Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some of our most frequently asked questions

If you can't find the answer to your question then give our friendly team a ring on 01226 341 111, we're always happy to help.

Frequently Asked Questions


What are the main things to consider when selling a property?

It is up to the sellers and their solicitors to provide certain information to purchasers and their solicitors at the outset of the transaction. Once an offer has been made, we will need to know where you store the title deeds for the property. If you have a current mortgage on the property we will also need to know your mortgage account number and the name of your building society/bank. In addition, we will ask you to complete a property fixtures and fittings list.

When you return the completed enquiry forms, we will also need you to send any planning permissions and building regulation and bye-law approvals as well as copies of any guarantees such as damp proof course, woodworm treatment and cavity wall insulation. If your property is leasehold, we will require full details of the ground landlord and collectors of ground rent as well as the ground landlord's consent to any extension where applicable.

Making sure that you provide all the necessary information speeds up the transaction for everyone involved. Once this information is received we will send a copy of your deeds and a sales agreement to your buyers solicitors for them to approve. The buyer's solicitors will then carry out various searches against the property.

What are the main things to consider when buying a property?

Once you have made an offer and it has been accepted, the estate agent should provide us with the sales information. We will seek to obtain a sales agreement, a copy of the title deeds and a property fixtures and fittings list from the sellers solicitors. There are a number of land searches that we will then put in against the property, including a local authority search and a mining search. These check that your house is not affected by any public right of way across the land or that there is no proposed industrial work that will affect it, for example. The cost of these searches will be included in your initial estimate and will be deducted from your final account. Please note: We appreciate that search fees are expensive. If you do not wish us to submit searches until you have received your mortgage offer, please let us know at the time you are paying your search fees. If we receive a cheque/cash from you we will presume that you wish us to submit these as soon as possible. Please bear in mind that by not submitting your searches as soon as possible this can delay your purchase of the property. Once all this information has been received and checked we will ask you to make an appointment to discuss the documents and sign. It is at this time that we will require your deposit and our fees.

Can you give me a free estimate?

Yes, we can provide a free estimate for work. However, depending on the complexity of the case the final price may vary from the initial estimate.

Can you explain Common Terms?

Completion date - this is your moving date. Any moving date that you suggest or agree with other buyers/sellers is not guaranteed until contracts have been exchanged.

Contracts - sale and/or purchase agreements.

Conveyancing - this is the term used to describe the legal process of transferring ownership of property from one person to another.

Disbursements - these are expenses incurred by us on your behalf.

Exchange of contracts - this is when all buyers/sellers in the chain have signed an agreement and the solicitors exchange them. On exchange, the agreed moving date is inserted into the contract. This date is final and cannot be changed.

Property fixtures and fittings list - this sets out the fixtures and fittings that are / aren't included in the agreed sale price.

Searches - if you are buying a property, we will make several searches on your behalf. These searches cover things such as whether there have been any planning applications relating to your property.

Title deeds - these show ownership of a property and also set out any rights or obligations that affect the property. A new law has been introduced whereby the price that you are paying for the property will be stated on the title deeds. Therefore when the time comes to sell your home, a copy of the deeds will be sent to the new buyers who will see the price that you initially paid for the property.

Lasting Powers of Attorney

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?

An LPA is a legal document which is made by a person (a donor) giving one or more other persons (an attorney) the authority to make decisions on behalf of the donor – usually in cases where the donor no longer has the mental capacity to make those decisions themselves.

Who should be appointed as an attorney?

Usually, a trusted family member or friend is appointed as an attorney, but it is important that any attorney has the necessary knowledge and ability to manage your finances on your behalf. It is also possible to appoint a professional attorney such as a solicitor or an accountant – but a professional attorney will be able to charge for their services.

Can I instruct a solicitor to make an LPA on behalf of my relative?

We would always need to see/speak to your relative to make sure that we consider they have sufficient mental capacity to make an LPA. You can contact us to make the initial enquiry, but it would be your relative who would be our client in this respect and we would need to take instructions from them.

Can I use an LPA to sell my mother's house if she needs to go into residential care?

There are two types of LPA: one is for Property & Financial Affairs (P&FA) and the other is for matters relating to a person's Health & Welfare (H&W). An LPA for P&FA can be used to sell a donor's house so that the proceeds can be used to pay for residential care. The LPA can be used if the donor no longer has mental capacity. It can also be used if the donor has mental capacity but has opted to allow an attorney to use it even if they do have mental capacity. This can be a useful option: a donor may have capacity but they may find it convenient to allow a trusted attorney to deal with their affairs.

Can I use a H&W LPA to put my elderly parent into residential care?

A H&W LPA can ONLY be used if the donor no longer has the mental capacity to make such a decision themselves. Except in extreme cases, a person always needs to be consulted and their views taken, when it comes to an important decision like where a person is to live.

When should an LPA be made?

Ideally, everyone who has any assets (a house, bank account, savings etc) should make an LPA for P&FA. It is not just the elderly who can suffer from mental incapacity: it could be as a result of a stroke or a heart attack.

What if my mother has already been diagnosed with memory problems or dementia – can she still make an LPA?

If there has already been a diagnosis of memory difficulties it is necessary to make sure that the person has the required mental capacity to make an LPA. In these circumstances it is sometimes advisable to get a medical certificate to confirm capacity. Otherwise, the LPA and any decisions and transactions made under it, could be challenged.

If I have an LPA for my elderly father who is in a care home, can I gift his money to myself or members of his family so that it is not all used to pay for his care?

No, you cannot make such gifts. Only gifts of a reasonable amount and on usual occasions can be made to the family under an LPA. If larger amounts are paid out they could be challenged as being a "deliberate deprivation" of assets. You should seek advice from a solicitor before making any large gifts or you may find yourself liable to have to repay sums of money and possibly removed as an attorney.

My mother no longer has mental capacity and she didn't make an LPA. How can I deal with her assets (she owns a house and has savings) now that she is in a residential home and needs to pay for her care?

You will need to apply to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship Order. This takes time and there are several forms which need to be completed. Full details of your mother's assets are required and you will also need a Medical Certificate confirming that your mother no longer has capacity. You should consult with a solicitor about how to go about making the application. Solicitor's costs are fixed by the Court and usually payable from the person's assets once the Deputyship Order is made. The costs associated with becoming a Deputy can run into several thousands of pounds over the lifetime of the Order: it is far better if a person can make a Lasting Power of Attorney whilst they still have capacity.

My father has recently died and he left a Will leaving his estate equally between myself and my two brothers. I am his only attorney, can I deal with his estate?

An LPA ends on the death of a donor. Your father's estate now needs to be dealt with in accordance with the terms of his Will.


Do I need a Will?

Ideally, every adult who has assets (property, money, goods etc) should think about making a Will. If you die without making a Will the "rules of intestacy" will apply and they may not make the provisions that you would have wanted and/or they may not make the provisions that are necessary.

Do I need to appoint and executor? What is their role?

You should always appoint at least one executor in your Will – in some instances it is preferable to appoint more than one. The role of the executor is to apply for a Grant of Probate (if applicable) from the Probate Registry and this document them to deal with your estate and distribute the assets in accordance with your stated wishes.

Who should I appoint as an executor?

Usually, close members of the family are appointed to be your executors and trustees. But this may not always be possible or sensible so other options need to be considered, including appointing professional executors, for instance, members of a solicitors' firm.

Can an executor charge for their services?

Unless you put a clause in your Will allowing your executor to be paid for their services, they will not be able to charge for these although they are entitled to be reimbursed for any out-of-pocket expenditure. If a solicitor is appointed as an executor they will be entitled to charge for their services and the way in which those charges would be applied should be explained to you at the outset.

Can my Will be challenged?

A Will can be challenged on several grounds:

a) if it is alleged that you did not have sufficient mental capacity to make the Will. Using a solicitor reduces the chances of a successful challenge on the grounds of mental capacity. On rare occasions, a solicitor might suggest to you that a medical assessment is carried out by a suitably qualified practitioner to confirm mental capacity. In such cases, this often prevents a claim being made on the grounds of lack of capacity.

b) if it is alleged that you were under "undue influence" when you made your Will – that you made provisions in your Will that you would not otherwise have made. Using a solicitor can sometimes help to identify possible undue influence.

c) that the Will was fraudulent.

d) that the Will did not provide for persons who you should have provided for: there are categories of people who are entitled to bring a claim against your Will (or against your estate if you have not made a Will) if you have not made reasonable financial provision for them. For example, a spouse or partner, or a child (even if that child is an adult). Using a solicitor to advise in respect of your Will can usually identify these situations and advise you on how to deal with them.

If I make a Will does that mean that my executors don't need to obtain a Grant of Probate?

No, whether or not a Grant of Probate needs to be obtained depends on the type of asset that you leave and sometimes the value of that asset. For instance, if you leave a house in your estate, this will always require a Grant to be obtained before it can be sold or transferred to your chosen beneficiary.


What is Probate and do I need it?

Probate is the process by which a person applies to the Court for permission to deal with a deceased's estate. Where there is a Will the executors are usually named and they apply to the probate registry for a Grant of Probate. If no executor is named, or none of the executors want to act (or are able to act) a beneficiary under the Will can apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration with Will Annexed. If there is no Will, a relative can apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration. Whether or not a Grant is needed will often depend on the size and nature of the estate. Where there is a property, a Grant is always required. Also, where there are large sums of money or large shareholdings.

I am named as an executor under my father's Will but I do not want to deal with the administration of his estate – what can I do?

You can renounce your executorship as long as you have not already taken steps in dealing with the estate ("intermeddling"). If there is more than one executor named on the Will, it is more flexible to have "power reserved" to you – this would mean that you had not given up your right to take out a Grant at a later date if necessary. If you are the sole executor named in the Will you can give a Power of Attorney to your solicitor to act on your behalf if you wish.

What if I can't find a Will?

If you think the deceased left a Will you will need to make a thorough search for this in their house or amongst their belongings. You should contact local solicitors to see whether they hold the original – you can also check the deceased's bank to see if they hold the Will for safe-keeping. A Will might possibly have been lodged with the Probate Registry.

If you cannot find an original but you have located a copy Will you will need to apply to the Probate Registry for an Order that the copy Will can be proved. There is a presumption that if no original Will is found after death, the deceased revoked it. But there may be circumstances where that presumption is easily rebutted. You should speak to a solicitor who can advise you on how to deal with matters.

My mother didn't make a Will – what do we need to do?

If there is no Will, your mother died "intestate". A relative would need to apply for a Grant to deal with the estate and this would be distributed in accordance with the rules of intestacy.

Should I use a solicitor to help with the Probate application and the estate administration?

Acting as an executor can be time-consuming, complex and, often, very stressful – especially if it is a close family member who has died and you may find yourself immersed in family arguments.

Using a solicitor can alleviate many of these problems. It is especially helpful to use a solicitor if the estate is complex, valuable and if there is inheritance tax to pay. Indeed, a solicitor can often advise on steps to take to reduce the amount of inheritance tax which would otherwise be payable.

There are often anecdotes telling of how expensive using solicitors for Probate can be – but ask us for a quote, you will probably be surprised by how reasonable our charges are. Of course, we would need some basic information about the estate before we could give a quote – but our initial advice in this respect is free of charge – so contact us as a first port of call!

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