guidance?


A question being frequently asked by our employer clients during the current coronavirus pandemic is whether they can require furloughed staff to take holiday during the period of furlough.  There is an obvious advantage for many businesses to do this where they can currently claim 80% of workers’ pay (subject to the £2,500 cap) from the state under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which has recently been extended to the end of October.  In addition, requiring staff to take holiday now may alleviate the problem of holiday entitlement building up during furlough which then has to be fitted in after furlough ends.

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House purchases on the move again


Those facing an anxious wait for a house move during lockdown can now breathe a sigh of relief, as the industry begins to return to work.

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New guidance for employers will allow staff to safely return to work


On Sunday (10 May 2020) the Prime Minister announced new rules allowing people who cannot work from home to start returning to work. The Government has since published new guidelines, called “COVID-19 Secure”, to give people confidence to return to work, as well as provide clear guidance to employers as to what’s needed to ensure the workplace is safe.

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Coronavirus Update – Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended until October


The Chancellor, Rishi Sunak has announced that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will be extended for four months until the end of October 2020.

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Are you writing a lockdown will? Here’s a few things to consider


Since the Coronavirus outbreak, the number of enquiries relating to wills and Lasting Power of Attorneys (LPAs) has significantly increased. If you are considering one of these documents during lockdown, you might want to take a few things into consideration first.

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Covid-19 sees share prices plummet - but gift-giving surge


The recent slump in share prices has presented something of a rare opportunity. In fact, if you are planning to gift any investments to your family, now is the time to do it.

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Be aware: the rise in ransomware


As you’ll see from some of our recent updates, cybercrime is on the rise[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/stop-the-cybercriminals-from-cashing-in/]. However, not all thieves wear balaclavas and carry bags of “swag”. Online crime is perhaps one of the most lucrative crimes of all. And whilst it is commonly considered the easiest way to obtain vast amounts of cash, it is also one of the easiest to prevent.

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Bounce Back Business Loans - Help for small businesses


The Chancellor has just announced a new small business loan scheme with 100% government backed guarantees for lenders. 

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Government Coronavirus Future Fund could be a chance


Companies facing financial hardship during the Coronavirus outbreak will soon be able to claim from a new Government Scheme called the Future Fund. The Future Fund, which will be delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank, is due to launch in May 2020 and will support the UK’s high-growth VC-backed businesses. It will no doubt provide a much-needed lifeline to businesses suffering from loss of income as a direct result of the recent pandemic.

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Stop the cybercriminals from cashing in


Criminal activity has risen significantly since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak as thieves target the elderly and vulnerable who are reaching out for help. Also, as more businesses turn to virtual methods to uphold social distancing measures, this unfortunately offers an even greater opportunity for fraudsters to cash in.

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AGMs During Coronavirus


In this current pandemic, where we are being advised to stay home and stay safe, how are businesses supposed to hold their AGM at a time when a lot of companies would usually be preparing for the start of the next financial year?

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Where there’s a will… there’s a window?


Along with many others in the legal profession, we are seeing a large increase in the amount of enquiries relating to wills[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/is-time-for-a-heart-to-heart-with-your-nearest-and-dearest/]. Several of these enquiries are coming through from many people, and in particular older people, concerned about their increased risk of serious illness in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, when it comes to writing a will, there’s been a few adjustments to the “norm” to allow for the correct social distancing rules.

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Coronavirus Update - Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Portal is Open


This morning (Monday 20 April) the portal to allow employers to reclaim up to 80% (subject to a maximum of £2500 per month) of a furloughed employee's salary from HMRC has opened.  The portal can be accessed through the Government Gateway.

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Coronavirus Update - Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme extended until end of June


The HM Treasury has just announced (Friday 17 April 2020)  that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (the furlough scheme) has been extended from 31 May 2020 to the end of June.

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Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme Qualification Date Change


HMRC has today amended the requirements for Companies to apply for a grant under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the employees that you can claim for.

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Wills: how to get around the witness signature during social distancing


As the demand for will-writing services increases during the Covid-19 pandemic, so too has the demand for a much-needed review into the process - and whether or not it needs to be updated.

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Hope for the best; prepare for the worst- how to manage a US/UK estate plan in unprecedented times


In these difficult times, with no end to the lockdown in sight and the concern of what may happen in the coming weeks, from both a health and financial perspective, now is a good time to review your estate planning documents to make sure they are in order. Or, if you have yet to make a Will, there is no better time to do one whilst the risks we all face are ever present in our minds.

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Covid-19: Don’t get caught out by fraudsters targeting your money


Since social distancing rules have come into effect, a number of institutions have temporarily closed. For elderly and vulnerable people who increasingly rely on such resources, fraudsters now have an open gateway for opportunity - so make sure you don’t become a target.

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Further to our previous article on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme we can now provide answers to the questions raised and provide additional information about this scheme.

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Issues to consider when furloughing employees under EMI Schemes.


One key consideration for businesses to consider when looking to furlough staff will be those employees who are on EMI Schemes. Qualifying tax rules on granted share options are very strict for employees and require employees to work a minimum number of hours in the business and meet certain employment criteria. Those who have been placed on furlough will still be employees but will not be working which could result in them not qualifying for the favourable tax treatment that EMI Schemes offer.

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Is time for a heart to heart with your nearest and dearest?


Following on from our recent blog regarding a spike in will-related enquiries[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/virus-causes-spike-in-will-related-enquiries/] it seems that now is also the time to be thinking about getting several affairs in order.

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Changes to occur in April 2020


The government are to introduce a few changes to employment law from 6 April 2020 relating to the employee’s right to written particulars of employment, holiday pay, agency workers and bereavement leave.

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The “true” cost of care


It goes without saying that when a relative becomes ill, we do our best to step in and look after them. However, when that illness becomes more long term, the costs of caring for that individual can soon mount up.

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Virus causes spike in will-related enquiries


As more people are required to stay in their homes, many are choosing to spend time doing those life admin tasks that they wouldn’t normally get around to. It seems one of those tasks is writing a will as the Law Society has reported a 30% increase[] on the usual number of requests to write or update a will as more people go into isolation.

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Coronavirus Update - Tenant and Landlord Commercial Property


The Coronavirus pandemic is causing great uncertainty and raises many questions as to issues surrounding the relationship between Landlords and Tenants of commercial property.

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Companies House during Lockdown


Much the same as for the rest of us, the staff at Companies House are doing their best to muddle through and work remotely. As a result there have been some changes to their services which will be important given it is close to accounts filing time!

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Emergency volunteering leave


The Coronavirus Act 2020 received Royal Assent yesterday and introduces ‘emergency volunteering leave’. This enables employees to take unpaid time off work and volunteer temporarily as an emergency volunteer within the NHS or social care. Although the employer does not pay the employee during this period of leave, the employee will be compensated for their loss of earnings from a compensation fund.

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Electronic Signatures – Remote working and execution of documents


In the UK electronic signatures have been legal since the introduction of the Electronic Communications Act 2000.

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IP Alerter Newsletter - March 2020


Read our latest Insolvency Practitioner Alerter - Newsletter March 2020

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On Friday 20 March 2020, the government announced the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to help stem the tide of employees being laid off without pay or made redundant in the current crisis.

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Government support for businesses during COVID-19


The sudden medical epidemic of the coronavirus has caused businesses to face sudden financial difficulties due to the significant reduction in customers and revenue. The government has put in the place the following measures to try to help businesses through this challenging time.

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Coronavirus Update - Government announcement to pay wages


On Friday 20 March Chancellor Rishi Sunakt announced it would pay 80% of salaries for staff who are kept on by their employer.

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Online isolation notes launched - Coronavirus


Isolation notes will provide employees with evidence for their employers that they have been advised to self-isolate due to coronavirus, either because they have symptoms or they live with someone who has symptoms, and so cannot work.

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COVID-19/Coronavirus – Helpful information for Employers


Advice regarding Coronavirus and the response by Government and other agencies to it will be regularly updated. Rather than recycle their information, we have signposted the important links below and we provide some general best practice advice for employers.

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Social care needs to be more of a priority


According to research by Age UK, more than 2,500 elderly patients are kept in hospital unnecessarily as they had nowhere safe to go – and it’s costing the NHS around £587 million.

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Money Laundering Regulations – Is your business compliant?


*Our top tips on best practice*

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Barclays backtracks in privacy row over worker surveillance project


Barclays Bank has withdrawn a system that monitored employees’ computers, tracking individual working patterns and how much time each day was spent on breaks. Details of the pilot project came to light after a Barclays whistle blower reported it to a newspaper.

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New contract terms affecting all new employees and workers to come into force on April 6 2020


From 6 April 2020 there will be changes to the minimum written terms that must be provided to employees AND the timing of when these terms must be provided to them. These terms are known as Section 1 statements, referring to Section 1 of the Employment Rights Act 1996 (ERA).

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New will rules further address the need to write one


Surviving spouses and civil partners are about to benefit from an additional £20,000 if their spouse dies without leaving a will (or where there is an invalid will or it fails to deal with the estate fully). Under such circumstances the “intestacy” rules prevail, which are laid down in statute and create a proscribed order as to who inherits the estate.  

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Could new IHT residence band see step children missing out?


New laws introduced by the Government from the tax year 2017/18 onwards allowed married partners to pass on up to £1 million worth of value in their family home, as long as it was passed to direct descendants.  However, since the law has been introduced, some have found themselves worried that some of their loved ones may be missed out.

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House prices are finally building


According to the latest figures by the building society, Nationwide, house prices in the UK rose at their fastest annual rate for 14 months in January 2020. However, if it is due to continue, experts say a lot depends on how quickly uncertainty about the UK’s future trading relationships will last – as well as the outlook for global growth if the economy is to remain strong.

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Could you consider a more vulnerable loved one this Valentine’s Day?


Valentine’s Day is the time of year our minds turn to our loved ones. But, whilst exchanging cards or gifts is commonplace, it is worth considering other things you can do for a more vulnerable loved one.

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The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations set to come into force on 6 April 2020


Downs Solicitors is pleased to play a small part in helping to raise awareness of a new and important piece of employment law that is coming into force in April 2020. The Parental Bereavement Leave and Pay Regulations will be known as Jack’s Law. This is in memory of Jack Herd who died in 2010 and whose mother, Lucy, has campaigned tirelessly ever since for mandatory leave for grieving parents.

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Bringing life to the “death document”


It’s a truth universally acknowledged that humankind doesn’t like thinking about dying – and it makes us notoriously bad at planning for it. After all, who would want to plan for death, when life is all about living? The thing is, in my line of work, I see all too often how planning for death can actually help people live life to its fullest.

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Receiving residential care doesn’t necessarily mean selling your home


As we get older, how we plan to fund care for ourselves, our spouse or other family can become a worry. For homeowners, there is the concern that they will need to sell their property in order to fund the ever-increasing costs of care, particularly as a lot of social care offered by the government is means tested. 

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Leaseholders call for scrapping marriage value


If you own a leasehold property, chances are when you purchased, you were also granted a period of time remaining on the lease. If that time period is about to expire, or you have less than 80 years remaining on the lease, you might want to watch out for an added cost that is really putting a sting into the leaseholder.

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What could work look like in 2020?


One of the big focuses in recent years has been on flexible working and how it has changed the concept of a “normal” working day. From challenging the norms of 9-5 working[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/working-8-4-what-a-way-to-make-a-living/], there’s no doubt that the new decade could bring a new shape of working – but what does that mean for business leaders and their HR teams?

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What’s the weirdest thing you could leave in a will?


No sooner had we written our recent blog about leaving crypto currency in a will[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/should-you-be-including-crypto-currency-in-your-will/], news hit the headlines about a football fan who left money in his will so that he could buy players a pint.

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OPG release details on elder abuse investigations


In a recent blog[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/elder-abuse-how-that-expectation-of-trust-can-quickly-go-wrong/], we reported how the Office of Public Guardian (OPG) had seen an increase of reports relating to elder abuse. Whilst this is unfortunately not a new trend, the report has thrown some light on the responsibility of carers and those who may be more vulnerable to physical, mental or financial abuse.

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Should you be including crypto-currency in your will?


In a recent blog[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/digital-assets-what-do-you-think-you-own/] we talked about how digital assets may not be so clear cut when it comes to rightful ownership in the event of your death. However, if you happen to own any crypto-currency, you might want to think about telling your loved ones how to retrieve it.

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How might the decision to make ethical veganism a philosophical belief affect employers?


Jordi Casamitjana was dismissed in 2018 by The League Against Cruel sports for gross misconduct. Mr Casamitjana, an ethical vegan, claims that his dismissal came after telling colleagues that their employer’s pension fund was being invested in companies involved in animal testing. His solicitors claimed that the decision to dismiss was made because of his beliefs around ethical veganism.

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Will the no-fault divorce law be revived in time for next national divorce day


Monday 6 January was dubbed “Divorce Day” by those in the legal profession, as it is the day forecast to be the most likely that couples will start proceedings to separate. However, this year, Divorce Day saw something of a reunification, as the Government re-convened over introducing a “no-fault” divorce.

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New decade, new divorce?


With Christmas behind us for another year, the prospect of long dark days of January can take their toll on the best of us. Plus, as the Christmas credit card bills start landing on the doormat, it’s hardly surprising to see why this time of year is also known as Divorce Season.

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Civil Partnerships can void a will - have you updated yours?


If anyone out there was lucky enough to receive a proposal over Christmas, chances are you’re still up on cloud nine. However, whilst thinking about any preparations, you might also want to think about some of the legal implications and how this will affect you and your family.

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Funeral plans: Don’t let them be the death of you


“Gazelle will never say: ‘Just eat me’. We have to hunt.” This was a line spoken by a manager at one pre-paid funeral provider, according to undercover operations that were reported by the Guardian. Sadly, this is just another example of vulnerable individuals being put at risk – as most of them should probably never have been sold a funeral plan in the first place.

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Inheritance tax: What’s changing – and how can you save thousands of pounds


Back in 2016, then-Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, announced as part of the annual Summer Budget, a tax break that would put many families in a more favourable stance when it came to passing on property after death.

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Election round up – the results


We've woken up to the news this morning that, following a public vote in a general election, the Conservative party will be forming a government after winning the biggest majority vote in over 30 years.

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Elder abuse: how that expectation of trust can quickly go wrong


I wrote a blog recently about why it is important to seek legal advice when seeking an attorney[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/always-seek-legal-advice-when-nominating-an-attorney/]. This related to some published findings about those acting on behalf of a vulnerable person – and whether or not their intentions were genuine.

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Always seek legal advice when nominating an attorney


In an article published recently by the Law Society Gazette[], a law firm in London published findings of a survey relating to Lasting Powers of Attorney – specifically for those who act on behalf of a vulnerable person.

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Sky high rents are hitting young people on the ground


Young people are facing some of the highest rents of all time, according to the latest findings from the Office for National Statistics.

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Workers’ Rights – What the main parties are saying in their election manifestos



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Those without a will could be letting the royals benefit from their cash


I’ve written a number of blogs[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/] about the importance of writing a will. But, in an article published in the Times recently, it really brought home the truth of what happens if we fail to write one and die ‘intestate’. The law then determines who will inherit depending on your family circumstances.

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IHT refunds might be due on property sold at loss


Whilst the housing market continues to stagnate, it looks as though there could be some unexpected perks where a property has fallen in value.

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Funeral disputes: a rise from the ashes


It’s an unavoidable fact of life, yet when it comes to death, we do everything we can to steer away from the subject. But, it’s an important one – because it means you and your family can have peace of mind.

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Protective trusts could protect your family


It’s true that many consider trust funds as an outdated concept, but it might be time to dust them off – particularly if you’re looking to protect elderly or vulnerable members of the family.

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Why January really starts in November for divorce lawyers


One of the busiest times of the year for a family lawyer is January. There are more new divorce clients than at any other time of the year. This is often attributed to the pressure of the family being together at Christmas. Yule being the straw that broke the camel’s back.

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What is the true cost of care?


Provision of care among the older generation has been under the spotlight for a long time, but, as Britain heads to the polls to vote in the upcoming election, some parties are making the subject of care a political hot potato.

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Have a will? Check your bank


We’ve all misplaced things occasionally, but a will is something that you’d hope would be stored correctly for a time when an executor would need to administer an estate. However according to a recent article, Lloyds bank has uncovered a number of wills that couldn’t be matched to owners.

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What should we take away from the sudden departure of Steve Easterbook from McDonald’s?


The departure of McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook at the weekend for having a consensual relationship with another employee created headlines for numerous reasons. Not least because of the $675,000 severance payment, but because he was the company’s Chief Executive and don’t things like that get conveniently swept under the carpet? No longer it seems.

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The guide to a Happy Christmas for separated parents


Christmas and the lead up to it should be an exciting and memorable time for children and rewarding for their parents. Christmas is a busy and sometimes stressful period, getting everything prepared for the big day. For parents who have separated, this stress is magnified significantly as they try to organise themselves, their own families and agreeing what’s best for the children.

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UK rents that are raising the roof


* *According to recent statistics by Zoopla, renting a home in the UK has become much more affordable. With many still struggling to get on the housing ladder, and renting becoming the no-choice option, where in the country can you get the most for your money?

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Freeze in probate fees review is welcome news to families


The Government has announced plans to scrap the rises in probate fees, which will no doubt be welcome news to many bereaved families.

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Time to think about updating your Will?


Not many people relish the idea of writing down wishes relating to their death, however, according to research by Royal London, more than half of us in the UK still don’t have one – and 5.4 million don’t even know how to get one[].

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Time to call for further workplace flexibility


Whilst many see flexible working as an opportunity to juggle a work life balance more successfully, a lot of work needs to be done around overall wellbeing for the employee – and ways in which the employer can help facilitate that.

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What’s the difference between an attorney and an executor?


Whilst this may sound like the opening to a punchline, there is a serious side to this question. Do you know the difference between the duties of an attorney and the role of an executor?

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Could the UK avoid recession?


Talks surrounding the possibility of a shrinking economy are increasing by the day, however, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the UK might just avoid a recession.

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Self-employed? You might want to think about how you will fund retirement


According to recent news, the average self-employed worker faces working until they are 79 to secure a big enough pension pot to support them in later life.

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Things I wish I knew before I… got a divorce


In my line of work, I tend to see the statistic of one in three marriages ending in divorce in real life. Whilst many will say signing a pre-nup is one of many things they wish they knew before they get married[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/things-i-wish-i-knew-before-i-got-married/]quite often, separated parties will ask me things they need to know before they get divorced.

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London property prices falling fastest


If you thought you never stood a chance of moving up in the London property market, now could be your chance. According to the latest data from the Land Registry, some homes in London are falling faster than anywhere else in the UK[] – although still remain higher than the national average.

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IHT laws need to change


If you’re under 18, how do you pay a £50,000 tax bill? This might sound like the opening of a riddle, but actually, it’s a very real situation for one family that has been caught in an IHT trap – and it’s perfectly within the law.

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Things you need to know before becoming an executor


No one likes to think about death, but unfortunately it’s a fact of life. People not wanting to talk about death is one of the main reasons why 60% of us risk dying without a will – and without the legal protection of our wishes for our families. It is also very important to think carefully about who to appoint as an executor. This can be a very onerous responsibility.

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Another GDPR data breach hits the headlines


No sooner have we published a blog about British Airways’ largest GDPR fine on record[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/ba-faces-largest-gdpr-breach-fine/], we find another story in the news.

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Where there’s blame, there is not always a claim


If someone you knew had fallen down the stairs and suffered serious injury as a result of a missing handrail, whose fault do you think it would be?

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Financial institutions need to do more to abide by LPAs


Going through the heartache of caring for an ill or elderly family members is difficult enough, yet for those who have secured a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) are still trying to jump through financial hoops.

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Stepsisters’ inheritance battle could have been avoided


Whilst reading an article in the Times recently, it occurred to me that there is quite often more than financial issues at stake when it comes to legal battles. In the case of two stepsisters, it can also be true that heartache and relationships can also be put at risk – but perhaps the cruellest fact is, that all of this could have been avoided, simply by making a will.

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Digital assets – what do you think you own?


Whilst writing wills or nominating an individual for a Lasting Power of Attorney, protecting physical assets, such as property or cash, might be the first things to spring to mind. But, in an increasingly digital age, what about any online assets to an estate?

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BA faces “largest” GDPR breach fine


British Airways (BA) looks set to face the largest GDPR penalty by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) of £183m for last year’s data breach that put 500,000 customers’ details at risk.

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A break through for Claudia’s Law


For anyone suffering from news of a disappeared loved one, it is made even harder that any family, friends or even spouses are unable to take over any of their legal affairs or act on their behalf. However, that may be about to change.

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Welfare deputyship – the next steps


Until recently, parents of children who lack capacity to make their own decisions, for example if they have a learning disability, have had limited rights when it came to making decisions affecting the health and welfare of their children.  However, thanks to a successful campaign from families in London, Brighton and Windsor, that could all be about to change.

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Stress in the workplace


According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), stress, depression and anxiety were the main factors for time off work in 2017/18, equating to 15.4 million working days lost.

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Where there’s a Will… there’s a holiday?


It’s holiday season, so people are off on their travels. It is also the time of year when people start to think about their wills – either writing them for the first time, or updating them.

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3 situations that require a non-disclosure agreement


In all the excitement of a new partnership or business venture, sometimes we forget the serious side too. Fact is, without a non-disclosure agreement, or NDA as it is more commonly known, you risk exposing some of the valuable, and saleable, secrets of your success.

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Can you inherit air miles?


As a professional who works in wills and probate, I find that people deal with death in very different ways. Grief can strike a number of reactions and the thought of death itself has a lot to answer for in terms of effective planning – but perhaps that’s why a particularly story caught my eye over the weekend.

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Love in later life – and what it means for inheritance


We are waiting longer than ever to get married. According to recent statistics from Royal London, marriage rates at younger ages continues to decline, there are an increasing number of men are getting married over age 60, as well as women aged over 50. Whilst we are waiting longer to find the love of our lives, what can the implications be of finding love later in life?

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Things I wish I knew before I… got married


Weddings can be stressful enough. Organising venues, avoiding family mishaps and funding are just a few stumbling blocks many people come across – but after the wedding, there’s the actual marriage itself.

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5 top tips to turning your start-up into a thriving business


When you start a business, there is a phase at the very beginning when you are trying to do several things at once. All of a sudden, you are a business consultant, an accountant, a marketer and a writer - as well as being the expert in your chosen field. It can be easy to lose sight of a few things along the way, but here are five top tips to help you stay on track and help turn your start-up into a thriving business.

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Death. Would you want to talk about it?


I think it’s fair to say it is a truth universally acknowledged that our society does not cope with the idea of death. I think it is the fear of it and the fear of the unknown which makes us bury it away deep into our subconscious – but it is also perhaps one of the most important things we have to think about too.

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What is “Blockchain Technology” and what impact might it have on the legal industry?



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3 ways employers can take better care of the older workforce


People are living longer and therefore, they are working longer. According to the latest data from the ONS, there has been a rise in the number of over-50s in the workplace due to changes in the state pension age and shortfalls in pension payments.

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Thinking of marrying after retirement? Read this first.


According to recent figures, men are more likely to get married after hitting the age of 80 than they were under the age of 20. As more of us consider marrying later in life, you might just want to make sure you check a few things before you do, including the security of children and inheritance rights.

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Why have Terms and Conditions?


Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) are key for any trading business, setting out the terms on which contracts are formed, operated and terminated.  They can be in various forms and contain all manner of arrangements which are bespoke to the relevant industry, transaction and customer including matters such as price and payment, method of placing orders, responsibilities of both parties, delivery arrangements, returns, and warranties and liabilities.  They also detail what happens when things go wrong, for example the customer fails to pay an invoice or the goods supplied are defective.

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Beware of the equity release scams


According to a recent story[], there’s been a massive increase in the number of over-55s being targeted for cash which is locked up in their homes.

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Property trusts are not always the best way to avoid fees – buyer beware


There’s been recent media attention surrounding property trusts, sold to people as a promise to “escape legal fees” upon someone’s death. But, all is not as it seems and people should think twice before entering into such an agreement.

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Things I wish I knew before I... Got a pre-nup


Prenuptial agreements, or pre-nups, have been increasing in popularity over recent years. Older people are marrying later in life and living together longer are just a couple of reasons why pre-nups have been thrown into the spotlight. So, when it comes to gathering a lifetime’s worth of assets, it is hardly surprising that people are increasingly looking to protect them.

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Unnecessary DIY will disputes are keeping High Court too busy


Many people are tempted to write their own wills to avoid the expense of a solicitor, however, a poorly-written will can quickly lead to mounting costs – as well as a legal minefield.

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Focus on wellbeing this Mental Health Awareness Week


This week, 13 - 19 May 2019, is Mental Health Awareness Week. So, what better time to talk about  mental health within the workplace.

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Working on the go is creating new choices


Self-employment is on the rise with more people “going it alone” than ever before. With a rise in easy-to-use, on the go technology more accessible, it’s hardly surprising that more people are opting for self-employment to cater to more adaptive lifestyles. But, what sort of impact is it having in the wider professional environment?

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GDPR One Year On


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is nearly one year old, having come into effect on May 25th 2018. Many businesses in the UK and abroad have made amendments to elements of their practices to ensure GDPR compliance. As with any substantial change, there has been a steep learning curve and inevitable growing pains. With the one year mark fast approaching it seems an appropriate time to look at the impact and success, if any, of GDPR.

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What happens if… I change my mind after signing a contract


When do you have a “right” to cancel your contract – and does that right to do so actually exist?

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Property prices continue downward decline


Whilst Brexit uncertainty rages on, property prices are continuing their time in the spotlight. As prices and demand continue to stagnate, what is next for the UK property market?

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Paternity leave is taking a new shape


Shared parental leave was introduced in 2015 as a way of redressing the balance between maternity and paternity leave. The purpose was to allow mothers to transfer all or part of their maternity leave to the father, allowing them to return to work.

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LPAs – are you claiming council tax relief?


Consumer website, MoneySavingExpert, has embarked on a long-running campaign to raise awareness of council tax discounts that are available to those who are considered “severely mentally impaired” – and it can include carers too.

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Why now is the most important time for the LPA


Lasting Powers of Attorney, or LPAs are legal documents that outlines for an individual who is or are appointed as an attorney/s in the event that the person making the LPA is not able to make decisions for themselves during their lifetime. There are two types of LPA, one covering property and financial affairs and the other in relation to health and welfare decisions including medical. LPAs are extremely important – as without one, your wishes and feelings may not be properly taken into account and there is no one to step in and make any decision needed in your best interests. In some cases sadly without an LPA the result in arguments amongst the family, particularly where there is a second marriage.

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The end of the divorce “blame game”


Here at Downs Solicitors, we have been closely following the changes in the law surrounding “no blame” divorce – today we were really pleased to hear the news that the law will be changed.

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Brexit’s EU property boom


Whilst the housing market continues to struggle in the UK, it looks as though the number of buyers of property abroad is still in good shape.

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Communication is key in bringing down will disputes


When it comes to wills, some clients come to me following the loss of a loved one, questioning whether their will was written fairly. It is often quite surprising to know what many of these clients are unaware that it is possible to contest a will, despite the fact it is a legal document.

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Powers of Attorney guidelines need to take neglect more seriously


According to a recent article in The Times, which reported statistics from the Public Guardian, around 2,000 cases a week are linked to allegations of financial and physical abuse.

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What happens if… I am a step parent and want to apply for Parental Responsibility?


This is a question we regularly get asked, particularly where a marriage has broken down and the children are not biological descendants of one of the parents. It can also be a worry if the biological parent has died and leaves the step parent in the child-caring role, as many can be concerned with legal stances surrounding the rights they have to that child.

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Hold on to your house – summer could be the best time to sell


According to Land Registry data, selling your home at certain times of the year could be key to achieving a high selling price.

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Brexit continues to hold housing market to ransom


As the war on Brexit rages on, there has seemingly been a knock-on effect on the housing market – according to industry experts.

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Each April, the Government may amend employment regulations and set new deadlines for Companies to meet.  The following are deadlines and updates which Managers and HR professionals should be aware of:

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What happens if… I have no “legal right” to get divorced?


Close followers of Downs’ blogs will know that we have been keeping an eye on the law surrounding divorce, particularly where no member of the party is at fault.

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Sickness: Is it serious?


None of us like to think about getting ill, but if you run a business, it can be helpful to identify the leading causes and reasons for sickness in order to effectively manage workflow.

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Spring Statement 2019 – at a glance


The Chancellor has just delivered his Spring Statement for 2019 and despite lasting just under half an hour there were certainly a few surprises in store.

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Could property market re-build in 2019?


Here at Downs, we quite often keep an eye on house prices and their effect on the local economy. Whilst there has been a cloud over the growth of house prices, could there be better things on the horizon for 2019?

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Willing to get writing? Here are a few things to consider.


Thankfully, will writing is being given more air time than it used to, but, it still doesn’t stop nearly two thirds of us not having one.

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What happens if… my partner dies without leaving a will?


This is a very common question, because, sadly, so many of us die without making a will for one reason or another.

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Working 8-4? What a way to make a living!


As if Ms Dolly Parton’s appearance at the recent Grammy Awards wasn’t enough, her new Netflix series beginning in 2019 will soon have reminisces tapping their feet to some of her major hit records. Perhaps working “9-5” is one that resonates most – and what a way to make a living indeed. Since writing her hit, the workplace has changed considerably and it is interesting to see how employers and employees alike are adapting to that change.

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Happy International Women’s Day


Friday 8 March is International Women’s Day – an annual celebration of gender equality. Despite leaps in progression for a number of women, I still find it surprising how stereotypes continue to be challenged, even in 2019.

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Gender pay gap back in the news


It’s been nearly 12 months since the first companies began publishing information about their gender pay gap. One year on, it looks as though we have still quite a way to go as the newest round of pay gap snapshots hit the headlines with Britain having the largest gap between the sexes in the European Union.

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March in to making a Will


An up-to-date will written by a solicitor is the best way to ensure your wishes will be respected. It allows you to provide for your family and friends and leave a gift to your chosen charities too. It is also a chance to think about updating your will if you have not done so in a while.

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Roses are red, violets are blue, I’m not sure work is the place for romance, are you?


Valentine’s Day has gone for another year, but it got us thinking about the consequences of romance in the workplace, for both employees and employer.

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Brexit uncertainty having knock-on effect to wider economy


According to recent reports, falls in factory outputs and car production, and uncertainty surrounding Brexit, have taken its toll on the UK economy, which is now seeing the slowest economic growth in 6 years.

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Housing crisis hits hard for under 35s


According to new research by Civitas, around one million more adults in the UK are living with their parents compared to two decades ago. It looks as though more people will be relying on the bank of mum and dad for a little bit longer.

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No-fault divorce law passes through


Regular followers of Downs’ news will know that we have closely been following the law surrounding no-fault divorce. In an update published today[

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What's new in the world of Insolvency?


As always our IP Alerter provides you with a snapshot of the key developments and insight into key cases. The cases covered in this issue include:

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Brexit: How are businesses faring?


Whilst the jury is still out about how Britain-of-the-future will look after March 2019, but still, the headlines continue to tell us of companies that have been blighted by Brexit.

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Google’s lesson is one we could all learn


The story about Google[]and its hefty fine for breach of GDPR is perhaps a reminder to all of us about the seriousness of data protection.

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Registration of Overseas Entities – the draft Bill is here


The long-awaited Registration of Overseas Entities Draft Bill has finally been published. Even though it is unlikely to come into effect before 2021, there could be a few things to do to prepare – and there are severe sanctions for non-compliance.

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Sort out debts this Blue Monday to avoid being left out in the cold


Monday 21 January has become known as Blue Monday. It has been saddled with lots of negative connotations, from long, dark, cold days to distant paydays and the festive season a distant memory. However, one of the major contributions to Blue Monday is debt as the Christmas credit card bills start to land on the doormat. But, addressing debt early doesn’t have to be scary – and it can help you avoid a whole host of problems later on.

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Building Brexit uncertainty in the property market


As the Brexit debate rages on in Parliament, it seems there are still some problems to be resolved a bit closer to home. Property prices have been named as one of the biggest concerns surrounding Brexit, and, as a number of property experts come forward expressing concern, what can homeowners come to expect?

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Your family or your finances: what would you choose?


You’d think the answer to this question would be easy and that anyone would choose family over any situation. However, it seems at times we forget how our assets, such as property and finances, can tear families apart.

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Divorce: Is it just too easy?


If you were keeping an eye on our legal updates[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/] during Christmas, you may have noticed we stuck to a slightly less festive topic. Divorce season is well and truly upon us and with a forecast spike in the number of separations, have we simply made divorcing a spouse far too easy?

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Feast or famine in the house price market?


 All eyes will no doubt be on the property market this year as Brexit starts to get underway. However it would appear that UK house prices actually grew at an annual pace of 0.5% in December – although this is the slowest rate in nearly 5 years.

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Happy Divorce Day


Whilst the fun and festivities are over for another year, a number of people can find the effects of debt and stress finally take their toll. It is one of many reasons why this time of year is known as Divorce Season. However, there could be a solution to marriage breakdown and over the years I have certainly seen some of the simplest remedies become the most effective.

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Common law marriage – Really?


In 2017 there were 3.3 million cohabiting couples who were neither married or in civil partnerships. This for the last 20 years has been the fastest growing group of couples. A significant proportion of this group are in single ownership or tenanted properties. This is a concern when considering the limited rights that cohabiting couples have versus married couples.

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How to divorce proof your marriage


Tis the season to be jolly, but, we address a slightly more morose topic for a reason. Divorce Day will soon be upon us once again. It is the first working Monday of every year and gets its name due to a surge in divorce applications.

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Christmas parties: don’t be tempted to treat yourself to a sick day


Apparently, around 9 out of every 10 businesses have had an employment related issue as a result of Christmas party antics[]. One of the most commonplace issues is the hangover and staff calling in sick the next day after drinking too much at the Christmas party the night before.

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What is a post-nup and why are they increasing in popularity?


We’ve all probably heard of a pre-nuptial agreement, but what about the lesser-known post-nup? What exactly is it and why are more people looking to write them?

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New Rules for Changing Times


To guard against the possibility that UK immigration requirements might remain the same for longer than one second, the Home Office laid further changes to the immigration rules before parliament on 11 December 2018. Immigration rules enter into force by negative resolution, which means proposed rules come into force without much, or any, debate or pro-active approval by Parliament. The proposed rules are wide-ranging. Most will come into effect on 10 January 2019.

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Separation doesn’t have to end in divorce


It may seem a strange sentiment, but this time of year actually sees the highest number of divorces than any other time of the year. Dubbed “divorce day” by many of us in the legal profession, January 7 2019 is the first working Monday after Christmas. It is also predicted to be the day we see a predicted spike in the number of divorces – but maybe there is something we can do about that.

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3 reliable “relationship killers”


We are probably all guilty of it, but, seeing as it is divorce season, perhaps now is the best time to be thinking about some of the things we do that cause unnecessary bitterness.

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Top 5 myths surrounding divorce – dispelled by a divorce lawyer


The most popular day to start divorce proceedings is in early January. Whether it is the pressure of the cost of Christmas, or working longer hours in the lead up to the festivities, the first working Monday of the new year is commonly referred to by many lawyers as “Divorce Day.”

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‘Tis the season – for divorce?


Whilst the fun and festivities come around, a number of people can find the effects of debt and stress finally take their toll. It is one of many reasons why this time of year, we often term as Divorce Season. However, there could be a solution to marriage breakdown and over the years I have certainly seen some of the simplest remedies become the most effective.

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Bringing your investments “home” for probate purposes


If you hold any overseas shareholdings, you might just find a very costly sting in the tail on your estate – so inheritance planning is key.

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Good Divorce Week – time to address the blame game!


This week is Good Divorce Week, aptly named as a way of raising awareness of the wider impact a separation can bring, particularly for children. Whilst divorce is always difficult, a number of studies have revealed the long-term serious impact on children, specifically around the conflict a divorce brings. Good Divorce Week aims to address the issues affecting children and how separating couples can mitigate any complications by providing practical help and support.

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How the Morrisons data breach case should put employers on their guard


GDPR seems to be the word of the year, but as many businesses still try to get to grips with it, the Court of Appeal have issued details surrounding a case of data protection. Is an employer responsible if an employee deliberately breaches a data protection law?

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Fact: No Will means unclaimed estates will be claimed by the crown


We really do seem to have a reluctance to write a will in this country. According to recent research, around 60% of adults in the UK have not written a will. We may shrug it off as something we’ll “get around to” or “maybe someday” – but there is a very serious underlying issue. If you do not write a will, your estate is likely to be claimed by the Crown.

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BREXIT: Migration to the future


Read Samar Shams, Head of Immigration, recent article in the Employment Journal which considers what the UK’s immigration policies may look like when free movement of EU nationals ends.

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House prices continue to flat line


According to stats from the Nationwide Building Society, house prices rose at their slowest annual rate for five years, due in part to a sustained period of economic uncertainty.

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Make sure a law suit isn’t welcome this party season


It’s that time of year where the seasons change and we celebrate a few festivals. But, whether it is a hellish Halloween, or November 5 goes off with a bang, employers need to beware. They could be held responsible for any mishaps during any celebrations – including the parties.

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IHT: Planning early pays off


An extremely controversial, yet lucrative source of income for the Treasury, inheritance tax has been in the news again highlighting the contrast around the country.

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Budget: The countdown is on


As we count down the days until the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget here are a few things to expect – as well as a few of the need-to-knows.

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Will the Autumn Budget provide any more news for housing?


As the frenzy builds as to what the Chancellor’s Autumn Budget may contain, all eyes are once again on the property market.

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Truth, proof and the right to work


Right-to-work checks and dismissal have always posed a challenge to employers. Recent inconsistent Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) judgments have exacerbated the difficulties. What is an employer to do? Head of Immigration, Samar Shams recent article in the Employment Law Journal goes back to basics and extracts the most important lessons from the muddled judgments.

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LPAs: Are you entitled to a refund of overpaid registration fees?


The Ministry of Justice (MOJ) launched a refund scheme earlier this year for Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) registered between 1 April 2013 and 31 March 2017[]. If this applies to you, you might be eligible for a refund from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).

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Where there’s a will, there could be a cost trap


The following blog came about following a recent experience with a client. They had used a will writing company to prepare a will around 10 years ago. Since then they have paid £18 per year to cover the ongoing costs associated with storing the will. However, nine days after the client signed the will, it was deposited with the Principle Probate Registry for a one off fee of £20.  Once received the Registry issue a Certificate of Deposit of Will confirming that it is held by them.

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For better for worse: Why are cohabiting siblings losing out?


If you needed any further persuasion to plan ahead and consider your options for later life, you might the following interesting to know. 

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Need another reason to plan for IHT?


More than 60% of adults in the UK still have no will. This tells us that many of us are still not planning for later on in life – but believe it or not, there is a really good reason to do so.

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GDPR four months on: what’s changed?


The new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on 25 May this year. It, together with the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA 2018), replaced existing laws in the UK relating to data protection and became an obligatory requirement across the whole of the European Union. Even though this had been bubbling away in the news for several months, there were concerns that businesses remained relatively in the dark about what they had to do. In the end, the majority of cases saw a last-minute scramble to implement the new regulation – and it appears to be still on-going.

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At the end of the day: IHT planning counts


The benefits of Inheritance Tax planning should not be overlooked. Many of us don’t like to think ahead to later life, but it is important to plan ahead as far as possible to mitigate any heavy costs to our families.

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Staying on the right side of the law


Back in June, we reported the story of Universal Wealth[http://stay-informed/legal-updates/are-you-caught-up-in-universal-wealth-preservation/]. The story surfaced to the front of my mind again at the weekend when I read a  comment  on the legalities around offering advice that is outside of your professional expertise.

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Another chapter open in no-blame divorce


Following on from our recent blog[] calling for a review of divorce law, more plans have now been revealed to address some of the outdated areas of the law.

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Managing a more flexible workforce


To follow up on a couple of recent news stories relating to flexible work, for employers thinking of adopting change, you will also need to know how to effectively manage a more flexible workforce.

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The email train: Does the commute count as working hours?


It seems the debate about “working hours” rages on. We recently wrote a blog[[sitetree_link id=926]] about how working hours have changed and that people are moving towards much more flexible models.

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Time to think proactively about later life


No one likes to think about getting old, or even what would happen to our family’s wellbeing and personal finances if we weren’t here. However, now is as good a time as any to be thinking about it, as yesterday, Sunday 9 September, marked Grandparents Day.

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Numbers of dependent elderly are rising fast – time to be proactive.


According to recent research by Lancet Public Health Journal, and reported by the BBC, the number of elderly people needing 24 hour care is set to double by 2025. This puts the spotlight firmly back on why families need to be taking advice and planning ahead for the future, now.

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Another step forward for change


For regular followers of our blog, you may have noticed a string of stories relating to cases of unmarried couples losing out, simply because they haven’t tied the knot.

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Working 9-5: not the way to make a living


Despite Dolly Parton's smash hit, it seems that just 6% of working people are sticking to the traditional 9-5 shift pattern, according to a recent survey by YouGov.

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