Author Archives: fgd

Trusts and Trustees

The word “Trust” comes with a number of connotations, most of them inaccurate. There is a general view that Trusts are an expensive hangover from the Victorian age, complicated to administer and a legal concept that is only of interest to the very wealthy.

It is true that Trusts have long been used by the aristocracy (and more recently by entrepreneurs) to hold land and other assets, often to avoid tax in some way. However, there are other, more down to earth reasons for considering a Trust. This can be done in a Will or in a separate Deed if you wish to make what is known as a Lifetime Settlement.

Will Trusts are useful for a number of reasons. Parents often have concerns about leaving money to their children without some strings attached. Given today’s property prices in London, the death of a parent often releases very substantial sums of money. By establishing a Will Trust, a parent can ensure that the child does not have free access to the capital until a designated age. Depending on the child, this can range from ages 21 to 30 – or even older. A modern Trust would give the Trustees very wide discretionary powers to advance capital. This means that the Trustees would be able to make an advanced payment out of the Trust fund, to the beneficiary, for purposes of which they approve, such as providing a deposit on a home or paying university fees.

For parents with children with learning difficulties or a severe physical disability, a Trust is a good way of not only safeguarding the well being of the child after the parent has died, but it can be drafted in such a way that any state benefits to which the child is entitled would not be affected.

Where there are children from more than one marriage involved in an extended family, Trusts can also be a good way of identifying specific assets and ring-fencing these for the benefit of some of the children included in that family. In addition, a Trust can be a useful tool to protect the interests of a child who has married someone whose financial position is less than assured, thereby safeguarding aspects and keeping them away from creditors or a spouse.

Grandparents or other relations may also want to think about establishing Lifetime Settlements for the education and benefit of grandchildren.

Trusts are a remarkably flexible instrument that have been developed in English Law over the years. The language of modern Trusts does not need to be complicated or mysterious. Our specialists can help you set up a Lifetime Settlement Trust or a Will Trust that provides clear and sensible directions to the Trustees and are readily understandable by clients and beneficiaries alike.


Private Client Department

Roger Crouch:

The Alternatives to Redundancy

In the current economic climate employers often are faced with the difficult situation of maintaining continuity within their organisation whilst being face with the need to reduce overheads, specifically their largest overhead – their staff. Whilst it may seem as if redundancy is the obvious choice, before you make such a vital decision, it is always useful to consider some of the alternatives to redundancy. Of course it must be noted that these measures are not suited to all businesses; however it may just provide you with a more commercially viable solution for your business other than redundancy itself.

The following are some of the numerous measures which you may wish to adopt:

  • Reduce the amount of agency staff you employ
  • Ask staff to work a shorter week or alternatively you could ask staff to take a sabbatical (paid or unpaid) for a set period of time
  • Ask staff to work unpaid so that you can freeze salaries to increase cash flow.
  • Alternatively perhaps ask staff if they are willing to take a reduction in pay or benefits.
  • Choose not to pay out discretionary bonuses
  • Ask staff if you can defer any guaranteed bonuses
  • Freeze recruitment
  • Perhaps appeal to those employees who would like to have more flexible working hours without it affecting their future training or prospects for promotion
  • Job sharing arrangements
  • Asking employees to take unpaid leave or to take their holidays during times where there is a decrease in work levels
  • Reductions in overtime allowances

These are just some of the alternatives to redundancy. Of course, before employing any of these measures it is important to not that you cannot implement any of these decisions without first consulting the employees’ concerned, to seek their agreement; as varying the terms of their contracts without their consent would amount to a fundamental breach.

Before making any changes, it is advisable that you seek independent legal advice in order to prevent you from being subject to potential claims.

If you have any queries about these measures or redundancy in general, please contact our employment department.

Raj Dhokia:


Priya Dhokia is an accredited member of Resolution.

Resolution, which was formerly known as the Solicitors Family Law Association (SFLA), is an association of specialist family lawyers and other professionals in England and Wales, who believe in a constructive, non-confrontational approach to family law matters.

The cornerstone of membership of Resolution is adherence to the Code of Practice, which sets out the principles of a non-confrontational approach to family law matters. The principles of the code are widely recognised and have been adopted by the Law Society as recommended good practice for all family lawyers.

The code requires lawyers to deal with each other in a civilised way and to encourage their clients to put their differences aside and reach fair agreements.

For more information about Resolution and what they do, please click the link below:


Lasting Powers of Attorney (“LPA’s”)

LPA’s are legal documents that allow you to appoint someone to make decisions for your. That person is known as your Attorney. You are the Donor.

There are two types of LPA’s:

One is to deal with health and welfare, and comes into effect when you lose the capacity to make decisions for yourself. The types of areas that this LPA covers are decisions as to where you live, what medical care you should receive and there is a specific section that gives you the option of deciding whether you want to give your Attorney the power to make decisions regarding your life sustaining treatment.

The second form of LPA deals with property and finance, and as the name suggests, the Attorney appointed under this LPA deals with money, investments, the payment of bills and related matters. Most people put in a provision to the effect that this LPA will only come into force and effect when a doctor has certified that you have lost mental capacity.

The process of making a LPA is quite complicated. The forms are divided into three parts:

In part A, you decide who your Attorneys are and whether they need to act jointly or severally – in other words do they all need to agree to any decision being made or, if there is more than one Attorney, can each individual make decisions. Part B provides information on a person known as a Certificate Provider, who will certify that you understand the purpose and scope of the LPA and that there is no fraud or undue pressure on you to create it. Part C is signed by the Attorney, who accepts the responsibility to act as an Attorney under the LPA.

Putting these documents in place takes time and costs money. The first question that is usually asked is why should I bother? The short answer to that question is because to lose mental capacity without LPA’s in place, leaves your family, friends and advisers in a very difficult position. Their only alternative is to apply to have a Deputy appointed by the Court of Protection. This takes even more time and expense that putting LPA’s.

If you are going to appoint Attorneys, you need to think very carefully about who you will appoint. Given the very difficult nature of the two LPA’s, it may be that one particular member of the family might be well suited to deal with health and welfare matters. Other practical matters to think about are the number of Attorneys you wish to appoint. If you have several children, you may feel it is only fair that all of them are appointed Attorney. In that case, it would probably be sensible to allow them to act individually (severally), rather than jointly, so that you do not have a family conference every time a decision needs to be made!

For more information or if you have any queries about this matter, please contact Iain Monaghan  by telephone 020 7625 6003 or by email:

Shareholder’s Agreement: What Is It and Why You Ought to Have One

Ultimately a shareholders agreement is a written contract which sets out and governs the relationship between the shareholders of a company. The agreement enables shareholders to define each of their respective roles and duties towards the company. The purpose of this is to provide clarity in the event of future disputes. The main advantage of having a shareholder agreement is confidentiality. Unlike the Articles of Association, shareholder agreements do not need to be filed at Companies House and therefore can remain confidential as they cannot be obtained by members of the public.

Confidentiality will be particularly important where shareholders wish to set out in writing, certain delicate matters which members wish to remain private. Another point is that the Articles of Association only govern membership rights and so a shareholders agreement would be useful where members wish to agree on a matter which is unrelated to their membership rights.

A shareholders’ agreement is also, legally speaking, more binding than the Articles. The Articles may be changed or amended at any time by members entering into a special resolution. However a shareholders’ agreement required the consent of all parties to the contract in order for the agreement to be altered. This provides an extra degree of protection where those who enter into a shareholders’ agreement, are concerned, as any attempt to vary the agreement without unanimous consent of the parties, will inevitably provide a remedy and action for breach of contract.

Some of the typical provisions contained in a shareholders’ agreement, which you may wish to consider, include:

  • An undertaking that the company will not alter or modify provisions of memorandum of articles, or will not do so without the consent of all parties
  • Remuneration of directors
  • The requirement of unanimity for major decisions
  • Agreements relating to the dividend policy

If you would like any further advice on the content of Shareholder agreements or in general, please contact our Commercial Department.


Commercial Department
Raj Dhokia:

Do I Need to Make a Will?

In the majority of cases, the answer to this question is most emphatically “yes”. If you die without making a Will, then your estate will be distributed in accordance with the rules of Intestacy and the results of that may well be not what you imagined. It is worrying that about 70% of the adult population in the UK has not made a Will. To some people, making a Will raises unpleasant thoughts of their own mortality, but fears of the afterlife are not to sufficient reason to leave behind confusion and uncertainty. To other people, making a Will means facing major family issues, which have not been resolved, such as divisions between first and second families (an increasingly common situation).

You often hear married people say that they do not need to make a Will because, when they die, everything would go to their spouse and that is what they would want to happen in any event. Unfortunately, this is far from the truth. Take the example of Bill, who is married to Jane and they have two small children. Bill has no Will and dies in a car accident, leaving an estate of £750,000. Under the Intestacy rules Jane inherits £250,000. That is hers to do with as she wants. The remainder of the estate, £500,000 is divided into two equal shares. One share is to go to the children. As they are young, it will have to be held in Trust for them until they reach the age of 18. The other share is held on Trust for Jane and she can receive the income on that money, but she has no right to the capital. When she dies, that share passes to the children.

In other words, if you die without a Will, your entire estate only passes to your spouse if it is worth less than £250,000. Even today, property prices are such in the South East that the majority of estates will be in excess of this amount.

The surviving spouse, Jane, has two immediate problems:

  1. She only has access to £250,000. This will undoubtedly restrict what she can do in the future and may well have a serious impact on her quality of life as she gets older.
  2. The children will inherit their share of their father’s estate absolutely at the age of 18. In this example, that means that they would receive £125,000 in cash. The majority of parents would probably consider this to be an excessive amount of money to give to a child who had probably just left school.

There are also tax implications, which will affect all the family. Everyone has what is called a Nil Rate Band, which is the amount of an estate that you are allowed to leave free of Inheritance Tax. At the moment that is pegged at £325,000 and the Government has gone back on its promise to increase this threshold. The value of the estate in excess of the Nil Rate Band is liable to tax at 40%. There are two major exceptions to this. Any bequest to a spouse is tax free, so a simple Will by Bill leaving everything to Jane would have passed free of Inheritance Tax. Any bequests to charity pass free of Inheritance Tax and often elderly people with no near relations choose to leave their money in this way.

What about the children?

Apart from financial considerations, if both parents die in an accident, without a Will, there are no appointed Guardians. Unless the family can agree, the Court will have to decide who is to have responsibility for the upbringing of the children. This is an expensive and stressful process. Even if the two families do agree, there is a possibility that their plans and what they perceive to be in the children’s best interests may not accord with their parents. Even the most basic Will should provide for Guardians and parents can also, if they wish, leave a letter to the Guardians and the Trustees of the estate, explaining their wishes with regard to their children. For example, some parents have very strong religious beliefs and would like to ensure that their children are brought up in a particular religion and attend a school that appropriately reflects that religious belief.

Two Families?

John is divorced and has remarried. There are two children from his first marriage. He dies without making Will after his remarriage and so his old Will is automatically revoked. John dies without making new arrangements and his second wife is therefore entitled to £250,000 from his estate. The remainder of the estate, as in the example above, will be divided into two equal shares and the second wife will be entitled to an income on one share, the two children receiving their share absolutely when they are 18 and the step-mother’s share on her death. However, this may not have been what their father intended. There is every possibility that their step-mother will use the £250,000 during the course of her lifetime and, even if she does not, she can leave it to whoever she wishes and that may well not be the step-children from her husband’s previous marriage!

Not married?

The rules of Intestacy make no provision at all for unmarried couples, no matter how long they have been together. It is possible for a surviving partner to bring a claim against the estate, but as with all litigation, this is an expensive and stressful procedure.

This is not the place to give any detailed Inheritance Tax advice, but where there is an estate of a significant value, making a Will is the perfect opportunity to look at the tax situation and see what steps can be taken to minimise the amount of money paid to the Treasury and to maximise the amount of the estate that will pass to family and friends.

No Near Relations?

This firm has recently acted for a Deputy who applied to the Court of Protection to ask for the Court to approve the making of a Statutory Will. As Deputy, he was responsible for looking after the financial affairs of an elderly lady Mrs F, who has severe dementia. The Deputy, who was appointed by the Court, found himself in the position of administering a very significant estate. No trace of a Will could be found. Mrs F was a widow with no children and the only relation left to whom she was close was a first cousin once removed. The Deputy went to the Court to ask them to make a Statutory Will for Mrs F which the Court of Protection is empowered to do having regard to Mrs F’s “best interests”. However, the first issue to be determined was the identification of all persons who would be entitled to inherit under the rules of Intestacy in the event of Mrs F’s death. As Mrs F’s parents came from large Victorian families, the tracing of her various relations was a long and expensive process. There was a Court Hearing to determine the precise terms of the Statutory Will and the Judge had to decide how the Statutory Will should be drafted and how the estate should be distributed, in the event of Mrs F’s death. There were a large number of the family, who, during the course of investigations, had said as they had never heard of Mrs F before, they did not want to claim their inheritance when the time came and were quite content for the Court to give prominence to the first cousin once removed who had been the sole member of the family who had a relationship with Mrs F. Other members of the family took a very different view. Whilst they conceded that they either did not know of Mrs F’s existence, or had not seen her or had contact with her for 50 years or more, they felt that they should be entitled to inherit a proportion of her estate and that the rules of Intestacy should apply. After a full day’s Hearing, many thousands of pounds being spent on legal fees, and the intervention of the Official Solicitors Office, who were acting for Mrs F, the Judge decided that there should be some charitable bequests and then the remainder of the estate as and when Mrs F died, should be divided equally between the first cousin and all those members of the family who would have inherited under the rules of Intestacy. The upshot of this is that almost half of Mrs F’s estate, acquired by years of work, careful spending and cautious investments, will be distributed to people of whom she has no knowledge and who most of whom she has never met.

The moral of the storey is, yet again, make a Will. It may be that Mrs F, if she were able to answer the question, would say that she was perfectly happy with this outcome. It may be that she would be horrified and upset at the consequences of her failure to make a Will. We shall never know.

If you would like to discuss your Will or planning how you want your estate to be handled – we would be happy to talk.


Extending your Lease

The right to extend your lease

A qualifying tenant has a statutory right to extend their lease under the Leasehold Reform, Housing and Urban Development Act 1993 ‘the Act’. Generally speaking, you will be a qualifying tenant if you have owned your flat for at least 2 years. Under the Act you are entitled to an additional 90 years in addition to the remaining term. For example if there are 95 years remaining on the existing lease you will be entitled to a new lease of 185 years in total.

Extending your lease

You can extend your lease informally by agreeing terms with the freeholder or, if the freeholder is unwilling to negotiate, then you can serve statutory notice under the Act. By serving notice this obligates the freeholder to grant a lease extension and it sets a time frame for the application process.

How much will a lease extension cost?

There is no set answer to this. It is usual for a qualified surveyor to carry out a valuation which will generally take in to consideration the market value of the flat, the remaining term left on the lease and the annual ground rent payable. In brief the lower the remaining term left on the lease, the higher the premium payable so the sooner you act the better when it comes to lease extensions.


There are several advantages to extending your lease. Usually the flat value will diminish as the lease gets shorter, so prompt attention to this could save you money when extending. It can also be difficult to secure funding for flats with lower lease lengths and as a result flats with lower leases are less desirable to prospective purchasers.

Finally, if you are thinking about extending your lease then be aware that ‘marriage value’ is applicable for leases of 80 years or less, i.e. the extra value that a lease extension will add to your flat will be payable. It can be more expensive when it comes to extending a lease of this length so it is important to be conscious of the 80-year mark.

If you are thinking about extending your lease or if you have any conveyancing queries in general please do not hesitate to contact our property team.


Property Department

Gary Green:
Ben Gardner:

Freedman Green Dhokia Awarded Law Society’s New Quality Mark for Excellence

Freedman Green Dhokia has been given an accreditation for the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme – the mark of excellence for the home buying process.

LSA_logoFreedman Green Dhokia underwent rigorous assessment by the Law Society in order to secure CQS status, which marks the firm out as meeting high standards in the residential conveyancing process.

Law Society President Lucy Scott-Moncrieff said that the Law Society introduced CQS to promote high standards in the home buying process. “CQS has established itself as the quality mark of the home-buying sector and enables consumers to identify practices that provide a quality residential conveyancing service. With so many different conveyancing service providers out there CQS helps home-buyers and sellers seek out those that can provide a safe and efficient level of service.”

Gary Green, Residential Property Partner at Freedman Green Dhokia says: “We are delighted to have secured CQS status. The firm has proved its commitment to quality by continuing to deliver a reliable, efficient and excellent service to clients at what is often one of the most stressful times in their lives”.

The scheme requires practices to undergo a strict assessment, compulsory training, self-reporting, random audits and annual reviews in order to maintain CQS status. It is open only to members of the Law Society who meet the demanding standards set by the scheme and has the support of the Council of Mortgage Lenders, the Building Societies Association, Legal Ombudsman and the Association of British Insurers.

Please contact our Property Team.


Property Department
Gary Green:

The Equality Act

The Equality Act comes into force on 1st October 2010, this will seek to provide clarity and be more effective at dealing with discrimination issues.

This new single legal framework is not an attempt to change current discrimination laws but instead is a means to harmonise and extend the existing laws in place. By having a single Equality Act, the present position will hopefully be simplified through the merging of the following pieces of legislation:

  • Equal Pay Act 1970
  • Sex Discrimination Act 1975
  • Race Relations Act 1995
  • Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003
  • Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2003
  • Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2003
  • Equality Act 2006, Part 2
  • Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulations 2007

Below are some of the fundamental issues that employers are likely to face.

Pre-employment health related checks:

Under the Act, prior to offering a job to an individual, an employer will not be allowed to ask health related questions to candidates during the application process. However there are certain situations whereby an employer can ask such questions, in order to help them to decide:

  • Whether they need to make any reasonable adjustments for the candidate during the selection process
  • Whether an applicant can carry out a function that is essential to the job
  • Monitor the diversity among people making applications for jobs
  • Take positive action to assist disabled people

Employment Tribunal Powers:

Previously, where an employer had been found to be accountable for an act of discrimination, a Tribunal could only make recommendations for the employer to reduce or eradicate the effect of discrimination on the claimant. Under the Equality Act, Tribunals will have the power to make recommendations to an employer to reduce or eradicate the effect of discrimination on other employees as well.

Pay Secrecy:

Where an employee’s employment contract stipulates that details of their pay must be kept a secret, their employer will no longer be able to rely on this contractual term. The Act will make it unlawful for employers to prohibit their employees from discussing pay differences within the workplace. This will effectively render such contractual terms as unenforceable. Although employers will not be able to restrict employees from discussing pay within the workplace, they are still under a duty to keep pay details confidential from individuals outside of the workplace.

Third party harassment:

The Act could make employers liable for the harassment of their employees by third parties (those individuals who are not employees of the organisation) such as clients or customers. However employers will only be held liable where:

  • Harassment has taken place on more than two prior occasions;
  • They are aware that is has occurred; and
  • They have not taken reasonable steps to prevent it occurring again

In light of these key additions to discrimination law, employers may need to review and change their policies and practices. Ways in which employers may be required to do this are as follows:

  • Updating the wording of employment contracts and discrimination policies and procedures

Educating and Training Staff:

Employers will need train their staff as to how the Equality Act operates. Aside from factoring in the cost and methods of staff training, employers will need to ensure that any policies are implemented effectively. Ways in which this can be done is by publicising the policy in the workplace via notice boards, handbooks, staff meetings and email notifications. Staff may need to be sent on courses or attend training days; such methods of training will show that as an employer, you have taken all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination.


Staff will also need to be trained in terms of how to monitor and record the organisations practices and activities in relation to a variety of aspects, to ensure that these are compliant with the Equality Act. Aspects which employers may wish to monitor in particular are: sickness absence, training and health and safety.

These are just some of the ways in which you may need to prepare for, ahead of the change taking place on 1st October 2010. If you have any further enquires as to how the new legislative framework will affect your business, please contact our Employment Department.


Employment Department

Raj Dhokia:

The John Salako Thames Valley Masters Event

Freedman Green Dhokia is delighted to support and sponsor The John Salako Thames Valley Masters charity fundraiser event on September 24th 2010.

This fundraising event features a fun packed day of Golf at the Blue Mountain Golf Club, Bracknell. The Golf Tournament will be followed by and Awards Dinner and Charity Auction in aid of Age Concern Slough and Berkshire East.

The proceeds will help Age Concern Slough and Berkshire East continue to provide much needed services for older people within the local area.