What are the foundations of your Business?

When starting out in business, it’s important to establish your business structure.

If you feel unsure then this is something that your accountant or legal adviser will be able to discuss with you. Choosing the right type of business structure can bring protection and tax benefits.

There are a number of business structures to choose from, but the main 4 are discussed in more detail below:

Sole trader

This is the smallest and simplest type of company structure, typically adopted by ‘one-man-bands’.

A market stall trader or hairdresser might choose this type of company structure as it is quick and easy to set up, has little in the way of ‘red tape’ and is inexpensive.

The down-side of this company structure is that there is little distinction between the individual and the business. You personally become liable for the debts of the business should it fall on hard times.

Also, as soon as you reach circa £40,000 in profit you will begin to pay 40% tax. Sole traders are also expected to register for self-assessment tax returns and will need to file a tax return each year and pay fixed rate class 2 NIC + class 4 NIC on any profit.

Contrary to the name, sole traders can employ staff; sole trader means that you are responsible for the business, not that you work alone. Sole traders that have a turnover in excess of £82,000 per year must also register for VAT.

Ordinary Partnerships

Where two or more people come together to run a business, a partnership may be formed to bring those parties into a legal formation.

As with the sole trader structure, partners are responsible for any losses the business makes and any charges it incurs. It is worth noting that you are responsible for losses incurred by other partners also, so be wary who you enter in partnership with.

If supplying larger businesses, their conditions may require you to incorporate before they will utilise you as a supplier. Partners share in the business’ profits and must be registered with HMRC, file a self-assessment tax return each year, paying income tax on their share of the profits as well as national insurance.

If you are earning in excess of £20,000 in profits you will be better off by registering as a limited liability company. A good partnership agreement is necessary to govern what will happen in the event of a partner leaving the business.

Additional benefits of a partnership agreements include clarifying the nature of the partnership, assignment of management duties, limiting your liability, sharing profits, removing partners and avoiding unwanted dissolution.

Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)

If you do not wish to be personally responsible for the losses or debts of a business you can set up a limited liability partnership. There are a minimum of 2 designated members and all partner responsibilities should be set out in a LLP agreement.

A LLP must be registered with Companies House, file an annual return and accounts with Companies House.

When the LLP is registered, Companies House will inform HMRC so there is no need to contact them separately.

Private limited company (LTD)

This is the ‘biggest’ and most complex type of business structure mentioned so far however it also provides the most security, credibility, scalability and tax benefits.

The most common formation is ‘private limited by shares’.

The limited company is an entity that is responsible for running your business. You become an employee of the entity and most likely you will appoint yourself as a director – responsible for running the company.

Any profit that is generated is owned by the company and after it pays corporation tax the company can share its profits.

Corporation tax for profits below £300,000 per year is currently just 20%. Bear in mind that although you may not be personally liable for the business’ debts, lenders may request a personal guarantee against funds: this can put your assets at risk.

VAT

With all business types you must register for VAT if the turnover will exceed £82,000 per year.

Your accountant will be able to advise on when is best to register. Our advice is, if cash flow is good, then you do not need to register for VAT until the threshold is reached. This way you will not have to pay VAT on sales but can retrospectively claim VAT against any purchases made in the last 4 years.

Entrepreneurs’ relief

When or if the time comes to sell your company, the government has an entrepreneur’s relief scheme, allowing just 10% tax to be paid on capital gains up to 10m in your lifetime.

If you are thinking of starting a new business or charging your business structure, Watson Legal can provide appropriate advice alongside your accountant. For more information or to book your free 30 minute consultation, please call 01279 466910 or email info@watson-legal.com.

 

What is Domestic Violence?

There is no legal definition of Domestic Violence. However, the Government announced in March 2013 the new definition of Domestic Violence would be as follows:

Any incident or pattern of incidents of controlling, coercive or threatening behaviour, violence or abuse between those aged 16 or over who are or have been intimate partners or family members regardless of gender or sexuality. This can encompass but is not limited to the following types of abuse:

  • psychological
  • physical
  • sexual
  • financial
  • emotional

How to deal with Domestic Violence?

Domestic Violence Protection Notice and Domestic Violence Protection Order

A Domestic Violence Protection Notice (DVPN) is an emergency non-molestation and eviction notice which can be issued by the police, when attending to a domestic abuse incident. A benefit of a DVPN is that it is effective from the time of issue, thereby giving the victim the immediate support they require.

Upon a DVPN being served upon the abuser an application by the police will need to be made to the Magistrates Court for a Domestic Violence Protection Order (DVPO) to be issued. If, the Court grant the Order it will prevent the abuser from returning to a residence and from having contact with the victim for up to 28 days. This allows the victim a degree of breathing space to consider their options. Both the DVPN and DVPO contain a condition prohibiting the abuser from molesting the victim.

It is important to note that ‘Domestic Violence’ does not just mean physical violence. As the definition above makes clear, it can be other actions that restrict or control another human being unreasonably.

Non-Molestation Order

If you have been the victim of domestic violence and the respondent is a family member, someone you are, or, have been in a relationship with or someone you are living with you can apply for an injunction from the Magistrates Court. A non-molestation order will protect you or your child from being harmed or threatened.

It is a criminal offence to breach the injunction and the person named in the injunction risks being arrested. Section 1 of the Domestic Violence, Crime and Victims Act 2004 provides that it is an offence to comply with the Order without reasonable excuse. The offence is punishable with a maximum of 5 years imprisonment.

If you need protection immediately, you can ask the Court for an emergency order. This can be issued without notice and therefore you do not need to inform the person you need protecting from.

Occupation Order

If you have been the victim of domestic violence and one of the following criteria is met, you can apply for an occupation order;

  • You own or rent your main place of residence.
  • You don’t own or rent your main place of residence, but you are married or in a civil partnership with the owner and you are living in the home. This is known as matrimonial home rights.
  • your former husband, wife or civil partner is the owner or tenant, and the home is, was, or was intended to be your shared matrimonial home.
  • the person you cohabit or cohabited with is the owner or tenant, and the home is, was, or was intended to be your shared home

The court can order an Occupation Order stating who can live in the family home or enter the surrounding area.

If an Order is granted the Magistrates will say who can live in the family home or enter the surrounding area.

If you require any further information about domestic violence, please contact the team at Watson Legal either by calling 01279 466910 to book your free 30 minute consultation or email info@watson-legal.com.

What is ADR?

‘ADR’ is the abbreviation of ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution

What is Alternative Dispute Resolution?

 ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution’ is a different way in which parties involved in a dispute can solve their problems and settle their arguments without having to attend court.

What ways are there? 

  1. Negotiation
  2. Mediation
  3. Round Table Meeting
  4. Conciliation
  5. Arbitration

What is Negotiation?

The negotiation process is an informal approach between the parties themselves or their lawyers. This is the quickest and cheapest way of solving issues. The people involved in the dispute enter into contact directly and privately to resolve their issues. There is not a third entity controlling the affected persons’ decision.

What is Mediation?

Mediation involves a third party who is independent to the dispute and therefore neutral. It appears to help the parties in reaching an agreement. The person is called a ‘mediator’ and they are not entitled to give their personal opinion about the dispute in question, but simply to facilitate between the parties. Their main duties are helping the parties to clarify their positions. A good mediator is a person who has been trained to give assistance to the parties in the way of researching good and satisfactory solutions. Mediators do not make judgments or decide the outcome of the dispute. They ask questions that help to uncover underlying problems, assist the parties to understand the issues and help them to clarify the options for resolving their difference or dispute.

What is a Round Table Meeting?

This is similar to mediation, however lawyers assist in narrowing the issues and aid the parties in reaching a resolution.

What is Conciliation?

A step further, is the conciliation process. It is managed by the conciliator, who has similar duties to the mediator, but with a very big difference, the conciliator is entitled to suggest solutions to the case. Conciliation focuses on what you and the other party want and tries to find a way of solving the problem. Both you and the other party can put your case but one of you may have to give way more, to find the best solution to the problem.

The principles of the conciliation process are:

Voluntariness: The parties have the right to withdraw from the conciliation process at any time.

Impartiality: The conciliator is not related with any of the parties. If this compromise is breached the parties can ask for changing the conciliator.

Confidentiality: The information given by the parties in the process is unequivocally confidential, it means that only the parties and the conciliator have access to it.

Good faith: The information given by the parties must be reliable. It is important to achieve a real solution to the case.

What is Arbitration? 

According to the Arbitration Act 1996, if the parties decide to initiate an arbitration process they will have to submit to an arbitrator usually from the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb), to a panel of arbitrators or to an arbitral institution.

This is decided and appointed by the parties themselves or, if they do not achieve a settlement, the court can be asked to select one. This system is pretty similar to the formal procedure in a court with a judge. In fact, the decision taken by an arbitrator is called an ‘award’ and it binds the parties. If they do not obey this commitment the court can force them to do it. The arbitral award can only being taken to the court if it is questioned about serious irregularity in the proceedings or on a point of law.

Arbitration is an easier way of achieving an agreement because it offers: flexibility to choose the time, place and sort of procedure; speed, and cheaper costs.

The decision the arbitrator makes is legally binding. You will not be able to go to court later if you do not agree with the outcome. It is still usually cheaper than going to court.

IN A NUTSHELLnutshell1

NEGOTIATION Parties themselves
MEDIATION Parties with help of neutral third party.
CONCILIATION Parties with help of neutral third party who plays an active role in suggesting a solution
ARBITRATION Parties agree to let third party make a binding decision

If you require any further information about ADR, please contact our friendly team at Watson Legal either by calling 01279 466910 to book your free 30 minute consultation or email info@watson-legal.com.

Are you aware of the new Debt Pre-Action Protocol?

Legal Advice

The Pre-action Protocol for debt claims came into force on 1 October 2017 and will impact on a business if it has outstanding debts due from individuals and sole traders.

The Protocol does not apply to business-to-business debts unless the debtor is a sole trader. The Protocol does not apply if the matter is covered by another pre-action protocol such as construction and engineering or mortgage arrears.

The aims of the Protocol are to:

(a) encourage early engagement and communication between the parties;

(b) enable the parties to resolve the matter without the need to start court proceedings, including agreeing a reasonable repayment plan or considering using an Alternative Dispute Resolution Procedure (ADR);

(c) encourage the parties to act in a reasonable and proportionate manner in all dealings with one another;

(d) support the efficient management of proceedings that cannot be avoided.

First Stage

A creditor (the Claimant) will have to correspond with the debtor by way of a Letter of Claim. The Letter of Claim should contain the amount of the debt, whether interest or other charges are continuing, where the debt arises from and attach evidence

  • if regular instalments are currently being offered by or on behalf of the debtor, or are being paid, an explanation of why the offer is not acceptable and why a court claim is still being considered
  • details of how the debt can be paid (for example, the method of and address for payment) and details of how to proceed if the debtor wishes to discuss payment options and
  • the address to which the completed reply form should be sent.

With the Letter of Claim the following should be included:

  1. enclose an up-to-date statement of account for the debt, which should include details of any interest and administrative or other charges added or
  2. enclose the most recent statement of account for the debt and state in the letter of claim the amount of interest incurred and any administrative or other charges imposed since that statement of account was issued, sufficient to bring it up to date or
  3. where no statements have been provided for the debt, state in the letter of claim the amount of interest incurred and any administrative or other charges imposed since the debt was incurred
  4. enclose a copy of the information sheet and the reply form in the form annexed to the protocol and
  5. enclose a financial statement form as annexed to the protocol

If the debtor does not reply to the letter before claim within 30 days, the creditor may commence court proceedings.

The debtor should use the reply form for its response. The debtor should request copies of any documents it wishes to see and enclose copies of any documents it considers relevant, such as details of payments made but not taken into account in the creditor’s letter of claim.

If the debtor indicates that it is seeking debt advice, the creditor has to allow the debtor a reasonable period for the advice to be obtained and should not commence court proceedings less than 30 days from receipt of the completed reply form or 30 days from the creditor providing any documents requested by the debtor, whichever is the later.

The creditor should also allow reasonable extra time for the debtor to obtain that advice where it would be reasonable to do so in the circumstances.

If the debtor requires time to pay, the protocol requires the creditor and debtor to try and reach an agreement for the debt to be paid by instalments, based on the debtor’s income and expenditure. If the creditor does not agree to a proposal for repayment of the debt, it should say why in writing.

If the debtor fails to fully complete a reply form the onus is on the creditor to contact the debtor to discuss and obtain any further information needed to properly understand the debtor’s position.

If the debt is disputed the parties should exchange information and disclose documents sufficient to enable them to understand each other’s position and the creditor must provide any document or information requested or explain why the document or information is unavailable within 30 days of receipt of the request.

If settlement still cannot be reached the parties are obliged to take appropriate steps to resolve the dispute without commencing court proceedings and, in particular, should consider the use of alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

If an agreement still cannot be reached, the creditor should give the debtor a minimum of 14 days’ notice of its intention to commence court proceedings (unless, for example, the limitation period is about to expire).

What does all this mean for creditors?

Without doubt, the process of recovery of debts will be more cumbersome for creditors:

  1. Creditors are required to provide more documentation to debtors in specific formats
  2. There is increased scope for delaying collection by intransigent debtors who can delay payment by up to 90 days
  3. Creditors will need to be more pro-active when engaging with debtors to ensure information is properly exchanged and time periods met
  4. Additional costs and delays could be incurred particularly if ADR is triggered and
  5. A review of existing recovery processes and changes may be necessary

Failure to comply with the Pre-action Protocol

Failure to comply with the Protocol may result in:

  1. Further delay in collection of debts if any legal proceedings are stayed to remedy failures to comply with the Protocol
  2. Additional costs sanctions in terms of payment of the debtor’s legal costs or a failure to recover costs and
  3. Inability to recover interest from a debtor or recovery at a reduced rate.

None of these options are good news for creditors and Businesses are now faced with implementing the Protocol and for many they will need to reconsider their process in relation to Debt Recovery.

Summary

For businesses dealing predominantly with consumers or sole traders, the new Protocol requires a considerable degree of greater patience when collecting outstanding debts. The new Protocol prevents Creditors applying pressure on a debtor by the prospect of imminent court proceedings.

If you require any further information about reviewing your credit control processes in the light of the recent changes or require any assistance with debt recovery, please contact the team at Watson Legal either by calling 01279 466910 to book your free 30 minute consultation or email info@watson-legal.com

Common law marriage – does this exist?

If you are moving in together, you should know how cohabiting affects your legal position and how you can protect yourselves should your relationship end or one of you dies.

Common law marriage – the reality

Many couples believe that moving in together creates a common law marriage, giving you the same rights as if you were married. It does not – the concept of common law marriage has no legal validity in England.

In reality, moving in together does not give you automatic rights to each other’s property, no matter how long you live together. And if your partner dies, cohabiting does not entitle you to inherit – with potentially disastrous consequences your partner.

Moving in together – cohabitation rights

The property owner is the only one entitled to live there – anyone else can be asked to leave. The owner can also make decisions – such as selling the property – without consulting their partner.

However, even where only one of you owns the property, the other may have some rights.

This can happen if:

  • the owner has agreed in writing that the non-owner is entitled to a share of the home;
  • the non-owner contributes financially (eg paying part of the mortgage) to the property on the understanding that this entitles him or her to a share;
  • the non-owner has acted to their own detriment (eg giving up a job) on the understanding that this entitles him or her to a share;
  • a partner with children applies to the court for the right to continue living there to ensure the children’s welfare.

Whatever your circumstances, a written cohabitation agreement or declaration of trust detailing what contributions you will each make and what share of the home you are each entitled to, minimises the risk of future disputes.

Cohabitation and children

Legally, you only have a role in important decisions about children (such as their education and religion) if you have parental responsibility for them.

The father only has parental responsibility if:

  • he is named as the father on the birth certificate (for a child born after December 2003);
  • he enters into a parental responsibility agreement with the mother, obtains a parental responsibility order or child arrangements order, or they get married;
  • he is registered as the child’s guardian and all other individuals with parental responsibility have died (including the mother).

If a cohabiting couple separate, rather different considerations apply:

  •  Decisions about who the children should live with and what contact rights the other should have are based on the children’s best interests (rather than on who has parental responsibility).
  • If your children live with your former partner rather than you, you may be required to pay maintenance.
  • The same principles apply for stepchildren whom you have treated as part of your family and helped to support financially.
  • Ideally, childcare arrangements will be agreed between you, but either of you can apply to the court to help resolve things.

In effect, children are treated in the same way as when a married couple divorce.

What happens if a cohabiting partner dies?

Cohabiting partners have no automatic right to inherit if their partner dies, although they may be a beneficiary under the other’s will. If you are a beneficiary, any assets you receive may be subject to inheritance tax – there is no exemption for unmarried couples.

If you cohabited for at least two years or if you can show that you were financially dependent on your partner, you can make a claim for a financial dependence even if you were not a beneficiary of the will.

However, making a claim on the basis of cohabitation can involve a complex and expensive dispute with the other beneficiaries. And even if you are successful, you may only be entitled to a limited share of your partner’s assets.

If you owned your home together, the form of legal ownership has a major impact. If you owned your home as ‘joint tenants’*, you will automatically continue to own the (entire) home if your partner dies.

But if you were ‘tenants in common’*, your partner’s share is dealt with under the terms of his or her will or the intestacy rules. If you rented your home, your rights to stay depend on the type of tenancy, whose name(s) it is in and your landlord.

Cohabitation agreements

Written agreements can help to protect you from potential risks if you separate or your partner dies.

Drawing up a cohabitation agreement can help you think through some of the key issues in your relationship. Though not all of the agreement may be legally enforceable, it can help reduce the likelihood of disputes and make any disputes easier to resolve.

For example, an agreement might cover issues such as how bills will be shared, whether you will have any joint accounts, and what roles you will each have in terms of childcare, household chores and so on.

*See our blogs on the difference between joint tenants and tenants in common.

If you require any further information about cohabitation, please contact our friendly team at Watson Legal either by calling 01279 466910 to book your free 30 minute consultation or email info@watson-legal.com.

Legal Update – National Living Wage & National Minimum Wage

In November 2016, the Government announced changes to the National Living Wage (NLW) and National Minimum Wage (NMW). These changes will take effect from April 2017.

The rate for workers aged over 25 (NLW) is set to increase to £7.50 per hour, the rate for workers aged 21 to 24 years is set increase to £7.05 per hour, the development rate for 18 to 20 year olds will increase to £5.60 per hour, the rate for 16 to 17 year olds will increase to £4.05 per hour and the apprentice rate will increase to £3.50 per hour (NMW).

Unfortunately, a huge number of businesses have been identified as underpaying workers. On the 15th February 2017, the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy released a statement which named 359 businesses who are underpaying 15,513 workers a total of £994,685.

HMRC have issued penalties worth around £800,000. Business Minister Margot James says they want to send a clear message to employers that minimum wage abuses will not go unpunished.

There can be serious consequences when a worker has not been paid the national minimum wage:

1. The worker could enforce their entitlement under their contract, by making a claim for breach of contract or a claim for unlawful deduction from wages. This may have financial consequences.

2. HMRC could enforce the worker’s entitlement by issuing a notice of underpayment or suing on the worker’s behalf. The employer will then be required to pay a financial penalty to the Secretary of State.

3. If the employer has refused or willingly neglected to pay the worker his entitlement, he may be guilty of a criminal offence under the National Minimum Wage Act. If tried in the Magistrates Court, the employer is it risk of a fine limited to the statutory maximum (currently £5,000). However, if tried in the Crown Court there is not a limit on fine the judge could impose on the employer.

If you have any questions about this article then please call 01279 466910 or email info@watson-legal.com to book your free 30 minute consultation now.

Quick Tips for Private Landlords and Tenants

It is not uncommon for property to be used as an investment. To gain an income from that investment, it is often let to a tenant. As a private landlord you need to protect yourself.

For starters do you have a Tenancy Agreement? This is often in the form of an Assured Shorthold Tenancy (AST) and usually for a fixed term. When that fixed term expires the terms of the AST remain in place but becomes a periodic tenancy. This then effects how the tenancy can be brought to an end.

One of the most important elements is whether the tenant’s deposit has been protected. Since 6 April 2007, all deposits taken by landlords and letting agents for ASTlandlord_keys’s must be protected by a tenancy deposit protection scheme. If the landlord fails to comply, an application can be made to the court and possession can be barred. Furthermore the landlord is likely to be requested to return the deposit or place it in an appropriate scheme, if the tenancy is continuing and be liable for a penalty of up to three times the amount of the deposit.

The next difficulty comes when you require possession of the property. This could be for a variety of reasons such as, but not limited to, you requiring it for personal occupation, the tenant’s failure to pay rent or breach of another term of the AST, or even if the tenant has been convicted of a criminal offence.

To obtain possession the first stage is to issue either a section 8 or section 21 Eviction_Noticenotice. Dependant on the grounds, the tenant will be given between two weeks and two months to vacate, failing which possession proceedings can be issued.

There are two types of proceedings. The quickest and the simplest route is the Accelerated Procedure. This is in essence a paper exercise and can only be used if you do not wish to seek any other orders, such as judgment for rent arrears. The other option is the Standard Procedure which can include additional claims for rent arrears, damage to property etc. This route requires a Court hearing.

Once a Possession Order has been ordered, the tenants will typically be given 14 or 28 days to leave the property. The Judge can give them up to 42 days if leaving sooner would cause exceptional hardship. If the tenants do not leave at this point, bailiffs can be instructed to enforce the Possession Order.

Whether you are a landlord or a tenant in any of the situations described above Watson Legal can help. We offer fixed fees for this type of work. Please call 01279 466910 to arrange a free 30 minute consultation.

Buying a House – Do I Need a Survey?

property_survey

The easy answer to that question is Yes. The next question is why?

Buying a property is probably one of the most expensive purchases you will make in your lifetime, so you need to make sure it is the right choice.

What if following the purchase of your dream home you find that there is subsidence, woodworm, an electrical fault or the boiler is unsafe, just to name a few potential issues. These can be expensive problems to rectify.

Prevention is better than cure
The simplest way to avoid this type of scenario is by a property survey, which is undertaken by a Chartered Surveyor. The report will confirm whether the property you are purchasing is in the condition you expect for the price you are paying.

Valuation – what is the difference?
A survey should not be confused with a valuation. If you are buying with the help of a mortgage, the Mortgage Provider will undertake a valuation to determine whether the property is worth the money you are paying for it. The valuation will only involve a superficial inspection of the property. Sometimes the valuer does not even enter the property but just looks at it from the outside, often referred to as a drive-by valuation.

Two types of surveys – which one?
There are two main types of property survey. The best, but most expensive, is the full structural survey. This is a thorough and detailed assessment of the condition of the property highlighting any defects, major or minor, what is required for these to be remedied and providing information about the possible cost of repair.

This type of survey is particularly important if, the property you are looking to buy is older or perhaps more unusual, thatched or timber framed or you are planning major works or has already had extensive alterations.

The other type of survey is the Homebuyers Report. This is not as detailed as the structural survey. The report will look at the general condition of the property, test for damp and damage to timbers (including woodworm and rot). It will consider the condition of any damp proofing and insulation and provide a figure for building insurance purposes should the property ever need to be rebuilt and provide the value of the property on the open market. Unlike a structural survey the surveyor will not be intrusive, they will not check under floorboards or move furniture.

Whichever survey you decide upon, it is in your best interests for a survey to be undertaken at the earliest opportunity to guard against any unwelcome surprises once the property is yours.

If you require any assistance in the sale or purchase of your home please call 01279 466910 or email info@watson-legal.com and let our friendly team show you a new way of providing legal services.

Why YOU should have a Will

In a time of complicated financial affairs and ever-intricate family relationships it is staggering to think that more than 60% of the UK adult population – including 35% of those over the age of 55 – do not have a Will. Many of us simply choose to put it off until we get older, or incorrectly assume that their estate will automatically go to the right people.

If you die without a Will you are said to be intestate and the law prescribes who will administer and share the estate. In some cases the law may well mirror your requirements, but there are plenty of common scenarios where it probably will not.

Consider this … if you are an unmarried adult without children, your estate will be shared equally between your parents. This will remain the case even if one parent has been absent throughout your life or if you have suffered an estrangement. And what if you live with a partner? Under the Intestacy Rules they will have no automatic right to anything, including any property held in your sole name, even if they have contributed towards the mortgage and bills for many years.

If you have children but are unmarried, your estate will be divided between your children. While they are under the age of 18, their inheritance will be held on trust for them. Their surviving parent will not have automatic access to funds held on their behalf and will have to rely on the discretion of the trustees to make funds available to assist with the costs associated with the children.

What about step-families? The Intestacy Rules do not make any provision for step-children, even if you view them in exactly the same way as your biological or adopted children.

If you do not have a Will you cannot determine who administers your estate and the job may fall to someone completely unsuitable. You can also appoint guardians for minor children in your Will, ensuring that they will be brought up by the people you choose.

A Will also gives you the opportunity to recognise and reward relatives, friends or organisations, or make gifts to charities. You can also ensure that personal items of a sentimental nature pass to people who you know will appreciate them.

For a limited time only we are offering 20% discount on all fixed fees for Wills and Codicils and Lasting Powers of Attorney. We are also offering 20% off your first invoice for all Probate instructions.

If you have any questions about this information or if you would like to book an initial free 30 minute consultation, then please do not hesitate contact us on 01279 466910 or email info@watson-legal.com.

Divorce

Divorcing a partner can be a very distressing life event, whether you are the person filing for the divorce or the person receiving the divorce petition. Here at Watson Legal we are empathetic to the situation and aim to make the process as stress-free as possible.

Before filing for a divorce you should consider a number of other factors which need to be considered. For example child arrangements, if children are involved it is important to put their wellbeing first. It is advisable to organise child arrangements as soon as possible, to avoid any unneeded upset and confusion to the children.

You should also consider your finances, again this can be sorted amicably without the need for a court order but sometimes arguments can start over who will get what from the matrimonial home? How will bills be dealt with? Who will be living where? Consider your future income needs and capital needs of both yourself and your children.

In order to obtain a divorce you must support your petition by proving one of the following five facts:

  1.  That your partner has committed adultery and you find it intolerable to live with them;
  2. That your partner’s behaviour is intolerable to live with;
  3. That your partner has deserted you for at least two years;
  4. You have separated for at least two years and your partner consents to the divorce;
  5. You have separated for at least five years.

It can come as a shock to some couples but you cannot file for a divorce in the first year of your marriage.

If the divorce is successful you will be granted with a decree nisi, at this point you may believe the process is over and you can move forward with your life. However, a decree nisi does not mean you are divorced from your partner. You must wait 6 weeks and then apply for a decree absolute. Once the court have granted the decree absolute you are then divorce and can relax a little.

If you have any questions about this information or if you would like to book an initial free 30 minute consultation, then please do not hesitate contact us on 01279 466910 or email info@watson-legal.com.