Why you should use a Local Solicitor for conveyancing
We are now in a digital age where you can do anything online. This has led to an introduction of online conveyancers dealing with sales, purchases, remortgages and transfers of equity. Quite often, these services can be provided by online conveyancers at a cheaper price than using a local solicitor, but is the cheapest option the one that you should take? Can you trust this cheaper service provider to handle what might be the biggest financial transaction in your life? Here are five reasons why you should consider instructing your local solicitor to deal with your conveyancing matter:
Local Lawyers have Local Knowledge
Your local solicitor, such as our experienced lawyers at JW Hughes & Co., will have local knowledge, for example, of the problems in certain areas which will show up in title or search results, etc. They will have knowledge of the price of searches and likely return dates. They will have connections with other solicitors and professionals, such as accountants, financial advisers, removal companies, surveyors, plan providers, auctioneers, local authorities. They will have no doubt worked with the other solicitor before and will be able to resolve any problems more rapidly.
Anti-Money Laundering checks have become much more stringent in recent years but when you are dealing with a local solicitor the checks can be easily satisfied by simply bringing your identification into the office and meeting with your solicitor, rather than having to send important documents in the post.
If a problem arises during a transaction, local solicitors will have the benefit of being able to visit the property to gain a better understanding of the issues, for example, if there is a right of way for access in dispute.
Local Lawyers Offer a more Personalised Service
We at JW Hughes & Co offer a personalised service for our clients, giving them time with us, which means you are able to come into our offices in Llandudno or Conwy to sign any documents that are needed during the conveyancing process. We are also here for you if you need documents witnessing, or for any additional questions you may have. This means that we do not have to rely on the postal service because we can talk to you face-to face. You will be provided with your Solicitor’s e-mail address and telephone number and you can rest assured that when you telephone the office, you will never be asked for a reference number or post code, we will be able to identify you by your name.
In addition, we can offer other services to help you, such as drafting Wills, Probate, Family, Business etc. For more information see our website. We can provide a flexible service and, whilst we have standard working hours, all solicitors are flexible and able to have appointments outside of working hours and even at client’s homes or places or work if necessary. Much of our work comes from our existing clients and their recommendations to friends or family. We pride ourselves in giving a lifetime service to people and, to that end, we will provide a service tailored to you as an individual client. Online nationwide conveyancers will go through thousands of cases every year and, because they offer cheaper services and employ less qualified staff, they are more likely to focus on meeting a quota.
Some of our lawyers are Welsh speaking and if you would like to speak to someone in Welsh, please contact the office and ask for this service.
Local Lawyers are Independent
A local solicitor is more independent. For example, referral fees have come under scrutiny of late, especially when firms have not disclosed to their clients that they are actually paying a fee and the amount of that fee. We do not involve ourselves in any form of referral arrangements with estate agents but we rely on their recommendations from dealing with us on previous transactions. Our only interest is that of the client. Although we do have connections with local professionals, we do not have financial connections and our work comes via recommendations only. Some online conveyancers have direct links with estate agents, which may mean that they do not disclose potential problems to you, however, we would not be afraid to advise you of any problems if we identify them during the conveyancing process.
Cheaper is not always better
Although online firms may say that they are cheaper, this does not automatically mean the online firms are more efficient. It may be more likely that they are conscious of costs and might be unwilling to spend as much time as we do in answering any queries that you may have. We are not afraid of advising you not to proceed if there is a problem that cannot be rectified.
We offer fixed fee quotes (which is a requirement set by our regulator) and it is very uncommon for us to charge more than the fixed fee. But, if for some reason, moving from the fixed fee is unavoidable, we will keep your informed of any changes at the earliest possible stage. You can be assured that we employ fully qualified legal professionals who will expertly guide you through the whole process. Online conveyancers often will use unqualified staff members to cut costs.
Local Lawyers are regulated by the Law Society
JW Hughes & Co is an SRA-regulated law firm. This means that we meet very high standards. Online conveyancers will be subject to regulation, but it is not as stringent as this. We also are part of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme, which is a quality mark provided by the Law Society. Normally, this is a prerequisite when law firms apply to go on a mortgage lenders’ panel of solicitors. This means that we provide regular training for our staff, including keeping our knowledge up to date with various changes in the law and procedure.
If you are thinking of buying or selling a house, please contact us at JW Hughes & Co. Our experienced conveyancers, Nick Passey and Rhys Lewis work in our Conwy office, contact them on 01492 596596 firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. Kim Wilkinson and Alaw Pari (Welsh speaking) work in our Llandudno office, contact them on 01492 874774 firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Rights of unmarried couples and 'common law' marriage
Recently, the Law Society had a Valentine’s themed Solicitor Chat about common law marriage and the rights of unmarried couples. Here is a summary of the main points discussed and how we can help you at JW Hughes & Co.
What does “common law marriage” mean and is it legally valid?
There is no such thing as legally recognised “common law marriage” in England & Wales. Cohabiting couples who later separate often find that the law does not achieve fairness or meet their needs. Cohabiting couples should therefore consider entering into a Cohabitation Agreement.
How do the rights of married and unmarried couples differ?
The laws relating to married and unmarried couples differ greatly. Those who are married have more legal rights both during the marriage, upon separation and on the death of their partner. There are some legal remedies available on separation for unmarried couples, but the court has less discretion than when dealing with those who are married.
What is a Cohabitation Agreement and what are the benefits of unmarried couples having one?
A Cohabitation Agreement sets out the terms on which a couple will live together. It will list their assets at the time they move in together and will also set out what will happen if the relationship fails and they separate. It is an agreement that unmarried couples can enter to set out how they will share their finances while living together or what happens if one of them becomes ill, dies, or they split up. For an agreement to be valid, both parties need to enter it freely and voluntarily. The agreement needs to be in the form of a deed and each person needs to sign it. The agreement needs to be kept up to date for major life changes. It affords a couple the opportunity to have a greater degree of security and certainty on their financial relationship in the event of separation, addressing everything from joint property and bank accounts, to pension and death in service arrangements.
How can unmarried cohabiting couples make sure their children are protected?
The law offers protection for children under the Children Act. If you are separating and you are concerned about meeting the needs of your children, speak to our family lawyers about the options available to you in relation to financial provision for them. If the father is named on the birth certificate, both parents share legal parental responsibility for the children. If there is a dispute relating to the care arrangements for the children, you have the same protection as married couples.
How else can we advise cohabiting couples on protecting their assets and each other? We can advise you on a range matters that can be included in a Cohabitation Agreement. Also, we can advise you in relation to pre-nuptial agreements if you subsequently decide to marry. It is also important to seek advice from one of our lawyers in relation to making a Will if you wish for financial provision to be secure for your partner on your death.
For more information about Cohabitation Agreements and advice from an experienced family lawyer, contact us today on 01492 874774 or 01492 596596.
Personal Injury Claims in Winter
Recently, the Law Society’s solicitor chat discussed accidents in winter and how your solicitor can help you if you have been affected. Here is a summary of the discussion and the ways we can help you.
Do you notice a rise in personal injury claims during the winter months?
Yes, the roads and footpaths can be particularly dangerous in the winter months; darker nights and poor visibility mean that we tend to see a rise in road traffic accident and tripping claims. The number of enquiries increase from road users, pedestrians and cyclists. But it does not necessarily mean that there is a rise in personal injury claims. As with any type of personal injury claim, it must have enough prospects of success in order to be pursued.
Talk us through the process of making a personal injury claim
If you have had an accident, the first thing to do is to contact a solicitor, like our Ian Williams, who can advise you of the process. He will be happy to provide free advice over the phone to see whether you are eligible for a claim. Ian will take down the details of the claim and he will establish whether the prospects are good enough to proceed. Discussions will then take place in respect of how the matter is to be funded. Once funding is agreed, we will send you our client care letter and ask you for some identification. Once the client care documents have been signed, we will open a file. The allegations of negligence or breach of duty can be sent to the Defendant and they will investigate and provide an admission or denial of liability. Broadly speaking, if this is admitted, we will obtain medical evidence and look to negotiate a settlement. If it is denied, we will obtain reasons plus disclosure documents supporting the denial and assess the case. If denial is still maintained and prospects are good, we will issue proceedings to resolve the matter. You will have to undergo a medical examination with an independent expert and your we will ask you to provide details of your financial losses. Once the evidence is complete, we can negotiate settlement with the other side.
What information will we need you to provide if you need to make a personal injury claim?
Information is vital. The more detailed information you can provide the better, the most important pieces of information are the accident date and location. You will need to be able to provide witness details if applicable. You will need to provide as much information as possible about the circumstances of the accident, including the events leading up to and after the accident, including details of any hospital/GP attendance (when & where) and provide photographs of any injuries. Set out items you have lost and support this with documents and receipts. If you have reported the incident, full details of to whom and when it was reported are important.
If an accident is caused by bad weather, what are your rights when it comes to making a personal injury claim?
An accident in bad weather does not bring an automatic right to pursue a claim for compensation. For there to be a basis of a legal claim, there must be negligence or a breach of duty of care on the part of the Defendant which could, for example, be a local authority or landowner. As each accident is assessed on a case-by-case basis, the best thing to do is to speak to our Ian Williams as soon as possible who will be able to advise you whether you have a potential clam. You have 3 years from the date of the accident to bring a claim (i.e., court proceedings must be issued). If you have a viable claim, you must submit a Claim Notification Form or Letter of Claim to the Defendant and expect a substantive response in relation to liability within 3 months from acknowledgement. Remember, it is not just snow and ice which can cause accidents in bad weather. Flying debris as a result of high winds can also be very dangerous.
Who is responsible for making sure public areas are safe in icy conditions?
Local Councils have a legal obligation to ensure all pavements, paths and highways are safe to travel upon, however, the law accepts that councils will not have the resources or ability to clear snow and ice from every pathway. The situation is different if the local authority or Highways Authority were warned about the state of a pathway and failed to react. In this instance, it is highly likely that they would be held responsible for any injuries. However, with privately owned land, such as car parks, the landowner is responsible for maintaining customer safety and they will have their own procedures to follow. If you do not know who that is, your solicitor will conduct searches to obtain this information.
If you have had an accident and wish for expert advice, please contact Ian Williams on 01492 874774 to discuss your claim today.
New Year New Will
New Year New Will.
Recently, the Law Society’s Solicitor Chat discussed making a Will. Here is a summary of the main points and how our experienced lawyers can help you make a Will.
What is the process of making a will and how can we help?
A Will appoints people to deal with your estate after your death and states who benefits from your estate. It is a legal document so it is important to get it right and taking qualified advice from our experienced solicitors will achieve this. We will obtain information regarding your assets, beneficiaries, guardians and executors, in order to be able to produce a Will which represents your wishes and is legally valid. The first stage of the process will be a discussion as to what your assets are and who you wish to inherit them on your death. The best way to start is by having a meeting with one of our solicitors who will discuss with you your circumstances and wishes. We know how to ask the right questions to fully understand your position.
What could happen to your estate if you die without a valid Will in place?
If you die without a valid Will, the rules of intestacy govern where your Estate will pass. These rules set out a hierarchy of who is to inherit from your Estate. Ultimately, if you pass away without a valid will and leaving no relatives surviving, under the intestacy rules your Estate would pass to the Crown. Therefore, it is very important to have a Will in place to ensure your Estate passes to those you choose.
You don't have to use a solicitor to make a Will but, what are the risks of using a DIY wills kit or an unregulated service?
For a Will to be valid there are strict requirements set out by law. Our qualified solicitors will be able to guide you through the process and can ensure that the Will is completed efficiently, effectively and with appropriate evidence to support the position. Unregulated Will writers do not necessarily have any qualifications to advise you appropriately. Will writing companies are not regulated so there is no higher authority to complain to if there are mistakes. Also, they are often more expensive or will talk you into complicated wills that you do not need.
People tend to think you only need to make a will if you're older so why is it important for everyone, no matter their age, to consider making or updating their will?
Often people assume that if they have little by way of assets that they do not need a Will. This is not the case, everyone has something to leave, whether an estate, bank balance or box of jewellery. So, it is important to make a Will and keep it up to date if circumstances change.
Anyone with assets or children should consider making a Will to ensure your estate passes to your chosen beneficiaries. This is especially important if you are unmarried or not in a civil partnership because otherwise your partner will not inherit under the intestacy rules. Also, with regards to your family, it makes life much easier for those left behind because you can appoint an Executor to handle the administration of your estate and you can give your wishes for your funeral in the Will.
Why is the New Year a good time to make or update your Will?
January is a time for New Year’s resolutions and getting our affairs in order. What could be more important than deciding to ensure that your friends and family are provided for in the event of your passing?
Make your Will your New Year's resolution! Please contact one of our lawyers in Conwy (596596) or Llandudno (874774) today.