Weekend Cottage Tenant Sees Off £128,000 Insurance Claim

Anyone who lives in rented accommodation can breathe a sigh of relief after a tenant whose weekend cottage suffered severe flooding damage during a cold snap saw off a £128,000 demand from insurers. The High Court found that the woman was covered by her landlady’s insurance policy, having contributed to premiums through her rent. The woman rented the thatched cottage for £2,600 a month. She was not present when a water pipe burst during freezing weather. The landlady’s insurance company honoured her claim in respect of the damage but sought to recover its loss from the tenant on the basis that she had left the cottage’s central heating system turned…

Attorneys Who Denied Father Access to His Money Removed

The Court of Protection has come to the rescue of an elderly man who wished to have access to his own funds. The man, now aged 87, appointed his son and daughter to be his attorneys under an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA) executed a few months after his wife died in 2007. He remarried in 2010 and a few months before that he gave his prospective future stepson £100,000. He later gave him an additional £5,000. When his son and daughter became concerned about some of his expenditure, they applied to register the EPA with the man’s approval and that of his wife. Under the law relating to EPAs…

Thinking About a Tax Avoidance Scheme? HMRC Issues New Guidance

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) are well known for their robust attitude towards tax avoidance schemes they consider to be questionable and, over the years, have introduced an ever-increasing variety of rules and regulations in combating such schemes and taken court proceedings over a number of them, with varying degrees of success. HMRC have recently issued guidance on such schemes, called ‘Ten things a promoter of tax avoidance schemes won’t always tell you’, and though the guidance is clearly intended to act as a disincentive to those considering such schemes, it does contain some useful material. It is important when considering any tax planning exercise to ensure that the proposals…

You Get What You Pay For

The Court of Appeal has handed down a decision which should give considerable pause for thought to anyone who is tempted to use a ‘law shop’ or similar provider rather than a qualified and experienced firm of solicitors to handle their affairs. The case was, in principle, simple. The woman who brought it was unhappy with the financial settlement she received on her divorce and considered that the firm which had acted for her with regard to it had been negligent in not advising her that she should not have agreed to the settlement offered. The decision in the case ultimately depended on the contract between the woman and her…

Property Dispute Delays Estate Administration

Disputes over strips of property are common, and a typical result is that the resolution of the dispute costs many times the value of the land in dispute. This can cause particular problems when an estate is involved, as the executor is faced with potential costs and delay in administering the estate. A case of this kind was eventually decided in January 2016, nearly three years after the death of the property owner. The area in dispute was an old and overgrown access road that divided two pieces of property, one of which was owned by a farmer who died in 2013. In 2009, the farmer had applied for planning…

What is a House?

Another case on the definition of what constitutes a house for the purposes of the ‘right to buy’ legislation has been heard, providing further clarification on this contentious point. The premises in question were a small high street shop with residential accommodation on the upper floors. When originally built, the kitchen and scullery were on the ground floor, but over the years the shop had been extended into that area. The upstairs had also been modified, with an external staircase being added and a new kitchen built. The downstairs of the property was let out for use as a newsagents and the upstairs used as residential accommodation. In 2010, the…

Do You Hold US Assets?

If you hold assets in the USA, you should be aware of an issue that has started to arise in estates in which there are US shareholdings, especially where these are managed by brokers in the US. The US Internal Revenue Service (IRS) requires that any estate with US assets files an Estate Tax return, following which it will issue a certificate to give clearance for the estate assets to be released. Normally, this procedure, although often lengthy, is straightforward. Recently, however, instances have been reported where brokers holding shares have demanded that estates register with the IRS as if they were financial institutions, in order to comply with the…

Overzealous Executor Faces Cost Penalty

Choosing the wrong executor for your will can create considerable problems, as a recent case shows. A woman had appointed two executors to administer her estate. One was her son, the other a professional. The two did not see eye to eye and the professional began making demands of the son to explain withdrawals from the woman’s building society account prior to her death and making accusations that she had been neglected. He then proceeded to carry out an investigation and even informed the police, who found that there were no grounds on which to take any action. The professional then raised bills on the estate for this work and…

European Court to Decide on Jurisdiction in International Maintenance Dispute

The arrangements for custody of children and for meeting their financial needs when a marriage breaks down are often problematic. When there is an international element, things can get very complicated indeed, as a recent case involving the children of an Anglo-German marriage which ended demonstrates. When the couple divorced in Germany, an order was made for maintenance to be paid by the father to the mother, with whom the children remained in Germany. The father, a UK resident, stopped complying with the payment order, alleging that his ex-wife was obstructing his efforts to have contact with their children. The first issue to be dealt with was essentially whether the…

Neighbours From Hell Pay Price for Bad Behaviour

Nuisance neighbours are one of the most unpleasant issues that a property owner can face. Where the conduct is sufficiently bad, however, the law does provide a remedy, as was illustrated by a recent caseinvolving a couple whose dream of peace and quiet in their country retreat was shattered by their neighbours. The couple had bought a farmhouse in rural Cumbria as a second home and were then able to purchase some of the surrounding farmland. The farmhouse and the land had been sold together in the 1960s, with just a cottage adjacent to the farmhouse retained for the retiring farmer’s son and his family. The farmland had subsequently been…