Frequently Asked Questions
Is it possible for a solicitor to visit me?
Yes, we offer a face to face service and will come and visit you in your own home, if it is preferred. It is also possible for us to offer appointments outside normal business hours.
What are disbursements?
These are expenses incurred on your behalf throughout the conduct of your case. These are necessary expenses in order that the legal matter can be completed or resolved. For example, Court fees, search fees, Stamp Duty Land Tax payments. We endeavour to inform our clients of all possible disbursements that may be incurred from the outset.
Our office opening hours are 9.00am to 5.30pm. however, we do arrange appointments to see clients during the evening and at weekends to suit individual needs.
Why have I got to provide proof of identity to you?
The government has introduced new money laundering legislation making it compulsory for all solicitors to take proof of identification of their clients. We will normally request a photocopy of our clients photograph page of their passport and a recent utility bill no less than 3 months old. These will then be retained on file.
What is stamp duty land tax?
You currently have to pay stamp duty land tax if you are moving home and your new home costs more than £125,000. This is the threshold until 31st December 2009. The amount is calculated on the whole purchase price and rises as the price of your home increases.
What is Ancillary Relief?
This is the part of the process which resolves any financial issues between the parties to the marriage following divorce or separation.
What can I do to avoid Inheritance Tax?
There are a number of options available. It largely depends upon what you are worth, the type of assest you have, who you want to benefit from your estate and what you yourself will need during your lifetime. You may want to plan through your lifetime giving or through your will or a combination of both. We can help you plan your estate to reduce the overall impact of Inheritance Tax on death.
I’m married, Inheritance Tax won’t apply if I leave
everything to my spouse will it?
Assets passing on death to a surviving spouse or civil partner are exempt from Inheritance Tax. If you left all your estate to your spouse you could be wasting your personal Inheritance Tax “allowance”. A properly drafted Will can use a particular type of trust to prevent the surviving spouse from ending up with all the assets on the death of the first spouse. The trust can save Inheritance Tax on the second death while still benefiting the surviving spouse during his or her lifetime. This means more can be passed on to family members and other beneficiaries when both spouses have died.
How long does Probate take?
The Probate procedure involves the personal representatives obtaining values of assets, subtracting from this any debt amounts and then sending an Affidavit and details of value of the estate to the Probate Registry. The time involved largely depends on what is in the estate. If there is only a house then it will depend on the housing market and how quickly a sale can be agreed. If there are bank accounts (over £5000 usually) then you may be able to get the Grant of Probate within about one month. If there are shares however it could take longer. The more wide ranging the types of assets there are in an estate, the longer it could take. If Inheritance Tax has to be paid, the values of the assets in an estate may have to be agreed with the Inland Revenue and this could take time.
How long will it take to buy/sell a house?
On average, approximately 4-6 weeks from the date of sending the contract of the buyer’s solicitors to completion. However, this can vary as there are often chains of linked matters that can delay the process.
Can I make a Will to exclude my wife/husband before I am divorced?
Yes. It is important to do this because until the Decree Absolute is pronounced and the marriage is legally dissolved, your wife/husband is still classed as your next of kin and could therefore inherit your estate.
How long will it take to get divorced?
The majority of divorces take about 6 months from the time that the petition is filed with the Court until the time that the Court pronounce the Decree Absolute. Time scales can however vary depending on how quickly the relevant paper work is dealt with by both parties. It is important to note that sorting out the financial matters can take mucher longer than this.
Is a Pre-nuptial the same as a Court Order?
No, although Pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding within English Law, they are becoming increasingly popular. The Courts are beginning to uphold them more frequently so long as they have been properly prepared and both parties have been independently legally advised.