Buying with Someone Else

Buying with Someone ElseIf you are buying a property with friends, a partner, relatives or business partners and are contributing different amounts to the price, deposit, fees or mortgage payments, you should consider a Declaration of Trust.

What is a Declaration of Trust?

A Declaration of Trust is a legally binding written agreement which records the financial arrangement between those who jointly own a property.

When may I need a Declaration of Trust?

If you are contributing a large share of the deposit/price – it will protect your financial contribution in the event that the property is sold

If you are making contributions towards the mortgage - it will set out how the contributions are to be made and how you wish the mortgage to be repaid if you wish to sell

If you are contributing towards the purchase expenses, such as stamp duty land tax and legal fees – it will set out what you have paid and how it is to be repaid if the property is sold

When should a Declaration of Trust be done? It should be done at a time when the owners of the property and other persons who may have contributed towards it are in agreement. This would usually be when a property is purchased by or transferred to the owners.

What are the benefits of a Declaration of Trust?

- Avoids prolonged legal disputes over finances if there is a disagreement between the owners

- Sets out what is to happen if and when the property is sold

- States how the proceeds of sale should be divided between the owners

For helpful and friendly legal advice please contact Trudie Nicholas or Heather Razvi on 01432 352121 who will be able to assist.

Gifting the Family Home

Gifting the Family HomeIf you are thinking of making an outright gift of your home during your lifetime, be cautious!

Why make an outright gift of your family home?

There are many reasons for considering making an outright gift of the family home such as:

  1. General affection – your recognition of the recipient’s love and affection
  2. Moral obligations - you feel that it is appropriate that a family member receives a gift of value from you
  3. Financial obligations – your recognition of the recipient’s financial contribution
  4. Family harmony – avoiding family issues or disputes
  5. Passing of the burden of owning property – to free you of the financial burden and responsibility that comes with owning a home

But you should consider such a decision with caution as your home may be your most valuable asset.

Some of the reasons for being cautious about making an outright gift of the family home

  1. Financial difficulties of the recipient  - if the recipient has financial problems or becomes bankrupt, your home may be lost to creditors
  2. Divorce of the recipient – if the recipient gets divorced, your home will become part of his/her assets in determining a divorce settlement
  3. False hopes about tax – Beware you may not save inheritance tax or other taxes
  4. Recipient in receipt of means-tested benefits – such benefits may be stopped or reduced
  5. Long-term care provision – it may not reduce the cost of long-term care fees
  6. Premature death of the recipient – if a child dies, the family home will pass by their Will or the ‘rules of intestacy’ which could be to a spouse who may then remarry.

Still wish to gift your family home? Please contact Amy Makaruk or Trudie Nicholas on 01432 352121 who will be able to assist

Entering into a Business Partnership

Business Partnership JigsawGoing into business with another person, or perhaps many more, allows you to be flexible and make sure the business operates to its full potential. It can be an exciting prospect, but at the same time it can also be risky. That’s why it is important to put all of the important details down in a written partnership agreement.

Get it in writing!

Partnerships can be made very easily even by verbal agreement or a mere handshake. But doing so and leaving your rights and liabilities to be decided by the default position under the Partnership Act 1890, can be undesirable. It is always a safer and more sensible option to put your partnership agreement in writing, as this allows you to avoid unnecessary conflict and costly legal proceedings. Producing a written partnership agreement adds certainty and structure to your business relationship with your partner/s in a document that will be legally binding.

What to include?

A typical written partnership agreement should include at least the following 10 things:

  1. Name of the partnership – make sure the name you use isn’t an existing business name!
  2. Business activities – what is the partnership for? What are the restrictions on the activities you can undertake?
  3. Allocation of profits and losses –will this be based on each partner’s share of ownership, or otherwise?
  4. Management of the partnership – partnerships are generally informal in how they are managed, but you should still clearly set out everyone’s responsibilities
  5. Capital contribution – recording how ownership of the partnership is divided is crucial for avoiding unnecessary disputes
  6. Authority/power distribution – it is always important to regulate how decisions will be made and what each partner’s voting rights are
  7. Withdrawal or death – you should consider setting up a buyout scheme for the remaining partner/s if this happens
  8. Resolving disputes – try and save costs by considering alternative dispute resolution like mediation or conciliation
  9. Transfer of interests – think about what procedure might be needed for transferring interests. Does everyone need to consent?
  10. Tax – it is vital to deal with your financial and tax responsibilities in a correct and structured manner

If you would like advice with your partnership agreement, please contact Trudie Nicholas or Derek Backhouse on 01432 352121

Protect Your Land

Protect Your LandProtect Your Land

Will your land have development potential in years to come? If so, you need to monitor the public use of the land and take any necessary steps to protect it for  future development.

So what is a village green, and how do you defend an application to register your land as one?

Where land has been used for informal recreation including dog walking and kite flying by local people for at least 20 years, it is possible for them to apply for the land to be registered as a town or village green (“TVG”).  A TVG does not have to be the run of the mill square of grass in the middle of the village. A golf course has been registered as a TVG. The use of the land must be without permission, force or secrecy. Once registered as a TVG, development cannot take place unless you apply to deregister the land.

You can take a number of steps to defend an application for the registration of your land as a village green including:

-          erecting fencing

-          displaying suitable signage, advising that access is by permission

-          getting the land earmarked for development in a draft development plan or neighbourhood development plan or submitting an application for planning. In certain planning situations, it is no longer possible to register land as a TVG.

If local people are using your land, it should be possible at the end of this year for you to deposit a statement and map with the Local Authority to bring to an end the period of use. But be aware. If at the time that the statement is made there is already 20 years use, an application can be made within two years of that statement for the land to be registered as a TVG.

 For advice on rural issues please contact Trudie Nicholas.

This article features in the August 2013 edition of Absolute Herefordshire.  The article can be downloaded here: Absolute Herefordshire August 2013 Protect Your Land

Family Law Legal Aid


Important changes came into effect on 1st April 2013 in relation to Family Law Legal Aid. In an effort to reduce public spending the Government has severely restricted the availability of Legal Aid for family law cases.

Legal Aid is where the Government pays your legal costs or part of them when you are unable to afford them subject to a means test and the merits of a case.  Although you may be required to repay the costs or part of them if you were to receive money or property from a settlement.

The most radical change is that Legal Aid is no longer available for normal family law matters unless certain criteria is met.

Legal Aid will however continue to be available for:

  • All Public Family Law regarding protection of children (Care Proceedings)
  • All Family Injunctions, non-molestation orders, Forced Marriages Protection Order and other protective orders
  • Children under 18 whether an applicant, Respondent or joined as a party
  • International and child abduction and the unlawful removal of a child within the UK
  • Legal Advice in Support of Mediation

Other disputes relating to children, divorce and finance will not be within the scope of legal aid unless there has been, or there is a risk of, domestic violence or in children cases, if a child, who would be the subject of the order, is at risk of child abuse from an individual who would be a party to the proceedings.

Therefore if you are a victim of domestic violence/abuse and are divorcing or separating from an abusive partner or former partner you may still be eligible for legal aid on production of certain evidence. The types of evidence include among others a criminal conviction or police caution in respect of a domestic violent offence, Family Protective Injunction, Undertaking given in Court, MARAC plan, a letter from a medical professional which could be a GP, a letter from Social Services or Admission to a refuge. Full details of evidence are set out on the Ministry of Justice website: Similar evidence would be required to receive legal aid in advising and representing parents in issues relating to their children.

We understand that divorce can be stressful and an emotional time and we wish to continue to assist our clients in minimising any uncertainty as to the legal costs in such cases.

Our family department will continue to offer a 30 minute free advice appointment to discuss your particular case and to assess whether you may be eligible for Legal Aid.  Thereafter all work in relation to an uncontested divorce would be undertaken on the basis of a straightforward fixed fee arrangement

With T A Matthews fixed fee arrangement for an uncontested divorce you would know exactly where you stand and you are able to make realistic arrangements to pay your legal expenses.

New Hereford Office

We are delighted to confirm that the move to our newly refurbished office in Hereford has been a great success and that we are now operating as normal from our new office.

Our Hereford office address is now 1st Floor, Broadway House, 32-35 Broad Street, Hereford HR4 9AR.

All other contact details remain the same and our Leominster office is unaffected.

Public Funding Contract

We are pleased to announce that we have received confirmation from the Legal Services Commission that our tender to renew our Public Funding contract in Family Services has been successful.  The new contract will start from 1st April 2013 and will mean that we are able to continue to provide publicly funded (legal aid) services to eligible clients in the area of family and children.

For more information please see our Public Funding and Family and Children pages.

Hereford Office Move

T A Matthews is pleased to announce that our Hereford branch will be moving to new offices in Broadway House, Broad Street  in the new year.

Many of our clients and colleagues will be aware that in 2012, we have been working towards relocating our Hereford office to a purpose built suite with modern facilities and better disabled access.  Sadly, the previously announced intention to move to the Left Bank building in Bridge Street did not come to fruition, which came as disappointment to us all. 

However, Broadway House (next door to the library)  has been fully refurbished, and our new offices, on the 1st floor, have been purpose designed around our needs, and those of our clients.  The finishing touches  are going in now and we will  be moving in the new year.

We wish to reassure all of our clients and friends that it will be business as usual.  Telephone numbers, email addresses, DX numbers and personnel will all remain unaffected, and of course there will be post redirection in place to ensure that any documents sent to the old address are received promptly. 

Those who know Hereford will of course realise that the new offices are only a few metres away from our current location and so we will remain central and convenient.  We therefore look forward to welcoming you to our improved facilities in 2013. 

Business will start from Broadway House on Monday 28th January 2013.

Returning Christmas Gifts.

For our December slot in Absolute Herefordshire this month, we thought it would be timely to give our readers a few tips about returning christmas gifts.  You can read the article below, or see it as it appeared in the magazine from our downloads page.

Returning Christmas Gifts

Many of us are surprised that shops don’t have to accept returns unless an item is not of “satisfactory” quality, not as described or unfit for purpose.

However, most retailers provide a ’goodwill’ returns policy offering an exchange, refund or credit note.

Unless the retailer agrees, you can only return non-faulty goods if the retailer has a returns policy. These are usually displayed on receipts or at the counter. Most retailers impose time limits or other exceptions such as:

DVDs, music and computer software – e.g. if the seal or packaging is broken.

Perishable items – e.g. food and flowers.

Made to order – e.g. bespoke clothing or personalised items.

Underwear and Jewellery –often excluded for hygiene reasons.

However, none of this prevents whoever bought a faulty item from returning it.

If you have received a gift and want to exchange it, the shop is not obliged to deal with you but many will, and your chances are greatly improved if you have a receipt. or other proof of purchase, and the original packaging.  Some shops may even have provided a “gift receipt” to the buyer for this purpose.