THROUGH THE LAWYER’S LOOKING GLASS

We here at Busbys wish all clients and readers a very happy and prosperous New Year.  We hope 2018 will bring peace and understanding in the world, and for each and every one of us fulfilment of our hopes and aspirations.  Busbys look forward to providing excellent legal services to our community throughout 2018. 

 

UNCERTAINTY 

 

2017 has been quite a year.  Donald Trump became President of the USA.  The world holds its breath every morning to see and hear what his latest salvo of Tweets is aimed at.  Our divorce from Europe appears to be ever more complicated and painful – all of this is yet to play out. 

 

PROPERTY PREDICTIONS 

 

In the world of property, Rightmove has predicted that there will be an average of a 1% rise across the UK.  It sees northern England as out-performing the south.  Buy-to-let investors will be looking to the north of England with a view to buying properties at lower cost.  The big agents Savills expect the London property market to stagnate, with a 2% fall predicted.  Stacks Property Search thinks that cottages in tourist areas will be popular, so that could be heartening news for property owners in Devon and Cornwall.  Meanwhile, beware of neighbours who have gaudy buildings.  A recent survey of estate agents says that if you have such a property next door to your own, it could bring down your own house value by as much as £29,000. 

 

LONDON EXODUS 

 

Official data shows that the exodus from London has reached a 10 year high.  292,000 people left London in the 12 month period to mid-2016.  People can no longer afford houses there.  The statistics also show that councils in the south east who are in financial straitjackets are sending homeless families out of the area because there is no available local housing stock.  Any exodus of potential property buyers from London will generally stoke up values elsewhere, particularly if there is a fast train link into London. 

 

RETIREES AND MORTGAGES 

 

After death and taxes, another certainty in life used to be mortgage-free properties by the age of retirement.  In this complex world, where children need financial help from the bank of mum and dad to get on the property ladder, and where many more marriages now end at the point of retirement, mortgages for people of retirement age has become a real issue.  There has been a huge increase in people in this age group looking for securing loans on property, and they have found the experience difficult if not impossible.  Reliable statistics show that the number of building society re-mortgages for the over 50s has gone up 19% since 2012.  In the same period the value of lending has also gone up, but this time by 41%.  The Financial Conduct Authority estimates that the proportion of borrowers who are 65 years of age or over will rise from 1 in 6 to 1 in 4 by 2050.  The FCA has requested that mortgage companies do significantly more to help this age group get loans. 

 

FESTIVE FALLINGS OUT 

 

Christmas is generally seen as a time of festive cheer and family togetherness.  However, lawyers will tell you that January can paint a very different picture.  One big firm of solicitors predicts that in January the number of phone calls to its staff members who deal with Wills is likely to soar by 162%.  Last year that firm received a tripling of Will enquiries asking for amendments to existing Wills and in particular the need for the Will writer to cut out spouses, offspring and siblings.  My own experience tells a very similar tale.  Instead of Christmas being a season to be jolly, it often proves the season to be jolly irritated and upset by one’s nearest and dearest. 

 

DIVORCE 

 

In a similar vein, January is also one of the busiest times of years for divorce lawyers.  As one firm of solicitors put it: “Spending time together over the holidays can often prove the final straw”.  It appears that daily routine and keeping busy tends to hold many relationships together.  Too much time spent in each other’s company with little diversion can make the heart grow less fond. 

 

 

NOT KEEPING PACE 

 

2018 may well see a shift by Government in the field of family law.  Many expert commentators and most of the legal profession are of the view that family law needs to be updated very urgently.  It has simply failed to keep pace with social change and the realities of the world we live in.  A really urgent area of concern is the distinct lack of rights and entitlements available to cohabiting couples.  These are people who have lived together for years, and many have got families, but they have decided not to marry.  There are now 3.3 million cohabiting couple families in the UK.  That is double the figure of 20 years ago.  Cohabitation is also the fastest growing family type.  However, there are very few legal protections available to cohabiting couples, and in today’s world that simply cannot be right. 

 

SECURITY THROUGH A WILL 

 

As a consequence, it is vitally important for anyone living in a cohabiting relationship outside marriage to ensure that one’s loved ones are fully protected.  By far and away the most important document which can provide security to one’s loved one is to get a Will done.  In the Will appropriate provision can be made for cohabitees and step-children.  Under the Intestacy Rules as they apply from 1 October 2014, your cohabitee will miss out altogether, as will any children of your cohabitee whom you may well regard as a child of the family.  If you are not married or in a civil partnership but have children, everything is shared equally between them.  If you don’t have any children but have parents living, they will share equally what you leave behind.  If you have no children and your parents are dead, your siblings will share your estate between them.  To re-emphasise the point, your cohabitee will get nothing, nor will any step-children.  Instead they will have to rely upon applying to the Court under the Inheritance Act for the Court to consider their position and what financial benefit they should get. 

 

MOBILE PHONES 

 

On a completely different subject, motoring organisations are asking for clarification on the use of mobile phones as sat navs.  It appears drivers are being prosecuted for using their mobiles as sat navs because of “conflicting” advice from ministers and police forces.  Clarification is required on what “using” a mobile phone consists of.  One commentator has said: “The law is open to interpretation because the offence is using a mobile phone rather than holding a mobile phone”.  The sooner this confusion is cleared up the better, as many drivers see a sat nav as an indispensable tool. 

 

TOUTS’ CRACKDOWN 

 

Finally, it is good to see that spring will see a crackdown on touts.  These are the people who have used robots to buy tickets for shows, and then those tickets are sold to the public at rip-off prices.  Touts who employ automated software for this purpose and to side-step security measures will face an unlimited fine.  Great news for the long-suffering public who have been denied tickets to see their favourite bands and events. 

 

If you need help on any legal matters then please do get in touch with us.  You can contact us here at Busbys on 01288 35 9000, visit our website at www.busbyslaw.co.uk, or email us at lawyer@busbyslaw.co.uk.   

 

John Busby 

Busbys Solicitors 

Bude & Holsworthy 

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