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Greene & Greene is a long established firm of solicitors based in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk. Our lawyers advise individuals and businesses based all over the UK.

We regularly attract new clients who have been using firms in London, but now receive a more cost efficient and more personal service from us here in Bury St Edmunds.

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Entries in Personal Affairs (12)

Thursday
Apr212016

2016: Year of the Prenup

The Wedding season is almost upon us and we are told the average wedding now costs £20,500. 

The Family Team at Greene & Greene has seen a significant increase in couples seeking Prenuptial Agreements.  There are often practical reasons why having a Nuptial Agreement in place make sense, such as:

  1. if one or both of the couple already have property or other material assets; 
  2. if one or both of the couple have received or will receive inheritance;
  3. if one or both of the couple have been previously married and divorced and want to ensure wealth is passed to their children; and
  4. if younger couples are being encouraged to enter into a Nuptial Agreement by their parents to protect wealth within the family. 

As the law currently stands the court should follow a Prenuptial Agreement that is freely entered into by the couple with a full appreciation of its implications provided it is fundamentally fair.  Accordingly, anyone signing a Prenuptial Agreement should expect the court to hold them to its terms. 

Like an insurance policy, hopefully it is something that you will not need to refer to, but latest figures suggest that 42% of marriages end in divorce. 

It is best to plan a Prenuptial Agreement months in advance of the wedding.  However if you are near to the wedding date or you are already married it is not too late because it is possible to enter into a Postnuptial Agreement (one that is signed after the marriage).

For further advice on Nuptial Agreements please contact Melanie Pilmer a solicitor in the Greene & Greene Family Team on 01284 717 418 or melaniepilmer@greene-greene.com. To find out more about Greene & Greene please view www.greene-greene.com and follow @greenegreenelaw on Twitter.

Thursday
Jun182015

Farming Daughter Sues Parents for £1.3million

The High Court in Cardiff recently awarded £1.3 million to Eirian Davies to settle her "proprietary estoppel" claim on her parents' farm.  Proprietary estoppel is a legal claim used to assert rights, often to land but also to other assets, and usually in the absence of proper documentary evidence.

Miss Davies worked for the farming business for little or no payment for many years, on the understanding that the whole enterprise would eventually pass to her.  She has two sisters, but both had moved away to follow other careers.

By 2008, Miss Davies' parents, Tegwyn and Mary Davies, had agreed to hand over almost half of the business to her.  Documents were prepared to implement the agreement but were never signed.  Instead, the parents agreed to prepare Wills leaving Miss Davies the land and buildings, and a share in the company.

Unfortunately a family dispute arose.  In 2009 Mr and Mrs Davies decided to amend their Wills putting the farm into a trust with the rest of their estate split between the three daughters equally.  Family relations continued to deteriorate, leading to Miss Davies' departure from the business in 2012.  She then sued.

In 2013 the High Court upheld Miss Davies’ claim.  Her parents appealed, but the Court of Appeal rejected their appeal, except on one relatively minor point.  The court directed that Miss Davies' recompense could be settled either by granting her a share in the farm or by a cash payment.

The Court of Appeal then invited the parties to negotiate a settlement as to the amount of Miss Davies' interest without further litigation, but this proved impossible.  Miss Davies therefore returned to the Cardiff High Court, which, it is reported, granted her £1.3 million in compensation – around one-third of the business.  The amount was described as sufficient for her to start a new farming business of her own.

Proprietary estoppel is an unusual but potentially very useful basis for making a claim.  It is however a difficult and expensive action to mount. 

Farming families are particular vulnerable to such claims because of the huge increase in land values.  The Davies’ case has so far spent five years going through the court systems and involved thousands of pounds of legal fees.  Unfortunately family disputes do occur.  Properly drafted documents setting out the intentions and wishes of the parties at the outset could well have prevented this.

For further information or advice please contact Wayne Perrin at Greene & Greene on 01284 717454 or email wayneperrin@greene-greene.com.  For more details about Greene & Greene solicitors please visit www.greene-greene.com and follow us on Twitter @greenegreenelaw.

This article was originally published in the East Anglian Daily Times Rural Review Feature on 28 March 2015.

Wednesday
Apr082015

Dementia Friends

Martine Swaep is an Estate & Trust Practitioner in the Private Client Department at Greene & Greene, specialising in Wills, Trusts, Probate, Powers of Attorney and Court of Protection matters. Martine recently attended a Dementia Friends awareness session. Here she writes about becoming a ‘Dementia Friend’:

“Last month I attended a Dementia Friends awareness session. Dementia Friends is an initiative being run by the Alzheimer’s Society. It is funded by the Department of Health and aims to improve people’s understanding of dementia and its effects.

I wasn’t sure what to expect from the session or what I would learn; after all I do come across people with dementia from time to time as part of my role in the private client team at Greene & Greene and I am aware that there are varying levels of suffering with dementia. Well, there was my first negative perception of dementia, that it is something that you “suffer”.

At the beginning of the session we were asked what the first word we thought of when we heard the term “dementia”. Around the room the answers included “forgetful”, “violent”, “incontinent”, “memory loss”. All negative words.

As the session went on we were presented with lots of information about dementia, and the different types of dementia. I was surprised to find that whilst memory loss is one of the symptoms, it is only one. Some of the symptoms that people living with dementia can have vary from no longer being able to function as well physically; small things like not being able to use a knife and fork, to one of the most alarming for me; visual perception. People living with dementia often see the world differently; those swirls in the carpets could appear to be snakes, that big black mat at the door of a shop could be seen as a huge hole. Can you imagine being faced with those scary situations every day?

During the session we discussed the five things people should know about dementia:

  1. It’s not a natural part of ageing;
  2. It’s caused by diseases of the brain. The most common of these is Alzheimer’s;
  3. It’s not just about losing your memory – it can affect thinking, communicating and doing everyday tasks;
  4. It’s possible to live well with dementia; and
  5. There’s more to a person than the dementia.

 With support, people with dementia can and do take an active role in life.

Often people living with dementia revert to an earlier time in their life; so to help them you need to think about what might make life easier. If they are struggling to make a cup of tea, is it because the kettle they had years ago was heated on the cooker? If so, an electric kettle is going to be a rather alien concept! Easily fixed though, buy a stove top kettle. A small action, but one that can help them to continue to live their life. That was certainly something I had never thought of, helping someone rather than taking over. My granny suffers with Alzheimer’s and she has had quite a few incidents in the kitchen. After this session maybe the family can look at ways to help her carry on with the day-to-day tasks rather than just stopping her from doing them completely.

The session really was helpful; different examples were used to describe the way in which dementia can affect an individual and the ways in which we can all help people that are living with dementia. I will certainly be making a special effort to be more understanding and more educated in relation to dementia. In fact, I have signed up to become a fully trained Dementia Friend and my first agreed action is “to make others more aware of living with dementia”, hence this blog!

If you are interested in attending a session or becoming a Dementia Friend you can find out more online at https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/”.

Martine is a full member of both the Association of Taxation Technicians (ATT) and Association of Accounting Technicians (MAAT) and as well as the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (STEP). For further advice please contact Martine at martineswaep@greene-greene.com or on 01284 717458. For more information on Greene & Greene go to www.greene-greene.com and follow us on Twitter @greenegreenelaw.

Tuesday
Jun242014

Wills Week 2014

Greene & Greene are delighted to be taking part in Wills Week 2014 to raise funds for St. Nicholas Hospice Care in Bury St Edmunds.  Martine Swaep, a member of the Greene & Greene Private Client team, will be spending much of this week meeting with clients and drafting standard form Wills in return for a suitable donation to the Hospice instead of paying a fee to Greene & Greene. 

Martine, who is a member of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners, the Association of Taxation Technicians and the Association of Accounting Technicians says:

“I have had personal experience of the Hospice and the fantastic job it does.  Not only for the person that needs the care but also the support they provide to family and friends at a difficult time.  The Hospice really is invaluable and I am happy that Greene & Greene are able to help in this way to raise funds.”

In 2013 Wills Week helped to raise over £16,000 for the Hospice.  This goes some way to helping fund the Hospice which needs to raise more than £11,000 a day to continue to help the people in the local community.

Martine is now fully booked for Wills Week 2014 but please contact her on 01284 717458 or martineswaep@greene-greene.com for assistance.

Thursday
Feb132014

A Fresh Approach to Divorce Funding

The law changed in 2013 to enable a spouse to obtain an Order compelling the other to make a payment to them in respect of their legal costs. This is called a “Legal Services Order”.

Ideally you will be able to resolve financial matters swiftly and cost effectively with the help of your Lawyer and possibly assistance from a Mediator.  If not the costs of proceedings can cause great anxiety.  The change in the law is particularly helpful for the weaker financial party who believes that they cannot afford to obtain good quality legal representation.

These changes became effective at the same time as Legal Aid was largely abolished (save in certain exceptional cases), however, please note that Legal Aid is still available for Mediation.

So, how can you obtain a Legal Services Order?  The Court cannot make a Legal Services Order unless it is satisfied that without the payment from one spouse, the other would not reasonably be able to obtain legal services. The spouse applying to the Court has to demonstrate that they cannot obtain a loan to pay for their legal fees, that their Solicitors will not enter into a deferred payment arrangement and meet certain other conditions which conclude also with the possible effect that making an Order would have on the paying party.

In addition to the change in law a number of commercial organisations have also begun to provide funding loans for legal costs.

If you believe that you are trapped because you have insufficient funds to pay legal fees then a Legal Services Order (or the availability of funding loans) may provide you with the help you need.

For further information contact Stuart directly on 01284 717493 ~ stuarthughes@greene-greene.com.

Stuart Hughes - 01284 717493  |  Kate Chandler - 01284 717513  |  Juliet Harvey - 01284 717448

Stuart has worked for Greene & Greene Solicitors since July 2012, joining the partnership in December 2013. He specialises in Family Law with considerable experience dealing with all aspects of relationship breakdown, divorce, separation, finances and disputes concerning children.

Also find Stuart on:      Google +        LinkedIn         Twitter

Thursday
Dec052013

Know Your Rights

Greene & Greene Solicitors offer a quick guide to some common issues that shoppers face at Christmas. 

I have changed my mind about the present. Can I return it?

When you buy items online or through a catalogue, in most cases you have the right to choose to return the items within 7 days of receipt. You should avoid using the item, and in the case of a CD, DVD or video game, it must not be opened.

You have no legal right to return items which are not faulty which you have purchased in a shop, but many retailers allow you to exchange them. Check the retailer’s returns policy and keep your receipt, or, if it is a present, request it from the buyer.   If you are offered a refund for an item that’s now in the sale, this may be at the discounted price.  

The goods are faulty or were incorrectly described  What can I do?

You have a right to ask for your money back within a reasonable period of time, even if you purchased it in the sales.

You should complain as soon as possible. You also are entitled to a repair or a replacement if you prefer. The retailer can ask for proof of purchase, but if you lose your receipt, you may be able to rely on a bank or credit card statement. 

Andrew Cooper is a solicitor in the commercial department of Greene & Greene and can be contacted on 01284 717511 ~ andrewcooper@greene-greene.com ~ @greenegreenelaw.

Article first published:  Velvet Magazine, November 2013