Legal advice for you & your family

February 23, 2023

Providing legal advice for you and your family – but what does that really mean?

Managing Partner Denise Head explores the legal terminology around the services for individuals and highlights some of the elements every one of us may need to consider at some point in our lives.

Bates Wells & Braithwaite is one of only a handful of law firms in Ipswich focussing exclusively on looking after the legal needs of the individual. This specific client focus should allow greater clarity in terms of what we offer but centuries-old legal jargon and historic descriptives can sometimes get in the way.

So you are a “Private Client” firm, you might say? Yes indeed, we do have a “Private Client” department, but our range of services is not restricted to wills, trusts, & probate and managing powers of attorney. We offer so much more.

Private Client – If you have any meaningful asset, such as a house, you should have a will. This initiates “probate”, the process for dealing with the property, money and possessions (called the “assets”) of a person who has died. If someone dies without a will, a state known as “intestacy”, it does not mean that your nearest and dearest will not inherit but it does make it more complicated. Wills should also be updated to reflect a change of circumstances such as a divorce; not doing so it might mean it’s invalid.

We also live in an era when people are living longer. Whether you are thinking ahead for either yourself or a parent, the law does provide an instrument by which you can make end of life decisions on someone’s behalf by arranging a lasting power of attorney” (LPA). However, be warned that there are two types of LPA: one covering property and financial affairs; the other health and welfare. Don’t be caught out and find that you have the first and can help your parent manage their money but have little, or no say, in their long-term care plan because by the time you thought it was necessary to seek the second, they already lacked the necessary mental capacity to approve your role.

Family With two specialist partners, this is our largest team, and much of our work is indeed advising families in the event of relationship breakdowns and divorce as well as acting for parents and children involved in matters such as care proceedings where Social Services are involved. Over the years the discipline has embraced a wider range of methods for regulating modern day relationships. However, a note of warning, if living together, known as “cohabiting”, you do not have the same legal rights as someone who is married or in a civil partnership. Let me be absolutely clear, there is no such thing as a “common law” spouse!

Residential Property – The majority of you reading this will know a lawyer from either buying or selling a house. This area of law is often termed “conveyancing”, the legal process of transferring the property ownership from one person to another. Our residential property team have broad experience in matters all things property and can help you through what is often a stressful process.

Disputes – Finally let’s talk “litigation” or taking a dispute to court. The term “dispute resolution” is more commonly now as most lawyers embrace the principle of avoiding expensive and drawn-out hearings in an over-burdened court system. “Civil litigation” is the realm of personal claims which include clinical negligence (medical), personal injury, contested wills and land issues such as when neighbours fall out over boundaries and rights of ways, or debt and consumer law matters. Our specialist lawyers can help with all of these matters with access to experts needed to make sure your case is a strong as it can be.

Bates Wells & Braithwaite has been providing legal advice to the people of Ipswich for over sixty years. We are happy to focus just on you!

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