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

Social Media Usage and Employment Law

By Max Wootton

The rise of social media has undoubtedly revolutionised society. As more of our work and home affairs are conducted online, and with the ability to access data from work at any time, the line between personal and work is increasingly blurred.

This in turn presents different challenges for employees and employers. Employees may be confused regarding what is acceptable and not acceptable on social media. Whilst in this changing landscape, employers may need to take steps to protect their business.

Our employment team is available to provide some much needed guidance on this difficult issue for employers and employees.

Expressing Opinions Online

Expressing opinions online is an extremely grey area. An employee is allowed to say what they want, so long as they are not breaking the law when doing so. Its best to adopt an approach of not posting anything online that could possibly be construed as being detrimental to your employer or a fellow employee.

Posting Content Damaging to an Employer

It is possible under the law to be dismissed fairly for content posted on social media that can be construed as damaging. This is especially true if what has been posted is classed as defamation, where you could be subject to legal proceedings potentially resulting in a financial penalty.

Advice to Employees

The main advice to employees is to use a common-sense approach. Check your contract of employment or your employee handbook, which should contain policies pertaining to social media usage.

Freedom of Speech and Employee Rights

The Human Rights Act, 1998 affords individuals “the right to freedom of expression.” However, that can be qualified by “necessary” restrictions prescribed by law. Restrictions will be contained in an employment contract or a company handbook so make sure you are familiar with those sections.

Protecting Your Business as an Employer

There are three main ways an employer can best protect a business from damaging social media. The first is policies, employers must make it clear what online conduct is acceptable and what is not. This will be done through contracts of employment and other contractual policies. Employers must be clear when employees will be seen as representing the employer.

The second way is training, employers should ensure that their employees know what is acceptable and unacceptable on social media. Training can be conducted through webinars, sending employees on courses, or outsourcing to a private company.

Finally, employers should engage their employees and provide them channels to provide feedback anonymously. Research has shown these provisions allow employees to share their thoughts in a constructive way, rather than posting on social media harmful content about an employer’s business.

How we can help

If you would like some advice on this issue, either as an employer or an employee, contact our employment team directly via:

Telephone:  0333 231 6405

Email: employment@cjch.co.uk

From academics to the office – an inside look at Cardiff’s latest graduate scheme

“I don’t think any of us really knew what to expect when we started the graduate scheme.”

That was the admission made by Charlotte Bardet about joining the landmark new graduate scheme launched in Cardiff.

Charlotte, like many graduates, was keen to make the transition from university to professional life but was apprehensive about swapping academics for the office.

With thousands of graduates facing this prospect every year a professional scheme which bridged the gap between study and work seemed like the ideal solution.

With that in mind chief of staff, Luke Heydenrych, worked with the senior partners of CJCH Solicitors and Consultancy to design and launch its innovative Graduate Development Program in February 2018, which aimed to expose candidates to essential commercial and business skills at an early stage in their career.

Back L-R: Tim Hartland (Managing Partner), David Kirby, Myles Thomas, Sam Evans Front: L-R: Amy Palin, Charlotte Bardet, Daniel McNiell, Stephan Clarke (Senior Partner)

Charlotte, who joined the specialist law firm and consultancy in 2016 as an anti-piracy research paralegal, was one of six young candidates who joined the scheme’s first intake this February.

On her preconceptions about what the landmark scheme would involve, she said: “I knew I would learn a lot about business acumen and best practice and gain various skills related to crisis management and design thinking. However, I never anticipated the type of exposure it would offer me and the opportunities I would get so quickly.”

For Charlotte, her first few months in the bespoke program proved to be extremely surprising.

She said: “It was really encouraging to see the amount of trust senior management put in us. On joining the firm, you might worry that you’ll simply play a supporting role, but at CJCH this was not the case.

“They trusted us with massive projects for the firm and allowed us to run with them, which was unexpected, as you never know how much you’ll get to experience early on, but it was really humbling and exciting too.”

Charlotte, who previously interned with the United Nations, was assigned to a team developing an international course on illicit trade in collaboration with an international law enforcement training organisation.

This forms part of CJCH Consulting’s fight against international software piracy, which was highlighted when the firm recently hosted digital crime experts from around the world as part of the  IP Wales Cluster in Cardiff.

The graduates’ research will now form an integral part of the firm’s strategy to prevent the illegal usage and theft of intellectual property in the future.

She said: “To be working on a project that is so vital to the firm’s ongoing aims is really interesting.

“As part of the illicit trade project my team and I liaised with universities, worked alongside experts in the intellectual property and legal professions, and finally presented our findings to the firm’s senior partners. I have been far more involved than I could have anticipated.”

Thanks to her dedication to the project, Charlotte saw herself quickly promoted shortly after joining the graduate scheme, which offers a diverse approach to gaining both commercial and legal understanding of the profession.

She said: “I was delighted to be promoted to research supervisor so quickly, where I supervised a team of about 28 researchers. There was definitely a learning curve to the management side of the job, and the knowledge I acquired on the graduate program was extremely beneficial in settling into this new position.

“Knowing that the partners and managers in our department trusted that I could handle the job and manage such a big team, was such a great boost of confidence in my work and showed me that there was possibilities for future career progression.”

Following her promotion, she was quickly afforded even more exciting opportunities, which would see her use her skills on an international level.

“To my surprise I was invited to go to Boston for a business trip to meet with one of our partner firms for a few brainstorming meetings. I was extremely pleased and honoured to be involved in this. It was a great learning experience and made me feel very valued.”

After the whirlwind start to her Graduate Development Program, she has now taken on a larger workload as continues to thrive in her role.

She said: “My workload has obviously increased since I started, but it has all been really interesting.

“I slowly took on more and more responsibilities, from training to quality checking, offering expert analysis and feedback to our client. The whole experience has been so informative and rewarding.

“Before joining you really don’t know what to expect, but this has certainly exceeded any expectations I had. It’s been an invaluable experience so far and I would recommend it to any of my colleagues and anyone considering applying for a training contract.

“One of the best pieces of advice a colleague gave me early on was ‘if you want to see change happen, take the initiative to make it happen’, and I really feel I’ve been able to make things happen.”

CJCH Solicitors’ Graduate Development Program is a 12-month initiative, the first instance of  which concluded with the final training session this month. The Graduates now present to the executive board of CJCH to close off their training. The program offers graduates the opportunity to develop a wide-range of business and legal skills. The course sees candidates taught social entrepreneurship, innovation principles and practice, communication strategy, crisis management, leadership, and customer relationship management.

This unique approach aims to develop well-rounded and innovative team members who will work throughout the firm’s legal, and non-legal, departments with the aim of undertaking leadership roles in the future.

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: The Story of Patchell Davies Solicitors

By Amy Palin

In April 2017 CJCH Solicitors welcomed its newest addition to the firm, with the incorporation of, Blackwood based, Patchell Davies Solicitors.

The story of Patchell Davies begins in 1977, when a new face arrived on the legal scene in Blackwood, Howard Patchell. After working less than a year as an Assistant Solicitor in a local firm, he became a partner, but it would only be four years before Howard decided to go it alone and open his own practice. Howard Patchell & Co opened its doors on Pentwyn Road, Blackwood in January 1982.

The firm grew from strength to strength, and in 1985 was joined by Graeme Davies. This marked the beginnings of the team that, despite changes over the years, would remain at the core of the firm throughout.

Graeme’s arrival at the firm allowed for the expansion of its expertise, in family law and litigation, areas in which he specialises.

With an expanding team and growing demand, the firm moved to bigger offices at its current location on Blackwood High Street in 1987.

It was in 1992 the firm officially became established as Patchell Davies, the name by which it has been known for nearly three decades, and under which it became a well-known and respected face on the High Street, offering clients a wide range of services.

Howard Patchell specialises in Wills, Probate, Conveyancing, and Commercial work. Graeme Davies is accredited as a Senior Litigator by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and is a member of the Family association Resolution. David James, who has been with the firm for eight years, and the firm’s newest addition, Joanne Lerwill, specialise in Conveyancing.

The firm today takes pride in its reputation and loyalty from clients. This can be attributed to the quality of service, and also to the relationships developed with longstanding members of staff, who give clients the confidence that they will always receive a professional service with a personal touch.

Now an integrated part of CJCH Solicitors, the team from Patchell Davies continues to deliver their impeccable work ethic and client service standards.

Fluctuating capacity and how to address future uncertainties of care planning in a section 21A appeal

By Emma Sutton (instructed on behalf of MB) and Rebecca Evan-Williams (CJCH Solicitors). Re-post of article from No5 Barristers Chambers.

31 January 2018

Background

The court had before it an application brought on behalf of MB pursuant to section 21A of the Mental Capacity Act 2005 (‘the Act’) by his RPR, Mrs Claire Reid, to challenge a standard authorisation made in accordance with schedule A1 of that Act; the primary challenges being whether the mental capacity and best interests qualifying requirements were met. So far, so good.

MB had resided in a care home since 2008 and had a diagnosis of moderate learning disability, autism spectrum disorder and complex epilepsy and as a consequence of his diagnoses, required close supervision of daily living and prompting from his carers.

Due to the complexities of MB’s presentation, a number of expert reports were necessary to assist the court to resolve the proceedings and a position was reached whereby the capacity evidence prepared by Dr Michael Layton (Consultant Psychiatrist) and Dr Lisa Rippon (Consultant Developmental Psychiatrist), and their jointly prepared statement, was accepted by the parties. The expert evidence unanimously concluded that MB had the capacity to make decisions regarding his residence and care needs, but lacked the capacity to conduct the proceedings.

By reason of the above, the court accepted that it had no jurisdiction to make best interest decisions regarding MB’s residence and care; notwithstanding his requests to leave his care home and move to alternative accommodation. The court determined (per section 21A(2)(a) and section 21A(3)(a) of the Act) that MB did not meet all of the necessary qualifying requirements in order for a standard authorisation to be in place (the mental capacity qualifying requirement not being met), and on such basis, the standard authorisaation was terminated with immediate effect.

Comment

Mrs Reid, as MB’s litigation friend, fully recognised that MB would (as a consequence of the expert evidence) effectively be removed from the procedural safeguards contained in schedule A1 of the Act. Her status as RPR would also end upon the termination of the standard authorisation.

Although his ‘appeal’ had been successful, careful consideration had to be given prior to the final hearing as to whether the case fell into the ambit where ‘contingent’ capacity decisions were appropriate. The Court of Protection Practice helpfully provides a template order [see pages 2362-2364 of the 2017 edition] for such circumstances and this was brought to the courts attention. However, on the facts of this particular case, it was accepted that there was no identifiable external trigger which would ‘cause’ a loss of capacity – for example, another person who unduly influences P, P resorting to alcohol use, capacity being dependent on a continuance of training/ advice etc.

Instead, MB’s fluctuation of capacity was intrinsically linked to his own inherent complex functioning and could not be put into a prescribed ‘box’ of when he would and wouldn’t have the ability to make capacitous decisions. In this regard, the experts said this:

Both Dr Rippon and Dr Leighton agreed that MB’s capacity could fluctuate during times of seizure activity but also when his level of anxiety rises and he becomes distressed because of environmental triggers. It was Dr Leighton’s view that these periods could last for several days and he gave the example of the time that MB had become angry with his RPR and had refused to see her for a week. However, what is less clear is whether his capacity was affected over the whole of this period. Therefore, although both doctors agreed that MB’s capacity had fluctuated, what is less certain is how long these periods could last(my emphasis)

As MB’s care plan had (for the past 10 years) met his complex needs, and due to the lack of specificity regarding whether and if so, for how long, seizure activity could potentially impact on his decision making, it was not considered appropriate for further exploration to be given to this issue – particularly as the ongoing nature of the proceedings was having an impact on MB.

A further point that required consideration was whether the appointment of an independent advocate (within the meaning of section 67 of the Care Act 2014) to represent and support MB for the purpose of any future needs assessment and the preparation of a care and support plan (etc) was necessary.

This was raised on behalf of MB which HHJ Parry addresses in her Judgment (with reference to the Care and Support (Independent Advocacy Support) (Number 2) Regulations 2014) and emphasised that the order would record ‘the Local Authority’s willingness and indeed, in my view, obligation to consider this ongoing additional support for MB in the decisions that he will now be making on his own behalf’.

Although set out in a recital (which is positive for reference as to the ‘reasonableness’ of future actions) this ultimately relates to a primary issue that the powers of the court do not extend to decisions compelling parties to provide services for P (N (Appellant) v ACCG and others (Respondents) [2017] UKSC 22, Baroness Hale, paragraph 29).

 

 

Emma Sutton was instructed by Rebecca Evan-Williams and Amy Rees-Roberts (Partner) of CJCH Solicitors (Cardiff) on behalf of MB

Claire Reid is a professional RPR and Project Lead for Training in Mind

CJCH Solicitors – Finalist for Cardiff Life Awards

The Cardiff Life Awards committee made the announcement this afternoon of their finalists across the 18 categories in their award lineup. CJCH Solicitors is proudly nominated as a finalist in the category of Legal and Financial, which is sponsored by FOR Cardiff.

It is an honour to be nominated, and we wish all of the nominees the best of luck for the ceremony on the 15th of March.

 

More information on the event from the Cardiff Life Awards team here.

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.

Misconceptions we hear about Divorce

Much like politics, the topic of divorce is often widely discussed but not always fully understood. As specialists in family law, the CJCH team of expert solicitors are often faced with the many myths and misconceptions surrounding matters of relationship breakdown and divorce. Jodi Winter (Family Law Partner) and Sarah Perkins (Family Law Solicitor) address some of the common issues raised by new clients, who might have benefited from seeking assistance sooner, if they had the correct information.

Jodi Winter: People sometimes assume that what they see on TV or in the news is how things actually work. It is important to note that media representations are often dramatised. For example, there is no such thing as a “quickie” separation or divorce. In non-contentious divorces, the judge’s ruling and the Court process might be concluded quickly, but there is a requirement for specific criteria and processes to be satisfied and completed before it gets to that point. On the other hand, some people assume a divorce will take years and be ridiculously expensive so are put off starting the process. A divorce could be processed in as little as 4 months, but it will often take far longer to negotiate, agree and conclude the financial settlements. You need to consider a divorce from two perspectives, the first being the legal attachment to one another, and the second being the financial attachment.

 

Sarah Perkins: Aside from the timeline, there are other questions raised which can be misunderstood. Who gets the house? Who gets the kids? What if my spouse won’t agree to a divorce? Can’t we just list irreconcilable difference as our reason? The short answer to these questions are that they are case specific. The best way to ensure you have the correct information is to seek advice at the earliest opportunity and give your solicitor all the information they need.  You will then receive expert advice on your own particular circumstances.  The notion of irreconcilable differences (i.e. no-fault) is not currently a part of the law in England and Wales. You would need to show that your relationships have irretrievably broken down, with specific facts of proving such.

 

Jodi Winter: The financial aspects of the matter are what often take the most time to negotiate, which is often why it is best to get advice on a pre-nuptial agreement before you get married. Again, pre-nuptial agreements can be misconstrued but they provide a fair and considered starting point which is often upheld by the court if constructed properly. The same goes for agreeing child contact once the divorce is underway. Address the matter as early as possible and come to an agreement that you are both happy with, otherwise the court will decide for you.

The CJCH Solicitors Family Law team specialise in supporting and navigating the difficult situations that arise at the end of a relationship. You’re not alone, Jodi and Sarah are here for you. For more information and contact, please see here.