Bank Holiday Opening

Our offices will be closed from 5 pm today and will reopen after the bank holiday on Tuesday at 9am.

Charmaine Earley is to be a Partner with Passmores Solicitors

We are very pleased to announce that Charmaine Earley is to be a Partner with Passmores Solicitors from the 1st May 2018. Charmaine has been with Passmores since 2013 and is a welcome addition to the management team.

Victims of domestic violence will get more support

The changes to domestic violence evidence requirements have come into effect. This means more help for victims of domestic abuse in family law disputes.

Victims of domestic violence will get more support in taking abusive former partners to court. The changes to evidence requirements in private family law disputes have come into effect. There will no longer be a time limit on abuse evidence, which previously stood at five years.

Justice Minister Dominic Raab said:

“We have listened to victims’ groups and carefully reviewed the criteria for legal aid for victims of domestic abuse in family cases… Today’s changes will ensure that vulnerable women and children get legal support, so their voice is properly heard in court”.

Legal aid is available to individuals involved in private family disputes if they are victims, or those that are at risk of becoming victims, of domestic violence or child abuse. To qualify for Legal aid, applicants must provide objective evidence of the abuse while their case is also subject to means and merits tests.

The range of documents accepted as evidence has been widened to include statements from domestic violence support organisation and housing support officers.

Sophie-Jade Furber

sjf@passmores.com

01446 721000

No fault divorce. What is the future of divorce law?

In the recent decision in Owens v Owens [2017] EWCA Civ 182, [2017] All ER (D) 23 (Apr) the Court of Appeal confirmed that the test in s 1(2)(b) of the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973 (MCA 1973) is an objective/subjective hybrid.

The existing divorce law in England and Wales states that in order for a divorce to be granted, it is necessary to prove that the marriage has broken down. This needs to be proven on one of five grounds: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, 2 years of separation or 5 years of separation. The divorce proceedings will need to be brought by one person in order for a divorce to be granted on the grounds of one of the above reasons.

In the case of Owens v Owens, the couple had been married for 39 years and the wife cited her petition for divorce based on her husband’s unreasonable behaviour. She said that his treatment of her, (including scolding her in front of their housekeeper and ignoring her over a meal), amounted to unreasonable behaviour, and therefore grounds for divorce. The wife concluded that this along with other unreasonable behaviour led to her feeling that it was no longer viable for them to cohabit under the same roof.. The judge in this case rejected the wife’s petition; stating that the reasons cited were ‘minor altercations of a kind to be expected in a marriage’. As the husband disagreed and did not accept that the marriage had broken down, the wife  must therefore wait five years.

In March 2017, the Court of Appeal dismissed an appeal from the refusal of His Honour Judge Tolson QC to grant the wife a decree nisi of divorce, even though he had found that the marriage had broken down. His Honour found that the wife had failed to provide sufficient evidence to meet at least one of the aforementioned five requirements.

The main arguments against a no fault divorce approach would cite that making the divorce process easier could damage the sanctity of marriage.

Another argument against a no fault divorce approach is that it is possible that more couples will opt for divorce as a default as soon as difficulties and arguments arise, instead of taking the time to try and save their marriage, and that this could maybe have a negative impact on family breakdown.

The main arguments in favour of a no fault divorce approach includes making it easier for couples to settle the terms of their divorce without getting caught up in the proceedings. If both parties desire a divorce, why should it be in the states power or interest to hold up the process. No fault divorce would be a more administrative process, rather than a Court procedure. If a couple have naturally grown apart, or are separating amicably then there will not be a requirement to lay blame on either person.

A no fault divorce approach may be implement in the future, however we will observe the no fault divorce debate with practical interest.

Miss Sophie-Jade Furber   –   sjf@passmores.com

01446 721000

Paralegal vacancy [Family Department]

We here at Passmores Solicitors are seeking to recruit a Paralegal to join our busy Family Law Department.

This role will be based in our Barry office, however, you may be required to travel to other locations when required.

This position is offered with a view to a Training Contract after the successful completion of a 12 month period.

Applicants are asked to send a Covering Letter and CV to sam@passmores.com.

Residential Conveyancing Services Barry and Cardiff Moving House Solicitors

10% off Cardiff Conveyancing Fees

We here at Passmores Solicitors are pleased to offer a discount of 10% off your legal fees* for all new residential conveyancing instructions at our Cardiff office for properties located within Cardiff.

This offer is only valid for instructions accepted by us between 23 October 2017 and 1 December 2017 where the transaction proceeds to a successful completion.

Please quote the following discount code/ref when obtaining your quotation: PDS11.

Please call our Mr Ahmed on 029 20 786 618 or email sa@passmores.com to obtain a quote. Alternatively please complete our online conveyancing questionnaire and we will get back to you.

*discount is not applied to other fees you may be required to pay (such as, but not limited to, Stamp Duty Land Tax, disbursements, etc).

This offer may be withdrawn at an earlier date without notice.

 

Will and Probate Solicitors Cardiff and Barry

Creating an effective and valid Will

A Will is an important legal document that allows you to express your wishes as to how your Estate is to be distributed when you pass away.

In order for a Will to be legally valid, it has to meet certain criteria as stipulated in the Wills Act 1837 (as amended). An example of this is section 9 which states that no Will shall be valid unless:

(a) it is in writing and signed by the testator, or by some other person in his presence and by his direction; (b) it appears that the testator intended by his signature to give effect to the will; and (c) the signature is made or acknowledged by the testator in the presence of two or more witnesses present at the same time; and (d) each witness either: (i) attests and signs the will; or (ii) acknowledges his signature, in the presence of the testator (but not necessarily in the presence of the other witness), but no form of attestation shall be necessary.

In light of the above, we would always recommend that you instruct a trained and regulated professional to not only prepare the document, but to also oversee its execution. If a Will fails to meet the above criteria then it may be found to be invalid and your Estate may be distributed to individuals whom you did not intend to benefit.

In addition to failing to meet the criteria under the 1837 Act (as amended), it is important that your Will is technically accurate as any misinterpretation or omissions can impact upon the distribution of your Estate. For example, you may wish to include clauses to re-direct gifts should the intended recipient predecease you.

Should you fail to have a valid Will at the date of death, then your Estate will be distributed in accordance with the Intestacy Rules; it is, therefore, of particular importance to execute a Will if you wish to benefit your unmarried partner or children from a previous relationship.

We here at Passmores Solicitors are authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and we adhere to the standards set by the Law Society; meaning you can be confident that any Will drafted by us will accurately reflect your wishes and be legally valid. In addition, Miss Carli Evans (Head of Private Client) is a member of both the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and Solicitors for the Elderly.

For further information on obtaining a Will please contact us on 01446 721 000 or on 029 20 786 618.

Should you be unable to contact us, we have an online Will questionnaire that you can submit; we will then review your requirements and arrange a mutually convenient time to discuss your Will.

Contentious-Wills-Probate-Cardiff-Barry

Probate: an overview [by Miss Carli Evans, Partner]

Dealing with a person’s Estate following their passing can be a daunting and stressful experience. There is generally a great deal of paperwork to deal with which can seem even more burdensome mixed with feelings of grief and distress.

This article aims to give you a basic understanding of the Probate process to assist in alleviating the fears of administering an Estate.

The first task is to establish whether the person whom has died has left a valid Will, and secondly, what assets the person held and whether a Grant of Probate would need to be obtained in order to deal with those assets. As well as knowing the extent and the value of the Estate, the liabilities would also need to be established and later discharged from the Estate.

A Will may be held with the Solicitor that drew it up or in a safe custody box with a Bank. A Personal Representative is usually appointed in the Will to deal with the deceased person’s Estate, also known as an Executor. If no Will was held, the position is slightly more complicated. We at Passmores are able to act on behalf of an Executor to carry out this role and responsibility, whether there is a Will or not, and to take steps to protect you against any future liability.

If needed, a Grant of Probate is issued by the Probate Registry which gives the Personal Representative authority to deal with the deceased person’s Estate and allows them to access money held in Banks, Building Society’s or other investments. It also authorises the Personal Representative to sell the deceased person’s home. In respect of small estates of nominal value, sometimes a Grant of Probate is not needed.

Once all funds have been collected in and all commitments have been paid, the Personal Representative may distribute the Estate to the beneficiaries as set out in the Will, or if no Will, then in accordance with the Rules of Intestacy, which we are able to help you with.

The Personal Representative may also have to deal with the payment of Inheritance Tax if the Estate exceeds the current threshold. Recent changes in the law may mean that an Estate can take the benefit of an additional allowance which increases the threshold further, meaning that no or little tax will have to be paid.

Other responsibilities may include defending a claim against the Estate. Our team of experts can assist with this complex process, whether proceedings have been issued at Court or if the dispute is still in its early stages.

If you are an Executor and require advice on administering an Estate, or indeed any of the above issues, then our qualified solicitors with a wealth of experience in this area will be able to properly and comprehensively advise you in a face to face meeting; whether that is at our Barry or Cardiff offices or at another convenient location of your choice.

We at Passmores are also very competitive and unlike others, do not charge a percentage of the estate. We can provide you with a quotation upfront which reflects the work which you would like us to carry out on your behalf.

Passmores offers a sympathetic and efficient service when dealing with Probate and Estate Administration. If you live or work in Barry, Cardiff or the Vale of Glamorgan and would like further information then please call 01446 721 000 and ask to speak to Miss Carli Evans, Head of Private Client, or email direct to ce@passmores.com.

Residential Conveyancing Barry and Cardiff

The Housing (Wales) Act 2014: An overview of a Landlord’s obligations

The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 (the “Act”) received royal assent on 17 September 2014. The Act deals with a whole range of issues including the private rented sector, homelessness, and the provision of sites for gypsies and travellers.

This article aims to give private landlords a brief overview of their obligations under the Act, as the provisions dealing with the private rented sector are now fully in force.

The Act states that all private landlords who are involved in the letting of a property in Wales must register themselves and their property with Rent Smart Wales; this is the designated licensing authority for private landlords for the whole of Wales and is hosted by Cardiff Council. At the time of writing, landlord registration costs £33.50 if completed on-line, and £80.50 if completed via a paper application. A landlord’s registration lasts five years, after which time they must re-register. A landlord who fails to register commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine.

In accordance with section 6 of the Act, a private landlord that self-manages their property must be licensed to carry out letting activities. As such, without a licence, a private landlord should not:

(a) Arrange or conduct viewings;
(b) Gather evidence for the purpose of establishing the suitability of prospective tenants;
(c) Prepare / arrange the preparation of a tenancy agreement; or
(d) Prepare / arrange the preparation of an inventory for the property or schedule of condition of the property.

A landlord who self manages and is not licensed to carry out letting activities commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine.

In accordance with section 7 of the Act, a private landlord that self-manages their property must be licensed to carry out property management activities. As such, without a licence, a private landlord should not:

(a) Collect rent;
(b) Be the principal point of contact for the tenant in relation to matters arising under the tenancy;
(c) Make arrangements with a person to carry out repairs or maintenance;
(d) Make arrangements with a tenant or occupier of the property to secure access to the property for any purpose;
(e) Check the contents or condition of the property, or arrange for them to be checked as part of a current tenancy or for one which has ended; or
(f) Serve notice to terminate the tenancy.

A landlord who self manages and is not licensed to carry out property management activities commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine.

In order to become licensed to carry out letting activities and property management activities, a private landlord must complete an application via Rent Smart Wales. In order to become licensed, a private landlord must complete appropriate training either via Rent Smart Wales or via an approved and authorised trainer. As with registration, a private landlord’s license lasts five years; during that time a private landlord is obligated to keep the information in the licence application up to date.

If a licence holder fails to comply with any condition of their licence, or is no longer deemed to be ‘fit and proper’, then their licence can be revoked. In determining whether a private landlord is deemed to be ‘fit and proper’, Rent Smart Wales must have regard to such factors as contained within section 20 of the Act.

If you are a private landlord and you do not self-manage your property, you must ensure that the agent that you appoint holds the relevant licenses. A private landlord who appoints an un-licensed agent commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine.

It is important to note, should a private landlord fail to register, or fail to be appropriately licensed, they may not terminate a tenancy in accordance with section 21 of the Housing Act 1988.

Should you require any guidance on your obligations as a private landlord in Wales, please get in touch with our Mr Ahmed who will only be too happy to assist with your enquiry.

Lasting Power of Attorney Solicitor Cardiff and Barry

Vacancy – Legal Secretary

We seek an experienced Legal Secretary to join our busy Private Client team.

Essential skills required:

1. Audio typing;

2. IT literate

Desirable skills required:

1. Wills & Probate experience

We are looking for an enthusiastic Legal Secretary to join us at our office in Barry, South Wales, on a full time basis.

Audio typing experience is required and the applicant must have a good degree of IT literacy. Familiarity with a legal office including case management systems would be an advantage.

Please forward CVs to ce@passmores.com.