When an Eye For Detail is Essential – Log Burners

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Want to know why above all things it is essential your conveyancer is thorough and has an eye for detail? Well I am here to tell you. The example I will describe actually happened at the end of last year but it clearly illustrates the point.

 

Front Door Country Home with Log Burner

 

I had a particular client who was purchasing a new property. She had found the place she wanted to buy and had her heart set on the house. She was thrilled that after house hunting for a while she had found her “dream home” and once her offer on the property was accepted she had got the ball rolling and appointed Barnes and Partners Solicitors in Ware. This woman wasn’t a first time buyer and had been through the process before so it wasn’t completely new or unfamiliar to her.

 

As you probably know, mortgages are approved subject to surveys and we as conveyancers have to also do a number of searches so that we cover off all potential red flags and issues.

 

I was carrying out the process as I usually would and found that this particular property had a log burner. Some conveyancers may not pick-up on log burners as an issue but I followed due diligence and looked into it. I found this log burner had been installed but at first it was unclear when exactly.

 

After some digging, the team managed to trace back that the log burner was installed sometime in the late 1980s to early 1990s. However, no HETAS certificate was available.

 

The following is official HETAS information that is applicable to log burners:

“A HETAS Certificate of Compliance (Building Regulation Compliance Certificate) demonstrates that the installation complies with the relevant Building Regulations. The information on the certificate is used to record your installation, and in England & Wales it is used to notify your Local Authority Building Control Department (LABC) of the work that was undertaken.

 

HETAS Notice Plate

Additional Information

 

Where a hearth, fireplace, flue or chimney is provided as part of the work information essential to the correct application and use of these facilities should be permanently posted in the building. A way of meeting this requirement is for the installer to provide a Notice (or Data) plate.”

 

Obviously, we raised this with the seller’s solicitors and they said they would insure with an indemnity insurance policy. They also stated that the seller would pay for this.

 

Our client seemed satisfied and some firms may leave it at this but we argued that although the indemnity policy would hopefully cover local authority enforcement action for lack of building regulations/HETAS certificate that it would not cover faulty workmanship or improper installation.

 

 

I advised our client (buyer) to gain a specific log burner inspection, which she did. The log burner was then found to be faulty – incorrectly installed and breaching building regulations due to incorrect flue linings and leakage of carbon monoxide – the plumber actually condemned the log burner!

 

The vendor had to pay £1,500 to rectify this and then the sale went through. Everyone was happy and it was a good outcome for all.

 

Just a month later, our local paper reported news of a cottage fire caused by a log burner nearby, which new buyers of this home had lit for the first time since moving in.

 

The article can be read here

 

Fortunately no one was hurt, but the home was destroyed. Obviously there are no pointing fingers and we don’t know exactly how or why this happened. Potentially all necessary checks were followed through and showed nothing but this devastating news really shocked us and drove the point that the details really are so important.

 

We were so thankful that the log burner inspection was carried out thoroughly for our client and all preventative measures were taken.

 

If you have a question for and are buying or selling a home in and around Ware contact Andrea on 01920 460823.

– Andrea Greenwood, Senior Conyevancer, Ware

Staff Spotlight Charlene Boyaram

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Our Staff Spotlight is a monthly occurrence where we shine the spotlight on a member of our Barnes and Partner’s Solicitors team. From receptionist to finance team, conveyancing to employment law – we give you an opportunity to learn more about us. We have a wonderful dedicated team across all of our Barnes and Partners Solicitors branches and every month they vote for who will be featured in the Staff Spotlight.

This month we would like to introduce you to Charlene Boyaram who works in conveyancing. Colleagues say she is a “ray of sunshine” and she is a proactive and dedicated member of our Barnes and Partners team.

Charlene Boyaram Conveyancing

 

Read on to hear more about Charlene in her own words:

I am so pleased that I won the Staff Spotlight this month – it was such a wonderful surprise!

I started working at Barnes and Partners in October 2012 doing work experience a few hours a week and after a short time I was offered a job as a full time paralegal and from there I was eventually given a training contract.

I am fortunate to have worked with amazing members of staff who have been supportive and have taught me so much. I am a mother of three amazing boys Kairo aged 9, Noah aged 8 and Elijah aged 6. I am so grateful that the firm has made it possible for me to still be a fantastic mother to them.

I want to especially thank Wendy Gudgeon, Karen Newman, Andrea Greenwood, Kim Boylett and Anna-Marie Whelan for the amazing training that they gave to me whilst I was doing my training contract. In -fact all of the Partners have been wonderful. Without them I would not be where I am now.

Since qualifying as a solicitor last October I have worked in the E-move department as a Team Leader and I am now working between a couple of offices assisting fee-earners with their busy workloads.

I am currently having a great time working in the Ware office where the staff are all pleasant and amazing to work with. I am due to leave here in a couple of weeks to cover a member of staff in our Crouch End office. Whilst I am looking forward to my new adventure I will thoroughly miss the team in Ware.

A day in the life of me:

I am woken to the wonderful sound of a 6-year-old requesting a “mummy hug”…great start to the day and the best motivation any person needs to get up and go to work!

After washing, dressing and feeding my boys (in between sorting myself out) I do then school run and get myself to work.

As for a lot of us in law, work is always busy…phone calls, emails, exchanging contracts and completions. At the end of the working day I look forward to collecting my boys and then taking them to their extra-curricular activities (football, music lessons etc.) and whilst they are busy I take out my files again to squeeze in a little bit more work #addictedtothejob

My best part of the day is when I put my boys to bed, then put my feet up and gently sigh (with a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc in hand)…then think “I’ve got to do this all again tomorrow”

In my spare time I love to play the piano, I enjoy listening to a variety of music and socializing with my friends (catching up on all the things that I have missed!)

I am also a member of the Athena networking group, which is a group of ladies who support each other in our businesses and career paths.

However, nothing beats spending quality time with my boys. They give me my drive and motivation. I work hard so that I can be a good role model to them and so that I can give them the best in life…everything that they deserve.

Thank you to everyone who voted for me xxx  

 

 

Thanks to Charlene for sharing with us and for her heart-felt words. Charlene is a fantastically dedicated conveyancing solicitor and such a valuable member of our team.

If you have a conveyancing query for Charlene or would like to appoint a conveyancer for your property sale or purchase, please call on 0208 370 2800

New build homes, what are your thoughts?

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There are generally two camps for new builds – those who absolutely love the idea of purchasing a new build and those who are terrified of the prospect of purchasing a new build property. You could call new builds the Marmite of the housing market.

 

New Build Conveyancing

 

Are you in the pro-new build camp and are tempted to buy a new build home? Is the lure of help to buy too good to pass-up? Maybe the stress free part-exchange route to deal with your existing property is the appeal, or could it be you are excited to have a say in the specification?

 

Or are you a new build hater? Have you heard horror stories of problems that arise with buying a new build home? Maybe you have seen news articles about delayed completions or don’t understand when buildings regulations sign-off is. Perhaps for you the pressure of a quick exchange is simply too overwhelming.

 

It doesn’t have to be this way…

 

Barnes and partners have a designated department to deal with your new build purchase and part-exchange sale or sale on the open market. Our new build department is equipped and ready to work quickly to achieve the timescales afforded by developers.

 

Want to ensure you are prepared and know what to expect for a new build transaction? Here is our checklist for a smooth running new build purchase:

 

-Firstly communication, your solicitor must keep in regular contact with the developer and advise them of the current position. When it comes to a potential delay this is something that would be preempted with regular updates.

 

-In relation to completion and potential delays that come with the nature of buying off-plan, this is something we advise on from the outset. It is so important to check with the broker about the extendibility of the mortgage offer, have a Plan B in the event there are delays and ensure you are always prepared.

 

-As a foundational rule of conveyancing we of course advise our clients properly on the purchase contract they are entering into, but we also make sure your new build contract has a long stop date so there is a get-out in the event that the delays become unwarranted – this affords protection during a difficult time.

 

-You must look for advice on the warranty that you will be receiving on completion. We offer this and even guide you to the specific providers’ website where you can learn all about the cover and its benefits.

 

Purchasing a new build can be a great opportunity for those looking to purchase for the first time through a help to buy scheme or an individual wanting to have a say in their homes’ final finishes. There are many appeals of purchasing a new build and the purpose of this blog is to make it known that with a good solicitor you can ensure the whole process is smooth. What’s more, a solicitor with an understanding and personal approach can make the journey a whole lot more enjoyable.

 

We hope Barnes and Partners will be your choice when coming to appoint a solicitor for your new build purchase.

 

Call us on 0208 370 2800 and ask for Kimberley Osborne for more information.

Kim Osborne, New Build Conveyancing Solicitor

Staff Spotlight Enfield Office Elaine Linton

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Every month we shine a spotlight on a member of our Barnes and Partners team to share with you a day in the life of our professionals and to publicly recognise their excellence. Each member of our team is unique but all embody the values we hold dear. Legal aptitude and knowledge are skills that are imperative as is a mature and professional attitude but we also place a high importance on our staff being proactive and “people people” – people that care about helping others and our communities. Often our people feel law was a calling and a vocation rather than simply a job.

 

Barnes and Partners

 

This month we shine the spotlight on Elaine Linton from our Enfield Barnes and Partners Solicitors head office. She is the first port of call for all our clients on the phone and who come in and visit our Enfield office.

Elaine is an extremely popular member of staff as she is so warm and welcoming to all who meet her and work with her. Her colleagues describe her as “kind and friendly” and say she is “so helpful and professional even when faced with challenging situations.”

Elaine is very modest but has agreed to share a little about herself for you to have a snapshot into the life of our wonderful reception staff. Here is Elaine’s story in her own words:

My name is Elaine Linton. I am married with three boys ages 31, 15 and 12 years old. I enjoy athletics, travelling and reading as well as meeting and speaking to people both on the telephone and in person.

I previously worked for Department of Work and Pension for 18 years where I worked my way up from an Administrative Assistant to an Executive Officer. I also worked for a Charity called Detention Advice Service for a further 8 years as an Administrator.

I’ve started working at Barnes and Partners in May 2015 as a receptionist at the Enfield branch. I was made to feel welcome by members of staff and management alike. On a daily basis I speak with clients from all different walks of life, staff members from other branches as well as senior partners. Clients are made to feel welcome and spoken to with respect whatever their ages, race or nationality. I am polite and well mannered by nature and I hope this comes across in everything that I do.

I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who took the time to nominate me in the Staff Spotlight.

Barnes and Partners Desk

 

Thank you to Elaine for sharing this with us and to our readers until next time, thanks for reading.

Dress Codes at Work

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You have probably seen there has been a lot in the news recently about dress codes at work.

High Heels - Dress Code

An employee who had been sent home for refusing to wear heels at work launched an e-petition calling for it to be made illegal for an employer to make women wear high heels. This attracted more than 150,000 signatures and a debate in parliament. More recently, two cases were taken to the court by women who were fired for refusing to remove their religious headscarves.

So, by law, what can and can’t an employer tell staff to wear?

 

  • Whilst a dress code could be implied into the employment contract of a particular job, if an employer has certain requirements or expectations about what their employees are to wear to work then this should be made a term of the employment contract
  • When formulating a dress code, its advisable to have a term dealing with appearance and a separate one dealing with dress, so as to cover situations where employees attend work with bizarre haircuts, facial tattoos etc.
  • A dress code must not be discriminatory, that is being seen as treating an employee less favourably due to one of the protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010, such as sex, race, religion, age or disability
  • Dress codes should relate to the job and be reasonable in nature
  • Dress codes may have different requirements for men and women, for example when requiring conventional appearance for a particular job, but the employer must enforce compliance of the differing requirements in the same way for both genders
  • Even where a dress code is justifiable, an Employer should consider any legitimate objections from an employee, e.g. due to ill-health
  • An employer must make reasonable adjustments must be made for disabled people when dress codes are in place
  • Employers may have health and safety reasons for certain standards of dress
  • A dress code should take into account the racial or religious requirements of workers

That said, going back to the case of women being fired due to failure to remove religious symbols (headscarves), the court ruled against them: ‘An internal rule of an undertaking which prohibits the visible wearing of any political, philosophical or religious sign does not constitute direct discrimination.’

In relation to the matter of high-heels at work, the requirement to wear high heels had been included in the employer’s dress code, which the employee had signed.   The employer considered it was promoting a certain level of smartness consistent with present law on dress codes.

However, there are a number of health concerns regarding the wearing of high heels, which can cause damage to the joints of the feet, increases wear and tear round the knee joints, which might increase the risk of arthritis and also puts people with a weak lower back at risk of slipped vertebrae.

The employer in question has since revised its dress code, so as not to require women to have to wear high heels and there is expectation that the government will introduce new dress guidelines this summer.

Think your contracts or handbooks may need reviewing in relation to dress codes and uniform? We can help. Call Andrew Brett on 020 8884 2277

 

Andrew Brett, Solicitor

Staff Spotlight Stevenage Office Kim Osborne

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Barnes and Partners

 

Every month our team nominates colleagues at Barnes and Partners to feature in our Staff Spotlight. It is a way we can celebrate the excellence of our staff and give you a glimpse into the day-to-day life of our fantastic legal professionals.

This month we shine the spotlight on Kimberley Osborne, New Build Conveyancing Solicitor, at our Stevenage Barnes and Partners Solicitors office.

Kim has a real passion for the law and helping people, which is obvious from how she operates in her daily role.

This is Kim’s story in her own words:

From a young age the police/legal arena inspired me and this influence came from my parents who wanted to see me do well as an only child. I was born in Hertfordshire but grew-up in Manchester before I then moved back, to attend the University of Hertfordshire, where I studied for both my law degree and postgraduate diploma in legal practice (LPC). In my LPC I graduated with a distinction and then I knew I had what it took to be qualified!

I embarked upon a series of interviews with various firms and secured a training contract with a family run firm in Potters Bar Wason Lawrance Holder Solicitors. I loved my time there and I was treated as part of the family – I went from paralegal, trainee solicitor to qualified solicitor in my four years with the firm. After one year being qualified I felt it was time to move on and accept new challenges. I interviewed and was recruited for the job at Barnes and Partners.

A day in the life of me is a very varied. Dealing with emails, taking calls and meetings with my clients. I specialise in residential conveyancing new build acquisitions and some landlord and tenant advice. I can be doing anything from dealing with large scales of completions, once thirty in a day, to many exchanges of contracts. At the heart of everything I do is acting in my clients’ best interests – being the friendly, approachable and a reassuring voice at the end of the phone. I have seen the stresses and strains moving home can bring and I just want to make that process as easy as I can for my clients.

I love being a solicitor and I bring that passion to the table everyday. I love to help motivate my colleagues by making them laugh and I really enjoy the team spirit in our Stevenage office. I feel my colleagues at Stevenage are my work family. I would be lost without them; our latest recruit, my assistant Rebecca, has settled in seamlessly too and now she is such a support, as is everyone else.

It perhaps helps we have the perfect location working next door to a Wetherspoons and a Cinnabar as sometimes Friday after work drinks bring us all together too. An espresso martini is something I look forward to at the end of a busy week.

Espresso Martini

In terms of my home life, I live in Codicote – a little village near Stevenage.

My hobbies are pink, nails, hair and makeup. I’m a real girlie-girl, bows factor always in my outfit which stems from my childhood my great grandmother would always tie ribbons in my hair so I wasn’t mistaken for a boy as my hair didn’t grow until I was older. Since then I haven’t felt ready for my day without my bow or glittery hair clip. I like to dispel the myth that a solicitor has to look a certain way, and amongst my friends I am known as legally brunette!

Kim Osborne New Build BPS

 

Many thanks to Kim for sharing this with us. Her colleagues say: “from day one she has been nothing but helpful and always smiling”and “she is always teaching me new things and nothing is ever too much trouble.”Kim has a reputation for exceptional service and we are proud to say she has achieved completions for purchasers of new builds within extremely tight timeframes.

 

Want to ask Kim a question about new builds? Call on 0208 370 2800

Know Your Neighbours

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The Daily Express have recently reported that “7 out of 10 Britons admitted never speaking to those living around them”. Some may say it is a sign of the times.

 

Neighbours Disputes - Barnes and Partners Solicitors

 

As a solicitor specialising in residential conveyancing the moving process for both buying and indeed selling can be stressful not least in relation to the upheaval in peoples own lives whether it be moving for jobs or schools but the whole upheaval of moving from a place you have known and people you have known.

 

Here at Barnes & Partners we endeavour to reduce the stress wherever possible and are on hand to update you through your transaction or answer any questions you may have. With the same solicitor overseeing your transaction from start to finish there is always an expert who can help.

 

Whilst of course it is necessary for Sellers to disclose neighbour disputes when asked the question for the most part people are saddened to leave neighbours behind and the remaining neighbours may be restless until they know who is moving in next door!

 

If looking for a property to buy to live in it is always a good idea to visit the property/area at different times and speak with the neighbours, we find that most people are always keen to have a good chat.

 

Good neighbours can be hard to find but when found are worth their weight in gold. Personally I’ve been lucky with my neighbours, especially my very first neighbour who obviously thought he would be living next to a quiet single woman (me!) and over the next five-years found that situation turned into something quite different with the introduction of my partner and then two small children in the mix. The odd glass of wine shared in the kitchen with my neighbour then turned into the conspiratorial eating of chocolate buttons with the kids! Recently, now as a family, I have moved again. I consider myself fortunate to have found another set of wonderful neighbours. Unfortunately they are not so lucky to have us, especially as my older daughter has discovered baking and the neighbours get to sample the results (having seen the neighbours recently I am glad to say that they still seem relatively healthy).

 

Having conflicts or issues with your neighbours can be extremely stressful. One member of staff from our head office recently moved home and, whilst told it was a family friendly area with lots of children around, has actually found himself neighbouring some particularly energetic students, who love heavy metal music at all times of day and night.

 

If you are not as fortunate as I have personally been and find yourself the subject of a neighbour dispute then our litigation department is on hand to assist having a wealth of experience in this area. You can reach Andrew Brett on 0208 370 2800.

 

Nicola Payne, B&P Solicitors Chingford

 

Staff Spotlight Enfield Head Office Andrea Kamaris

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Welcome to April’s Staff Spotlight. Staff Spotlight gives you the opportunity to glimpse into the lives of our workforce and the special people who make Barnes and Partners the Solicitors firm that it is.

Every month at Barnes and Partners we take votes to nominate one of our exceptional staff so that we can publicly recognise and celebrate their excellent qualities. Once a winner is announced internally we provide a spotlight on that member of the team, something we call our “Staff Spotlight.”

Our winner this month is from our Accounts team at Enfield Head Office – Andrea Kamaris.

She is great asset to the team and she is described by her colleagues as “a joy to work with” “approachable” and they say she “always takes her job seriously and gives 100%” as well as hardworking and always going above and beyond“.

Andrea is a wonderful woman to have in our Accounts team, find out a bit more about her in Andrea’s own words below:

“I have been working for the firm for one and a half years working for the Accounts Department.  My day to day work is very busy as I work for a number of different branches, managing their client account information, dealing with bank queries and client account reconciliations. 

Accounts at Barnes and Partners

I started working as a receptionist in a firm of Accountants and I left there because it was only a part time role and I really wanted a full time position.  I had a friend who worked for Barnes and Partners Solicitors who told me that a position was available in the Accounts Department and I went for it!  I have been working for Barnes and Partners ever since.

In terms of what I love most about my role, I really enjoy working here because of the people I work with. 

In my spare tome I love to socialise and go out with friends and family, taking some time out to have fun and relax.”

Thank-you for your words Andrea.

It is wonderful to know that it was a Barnes and Partners’ team member who recommended the role to Andrea in the first place but Andrea was a fantastic fit and a valuable member of the Barnes and Partners family.

Accounts Departments are obviously an integral part of business and we are really proud of Andrea and our whole Accounts personnel who do a great job for our clients and us.

Mothers Day Child Arrangements

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Mother’s Day is often a wonderful celebratory time for many families. However it can also be a painful reminder of difficult circumstances if you are unable to spend time with your children on this special day. It can be the small things that can make you feel sad, perhaps as a single parent when your children are too young to make a card or recognise the occasion. However it can be felt much more deeply on Mother’s Day, when your children are not with you.

 

 

Contact and residence matters, now referred to as ‘child arrangements’, can be a long and emotionally draining journey to reach an agreement or decision on what these should be. This process isn’t necessarily free either; there is no public funding for these matters since the legal aid cuts except in cases where there is specific evidence of domestic abuse dated within the last five years.

 

If matters can be resolved amicably, that is beneficial for all involved but sadly this isn’t always possible. Mediation is encouraged and if this is effective then other avenues can be explored.

 

If you are the primary carer and fear the other party is a serious risk to your children then you may take the decision to stop contact. The Courts will seek to ensure that appropriate safeguarding takes place if there is any risk that the children may be exposed to.

 

We can assist with all sorts of matters of this nature including child arrangement disputes and even help with enforcement of child arrangement orders where one party isn’t complying with a Court order.

 

What is important to remember is that when there are children involved in the situation and though emotions run high, your child’s wellbeing is the most important factor to consider. Sometimes taking legal advice is necessary to gain a resolution and ensure the best outcome for your child/children.

 

Within the Court process there will be involvement from CAFCASS. They may give recommendations as to who is best placed to care for the children, or how much time each parent should spend with the children. It isn’t the case that Mothers will always be the primary carer. A decision will be made based on the circumstances of each case. The best interests of the children will be the main consideration for any Court. This is a difficult situation for anyone to go through and though the process may take a certain amount of time, effects can be felt a long time afterwards.

 

We understand this can be a stressful and turbulent time and we will always strive to go beyond the best legal advice, also providing emotional support and practical advice.

 

If you do need some advice at this time get in touch on 0208 884 2277.

 

Deepa Chohan, Solicitor

Gift or Not a Gift – Conveyancing

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When is a gift not a gift? I mean this in relation to buying a house and being given cash towards a conveyancing transaction.

You will no doubt have seen the piece in the news recently about Ryan Giggs moving into the house he bought for his mother.

More and more we are seeing gifts in conveyancing transactions, although usually they are from the bank of mum and dad and not the other way around! So what’s the difference between a gift and a loan and when is a gift not a gift?

The most common gifts seen in conveyancing transactions are gifted deposits -these are monies given to buyers and applied towards the purchase price and are usually from family members. However, gifts must be disclosed to both solicitors and mortgage lenders alike.

Money Gift ConveyancingIn order to comply with requirements solicitors are under an obligation to disclose the existence of gifts to the mortgage lender. The persons giving the gifts (let’s call them the giftors) will need to confirm in writing that the monies are a gift and not a loan and therefore the giftors will not have any interest in the property. The mortgage lender will rely on this declaration. Most solicitors will also require proof of identification for the giftors and evidence of the source of funds.

 

The majority if not all lenders will be reluctant to lend if the monies are not a gift and therefore will need to be repaid. This is usually be because the lender does not want any further parties to have an interest in the property in the event that the lender repossess’ the same.

So when gifting monies, giftors should appreciate the fact that they will have no control over the monies given and cannot claim it back! In most situations there is no problem with this but consider the following example:

Tim and Sarah have decided to buy a property for £300,000. They are obtaining a mortgage for £200,000 contributing £60,000 themselves from their joint savings. Sarah’s dad, Jeff, is gifting £40,000. But who is he gifting the monies to – Tim and Sarah or just Sarah? If to Tim and Sarah then there is no problem. If Jeff wishes the money to benefit his daughter only how can the gift be given for the benefit of Sarah if the house is being bought jointly between Tim and Sarah – Jeff will have no control over the gift. Well, one way would be for Tim and Sarah to enter into a deed of trust, stating that in the event the property is sold the first £40,000 of the equity could be applied for the sole benefit of Sarah with the remainder of the equity being split between Tim and Sarah. This means that whilst Jeff’s gift is a gift, the gift is going to the benefit of his daughter both now and in the future. The gift that keeps on gifting!

 

We hope this has been illuminating.

Should you like more information please contact Nicola Payne, Partner, Conveyancing – 020 8506 3729 or for any questions about trusts please contact Nancy Mortemore or Nigel Barnes on [email protected]

 

Nicola Payne, B&P Solicitors Chingford