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  • 0131 202 7516
  • Morag Hunter
  • June 11, 2020 01:44:25 PM
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A Little About Us

Articles relating to family, personal and property law. Gibson Kerr are family lawyers in Edinburgh and Glasgow specialising in divorce, separation, child law, adoption, power of attorney, executries and wills.

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  • Annual Regular Membership: 1 Year Term 2021-06-11 13:44:25 (343 days left)
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    Property market moves into “new normal” phase

    The Scottish Government’s Route Map will see restrictions on moving home eased as of the 29th June 2020. Recent figures from ESPC indicate there may be pent up demand for property, which will only increase as lockdown restrictions are eased. But things aren’t the way they were, so as the property market moves into the […] The post Property market moves into “new normal” phase appeared first on Gibson...

    The Scottish Government’s Route Map will see restrictions on moving home eased as of the 29th June 2020. Recent figures from ESPC indicate there may be pent up demand for property, which will only increase as lockdown restrictions are eased. But things aren’t the way they were, so as the property market moves into the “new normal” phase, what will it mean for buyers and sellers in Scotland’s property market?

    What has changed?

    Quite simply, from 29th June 2020, unless you are shielding, you will be able to have your property surveyed, valued and viewed in order to facilitate a sale. Provided you take sensible precautions, of course.

    This might seem daunting at first. For the past few months the restrictions on movement have been severe. The idea of having strangers in your property may seem like a huge hurdle considering you haven’t been able to have family or friends round for tea and cake since March!

    There are a number of guidelines in place to ensure the safety of all those involved in the buying and selling process. The advice and guidance is evolving, but the property team at Gibson Kerr is here to help guide you through the process as seamlessly as possible. 

    Safe as houses

    Our key focus is to ensure the safety of everyone involved when bringing your property to market. Our surveyors and our marketing consultant will visit separately and at pre-arranged times in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines.

    Ideally you should vacate your property while the survey or photography is taking place. If you are unable to completely vacate your property, please try to ensure as few members of your household as possible are present.

    In addition, you should take some sensible precautions:

    • Everyone present should wear face coverings and use hand sanitiser as necessary.
    • All surfaces should be cleaned before and after visits.
    • Walk through your property prior to a visit and ensure all doors are open as this will limit any unnecessary touching of handles.
    • Leave open any cupboards with ample storage space, any attic hatches or boiler cupboards, and also doors to garages and sheds. 

    How will viewings take place?

    The way “new normal” viewings take place will be changed for buyers and sellers alike. Open viewings will not be available for the foreseeable future, so start enjoying your Sunday afternoons again! Virtual viewings will be encouraged by all firms. Whether this is done via Zoom, or FaceTime, a 360 tour or a video will vary for each firm and for each property. We look forward to discussing various different options for viewings in order find a suitable virtual option for your situation. 

    In person viewings will be permissible as of the 29th June, but vetting will take place. Again, this will vary from firm to firm, and from property to property but the main questions we will ask are:

    1. Why are you interested in the property (e.g. as a main residence, a second home, buy to let)?
    2. What is your current situation (i.e. do you have a property to sell yourself)?
    3. Have you used all the virtual tools available to view the property?
    4. Do you have adequate funding?
    5. Have you, or your household had any symptoms of coronavirus?

    We would advise when viewing properties you maintain social distancing, wear PPE, and avoid touching any surfaces. In addition, you should follow public health guidance in relation to not touching your face and using hand sanitiser as necessary.

    If you or a member of your household becomes unwell during the process of your sale, please get in touch as soon as possible. This will allow us to discuss the best way forward and to postpone any viewings that may have been arranged.

    Flexibility is key

    Once you have had an offer accepted on your property a date of entry will need to be agreed upon. This will require extra flexibility for several reasons.

    Many lenders have had to furlough staff. ESPC have reported mortgage offers are taking around one week longer to process. This means the date of entry may be slightly later than the 6 to 8 weeks we are used to. As the “new normal” beds in, we hope this situation will improve.

    When it comes to moving day, you may find moving companies will have less availability. Their staff will more than likely take slightly longer to move your things as a result of following social distancing guidance.

    You should expect a slightly longer conveyancing period than you may have experienced in the past. You may need to be patient while a date of entry that suits all parties is negotiated. This date could also be subject to change at short notice – if anyone in either household has coronavirus symptoms, the date may be subject to postponement for isolation purposes.

    To prepare your property for handover to the new owners, you should undertake a thorough clean with domestic cleaning products. Similarly, we recommend you do the same when you take possession of your new property. The guidelines do not suggest specialised cleaning is necessary.

    Get in touch

    If you would like advice on a property transaction, please do not hesitate to get in touch with our property team on 0131 226 9167 or email: property@gibsonkerr.co.uk.

    The post Property market moves into “new normal” phase appeared first on Gibson Kerr.


    Top tips for stress-free school holidays for children of separated parents

    This year the school summer holiday period is likely to be a more stressful time than usual for parents. Cancellation of planned holidays, lack of clarity on childcare options, and the potential of returning to work will all affect a family’s enjoyment of the holiday period, not to mention the uncertainty of children’s return to […] The post Top tips for stress-free school holidays for children of separated parents appeared first on Gibson...

    This year the school summer holiday period is likely to be a more stressful time than usual for parents. Cancellation of planned holidays, lack of clarity on childcare options, and the potential of returning to work will all affect a family’s enjoyment of the holiday period, not to mention the uncertainty of children’s return to school in August.

    For separated parents, or those currently going through a separation, this uncertainty is likely to be exacerbated as they try to divide the time with their children between the two parents. However, in these difficult times, it is better for everyone if you can agree on how the school holidays should be divided up.

    Our top tips

    Here are our top tips to help separated parents reach a civil agreement and avoid the stress of court.

    1. Plan ahead as far as possible.  Most arrangements can be accommodated if plenty of notice is given.  It also means you have time to act if agreement is not possible and a court hearing is necessary.
    2. If you have limited or restricted time in the holidays, due to work or other commitments, discuss this with your ex-partner in plenty of time.  If you have a good reason for seeking specific dates make this clear while keeping discussions as friendly as possible.
    3. Consider the travel time involved in moving the children between your homes and be realistic in what you can expect the children to cope with.  This will vary depending on the age of your children.
    4. Avoid discussing exciting plans with the children prior to discussing them with your ex-partner. This can cause animosity and could result in very disappointed or conflicted children.
    5. Keep a record of what has been agreed e.g. keep texts or emails where consensus is reached.
    6. Consider whether there are any strong traditions that the other parent has. For example if the other parent is religious, certain religious festivals might be especially important to them.  Concessions on these times will likely be met with gratitude and will enable smoother communications.
    7. Do not make bookings or other financial commitments until you have secured agreement or a court order. 

    Reaching agreement

    Making arrangements that both you and your ex-partner can agree on may be difficult. See our blog on dispute resolution methods for ways to reach agreement as amicably as possible without going to court.

    If agreement is impossible you will have no option but to ask the court to make an order.  If you have already engaged in the court process to deal with contact or residence difficulties, you may be able to recall that action to deal with this specific issue.

    However, if you have until now managed to reach agreement between you, you will need to raise a fresh court action.  This can be expensive and does take some time.  Actions can be raised urgently but courts are busy and cannot always accommodate an urgent hearing. So it is better to establish early whether you will have to resort to court action. 

    In normal circumstances, you should raise a court action about 6 months before the holiday contact you wish the order to be granted for.  This gives the court sufficient time to adequately consider the issues surrounding each parent’s position.  The court may have to take the views of the children into consideration and this cannot be rushed.

    You should bear in mind that due to Coronavirus restrictions, courts have only been dealing with urgent cases. When activity resumes more fully there is likely to be a significant backlog to work through, so things may not move as quickly as you hope.

    If you would like any advice on child arrangements, our experienced family law team will be happy to help. Please contact us or call 0131 202 7516.

    The post Top tips for stress-free school holidays for children of separated parents appeared first on Gibson Kerr.


    Separated? 6 Ways to Resolve Disputes

    When couples separate, there are often issues that have to be sorted out and disputes can arise. Whether the problem is financial or in relation to property or childcare arrangements, there are a number of options for you and your former partner to resolve the issue. During the coronavirus lockdown, the courts have stopped dealing […] The post Separated? 6 Ways to Resolve Disputes appeared first on Gibson...

    When couples separate, there are often issues that have to be sorted out and disputes can arise. Whether the problem is financial or in relation to property or childcare arrangements, there are a number of options for you and your former partner to resolve the issue.

    During the coronavirus lockdown, the courts have stopped dealing with all but the most urgent business. This means that clients are not able to bring non-urgent disputes to court for a decision by a judge. When the courts start to reopen it is anticipated that there will be a significant backlog of business and this will mean delay for many people who have disputes with former partners. Fiona Rasmusen, Partner and Head of Family Law, explains the other options available for resolving disputes at this time.

    1. Kitchen table

    Although it doesn’t have to be at a kitchen table, this is where you and your former partner sit down together to negotiate an agreement. Depending on the nature of the relationship breakdown, this is sometimes possible and has the advantage of saving on legal fees and it’s likely that your relationship can remain more amicable. However, you should always take some legal advice and even if you can reach an agreement this way it’s still wise to engage a solicitor to draw up a formal legal agreement.

    2. Mediation

    This method involves both parties sitting down together to discuss the issues in the presence of a neutral mediator. The mediator will work to guide a constructive discussion, so it’s more likely that the parties can reach an agreement. Again, it’s advisable that you take separate legal advice throughout this process so you’re clear what your rights are, and you should not sign any agreement without having legal advice.

    3. Collaborative Law

    In this process each party engages their own solicitor, who will be trained in collaborative law.

    All four people then have a series of meetings and work together to reach a settlement. Both parties and their solicitors sign up to the process before starting and agree not to raise court proceedings. This process is less likely to result in a total breakdown of the relationship, which is important if you have children together. It can also be quicker and cheaper.

    4. Negotiations through solicitors

    This is the most common way that disputes are dealt with. Each party engages their own solicitor and they negotiate an agreement on the issues between them. The advantage is that each party has legal advice, so are fully aware of their options. However, depending on the complexity this process can be lengthy and can become expensive.

    5. Arbitration

    Instead of going to court an arbitrator is appointed and each party gets the chance to present their case to the arbitrator who then makes a decision. A decision made by an arbitrator is binding. The advantages of arbitration are that you can choose your arbitrator and you and your former partner can control the process, which is 100% confidential.

    6. Court litigation

    This would normally be another method commonly used to resolve disputes. However, because of delays caused by the lockdown, it is problematic at the moment.

    Find out more …

    If you want to discuss any particular method of dispute resolution, please get in touch.

    Email: fiona.rasmusen@gibsonkerr.co.uk Tel: 0131 226 9161.

    The post Separated? 6 Ways to Resolve Disputes appeared first on Gibson Kerr.


    Why is Power of Attorney important and can I still do it during lockdown?

    Let’s face it, power of attorney isn’t something we discuss over dinner every day. You may be wondering, why is it important to have one? Granting a power of attorney is still possible during lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic means having one in place is more important than ever. What is a power of attorney? […] The post Why is Power of Attorney important and can I still do it during lockdown? appeared first on Gibson...

    Let’s face it, power of attorney isn’t something we discuss over dinner every day. You may be wondering, why is it important to have one? Granting a power of attorney is still possible during lockdown and the coronavirus pandemic means having one in place is more important than ever.

    What is a power of attorney?

    A power of attorney is a deed in which you appoint another person (or people) to deal with your affairs on your behalf. You may be unable to deal with your own affairs as a result of illness, or an accident, or maybe as a result of the ageing process. A power of attorney can also be useful if you are in good health. For instance, if you are out of the country for an extended period, or unable to leave your home for any reason.

    A power of attorney can cover financial matters such as paying bills and accessing your bank accounts. It can also cover welfare matters such as decisions about where you live and certain medical treatments.

    You can set up your power of attorney so that some of the powers can be used by your attorney even if you are capable of managing your own affairs, if you wish to do so.

    Why is a power of attorney so important?

    Granting a power of attorney means there is someone you trust who can manage your affairs for you, if you are unable to or you want assistance. By granting one, your money and property can be preserved and used for your benefit.

    If you become incapacitated and have not granted a power of attorney, no one has automatic rights to deal with your affairs. A court order for legal guardianship may have to be applied for, which can be a lengthy and costly process.

    Attorneys must act in accordance with certain legal principles and any action they take should be for your benefit.

    A power of attorney could be particularly helpful if restrictions remain in place for coronavirus longer term. Your attorney may be able to undertake transactions on your behalf. This may include visiting your bank, if you are unable to as a result of illness, or self-isolating, or being shielded.

    How does lockdown change the process?

    Like other aspects of our daily lives, the process for putting a power of attorney in place is slightly different from normal. However, it is still possible despite lockdown restrictions.

    Normally a power of attorney is signed in the presence of a solicitor or doctor. As it is currently not possible to carry out face-to-face meetings, the Law Society of Scotland have confirmed that such meetings can be completed by way of a video call instead.

    So, the first step is to instruct a solicitor by a telephone or video call. Your solicitor will then prepare your power of attorney for you to approve. Once approved, you can sign the power of attorney by video call. If you are unable to attend a video call, we can discuss possible alternatives for signing your power of attorney.

    We offer fixed fee packages for basic powers of attorney. For further information about the costs or the process of putting a power of attorney in place, please contact Stuart Millar, Associate in the Personal Law Department, 0131 226 9163.

    The post Why is Power of Attorney important and can I still do it during lockdown? appeared first on Gibson Kerr.


    How to deal with a loved one’s death during the coronavirus lockdown

    As the country remains in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are sadly having to deal with the death of a loved one during this time. If you are the nearest relative or executor appointed by them, you may be wondering what the next steps are to deal with their estate and how […] The post How to deal with a loved one’s death during the coronavirus lockdown appeared first on Gibson...

    As the country remains in lockdown during the coronavirus pandemic, many of us are sadly having to deal with the death of a loved one during this time. If you are the nearest relative or executor appointed by them, you may be wondering what the next steps are to deal with their estate and how you can deal with it during lockdown.

    Registering the death

    Registration offices in Scotland are closed to the public during the lockdown. This means it is not possible to attend an appointment at a registration office to register the death. However, the registrars are currently holding appointments by telephone. The local office will arrange a suitable time with you to obtain all the details they need to register the death. The medic who certified the death will ensure the registrar is provided with the medical certificate they need prior to your telephone appointment.

    During the telephone meeting, the registrar will ask you questions such as the deceased’s persons full name, date of birth, parents’ names, occupation and marital status. So it is useful to have this information to hand prior to your telephone appointment.  The registrar will ask you to check the draft death certificate and, if you are happy with it, it will be electronically signed on your behalf.

    Following the registration, the registrar will email you an electronic death certificate in place of an extract death certificate. Most institutions will accept this electronic death certificate as evidence of the death during the coronavirus pandemic. If a hard copy is required, an extract can be obtained from the registrars for a fee of £10 and they will post it out to you.

    More information regarding registering a death in Scotland during the lockdown can be found on the National Records of Scotland website.

    Arranging the funeral

    The next step will be to organise the funeral and you should contact a funeral director to begin arrangements.  Your loved one may have already made funeral arrangements by way of a funeral plan. Contact the plan provider to find out what has been arranged and which elements of the plan can still be carried out. If there’s no funeral plan, you should check if there is a will. If there is a will, it may contain the deceased’s wishes, such as whether they wish to be buried or cremated and where they would like a service held.

    The current Government lockdown rules limit attendees at a funeral to immediate family only. Some cemeteries and crematoriums will set specific limits as to how many can attend. Your funeral director will be able to advise you on this.

    Funeral directors have also adapted their own services to meet with social distancing guidelines. They may, for example, be able to arrange family viewing of the coffin at their premises following appropriate social distancing rules.

    Although the funeral service may be limited in the numbers of people who can attend, many funeral directors are offering the ability to live stream or record the funeral for family members and friends who cannot attend. Additionally, it should be possible to arrange a memorial service later in the year when restrictions ease.

    Administering the estate

    If there is a will which names you as the executor of the estate, you will be responsible for administering the estate. This involves ascertaining the assets owned by the deceased and finding out their values. You will need to establish if a Grant of Confirmation (the Scottish version of probate) is required to enable you to close the accounts and sell/transfer the assets. This will depend on how much was in each bank account and whether the deceased owned their own property.  Each bank will advise you whether they require a Grant of Confirmation to deal with the accounts they hold. It is unlikely you will be able to attend a bank branch during this time, but most banks have either a telephone or online service for notifying them of the death, or a postal address you can write to.

    Once you have obtained all of the information about the assets, you will complete the application for Confirmation (if required), including an inventory of the assets. As it stands, the sheriff courts are not currently able to accept new applications for Confirmation during the lockdown, except in urgent cases. The position is being updated regularly, so you may wish to check the current position with the Scottish courts, or ask your solicitor for an update.

    If inheritance tax is payable, you will need to complete an inheritance tax account. HM Revenue and Customs are currently not accepting payment of inheritance tax by cheque, but payment can be made by bank transfer or directly from the deceased’s bank to HMRC.

    If there is no will, the intestacy procedure will apply. Read our blog on What happens when you die without a will? to find out more about intestacy. Until the lockdown restrictions ease or the courts update their procedures, it will not be possible to make an application to be appointed as the executor of an intestate estate and this will have to wait until the position changes.

    We’re here to help

    Our personal law solicitors at Gibson Kerr are happy to help you with the process of administering an estate. We are working remotely and able to hold a telephone or video meeting with you (through Skype, Zoom or similar), so please do not hesitate to contact our personal law solicitors for more information or if you require assistance.

    The post How to deal with a loved one’s death during the coronavirus lockdown appeared first on Gibson Kerr.


    Can I make or change a will during lockdown?

    The coronavirus pandemic has sadly brought into sharp focus the need to have a will in place. With the country in lockdown and many offices closed a result, you may be wondering if it’s still possible to put a new will into place or change an existing will. The answer is yes. How will the […] The post Can I make or change a will during lockdown? appeared first on Gibson...

    The coronavirus pandemic has sadly brought into sharp focus the need to have a will in place. With the country in lockdown and many offices closed a result, you may be wondering if it’s still possible to put a new will into place or change an existing will. The answer is yes.

    How will the process work?

    Most law firms are continuing to operate in some capacity. At Gibson Kerr, our solicitors are all working remotely and, although we are not currently able to have face to face client meetings, we can hold meetings ‘virtually’. We can do this whether you are an existing client, or a new client to the firm.

    Ideally, we would hold a video meeting with you. There are many types of software applications which provide video conferencing facilities, usually for free; Zoom, Skype or Google Chats to name a few. It is usually possible to have a video call through one of these services without setting up an account with them.

    We will liaise with you to agree which application to use and we can then make the arrangements to set up the meeting and send you a link to join the video meeting. All you will need is a camera function on your computer, laptop, tablet or mobile phone.

    If you do not have access to a camera for a video meeting, we can hold the meeting via telephone, but will make extra arrangements with you to ensure we are complying with relevant requirements, such as checking your identity.

    What happens at the meeting?

    During the video or telephone meeting, we will discuss your circumstances with you and discuss what you would like to say in your will. We will ask you questions about your assets and which beneficiaries you wish to leave assets to.  It is therefore helpful if you have to hand a list of your assets and estimated values, to discuss during the meeting.

    What happens next?

    After the meeting, we will draft the will for you and will send a draft to you either by email or in the post. You will then have the chance to make any amendments or additions to the draft will.  Once you are happy with the will, we will finalise it for signing and then hold another video call meeting with you to arrange the signing.

    The Law Society of Scotland have recently issued guidance confirming that we can act as a witness to the signing of a will if we watch you signing it via video link.  This means that you will not need to ask an independent witness to visit you to watch you sign the will, which would potentially put you at risk during the pandemic.

    Again, if you do not have access to video call facilities, we will agree with you the best arrangements for signing your will during the lockdown.

    Call us to discuss your will

    If you are interested in making a will, or changing an existing will, please contact one of our personal law solicitors on 0131 202 7516 and we will be happy to discuss it with you.

    The post Can I make or change a will during lockdown? appeared first on Gibson Kerr.


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