Five Things to Know About Being Named an Executor of a Will

Being appointed as an Executor for a loved one’s Will can be daunting. The responsibilities are time consuming and can cause stress – especially if this is your first time as an Executor.

It is important to be aware you may be liable for any mistakes made when carrying out duties as an Executor, even if those mistakes were innocently made.

Fortunately, our experienced Solicitor, Rebecca May, is here to tell you the five things you need to know about being named as an Executor of a Will.

What are the key things to think about if you have been asked to be an Executor of someone’s Will?
Firstly, are you prepared to take on the responsibility of carrying out the deceased’s wishes under their Will? You need to ensure you carry out the wishes of the deceased as they would have wanted. Be aware that issues can arise if there are family disputes between members over assets, or if they feel excluded.

What are the main responsibilities of an Executor?
You need to ensure that all the assets of the deceased are cashed, any taxes or debts paid, and distribute the assets in accordance with the Will.

Does the person making the Will need your permission to name you Executor?
There is no formal requirement for the Executor to give consent – though it is sensible to ask permission before appointing them.

Who can be an Executor and does being one mean you can’t be a beneficiary?
Anyone is able to be an Executor providing they are over 18 years old and have adequate mental capacity to do so. It is not uncommon to appoint professional executors such as solicitors or financial advisers. Furthermore, it is a common misconception that you are unable to be a beneficiary and an Executor – however this is not the case.

Can you change your mind about being an Executor?
Yes, it is possible to change your mind. If at the time the person passes away, you do not want or are unable to be the Executor then it is possible to stand down. In this instance, either the appointed replacement or another appropriate person would stand in.

For more advice about updating or creating your Will, contact our Wills & Probate Team today who will be happy to provide professional, friendly advice.

Email: privateclients@cjch.co.uk

Telephone: 0333 231 6405

6 Things You Need to Know About Prenuptial Agreements

By Sarah Perkins

With Spring underway, the days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer and wedding season begins!

Changes in society continue to affect people’s attitude towards marriage and particularly around prenuptial agreements.

The average age at first marriage continues to rise into the mid 30s. With people marrying later, they bring assets they have accumulated or inherited into the marriage that they may want to protect.

Women are prioritising their careers first and starting families later, which contributes towards the trend of putting these measures in place ahead of saying ‘I do.’

Discussing finances with a loved one can be a particularly sensitive issue and nobody plans for a marriage to end, but it is important to plan for any eventuality.

To help figure out if a prenuptial agreement is for you, below are six things you need to know about prenuptial agreements.

  1. What is a prenuptial agreement and is it a legally valid document in England and Wales?
    A prenuptial agreement consists of a formal written agreement which is entered into between the partners to the relationship ahead of the marriage. It outlines what each party is entitled to should the marriage end, as well as any other related conditions.
  2. Why should couples consider getting a prenuptial agreement?
    Both parties should consider a pre-nuptial agreement for the simple reason that it provides peace of mind going into the marriage that all aspects of their finances, assets and property are protected. It isn’t a matter of trusting each other, but rather a matter of being responsible and planning for your own future, for any eventuality. It can also protect one partner against the other’s debt, protect inherited assets or children’s inheritance, and ensure control over business assets.
  3. How can a solicitor help someone make a prenuptial agreement?
    A solicitor can ensure the prenuptial agreement is drafted properly. This makes it more likely the agreement will be upheld in a divorce. The agreement should be carried out at least 28 days ahead of the wedding to ensure that all matters are resolved by the ceremony. Allow as much time as possible to ensure all matters are thoroughly considered, negotiated and signed without any unnecessary pressure.
  4. What should someone do if they’re asked to sign a prenuptial agreement?
    Before signing, you should seek advice from a qualified solicitor. This doesn’t mean that you do not trust your partner, but it is important to protect your own interests as well as your collective interests. Ensure that the agreement takes your circumstances into consideration and is much for your own good as it is for your partner’s.
  5. What should be included in a prenuptial agreement?
    It is best to assess this on a case by case basis as it is largely related to the value of the item to the individual, both from a financial and sentimental perspective. There aren’t specific rules for what should not be included, but rather just as much is discussed and agreed as possible, and nothing is left to chance.
  6. What happens during a divorce if the couple has a prenuptial agreement?
    In the event of a breakdown in the marriage, couples will divide ownership of their belongings based on the prenuptial agreement.Generally, assets are divided 50/50 among both parties in the event of a divorce that doesn’t involve a prenuptial agreement. However, that may feel unfair to you if you have inherited assets, you own a business, or if your partner has outstanding debt.

How we can help:

For more information on prenuptial agreements, get in touch with our dynamic team in family, matrimonial and childcare law directly via:

Telephone: 0333 231 6405

Email: family@cjch.co.uk

CJCH Solicitors – Wales Legal Awards Finalist for Corporate and Social Responsibility segment

The team here at CJCH Solicitors were beaming recently when we learned of our firm being named a finalist in the Legal and Financial category of a leading local awards initiative. Our excitement has more than doubled when it was recently announced that our firm had also been listed as a finalist in the newly established Wales Legal Awards in the category of Corporate and Social Responsibility Programme of the year.

Our CSR initiative is lead by our senior partner, Jacqui Seal, together with a team of our staff. In 2018, our programme included on-going support for main charity, Y Bont school for children living with disabilities, who we partner with to support their events, conduct fundraising initiatives on their behalf and generally offer our support where we can.

Other initiatives we have taken on in 2018 have included:

  • Developing a campaign to raise £3000 to donate to Huggard centre for the homeless.
  • Exceeding our 2017 milestone by raising over £2000 on behalf of Will Aid charity when our private client solicitor team donated their time to provide Will drafting services to the public in exchange for donations to the charity.
  • Donating time and support to the Recovery Cymru initiative. 
  • We also worked with family and lifestyle blogger, Cardiff Mummy Says, to provide legal insights and awareness for various family-related matters over the last year.

We are proud to be representing this category of the awards, as the ethos of the CJCH legal practice is to always give back to the communities in which we provide services.

Expert speaks out on everything you need to know about a Blue Monday job crisis

Blue Monday is considered to be one of the most depressing days of the year for every-day working people.

It’s a day that often leads to self reflection, and encourages many to question life and relationship decisions, but more commonly work-related choices.

With that in mind employees across Wales could be contemplating handing in their notice of resignation this January 21. And CJCH Solicitors’ employment law expert Nigel Daniel revealed that the firm does traditionally experience an upturn in employment queries throughout January.

But where do employees stand legally if they make a snap decision to leave their job? Where do employers stand in this situation? And what happens next?

Here, Mr Daniel answers all the questions that discontented employees, and their employers, may have this Blue Monday.

Do you see an upturn in queries to the Employment Team on Blue Monday/ or during January?

It is usually the position as far as this firm is concerned, that we see an upturn in relation to Employment Law in the month of January, however this year there has actually been a decline at CJCH.

What sort of issues is the employment team contacted about? 

At this time of year, there are the inevitable enquiries about incidents arising out of Christmas Parties.  From the employer’s perspective, we have instructions regarding the implementation of disciplinary procedures, enquiries from new start-ups and unfortunately in this present uncertain economic climate, queries regarding redundancies and procedures that have to be followed.

Regarding the issue of Blue Monday and employees it may very well be the position, that if and when an employee decides to leave, we may have enquiries both from the employer and the employee regarding the possible impact of post-employment agreements.

What is the most common problem people contact your team regarding?

The Employment Team in CJCH, undertakes a broad spectrum of work involving both contentious and non-contentious Employment Law matters.  We are frequently instructed to prepare company handbooks, advice on disciplinary and grievance procedures and all aspects of family friendly policies.

On the contentious side of matters, the introduction of Section 111(a) Protected Conversations, means that we are frequently asked to try and negotiate exit packages for employees by both the employee and the employer.  In addition, of course, we are always instructed to act on matters involving unfair dismissals, wrongful dismissal and areas of discrimination.

The increasing awareness of the Me Too campaign has led to an increase of enquiries from female employees who have suffered the indignity of unwarranted attention of a sexual nature. 

What are the options for someone who wanted to leave a job with immediate effect and not give notice?

Most responsible employers will have in place contracts of employments for their employees which will give a clear indication of what notice the employee is entitled to, whether or not it is contractual or statutory.  In addition, most contracts of employment will give a clear indication of what period of notice an employee is required to give the employer.

It is the position, that even when there is no formal contract of employment, the employer is under a statutory obligation to provide an employee with a written statement of the main terms and conditions of his/her employment within two calendar months of starting work.  This should also include the notice provisions.

If therefore, there is no contract of employment or for that matter a Section 1 Statement of Terms and Conditions, the Employment Rights Act lays down the minimum period of notice required from an employee, that is one week.

It may very well be the position, that an employee who wishes to leave a job with immediate effect can agree with his employer to waive the notice period.

If however the employee leaves his job without giving notice, and without the agreement of the employer, a number of situations may arise.

  • It may very well be the position, that post-termination restrictive covenants are in place and the employer may very well seek injunctive relief to prevent the employee starting employment with a new employer if, there is a risk that the post-termination restrictive covenants would be breached.
  • It may also be the position that the employer is concerned about the breach and can refuse to accept the employee’s repudiation and request that he/she sits out the notice period at home.
  • It is also possible for an employer to seek damages against an employee who leaves in breach of notice provisions if it can be shown a financial loss has arisen.  However, circumstances such as these are very rare, as quantifying loss is difficult.

Can someone leave during a probationary period and what would they need to consider?

Leaving during a probationary period, has very similar consequences as above.

The main difference of course, is that an employee who wishes to leave during a probationary period is usually in the position of finding out, that he is not suited or does not like the post he has taken.

There are very rarely any circumstances, where an employer would seek to take action in such circumstances, other than possibly where the employer has paid for the employee to attend training courses prior to commencement of his employment and/or during the probationary period.

In those circumstances, there may be a recoupment provision.  In addition, notwithstanding the fact that an employee is in a probationary period, he may have gained confidential information which again may be subject to post-termination restrictive covenants.

What if a staff member is on Maternity Leave? What would they need to do to change jobs?

If a member of staff is on Maternity Leave, and wishes to change jobs, then the Maternity and Parental Leave Regulations provide that the female employee is bound by the contractual obligation to give notice to terminate her employment.

So a woman on Maternity Leave who decides not to return to work must advise her employer before the end of her leave period, either by a notice period which is contained in a Contract of Employment, or by the Statutory Minimum of one week under Section 86 of the ERA.

What industries do you generally get the most queries of this nature from? 

Most enquiries at this time of the year are generated from the care industry, retail, health care and security industries.

What is your top tip to anyone who might be spurred on to change jobs from Blue Monday?

Any Employee who is minded to change jobs under the Blue Monday syndrome, should consider a number of issues.

Firstly, it may very well be the position that they have more than two years continuity of service.  To leave therefore, would mean starting again and losing all employment rights that have been gained through having two years continuity of service.

In addition, any employee minded to leave and change jobs must also be acutely aware of any contractual provisions relating to the dissemination of confidential information, and of course post-termination restrictive covenants.

If the situation has arisen where the employee for some reason has become dissatisfied with his/her role, then possibly speaking to the HR Department or a line manager to discuss areas of dissatisfaction may resolve a problem.

CJCH Solicitors’ employment team is highly experienced and skilled in all aspects of employment law and the provision of HR legal services.

It supports a wide range of employers from SMEs to household name companies, universities and public sector organisations.

CJCH History Month: Wales’ oldest law firm, Gaskell and Walker, joins CJCH

By Myles Thomas

As Wales’ oldest law firm, the acquisition of Gaskell & Walker is a matter of pride for those working at CJCH Solicitors. Given the continued growth and success of the tech-centric Consulting side of CJCH’s business, it is also apparent that the firm still holds true to the values and ethos of a community based high street practice.

E.W. Miles Solicitor on record for a probate matter, 1921

The origins of Gaskell and Walker go back to Ebenezer William Miles, who practiced as E W Miles & Co. in Cowbridge. Ebenezer was born on 8th June 1852 to Thomas Miles of Cowbridge, where he was later educated and admitted as a Solicitor in 1878. He practiced alone from 1878 until 1932 and was succeeded by Mr Morgan, who was admitted in 1900 and died in 1934.

At this point, the practice was taken over by Francis (Frank) Gerald Walker who was born in 1881, admitted as a Solicitor in November 1929, and practised in partnership with John Clare Gaskell. At the end of the Second World War, Frank handed the practice on to John Thornley Taylor, who acted as a sole practitioner until he was joined in partnership by Ian Jewell, Ray Nicholson and Anthony.

Following the unfortunate demise of Mr Jewell, Gwyn Davies joined Ray and Anthony in partnership in 1988 and upon Ray’s retirement in 1999 they were joined by Mel Butler. Up until the point where CJCH acquired Gaskell and Walker, astonishingly, that had only been a total of nine partners in over one hundred and thirty years.

John Gaskell record of Admission, 1902

When CJCH took over Gaskell and Walker in late 2014/early 2015, the two firms practiced from their offices in Caroline Street and Park street, respectively. Speaking with current members of CJCH Solicitors in Bridgend (the majority of whom worked for Gaskell and Walker previously) at their relatively new office in Dunraven Place, they indicate the new premises are just one of the many welcome changes they have seen since joining the CJCH family.

Rebecca May, Solicitor at CJCH, originally began her training with Gaskell and Walker under Gwyn Davies, who, despite his retirement remains a mentor to her. Originally, she had trepidations of CJCH’s takeover as she was only four months into her training contract and was worried for her future. Her fears were calmed by Nick Wootton, CJCH’s Chief Financial Officer who informed her she would remain a trainee with the practice. A few years on, Rebecca has flourished with CJCH and says that the takeover benefited her greatly, allowing her more opportunity.

Original Gaskell & Walker letter head on a conveyancing matter, 1946

The rest of the team who also worked for Gaskell and Walker collectively have almost one hundred years of service between them. Nigel Daniel, now Head of Employment at CJCH commented that the team is built on “good old-fashioned loyalty” and they are “incredibly tight-knit”. It is apparent that this is true, with stalwarts Hollie Wood, Louise Watts, Cathy Leyden and a more recent appointment, Caroline Jones regaling and laughing over their experiences in the office together. They insist that they are friends before anything else, there are no secrets between them and they love coming to work every morning.

One of Gaskell and Walker’s main focuses was their client-centric approach, aiming to provide full transparency with ‘friendly, professional and approachable advisers’. Their historic advertisements speak of not being just a ‘faceless law firm’ which they would be proud to see is still apparent today. The Bridgend Office oozes friendliness, charm and personality whilst remaining successful, efficient and professional.

Mental Health law: Support, resources, and insights.

We have come a long way in terms of awareness and support, but Mental Health matters continue to have a stigma and an air of uncertainty overshadowing them. For example, a 2016 survey by Time to Change Wales revealed that 1 in 10 people believe that people with mental health illnesses can never fully recover, and 1 in 7 believed that people with mental health problems should not be allowed to hold public office. People still have reservations about speaking openly and honestly about their personal mental health experiences and challenges.

In a bid to raise awareness, the CJCH Solicitors mental health department have shared insight into some of the information we believe people should be aware of when it comes to mental health law.

We asked Craig Mills, a solicitor in the mental health law department to answer a few important questions:

What the aim of mental health law is?

The Mental Health Act protects the rights of people with mental health challenges, not only when someone is detained in hospital but also when someone is being treated for their ailments within the community under the Act. People should only be admitted to hospital against their wishes when it is essential to their health and safety or the protection of others.

What should people be aware of when it comes to matters relating to mental health?

Personal rights are an important thing for people to be aware of. There has been a lot of mental health advocacy recently and people need to be aware that it can affect individuals in a number of different ways  (Read a recent article in BBC News on South Wales Police wanting mental health lessons for youths). It can sometimes be difficult to identify when/if people are suffering from mental health problems, but it is important that everyone is aware that help is available. There are a number of mental health charities that can provide support.

Here are some links to assist with finding the right support for you or your loved ones:

For an example of how these matters are impacting people in Wales, you can read this recent article about three people’s personal struggle with mental illness which was shared for World Mental Health day.

For more information or assistance with a mental health legal issue, contact our team via email: mentalhealth@cjch.co.uk ; to telephone: 0333 231 6405.

#SortYourLifeOut – A mantra of taking control

At CJCH Solicitors, we aim to put our clients first and to support the communities in which we operate. With four offices spanning across South Wales, and two satellite offices in England, we have the ability, expertise and resources to offer our clients a wide range of services in several locations.

Our Family, Matrimonial and Children Law and Private Client departments recently launched a new ad campaign to reach out to people who may have questions and need support in difficult times. We hope to help guide them and ease the stress associated with situations such as planning a will, dealing with the probate of an estate, or considering all elements involved in a separation or divorce. There are many instances when people could benefit from the advice and guidance of an experienced and approachable solicitor, and we at CJCH have made it our mission to improve access to legal support and deliver personalised service.

Our new campaign is called #SortYourLifeOut, which is positioned as a helpful and uplifting slogan rather than the joking and judgemental tone it is often said with.

Take charge of your life. Put your plans in place. Be the victor, not a victim. Sort your life out.

Our campaign focuses on the fact that in every situation we face in life, no matter how testing or difficult, the choice to proactively plan, react and prosper is our choice to make. No one enters a marriage with the dream of it ending, and no one has children with their partner with the plan to raise them in separation, but should these things happen, our team is here to help you take the right steps towards making the most out of it and planning for a positive outcome.

#SortYourLifeOut is an uplifting mantra, of possibility, opportunity and silver linings.

At CJCH, we can help you #SortYourLifeOut.

To get in touch with us and see how we can assist you, click here for our contact details.

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Reflection on Mental Health Awareness Week with a look to the future.

By Keith James, Solicitor/Partner

Last week, 8 to 14 May 2017, marked UK Mental Health Awareness week for 2017. The purpose of this annual event is to ‘prompt a national conversation about what we can do as communities, schools, families and individuals ‘to move from surviving to thriving’ (The Mental health foundation).

There is little doubt that in recent months awareness of the wide variety of mental health conditions and of the impact of mental health problems has grown and now appears to be rising up the political agenda.

High profile individuals who have experienced the impact of issues such as depression, including prominent figures in the football world, have helped to shine a light on how mental health problems can impact on the lives of everyday people – Mental Health issues do not discriminate.

Also in the news have been many stories from prominent individuals of how bereavement can impact on families and how help can be provided to families to talk through these issues.

Of particular current interest is how the result of the general election will impact on Mental Health Law and the provision of Mental Health Services. Already suggestions have been made of manifesto commitments to increase provision of community mental health staff and services but also a suggestion that the Mental Health Act should be replaced. This perhaps is the most intriguing suggestion.

The Mental Health Charity, Mind, has called for a review of the Mental health Act but there is a suggestion this could go further to avoid ‘unnecessary detentions’. It will certainly be interesting, during the General Election campaign, to see if this forms part of a manifesto commitment. Of particular interest will be what alternative proposals are suggested.

There is little doubt that Mental Health issues have risen up the political agenda, and for CJCH will continue to be an important part of our focus and drive to support our community.

For any questions or queries, please do not hesitate to contact our Mental Health and Mental Capacity Law team at mentalhealth@cjch.co.uk or call on +44 333 231 6405 (24 hour emergency line: +44 7967 305949)

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Planning for tomorrow – Introduction to Lasting Power of Attorney

By John Moore, Solicitor

We live in a time of better healthcare and advances in science where we are able to enjoy life for longer than previous generations.  We never know what is around the corner, however, with many people experiencing challenges with their mental health in their later years or are incapacitated through accident, injury or illness.

Here at CJCH, we regularly meet people of all ages who come to us for advice and who are concerned about safeguarding their personal affairs in the future.  Where appropriate, we try and assist by arranging a Lasting Power of Attorney for our clients in respect of their property and financial affairs.

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows individuals to appoint someone of their choosing to act on their behalf (as their attorney) if they are no longer able to manage things themselves for whatever reason. An attorney would be able to access a person’s property and finances to help pay bills, manage investments and pay care home fees. An attorney is legally under a duty, however, to act in the person’s best interest at all times.

Sadly, however, many people that we meet have loved ones who have not set up a Lasting Power of Attorney and no longer have the mental capacity, whether by illness or accident, to be able to do so.  We often find that family members hit a brick wall when dealing with banks and buildings societies who will of course only deal with the account holder themselves.  As there is no one legally able to act for the person it means that there are often situations where bills and care fees cannot be paid. This causes a great deal of stress for everyone involved because a person’s finances cannot be accessed or their property cannot be managed or sold.

In order to resolve this our team of experienced lawyers represent families in making applications to the Court of Protection so that family members can be appointed as Deputies to manage a person’s property and financial affairs.  Once the Court has approved an application the family members who have applied will be able to access a person’s finances and manage the sale of a property under a Court Order.  The Majority of applications to the Court are straightforward and dealt with on paper and do not require any attendance at Court.

If you would like to speak with us for a free consultation on better preparing for your future to ensure those things that are so important to you can be managed property should you no longer be able to do so yourself, you can contact Mr John Moore (solicitor) in our Private Clients department:

Telephone number0333 231 6405, or email privateclients@cjch.co.uk.

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