Tag: hungerford

Trusts explained

What is a trust?

In principle, trusts are a simple concept. They are a private legal arrangement where the ownership of someone’s assets is transferred to someone else to look after and use to benefit a third party.

The person giving the assets is usually called a “settlor” (or “testator” if it is done by Will). The people asked to look after the assets are called “trustees”, and the person benefitting is the “beneficiary”.

The distinctive feature of a trust is the separation of legal and beneficial ownership of the asset(s) involved. The trustees legally own the asset, but they must always put the interests of the beneficiary above their own. The settlor can be a trustee, but they must still act in the interests of the beneficiary, not themselves.

Trusts can take effect during the settlor’s lifetime or within their Will.

Why use a trust?

Trusts are very common in everyday life and most of us will come into contact with them at some point. Company pension schemes, for example, are usually structured as trusts, and trusts are commonly used for charitable funding.

For most people however, the type of trust they are most likely to come across personally is a trust established for managing their family’s finances.

Some common situations are:

• To provide for a husband or wife after death while protecting the interests of children in the long term;

• To protect the inheritance of young children until they are old enough to take responsibility themselves;

• To provide for vulnerable relatives who need support to look after their affairs;

• To help succession planning in family businesses.

Trusts are particularly useful when planning how money and assets should pass from one generation to another, especially when there are divorces or second marriages involved.

Are trusts secret?

Trusts are personal arrangements, and most people expect them to be kept confidential. Quite often, even beneficiaries of a trust may not be aware of it, possibly because a parent would prefer their children not to know that they are at some point going to receive benefits from it. Recognising this, there is no requirement to register a trust or to publish the names of the parties involved. However the tax authorities will generally need to be informed of the establishment of a trust and any suspicious activities should be reported and investigated, so trusts are not regarded as “secret”, but their confidentiality is generally preserved.

Trusts and Tax

Trusts are often represented as being vehicles to avoid tax. In reality, there are virtually no circumstances in which anyone would be advised to set up a trust to gain tax advantages. In setting up a trust, the settlor is giving up ownership of the asset and such a dramatic move only normally makes sense if the settlor has clear objectives for this, and tax is likely to be a secondary issue.

Any tax advantages given to trusts are tightly targeted by tax authorities to those seen as doing social good, such as charitable trusts or those benefitting a vulnerable relative. Even then the rules are policed closely. Most other trusts attract few tax advantages.

The official position in the UK is that trusts are tax-neutral, although many professionals now think that the UK system penalises some types of trust. In line with the official policy, trustees must give HM Revenue full details when a trust is established and are generally personally liable for the taxes due on the trust.

Seek Advice

Anyone considering a trust, whether during your lifetime or in your will, is advised to seek professional assistance, to ensure that all options are considered and that the trust is suitable for you and meets your requirements. The tax consequences of the trust should be discussed in full so that you are fully appraised of your position.

To discuss this and to obtain more information contact:
Emily Payne at Dickins Hopgood Chidley Solicitors,
The Old School House, 42 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0NF 01488 683555

Lease extensions

a key in a lock - Lease extensions, extending my lease, legal advice in Hungerford, Berkshire.

If you have owned a leasehold property for over 2 years as a private individual, generally you will have a right to extend your lease (subject to qualifying conditions). This may be required when you are thinking of selling your flat or re-mortgaging, or you may wish to do it as an investment in your property for the future.

The new lease would be for a period of 90 years plus the original term at a peppercorn rent.

You should look at extending your lease if it has less than 90 years to run, as it can begin to devalue the property as the lease term shortens. When the lease drops below 80 years, the premium can increase significantly. Most mortgage companies will not accept leases of less than 30 years plus the proposed mortgage term.

THE PROCEDURE

Qualification

Was the lease originally granted for a term of more than 21 years?

Have you held the lease for at least 2 years or had the benefit of the lease extention process assigned to you?

Valuation

A specialist valuer will prepare a valuation of the lease extension and give you a suggested premium, using a special formula set out in the legislation.

Notice of Claim

We will prepare a notice to inform the landlord of your intention to purchase a lease extension. This is served on the landlord and any other parties to the lease (e.g. a management company).

Landlord’s Counter-notice

The landlord has 2 months in which to serve a counter-notice, either accepting your proposed terms or proposing new terms, or denying your claim. During this time the landlord is likely to instruct its own valuation of the property and may require access for this. They may also ask for a 10% deposit from you.

Negotiations

Within 2 months of the date of the counter-notice, both parties have the opportunity to negotiate agreed terms.

First Tier Tribunal (Property Chamber)

If an agreement cannot be reached, an application must be made to the Property Tribunal for a determination of the premium payable.

Completion

Once terms are agreed, or have been determined by the Tribunal, the landlord’s solicitor will provide the new lease and this will be signed by all parties and completed. This is the point at which you must pay the premium and costs.

Costs

As part of the legislation, the tenant is responsible for paying the landlord’s legal fees for service of the counter notice and preparation of the new lease, and the landlord’s valuation fees. These must be reasonable and if they are not agreed, an application can be made to the Tribunal for a determination of the amount payable.

To discuss this and to obtain more information contact:
Julian Dickins or Deborah Wason at Dickins Hopgood Chidley Solicitors,
The Old School House, 42 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0NF 01488 683555

Buying your freehold

Signing a document, to illustrate someone buying their freehold, having received legal advice from property solicitors in Hungerford

If you live in a leasehold flat and fulfil the relevant qualifying criteria, it is possible to purchase the freehold of the building from the current freeholder.

This will give you several advantages, including:

1. Control over the management of the building, including insurance, maintenance, repair and decoration;

2. Control over the charges you pay for the management of the building;

3. It is likely to increase the value of your property.

Before you proceed with a freehold purchase, you will need to discuss the matter in depth with the leaseholders of the other flats in your building and obtain a commitment as to those who are going to participate. This can be done by a “participation agreement”.

To discuss this and to obtain more information contact:
Julian Dickins or Deborah Wason at Dickins Hopgood Chidley Solicitors,
The Old School House, 42 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0NF 01488 683555

Joint Ownership

Row of Cotswold cottages - illustrating legal advice for jointly owning a house, from property solicitors in Hungerford Berkshire

When two or more people are buying a property together, a decision needs to be made about how to own the property. There are two methods of joint ownership:

  • Joint Tenants: Each of you has an equal interest in the property and if one of you dies, the survivor will automatically inherit the whole of it.

  • Tenants in Common: Each of you has your own interest in the property, distinct from the other, which may be an equal or an unequal part. Your own share in the property would pass by your Will to whomsoever you choose. The amount of your share is usually based on your contribution towards the cost of the property or any work on it.
  • The method of ownership is important to consider in all cases, but particularly in certain circumstances:

    1. Where an unmarried couple is buying a property. The declaration made at the outset is the strongest evidence of intention in the event of a later dispute.

    2. Where you are making unequal contributions towards the purchase price and costs. The person contributing the larger amount of equity may wish to ensure that interest is protected in the event of sale of the property

    3. Where a third party (such as a parent) is contributing to the price or costs. The third party will be advised to obtain independent legal advice on the transaction and it is strongly recommended that an appropriate deed be drawn up setting out the respective interests or contributions of each party.

    4. Where you are buying the property as a buy to let investment. The method of ownership is likely to have tax implications which should be considered before the purchase.

    If any of these circumstances affect you, you must tell us before you purchase the property so we can ensure you receive the right advice and, if appropriate, enter into a declaration of trust. If there is no agreement between you at the outset, there may be problems in the event of separation, divorce or death and a division of the equity which does not truly reflect your intentions could result.

    Joint owners who wish to hold their property as tenants in common should consider entering into a declaration of trust to set out clearly the individual financial responsibilities for the property. Matters to consider are:

  • Who is responsible for the mortgage payments and in what proportions?
  • Who is responsible for the other outgoings (utilities, council tax etc.)?

  • Who is responsible for maintenance and repairs?

  • What happens if there is a change in those contributions?

  • What happens if one of the co-owners stops living at the property before it is sold?

  • What happens if one party wants to sell their share? Would the other party have a right to buy him or her out?

  • What happens if one of the co-owners dies?
  • We would also recommend that a restriction be placed on the property title to protect the interests of co-owners or third parties

    The law relating to joint ownership can be complicated and you may need to seek financial or tax advice before deciding what to do. Please speak with your conveyancer who will be able to refer you to a member of our private client team for further advice, if appropriate.

    To discuss this and to obtain more information contact:
    Dickins Hopgood Chidley Solicitors,
    The Old School House, 42 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0NF 01488 683555

    Conveyancing process – flowchart for sellers

    To discuss this and to obtain more information contact:
    Dickins Hopgood Chidley Solicitors,
    The Old School House, 42 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0NF 01488 683555

    Lasting Powers of Attorney

    Berkshire solicitors, a person signing a document giving someone lasting powers of attorney

    A Lasting Power of Attorney (“LPA”) allows you to appoint an attorney to look after your affairs if you become incapable of doing so. It can only be made in advance, by a person who is still capable of making decisions.

    Why make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

    If no provision is made, and you lose capacity to make decisions for yourself, there would be no-one with legal authority to manage your affairs. The person wanting to help you with this task would have to apply to the Court of Protection for a deputyship order. Whilst we are happy to assist with this, it is a time-consuming and expensive process, and means that your appointee can do nothing until a Court Order is made. The person wishing to be appointed may not be the one you would have chosen!

    If an attorney has been appointed in advance, and the document registered, they may carry out your wishes and act on your behalf without delay or further formality.

    A Lasting Power of Attorney also helps relieve those close to you of responsibility for trying to guess what you would have wanted, and will help in the situation of there being conflicting views within a family, or indifference, as to the best way to care for you if you are unable to look after yourself.

    What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

    The Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows decision making to be delegated to your chosen attorney or attorneys, so that they can make decisions for you when you are unable to do so. attorney or attorneys, so that they can make decisions for you when you are unable to do so.

    There are two types of Lasting Powers of Attorney:-

    1. Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Powers of Attorney

    A Property and Financial Affairs LPA enables your attorney to manage and sell your property, manage your bank accounts and investments, and pay bills on your behalf.

    2. Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney

    A Health and Welfare LPA enables you to set out how you want to be cared for if you lose your mental capacity. It covers medical treatment, where you live, what sort of care you receive, and day-to-day decisions about your welfare.

    How do I make a Lasting Power of Attorney?

    We will go through the forms with you and help you to decide what type of power of attorney is right for you, and the conditions you wish to place on it. When the Powers are created, an independent person has to certify that you are signing it of your own free will and that you understand what you are doing. We can do this if appropriate. In some circumstances, a Doctor may be asked to certify the LPA.

    The LPA then has to be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian before it can be used, even if the donor (the person making the LPA) still has mental capacity. As part of the registration process, at least one person can be notified of the LPA so that they can raise any concerns with the OPG. The registration process takes between 6 and 16 weeks, depending on the workload of the Office of the Public Guardian, so we recommend registering straight away, so that the LPA is available to be used as soon as it is needed.

    To discuss this and to obtain more information contact:
    Emily Payne at Dickins Hopgood Chidley Solicitors,
    The Old School House, 42 High Street, Hungerford, Berkshire, RG17 0NF 01488 683555

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