Wednesday, 16 December 2009

DIY Wills - Don't do it!

We live in a society where, to save money, we attempt tasks ourselves that really should be undertaken by professionals.

You may have seen (and possibly heard) about home improvement DIY disasters. People make a living from creating cartoons relating to such disasters, but have you ever considered what may happen if you attempted a DIY Will? A Will than can be purchased "off the shelf"?

Andrew Way, Partner at Latimer Hinks comments on a recent court case relating to DIY Wills.

Court Case Highlights Danger of DIY Wills

DIY Wills are a risky business. Problems can arise if the Will was not correctly signed and witnessed. Drafting mistakes can leave the Will open to misinterpretation and could possibly render the Will useless. Not taking care of details such as this can prove very costly and sometimes distressing for those left to deal with it.

So, to avoid your Will being deemed unlawful or challenged by family members, good instructions, advice and legal guidance should be taken.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The North East Property Forum Meet Again!

Residential and commercial professionals met to discuss the state of the regional property market. Tim Haggie, Managing Partner at Latimer Hinks chaired the meeting and appeared in the video/podcast - an alternative method of promoting Latimer Hinks.

I attended one of the previous meeting and was surprised at how well the professionals from competing organisations communicated - there is, after all, strength in numbers!

Tuesday, 24 November 2009 Comments - conveyancing

Just today contacted Latimer Hinks in the hope that our conveyancing department could answer a few questions. I'm not sure why or how they decided to contact Latimer Hinks for the answers (above all other conveyancers), but we're very grateful! attracts a MASSIVE amount of traffic to their website - let's hope it does the same for us!

Here are the questions and answers:

By Nicola Neilson, Partner at Latimer Hinks Solicitors, Darlington

Conveyancing: What are my rights (to a property) if I'm married or unmarried or in a civil partnership?
An individual’s rights differ in each of these situations. Therefore, it is vital for people to seek the advice of a solicitor to make sure that the appropriate legally binding agreements are drawn up which suit their circumstances.

Conveyancing: I want to sell a property - why do I need a solicitor?
A solicitor ensures a client’s interests are protected at every stage, can guide them through any complex issues that may arise, makes sure the contracts are correctly drawn up and checks things such as the ownership of the property, rights of way, access, or future developments in the area are in order.

Conveyancing: I'm buying a house and I want to rent it out. How will a solicitor help?
A solicitor has the expertise to advise on the legal obligations and the rights of someone wanting to rent out their house as well as tenancy agreements and other legal documentation.

Now you know how a solicitor can help!

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Stamp Duty Land Tax Increase - complete purchases ASAP

It's extremely difficult for first time buyers to be able to take their first step onto the property ladder.

Stamp Duty Land Tax makes a hefty dent into any savings put aside to purchase a house. In order to help first time buyers the government raised the SDLT exemption to £175,000.

Currently, buyers purchasing properties over £175,000 are liable to pay 1% of the pruchase price in SDLT.

Over £250,000 to £500,000, 3% is required and
Over £500,000 4%, is required

BUT from the end of the year the threshold will return to £125,000. This will cost the buyer an extra £500 on a £175,000 property.

So, if you're waiting for a property purchase to complete this year, you may want to try to push it on a little quicker. I'd rather have £500 to treat myself for Christmas than let it go in Stamp Duty Land Tax!!

For further details - Home Buying to Get More Costly by the End of the Year

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

I Confess, I have Sinned!!

I have committed what I feel to be the No.1 blogging sin.


My only excuse is that I have been SO busy.

I am organising for Latimer Hinks (as well as all my other duties) a total revamp of the corporate identity, new website, new posters, new copy, new banners etc etc. I'm run off my feet! I should have an image of a guineapig in a wheel!


Blogs must be regularly updated to hold interest. I even wrote Top Ten Blogging Tips - and consider the list as Top Ten Commandments.

For some reason I have placed "regularly updating" at number 9 - i think i need a rewrite!

What do you consider to be the ultimate blogging sin?

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Sharing Information - a test

Just been browsing the internet and decided to try out a "share" button on the Law Society Gazette web page.

The article I wanted to share related to one of Latimer Hinks' trainees becoming a solicitor.

What you see below is the result of "sharing" with blogger. It seems a little strange that the links are without titles - has anyone else come across this? I thought this would be a quicker way to write a blog entry, but as you can see, a little more work in required!

[object Object]

Posted using ShareThis

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Latimer Hinks Highly Rated in Legal 500 & Chambers

Latimer Hinks' partners have been recognised as experts in their particular fields by the Legal 500 and Chambers UK

Legal 500 - Published for over twenty years, the Legal 500 Series provides the most comprehensive worldwide coverage currently available on legal services providers, in over 100 countries. Used by commercial and private clients, corporate counsel, CEOs, FDs and professional advisers - as well as by other referrers of work both nationally and internationally - the series is widely regarded as offering the definitive judgement of law firm capabilities.

Chambers UK - The UK Guide lists both solicitors and barristers in over 70 specialist areas of law. Since 1989, Chambers have been researching the UK legal profession, identifying the leading lawyers and law firms through interviews with thousands of lawyers and their clients. Their reputation is based on the independence and objectivity of research.

Full press story and glowing comments can be found by visiting Latimer Hinks

I think we deserved a pat on the back!!!

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Promotion Through North East Property Forum Video/Podcast

I had a trip out of the office yesterday. Tim Haggie, managing partner at Latimer Hinks was once again chairing the North East Property Forum and I was invited along by our PR company, Recognition to see how the meeting is filmed and documented.

I arrived in time for a few nibbles before the meeting - this also gave me the opportunity for a little networking. Everyone was relaxed, competitors were chatting - it all seemed very much unlike "work"!

I also believe I managed to avoid "being captured" by the Northern Echo photographer (without being too obvious).

Very quickly it was time to sit down and "get down to business". You can see the full video here Property Forum Video September. I've managed to upload it to YouTube, hopefully people will be interested enough to "rate" the video - any comments will be appreciated.

Here is the Northern Echo press story - Region's House Sales Surge by 80%

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Legal 500 - the bible of the legal business recommends Latimer Hinks

The Legal 500 is the most widely used legal directory in the UK and is considered to be "the bible of the legal business". The Legal 500 ranks law firms in terms of their expertise and performance.

Latimer Hinks has once again achieved recommendation - and this time more of our Partners are recognised! Good work!

Agriculture & Estates
Clients praise Latimer Hinks’ ‘vast knowledge of agricultural law and understanding of matters influencing the market‘. Anne Elliott is a ‘noted expert in the field of landlord and tenant‘, and Tim Haggie is recommended for estate management, strategy and planning. Instructions include advising farmers in negotiation with Broadview Energy over a wind farm development (which also involved Neil Stevenson) in North Yorkshire.

Personal Tax, Trusts & Probate
Anne Elliott at Latimer Hinks is noted for her expertise in inheritance tax and capital gains tax planning.

Real Estate
Mark Clayton leads a ‘very proficient‘ team at Latimer Hinks that had a busy year advising on numerous retail properties.

Corporate & Commercial
Nick Poole heads the Latimer Hinks team, which acted on a multimillion-pound refinancing of a group of hotels. Clients acknowledge the practice as ‘one of the best in the local market‘.

Commercial Litigation
Latimer Hinks is noted for its insolvency, debt recovery and bankruptcy practice. Mark Gardner is recommended.

Legal 500 Recommendations 2007

Legal 500 Recommendations 2008

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Latimer Hinks Deal with Purchase of Radio Stations

It's not all doom and gloom for businesses in the UK!

Nick Poole of Latimer Hinks Solicitors recently completed the purchase of 5 radio stations for Your Media Communications.

David Holdridge explained, "With the support and expertise of Nick Poole the legal aspects of this complex deal were delivered in a highly professional and proficient manner"

Here is the full story Latimer HinksTune in for Radio Deal

Do we see sunlight at the end of the recession tunnel??!

Photo: Latimer Hinks Solicitors’ Partner Nick Poole (left) with David Holdridge, Finance Director of Your Media Communications

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

How to Tackle Debt Head On

In this current recession debt can be a problem for many businesses as well as individuals. Mark Gardner, Partner at Latimer Hinks Solicitors provides ten top tips on how to tackle debt head on.

It seems to me, if we talk to people and take advice early on, debt problems won't spiral out of control. Sharing a problem, halves a problem.

Social networks/forums could be used initially to find advice/research the problem - probably free of charge. How you use the advice is then up to the individual.

Thursday, 3 September 2009

Solicitor Achieves Top Marks in National Taxation Exam

We have excellent staff here at Latimer Hinks. Elizabeth Armstrong is no exception.

Elizabeth is married with two very active children, works as a solicitor at Latimer Hinks and finds the time to study on an evening.

All of her hard work and dedication paid off recently when she was awarded an Avery Jones Medal for the highest mark in the Chartered Tax Adviser Application and Interaction paper.

Solicitor Achieves Top Marks in National Taxation Exam

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Going Offline - Holidays Beckon

Beliche Beach, Portugal
Originally uploaded by dramaqueenz
Just thought i'd let you know that i'm travelling to sunnier climes for a well deserved break and won't be blogging for a while.

However, my daughter recently bought an ipod itouch, and if i have wifi access i'm hoping to do a little "twittering" so please feel free to "follow me" on Twitter. My twitter address is @LatimerHinks.

Monday, 3 August 2009

Without a Will There Can be Disappointed Relatives

According to new research from Which? Legal Service:

  • 56% of people surveyed do not have a will

  • 33% of those over 45 have yet to make a will

  • 35% aged over 65 feel that they don't need a will

Latimer Hinks is concerned that many people do not have a will, wrongly assuming that everything they own will automatically go to their spouse/partner or children. The distribution of estates where someone dies intestate (without a will) has recently changed the level of the statutory legacy – the amount a spouse or civil partner will receive.

For a widow(er)/civil partner where the deceased has children the statutory legacy has risen from £125,000 to £250,000. So, for most estates with a value of less than £250,000 the whole of the estate will pass to the surviving spouse or civil partner.

BUT if a couple are living together but have not made the union legal (by way of marriage or a civil partnership) and have not made wills then their estate will not pass onto the survivor.

The Which survey found that:

66% of couples did not know that their children would inherit if the coulple was not not married/had not entered into a civil partnership.

Today it is far more common for people to have been married more than once. A will can be vital in ensuring that any assets someone leaves go to the people they want to benefit, particularly if there are children from previous relationships.

77% did not realise that if both parents were to die, failure to appoint guardians for their children could result in the courts having a say in their future - and they could be raised by someone the parents wouldn't have chosen.

Michael Jackson's recent premature death highlighted the issues of what can happen to dependent children. Jackson Child Custody Case Highlights Problems with Parental Rights

The Which study also revealed:

43% were unaware that if a couple were separated but not divorced, that the estranged partner could inherit the bulk of the estate rather than the current partner or children.

For the full press release visit Without a Will there Can be Disappointed Relatives

For more information on who can inherit visit AdviceGuide

Please, take the advice of a professional legal adviser and ensure that if you have a will that it is up to date!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Search Engine Optimisation - How Do you Do It?

Latimer Hinks is undergoing a website revamp. It’s a lot more time consuming that I initially thought it would be. At the moment we’re looking at layouts and applying the right tone to text.

We want to look professional, on the ball etc but don’t want to be condescending. Keywords need to be considered as well as search engine optimization (which sounds like a disease akin to swineflu)! It’s all a bit gobbledegook to me!

However, I’ve recently been contacted by Adam Smith, an SEO specialist.

Did you know that contrary to belief social networking doesn’t guarantee google rankings?

Adam is hopefully, going to advise me on the best way to optimise a couple of Latimer Hinks specialist services for search engines – Inheritance Tax Planning for High Net Worth Clients, Alternative Energy Negotiations (windfarms, telecommunications etc) and Succession Planning for Agricultural Clients.

I’ve tried bookmarking press releases and sharing this information on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube etc. Any new advice will be greatly appreciated. I shall keep you informed.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Alan Milburn's Mobility Study - Findings Don't Apply to Latimer Hinks

Former minister Alan Milburn has chaired a social mobility study for the prime minister on widening access to high-status jobs. Among its conclusions, it says those entering careers such as the law and medicine are increasingly likely to be from affluent families, despite efforts made to open up the professions.

Not according to Latimer Hinks Solicitors who have for quite some years been breaking down recruitment barriers highlighted in the report.

Partner Anne Elliott said: “At Latimer Hinks, where we have a rolling programme, which involves taking on several trainees a year, we have always believed that opportunity should be open to all.

“Here, we appoint on merit and are interested in the personalities and strengths of the candidates and what they know and not where they come from. Since the turn of the century we have employed a mix of people all from different backgrounds most of whom have been state educated.”

None of the youngest partners, Andrew Way, Mark Clayton, Nicola Neilson and Claire Farrell, were privately educated. None of the recent intake of three trainees and none of the five former trainees (all of whom have all been retained as solicitors on qualification) were privately educated.

All of these individuals have worked extremely hard and been self supporting. Because of the expense of training and qualification four of them studied for their final exams on two year part time courses at the College of Law involving weekend study during which period they held down full time positions with us. We have huge admiration for their resolve and sense of purpose and tenacity – their success is purely down to character, personality and hard work and it is just not true to say that law is still for ‘rich kids’.

“Our experience at Latimer Hinks over the past 10/15 years is quite the opposite to that as projected by Alan Milburn’s report – our solicitors are much less likely to be recruited from so called ‘affluent families’.”
Photo: left to right - Natalie Palmer - Solicitor, Nicola Neilson - Partner, Gillian Perkins - Solicitor, Nadine Sweeney - Trainee, Kelly McLoughlin - Trainee, Vicky Moremon - Trainee, Rosanne Green - Solicitor

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Long Term Care - Government's Proposal For Change

road sign elderly people
Originally uploaded by Theo Pronk
The Green Paper on long term care was published last week with details of the Government's proposals for changes to the current funding of long term care costs.

As reported in the Telegraph on the 18th July 2009, these proposals remain just that - proposals. There will be four months consultation and still no parliamentary timetable to turn any recommendations into law.

With a general election looming next year, the Telegraph reported that campaigners for the elderly believe the issue will once more get kicked into the long grass.

The earliest any changes could become law is likely to be 2014 and it is estimated that in the meantime 400,000 will need care within the next 5 years.

It is understood that the Government's proposal concern only health care related support and fail to consider the residential living element.

The proposals still do not solve the fundamental problem and issue namely, if you have assets, particularly a house, you may end up having to use or pay out of your own resources your care costs whereas if you do not have assets, financial assistance will be available from the state.

Andrew Way, Partner at Latimer Hinks Solicitors has produced a fact sheet summarising the proposals and how they impact on people, particularly the elderly.

Proposed Changes to Funding for Long Term Care

Thursday, 16 July 2009

New Marketing Trends - an easy way to keep up to date!

A "social networking" friend passed on a link to a very interesting and informative website... and in the spirit of social networking I thought I'd share this knowledge with you.

Trend Watching - visit the site and subscribe to their RSS feed, follow them on Twitter or have their briefings sent directly to your email address - and all for free of course!

Other services offered are shown below:

» All previous Trend Briefings (2002-2009)
» Trend Tips
» Presentations
» Spotters network
» In the Media
» 'Premium' (annual Trend Report & Database)

There are loads of links in their briefings so you're able to view indepth info very quickly.

This month's briefing is an opverview and covers:
Foreverism, Innovation Jubilation, SellSumers, Eco-bounty, Generation G....


Thursday, 9 July 2009

Jackson Child Custody Case Highlights Problems with Parental Rights

No-one likes to consider their own death. Will you have led a full life? Will you die prematurely?

It is extremely important, no matter what age you are that you make a will. By doing this you plan for your future and your family's future. It is essential that you seek the correct legal advice.

Michael Jackson's recent premature death has highlighted the issues of what can happen to dependent children.

Judith Middleton of Latimer Hinks Solicitors advises on english law surrounding these issues - Jackson Custody Case Promts Questions

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Using Social Media to Increase Awareness

Yesterday I attended a presentation on Social Marketing by James McRoy of The Images Group.

Many of us are aware of/members of social networking sites such as Twitter, Facebook, You Tube etc - BUT do we know how they can be used to improve the profile of your business, generate sales, create awareness and direct traffic to your website.

James took us through a speedy overview on the power of social marketing on the internet.
Social marketing:

  • Drives traffic
  • Increases depth of a website visit
  • Boosts conversion and ROI
  • Turns the customer/Client into a sales person (they share your promotions with their networks)
  • Enables you to stand out from the competition
  • Provides interactivity for Clients
  • Can be tracked and monitored for effectiveness (check googleanalytics for your website)

Here at Latimer Hinks we engage in a variety of social marketing activities. Our website includes social bookmarking buttons and an RSS feed.

We blog, have a Facebook and LinkedIn presence (but not a Facebook Business Page), we bookmark. We have also recently joined Twitter.

I'm not quite sure how successful Twitter is going to be for Latimer Hinks but we have had a few hits from Twitter directed to our website.

James McCoy gave a few tips on using Twitter. Here are a few of them as well as links to Tweet related sites.

  • Twitter Search an easy to understand video about Twitter Search from Common Craft (excellent videos)
  • Search Twitter - type in the box what you wish to search for and hey presto loads of Tweets appear!You can also search by using # then whatever you wish to search for
  • Here you can search for people
  • Tweetlater - productivity tools for Tweeple, many of which are free to use.
  • Tweetburner - you're only allowed 140 characters per tweet. Tweetburner will shorten these urls for you, quite handy!
  • AdCause - you can also advertise on Twitter from only $1

James also suggested that Tweets be limited, 30 per hour is far too many and you could have your account suspended.

Don't keep trying to sell, sell, sell - give something back to the Tweet community.

Join as a personal Tweeter as well as a Business Tweeter (you are allowed more than one account). Try to keep your business Tweet name as close to your business name as possible. Perhaps you have diffreent products to promote - open a tweet account for all of them!

Obviously social marketing is time consuming, BUT the majority of sites/applications are free to use. Develop a strategy (trial and error) and if it works, stick with it!

Happy Tweeting - why not come along and follow my tweets.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Advice for Divorcing Couples Hit with Recession

The depressed housing market and current economic climate is taking it's toll on divorced couples. Unable to sell their property and "move on" many couples have made the decision to "live apart, together".

Judith Middleton, partner at law firm Latimer Hinks comments on new on-line advice and provides tips on how to "live apart, together" (there's even a wikipedia entry for it!)

Below you'll find further articles on this modern phenomenon:

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

North East Property Forum meet in June

Property Forum Meeting, June 2009 - The Property Forum (made up of solicitors, surveyors bankers and estate agents) met again and discussed first-time buyers’ needs as well as other property issues. The Northern Echo also reported on the meeting.

A couple of points were picked up:

Houses are selling as long as they are competitively priced. I have a particular interest in this point as my property is up for sale with what I hope is a "competitive price!"

  • There is an increase of interest from first time buyers especially with shared equity schemes

  • Lenders have noticed an increase in demand for mortgages

Cick on the link to view the podcast - Property Forum Meeting

Monday, 15 June 2009

ASSIST - Ladies Networking Group second meeting

July 1st is the date for the next ASSIST ladies networking event.

ASSIST is a networking group for ladies in the Tees Valley area. The aim of the group is to "help each other". ASSIST offers a "buddy system". Members will be allocated a PROFICIAM, someone to help/share knowledge with. For more information visit the ASSIST website.

There is obviously a need for this type of networking group - the launch event was a great success and a "sell out". The second event which will be held at the Thistle Hotel in Middlesbrough will hopefully attract the same numbers.

ASSIST members are given the opportunity to present/talk to attendees. Fiona Carter of CMF Solutions has very kindly offered to provide an interactive presentation on “Time Management for Those who Don't Have Time to Attend a Time Mangement Course” – we figure we all need advice in this area, how DO we make more time?!

The rest of the morning will provide an opportunity for further networking.

If you are interested in attending and are based in the Tees Valley area simply contact us at Full details canbe found here
Cost £5 members, £7.50 non members

Thursday, 11 June 2009

When is a Wedding not a Wedding?

Gone are the days of a quick trip to the church followed by a sit down buffet at the local pub to celebrate a wedding. Marriages can cost tens, if not hundreds of thousands of pounds. When spending this amount of money it is worth checking that your dream wedding is ACTUALLY legal.

When is a marriage not a marriage?

1) when you play around with your vows!

Judith Middleton, partner at Latimer Hinks warns that personalising wedding ceremonies could mean that some couples may not be legally wed. Leaving out key words from wedding vows may mean they do not comply with marital laws. See the full story: When is a Wedding Not a Wedding

2) when you have been married to a friend ordained online!

A couple from Conneticut had their ceremony performed by a friend who had been ordained online by the Universal Life Church. Having heard of other couples who were married that way, they assumed it was legal. But Connecticut is one of a half-dozen places that do not recognize marriages performed by someone who became a minister for the sole purpose of marrying people. See the full story: Great Wedding But Was It Legal?

I'm sure there will be many other examples of Non legal marriages however, i'll keep this blog short. If anyone would like to provide other examples, please feel free.

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

Wind Farms & Heads of Terms

Neil Stevenson, partner at Latimer Hinks Solicitors is becoming quite an expert on windfarms, heads of terms, negotiations etc.

RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) recently asked Neil to speak at three of their conferences

The conferences cover a wide range of fee earning and current topical issues based on Energy, Environmental and Valuation.

The Chester (held during our mini heatwave) attracted an audience of around 50. Neil, understandably nervous received excellent feedback and many questions were asked after the event.

Neil recently took part in a video on wind farm negotiations - The Answer is Blowing in the Wind.

So, if you have a few acres of land available for an alternative energy project, please contact Latimer Hinks 01325 341500!

Wednesday, 27 May 2009

National Family Week - consider the children after divorce

As we celebrate national family week in the North East (25-31 May) let’s not forget that families come in all shapes and sizes, and that the end of a relationship doesn’t have to result in the breakdown of a family.

At Latimer Hinks, Judith Middleton our family law partner sees separating parents daily who desperately want to help their children to deal with the effects of divorce and separation, but they often don’t know where to turn for information, advice or support.

Judith is an accredited member of Resolution, the national family lawyers association. Resolution has developed a “Parenting after Parting” initiative, which aims to help separating parents through this difficult time with advice and information on how to talk to children about divorce or separation.

Help is available online at, which offers practical help with ways to help children going through these situations as well as details of parents workshops, designed to support parents in managing the impact of divorce of separation for their children.

For those of you wishing to entertain your children during National Family Week take a look at all of the activites on offer throughout the UK

Tuesday, 26 May 2009

New Rules Leads to New Partner at Latimer Hinks

New rules under the Legal Services Act allow UK law firms to take on non-lawyers as partners.

Latimer Hinks Solicitors took advantage of the new rules to bring on board Andrew Way as partner - a move which recognises the enormous contibution Andrew has made over the past 30 years.
Congratulations Andrew!

Monday, 18 May 2009

Katie Price and Peter Andre's Separation - what about Harvey?

Since last Monday when Katie Price and Peter Andre announced their separation they have been front page news - again. Married for three years Peter and Katie had very sensibly arranged for a pre-nuptial agreement to be set up.

BUT, what happens to the children when a marriage breaks up? What are a step-parent’s rights and responsibilities?

Apparently Peter treats 7 year old disabled Harvey (whose father is Dwight Yorke) as one of his own. They also have two other children, Junior and Princess Tiaami.

According to the Mail Online, Katie Price and Peter Andre are planning to meet to discuss who will care for Harvey, seven, Junior, three, and Princess Tiaami, one.

As a result of Katie and Peter's separation, Judith Middleton, a family law specialist at Latimer Hinks solicitors has turned the spotlight on people’s rights in connection with step-children.

Katie & Peter’s Split: Advice to Divorcing Step-Parents

Judith Middleton is a Partner at Latimer Hinks Solicitors an Accredited member of Resolution
and regional spokesperson for Resolution, an association of 5,000 family lawyers.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Latimer Hinks Solicitors Support the Elderly

We have all heard, through acquaintances, the media, the press how easily the elderly can be misled or taken advantage of.

At Latimer Hinks we are aware that when it comes to sorting out your affairs solicitors are often the last on the list. Too often, people delay what they want. Sometimes it is too late and when it then falls to others to make arrangements for them.

Solicitors for the Elderly is an organisation committed to providing and promoting robust, comprehensive and independent legal advice for older and vulnerable people, their family and carers

Most of our Private Client lawyers are members of Solicitors for the Elderly . Not just any lawyer can be a member of SFE. Members must have spent a substantial amount of their time working for elderly clients and have also have to fulfil criteria for membership.

Recently, Claire Farrell and Natalie Walker became Joint Regional Co-ordinators for the North East Branch of Solicitors for the Elderly

If you need information/advice on any of the elderly issues listed below please don't hesitate to contact Latimer Hinks. We're here to help.

  • Estate planning using wills, trusts and lifetime giving
    Powers of attorney
    Court of Protection
    Probate and the administration of estates
    Trust administration
    Tax Planning
    Living Wills
    The provision of home care
    Preserving assets in the event of long term residential or nursing care
    Residential and nursing home contracts
    Advice on financial responsibility and funding for long-term care, including continuing NHS health care
    State retirement and widows pensions
    Long-term care insurance policies
    Mental Health legislation

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Twitter for Lawyers

Twittering - another social networking phenomenon.

What is Twitter?

Twitter is a social networking and microblogging service that allows you answer the question, "What are you doing?" by sending short text messages 140 characters in length, called "tweets", to your friends, or "followers."

All is explained further at Tweeternet.

As this blog is about experimenting with social media I thought i'd give it a go.

I'm hoping to use it to share tips, advice, thoughts and ideas related to Latimer Hinks, the legal profession and social media.

Matthew Homann of The Non Billable Hour has been tweeting for a while. He lists his best 100 Tweets. This list (thank you Matthew) has given me a few ideas to start.

Whilst researching Tweet I came across this list of Lawyers and Legal Professionals (thanks to JDScoop) to follow on twitter. The majority are US based, but they do provide an idea of what to do/expect.

I also came across a great little video on the Lawyerist (thankyou). Very funny - tweeting in the flesh so to speak - take a look!

If you'd like to "follow me" my tweet name is LatimerHinks

Happy tweeting!

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Property Forum Meets Again to Discuss Effects of Alistair Darling's Budget on the Property Market

A second get together of the North East Property Forum with Tim Haggie, once again chairing met yesterday. Here are links to videos of both of the meetings.

I've placed them videos YouTube in the hope of generating traffic to Latimer Hinks website and to place Tim Haggie as an authority for property advice.

If anyone has advice as to the best way of "pushing" these videos through Web2 and social media, please let me know.

Property Forum Meeting 29th March 2009

Original Property Forum Meeting

Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Family Courts: New Rules Won't Create an Open, Transparent System

In a move to boost public confidence from 27th April the media have been granted family court access.

Before this the public and the media have not been allowed to court in order to protect families, particularly children.

Justice Secretary Jack Straw said the move was a step towards a new culture of "greater openness" in all courts.

Family courts make decisions, such as whether children should be taken into care or put up for adoption, or given contact with parents who are divorcing. They also decide on custody and how finances should be split.

However, there have been claims that the secrecy of the hearings has led to injustices, with some children taken wrongly into care.

Judith Middleton, Partner at Latimer Hinks and Regional Spokesperson for Resolution has warned that the new rules, rushed in by the government, represent a missed opportunity to allow thorough and effective public scrutiny.

Judith believes that new rules won't create an open, transparent system

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Oniomania - Shopping Addiction and the Recession

OniomanĂ­a $3.00
Originally uploaded by mezyar
Apparently 25% of Britons are addicted to shopping! Couple that with the current recession and we may find that the 25% addicted to shopping also have mounting debt issues - and from there, without help it's a downward spiral. Take a look at Latimer Hinks press release - Help at Hand When the Shopping Habit Costs Too Much.

I must admit i'm quite restrained when it comes to spending money. If i haven't got the money/cash/wherewithall I will not spend. I hate the thought of owing money or paying on plastic. I never seem to have much spare cash BUT I don't have much debt and I believe that in the current economic climate this is the safest way to survive the recession.

Shopping addiction - oniomania is a hot topic at the moment. See my previous blog post Confessions of a Shopaholic for more information and advice on how to handle your debts.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

New Ladies Networking Group - Launch Event

Latimer Hinks, along with other committee members is helping to start up a much needed support/networking group for business women in the Tees Valley area.

If you are based in or around Tees Valley you may be interested... here is your invitation

Would you be interested in joining a targeted networking group?

A group:

  • for professional and business women from the Tees Valley area?
  • for like-minded individuals to meet and offer support and advice as well as exploring areas of common interest?
  • To encourage networking, communication and sharing of knowledge?

If the answer is YES to all of the above, then please join us at the launch event of ASSIST – a support and networking group for professional ladies in the Tees Valley area.

The launch takes place at Crathorne Hall on 20th May 2009 from 9am for 9.30am until 11:00am where you will have the opportunity to find out more about ASSIST and their unique “buddy” system.

The cost is minimal - £5. Simply bring payment along on the day. However, if you need to cancel please do so 7 days prior to the event otherwise payment will still be due.

If you are interested in attending please send confirmation to:

Places are limited so please hurry.

I look forward to seeing you there.

If you are unable to attend but would like to be added to the ASSIST mailing list for future events simply your request to the above address.

PS: many thanks to Crathorne Hall for their support

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Swearing in of the Under-sheriff

Anne Elliott, Marketing Partner at Latimer Hinks Solicitors has been sworn in as the new Under-sheriff of County Durham.

What is an Under-sheriff?
Well, here is the legal definition -

UNDER-SHERIFF. A deputy of a sheriff. The principal is called high-sheriff, and the deputy the under-sheriff.

The High Sheriff and Under-Sheriff were the principal law enforcement officers in the county, but over the centuries most of the responsibilities associated with the appointment have been transferred elsewhere.

Here is a press release on Anne's new role

Mary Everitt, Anne's Trust Assistant attended the swearing in. She'll be telling us all about the day via this blog in the next few days.

If you're interested, here is a List of County Durham High Sheriffs dating back to the 15th Century
The photo shows Anne alongside Alasdair MacConachie, High Sheriff

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

Promotion Expertise Through Video

Despite the ongoing recession, life at Latimer Hinks for me is particularly busy. As well as the ongoing promotion of Latimer Hinks we are experimenting with a new media for us - video.
As more individuals/businesses acquire fast broadband connections, video has become a powerful marketing tool, 24/7. We thought we'd "have a go"!

1) Tim Haggie, managing partner chaired a meeting to discuss the property market. See my previous post which includes a link to the property video.

The aim of the discussion video is to show Tim as an expert in his field - Commercial Property and to keep his "finger on the pulse" of what is going on with the property market in our region.
The video has been posted to youtube and various other sites as well as being sent to Clients/referrers that may have an interest in the discussion. The "get together" also provided the opportunity for leading surveyors and estate agents to perhaps build on their business relationships.

2) Neil Stevenson, partner at Latimer Hinks met with John Littlefair (wind farm owner) to discuss how lucrative wind farms can be and how Latimer Hinks can help. Neil is an expert in agricultural law, with particular interest in alternative energy. Again, we hope the video - the Answer is Blowing in the Wind will show Neil as an expert in a niche area.

As you probably know, YouTube monitors how many times the video has been viewed. This will eventually be of great interest and only time will tell if we pick up any business through video promotion.

I am on the look out for video hosting sites that specialise in a particular area. For example Alternative Energy. I can then post to sites with members that have a relevant interest.

All of this posting takes an awful lot of time - i'm looking for quicker ways. I do bookmark with sites such as Stumble, Delicious, Furl, Digg etc and i do see the success through google analytics - so, it's worth it!

Thursday, 26 March 2009

What is the state of the North East property market?

Well, Latimer Hinks decided to find out by bringing together leading estate agents, surveyors and solicitors to discuss the state of the property market.

The forum - a new addition to the Latimer Hinks marketing portfolio will meet on the last Wednesday of every month.

Tim Haggie, Managing Partner at Latimer Hinks chaired the meeting and we heard how the experts believe buyer confidence is returning.

For the full article visit the Northern Echo - Property Industry Hails Foundation for Recovery

And to watch a video of the meeting - Leading Estate Agents Meet at north East Property Forum

Monday, 16 March 2009

Thinking of Marriage - avoid stress & heartache - get a prenup!

Pre-nuptials - not terribly romantic but setting up a pre-nup agreement can help to avoid considerable stress and heartache if a marriage were to break down.

In a recent landmark case, a woman who had already accrued some £18 million in divorce settlements from three previous marriages dropped her claim to a share of her fourth husband’s £45 million fortune thanks to the prenuptial agreement she had signed before the marriage.
The prenuptial agreement was signed on 16 November 2005, and its terms recorded that 'neither party should apply to any court in any jurisdiction for any order for financial provision of any kind based on the marriage.”

However, Susan Crossley, after filing for divorce, sought to go against the pre-nuptial agreement by applying for financial relief from her husband. This was challenged by Stuart Crossley but it was argued that he had not disclosed assets that formed the basis of the agreement so there should be formal financial disclosure. The judge agreed with Stuart Crossley, ordering that the documentation for financial disclosure need not be filed.

Stuart Crossley holds on to his £45 million fortune!

Pre-nuptial agreements are not legally binding in the UK but they can be taken into taken account by the court when deciding how to distribute the assets on a divorce.

Judith Middleton, Family Law partner at Latimer Hinks comments on the Crossley v Crossley case

So, to be on the safe side (not the romantic side) a preputial agreement is worth bearing in mind - and it's not just for the rich and famous out there!

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Implementing Redundancies Presentation Well Attended

Yesterday Latimer Hinks held a presentation at Darlington Football Club on Implementing Redundancies in the work place.

The week previous to the event, news hit the press stating that Darlington Football Club was in administration.... panic! Would we still be able to hold the presentation? Will they continue to trade? etc etc.

However, there was no need for panic as the conference side of the business is still up and running!

The presentation was well attended - a reflection of the current climate.

Nick Poole, partner at Latimer Hinks explained how as an employer facing the need for redundancies it is essential to plan early and plan carefully. The redundancy process must be handled in a manner which is fair to all employees and does not leave the company exposed to claims for unfair dismissals.

If your conpany/organistation does need to consider workplace redundancies we strongly advise you to take specialist legal advice.

Other areas of advice from Latimer Hinks commercial department includes:
· Human resource support and strategy
· Changing terms and conditions, business transfers and TUPE
· Contracts for directors, consultants, employees, casuals and temps
· Directors’ service agreements
· Due diligence, indemnities and warranties in sale and outsourcing agreements
· Handbooks and procedures
· Partnership law
· Data protection

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Confessions of a Shopaholic - how to handle your debt!

Confessions of a Shopaholic, now screening at cinemas nationwide.

The timing of this movie in the current climate leaves alot to be desired! It's hard sympathise for Rebecca, a spend-happy, romantic caught out by her passion for shopping. She holds 12 credit cards and racks up debts left right and centre.

The situation is so desperate that a Debt Collector is hired to recover the money owed.

Rather than ask for help at this point Rebecca spins a web of lies which only makes matters worse.

Okay, so we're talking about an entertaining chick flick, but how much of this now relates to real life and recession?

Did you know that there is a name to describe someone addicted to shopping? Oniomania.

Oniomania, as with most addictions tends to affect people with a compulsive, destructive nature.

Oniomania can lead to devastating debts.

Here, Mark Gardner, partner at Latimer Hinks Solicitors (scroll down linked the page for Mark's profile) provides some expert advice:

Sadly while this movie is meant to be a bit of fun/light-hearted the issues raised by it are all too relevant and painful today. Regrettably for too many people the ending is not happy but it does not have to be extremely painful. There will be pain and sacrifices to be made to get out of the problems.

Stop spending – easier said than done. Rebecca has clearly got a problem both financially and medically with her addiction. Does she have the will-power to stop? Only time will tell.

  1. Rebecca must determine her incomings and essential outgoings - rent/mortgage, gas, electricity, council tax, food, travel to a from work etc. Whilst this list does not include new shoes/handbags there should be a modest figure put in for contingencies. Hopefully there will be something left over which can be used to sort out the debts.
  2. The next step must be (and this can be the hardest) to ascertain how much is owed and to who? Honesty is essential as to underestimate or leave a debt out could ruin all the good plans. If in doubt, over-estimate the debts and under estimate the available cash.
  3. Next, with these two figures to hand what can be done and how do you move forward? One way to generate extra cash is to look at excessive items/purchases and sell them on sites such as ebay or the like to raise immediate cash. Hopefully a lump sum can be raised – however small to go into the pot.
  4. What is being paid by way of interest on store cards etc? Is there any mileage in moving balances to a card which charges no interest on balance transfers? This MUST NOT be used as a means of getting more credit. The original cards should be torn/cut up/destroyed! Look at loans etc and see if there are cheaper alternatives. Restraint and self control are going to be key here. There will be a big problem with “cold turkey” as Rebecca is weaned off her addiction.
  5. What about Rebecca setting herself a budget in cash each week? Once it has gone then that is it – no more temptations to spend in lunch hours etc. Why pay for expensive sandwiches – bring lunch to work and avoid the need to go out to the shops. Any overtime on offer or opportunity for a bonus? It is not all doom and gloom – cheaper alternatives to going out are to meet at home and cook food over a bottle of wine etc or a rented movie – or choose to eat out on "specials" nights or when there are 2 for 1 offers available (check out moneysavingexpert).

These are only suggestions but are not exhaustive. A full strategy needs to be thought out and stuck to in each individual case. What works for one may not work for another. One size definitely does not fit all! The sooner the problem is recognized and acknowledged the easier it is to resolve.

Finally if the problems are fairly severe and creditors are pushing there are always formal arrangements under the Insolvency Act to secure an orderly repayment. Initial insolvency advice is usually free from reputable qualified insolvency practitioners and the costs of any arrangement (aside from court fees) usually come out of the instalments. Hence an instalment may be asked for in advance.

Ultimately bankruptcy can provide the only way forward for some people. Specialist advice should be taken before that is embarked upon as there are repercussions with regards to homes, utilities and banks to name but a few. Partners can also be affected by bankruptcy.

Hopefully with will power and a long hard look at herself and her habits with the benefit of a job the Rebeccas of this world can sort their problems out and achieve a happier ending.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Free Webcast - RSS, Social Media, Blogs etc

Came across this free webcast which will be playing on the 17th February and thought i'd share with you! The full title is:

Web 2.0 - Leveraging New Media to Maximize Your Securities & Compliance Practice

Yes, it is a mouthfull!

Brought to us by a company called Securities Docket here is the link to the Webcast

Anyone/business interested in promoting via the web should make a point of watching it live, or watching the recording later on.

Thanks to Securities Docket!

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Implementing Redundancies in the Work Place - correctly

In the current climate of financial turmoil employers as well as employees begin looking over their shoulders to see the threat of job losses and redundancies looming.

Employers need to be aware of the pitfalls - hasty action could potentially lead to expensive litigation further down the line.

Employers faced with this daunting prospect of implementing redundancies can find out more about the procedures involved at a series of free breakfast presentations by Nick Poole, partner at Latimer Hinks Solicitors.

The 30-minute presentations will be held at:
  • 24th February - Crabtree Hall Business Centre, Little Holtby, Northallerton
  • 26th February - Allen Sykes Chartered Accountants, Bishop Auckland
  • 3rd March - Darlington Football Club

The Bishop Auckland event will also include a talk by Robert Herbert, partner at Allen Sykes, on the tax implications of redundancies from the perspectives of employers and employees.

Each event starts with breakfast at 8.30am, followed by presentations at 9am and a question and answer session.

To see a FaxBack for each event please visit the Latimer Hinks Events page.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Wind Farms Can Be Lucrative

Here at Latimer Hinks we have a growing number of agricultural Clients, many of which have been approached by alternative energy companies. These companies wish to build windturbines on the Clients' land. Commercially the Clients are looking for the most suitable and lucrative deal.
This is where Neil Stevenson steps in. Neil, a partner at Latimer Hinks has developed an expertise in relation to telecommunication masts and renewable energy projects. He is regularly instructed by farmers to deal with negotiations on thier behalf. Neil has over 30 years experience in the legal profession and is a member of the Agricultural Law Association and the Country Land and Business Association

We sent him out (into the freezing cold) to make a video explaining the benefits to farmers of using a solicitor to negotiate with energy companies.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Everyday Issues for Farmers & Their Families - Presentation

Originally uploaded by photontrappist

Latimer Hinks and GSC Chartered Surveyors is organising a presentation on the 29th January at the UTASS offices in Middleton in Teesdale.

It's a free presentation - and it does exactly "as it says on the tin!"

So, if you're a farmer interested in issues which may affect your family come along and join us for information on:

  • Tenants Fixtures and Improvements
  • End of Tenancy Matters
  • Succession Planning - Wills, Trusts, Inheritance Tax Planning, Lasting Powers of Attorney etc