Private Client Lawyer – East Devon

Private Client work is a key area of practice at Everys and it is the largest department in the firm. Our clients include farmers, landowners, and High Net Worth Individuals which gives us a client base to rival any firm in the South West.  Our Private Client department deals with a broad range of work.  We are proud of our inclusive team ethos with everyone working together to achieve a high-quality service for clients and colleagues.

The Role

As a consequence of the continuing volume of high-quality work, an opportunity for an experienced fee earner has arisen in our Private Client Department.  The role is likely to suit an experienced lawyer who is looking to take on and process an exciting client portfolio.

The successful candidate will be required to provide an important contribution to the work of the Private Client Department and be used to assisting with private client work at a technical level.  They will also be required to support the on-going growth and development of the department’s activities and would be expected to contribute to the growth of the client work and fee income.

The candidate will need to work effectively with clients, and other members of the Private Client Department.  The candidate will be expected to deal professionally and efficiently with a wide range of work whilst complying with procedures and working practices.

The candidate will need to be able to work confidently with minimal supervision and be able to produce documents and correspondence through the use of our case management system.  You may also be required to supervise, support and mentor more junior members of the team.

Key responsibilities

  • Advising on and preparing Wills and Codicils
  • Preparing and registering Lasting Powers of Attorney
  • Assisting on other matters affecting HNW clients, such as trusts, foreign aspects, BPR and APR etc.
  • If necessary liaising with medical capacity experts
  • Assisting with Court of Protection applications (Deputyships and others)
  • Providing advice on care fees and related elderly client issues
  • The administration of estate (both taxable and non-taxable)
  • Providing inheritance tax planning and family succession advice
  • Mentoring and supporting junior members of the department

Skills/ Knowledge/ Experience

You must be able to demonstrate the following:

  • Experience of successfully working in a Private Client Department undertaking the work above
  • Ability to meet deadlines and prioritise effectively.
  • Excellent IT skills including the use of case management software and excel.
  • Ability to produce work that is accurate and presented in a well-ordered manner.
  • Excellent organisational skills.
  • Clear concise and effective written and verbal communication skills.
  • Demonstrate the ability to follow procedures in accordance with professional body requirements (for example Lexcel compliance) and firm’s internal procedures, together with meeting all compliance and quality targets.
  • Excellent communication and relationship management skills with a focus on developing and maintaining professional and effective client relationships at all levels.
  • A flexible approach and the capability to work well and flourish within a team environment.
  • Ability to work effectively with other colleagues internally, both within the wider team and across all practice areas and offices.
  • A flexible and enthusiastic approach, which demonstrates commercial awareness and business aptitude in making decisions on a day-to-day basis.

This is an excellent opportunity to become an integral member of our Private Client Department and to thrive in a professional and friendly environment.  If you are looking for a new challenge please send your CV and a covering leter to



Do I need a Financial Consent Order when getting a divorce or dissolution?

Do I need a Financial Consent Order when getting a divorce or dissolution?

Do I need a Financial Consent Order when getting a divorce or dissolution?
Posted on 12th August, 2020

This is a question that I am asked many times and one where the consequences of not obtaining one can be devastating. The simple answer to this question is yes.

It is often a misconception that once you are divorced or your civil partnership is dissolved, your ex-husband/ex-wife cannot make any claim against your assets. This will only be the case if you are divorced/have a dissolution, and you have a Financial Consent/Remedy Order.

The best way to explain this is in a real-life scenario that I often see:

A husband and wife get a divorce without any legal advice. They share a house together but decide that one party will carry on paying the mortgage for the time being and they will sort out the equity in the property at a later date. Years go by, and perhaps both parties now have other partners. One party then decides that they would like the property sold so their equity can be released. The other party does not want the property sold. They both, at that stage, seek legal advice. There is a risk that the parties cannot agree, in which case they will then need to attend Court, despite it being many years later after their divorce.

In this scenario, both parties have left themselves wide open to financial claims against each other’s assets. Yes, they only have one joint asset but, by this point, one party may have bought another property, the parties may have considerably increased their pensions, they may have significant savings, or they may have received an inheritance. All of this would be open to a claim being made by their ex-wife/ex-husband because they did not have a Financial Consent Order. Further, their new partner’s assets may be taken into account in proceedings.

The only way to have security over your assets in divorce/dissolution is to have a Financial Consent Order as well. There are many ways in which this can be obtained and there doesn’t have to be huge expense or Court hearings.

If you would like further advice, please do not hesitate to contact the Family team for a one-hour appointment, at a reduced fixed fee of £99 plus VAT.


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Changes to the Witnessing of Wills

Changes to the Witnessing of Wills

Changes to the Witnessing of Wills
Posted on 28th July, 2020

Time to read: two minutes

The Government has recently announced that there will be a relaxation of the rules relating to the execution of wills. Jane Flaherty, Associate Solicitor at Everys and a fully accredited member of Solicitors for the Elderly, advises of the changes in the law relating to the witnessing of wills.

In a press release dated 25th July 2020, the Government announced that the Ministry of Justice will amend the Electronic Communications Act of 2000 which will allow the use of video links for executing wills. This has come about due to the levels of concern expressed during the pandemic, as some practitioners have facilitated wills being witnessed via video link, which is in contravention to current law. There has been a lot of concern regarding whether such wills will be valid and, therefore, possibly open to challenge in the Courts.

The legislation will take effect in September 2020 and will be back dated to 31st January 2020 to cover the full period of the pandemic. The legislation is time-limited and is expected to end on 31st January 2022; however, it could potentially last longer, if deemed necessary, and will be reviewed in line with other legislation that has been passed to deal with issues stemming from COVID-19.

This will be a huge departure from the current process of signing wills which has remained untouched since the Wills Act of 1837. This dictates that there has to be two witnesses physically present to validly witness the testator’s signature.

During lockdown, this has caused difficulties in people being able to sign their wills, especially if the client has been vulnerable and has not been able to find or have access to witnesses to enable them to put their affairs in order. Some people have been self-isolating and have been fearful of coming into contact with others. At Everys, we have implemented various ways to ensure any client that needs to have their will signed has been able to do so. Examples have been witnessing wills over car bonnets, having a portable table to visit clients outside their homes and also having drive-through will signing facilities.

Whilst the pandemic has caused difficulties and introduced the logic of offering some relief to people who have had no choice but to sign remotely, it is imperative that we do not make a change to the law on a permanent basis without fully evaluating the consequences of doing so. The priority must be to ensure that vulnerable people will not be taken advantage of because we have kept to a lowered standard for convenience. I would hope that when we are able to return to ‘normality’, we give serious consideration to returning to the law as it stands today. In the meantime, the traditional ways of executing a will should be followed, if at all possible, as we are unaware of the pitfalls that may occur as a result of this change.




The Overhaul of Divorce Proceedings

The Overhaul of Divorce Proceedings

The Overhaul of Divorce Proceedings
Posted on 14th July, 2020

Divorce proceedings can often be portrayed as being lengthy, costly and contentious. This certainly is not the case for everyone, but, unfortunately, this can be the reality for some. I, for one, am extremely welcoming of the new legislation, Divorce, Dissolution and Separation Act 2020.

When will it be implemented?

The Royal Assent was received in June 2020, but this doesn’t quite mean it is law yet. Receiving Royal Assent means that the Bill has passed through the required stages in Parliament and has now passed the formality in which the Queen agrees it can be law. The Government is now working on the implementation and, therefore, it is expected that it will become law in autumn 2021.

How does the divorce process work under the current law?

The current process for divorce is that you must show that your marriage has irretrievably broken down by evidencing this with one of five facts: adultery, unreasonable behaviour, desertion, a two-year separation with consent, or a five-year separation without consent. Not all situations fit into one of these categories and, therefore, if you want to begin your divorce before two years of separation, adultery or unreasonable behaviour are often used. These are both used by asserting blame to one party for the breakdown of the marriage. Placing blame on one party’s behaviour can cause bad feeling from the very beginning which then sets the tone for the rest of the proceedings and can often cause contested, costly and lengthy proceedings.

How will the new law change the way divorce is dealt with in the future?

It is often difficult to look at how a new law will work until it is in practice. However, we do know that the new legislation will remove the five facts that are currently relied upon, so that you will simply need to show, by way of a statement, that the marriage has irretrievably broken down. This means that in situations where the parties are in agreement their marriage has broken down but do not want to have to assert blame, they can begin their divorce process immediately, rather than waiting for two years. Further, parties will be able to make a joint application for divorce to show that they are both in agreement.

The new law has been known within the media as the “no-fault divorce”. The idea is that the new law will encourage and enable parties to focus their attention on the financial settlement and the children, rather than asserting blame on the breakdown of the marriage. If there are children within the marriage, it is extremely important that the relationship as parents is not affected, so that the children are protected from the divorce proceedings and a no-fault divorce will aim to assist with this.

As a Solicitor and member of Resolution, my priority is to settle matters for my clients as effectively as possible. I am sure the new legislation will have its initial teething problems like all new processes, but I welcome any amendment that will look to reduce conflict and confrontation for my clients.

If you have a matrimonial query, please do not hesitate to contact me for advice.

Lisa Miller



Related Services

Family Law

Can an estate be diverted to someone else?

Can an estate be diverted to someone else?

Can an estate be diverted to someone else?
Posted on 6th July, 2020

Read time: about 8 – 10 mins

A wife (W) has died, leaving her entire estate of £700,000 to her husband (H), which includes the family home and a rental property from which she received an income. However, H believes that W would have preferred to leave her estate to her childhood friend (F). H is trustee and executor of W’s will so what options could he use, in his capacity as beneficiary of W’s will, to divert the estate to F?

First of all, caution should be exercised by the adviser here: a full understanding of the circumstances surrounding the matter is required.

We would need to satisfy ourselves that H wishes to give the gift freely and is not under any undue influence from F and that he has the requisite mental capacity to gift the assets.

An understanding of why H believes that W had wished to gift the asset should also be considered as well as knowledge of the circumstances in which W’s will was drafted.[1] Any letter of wishes or other accompanying documents should also be taken into account to obtain a clear understanding of H’s motivation.

Financial advice would clearly need to be sought by H. Consideration should also be given as to whether he is likely to require care from the local authority in the not too distant future.[2]

Should the adviser be satisfied that H has the ability to make the gift, having taken all the circumstances into account, then the following options would be available to H as beneficiary:

Deed of Variation

1) An absolute gift of assets held in the wife’s sole name

H can vary the provisions of W’s will at any time. If H signs an instrument of variation within two years of W’s death, then special tax treatment of the disposal should apply so that any disposal is treated as being a disposal directly from the deceased rather than the donor of the gift.[3]

Such a variation could include some or all of the assets that H is due to inherit from his late wife’s estate.

The benefits of a deed of variation are that H can direct to whom W’s estate will pass.

The negative impact of a gift by variation however would not only be the financial consequences for H (since his estate would be greatly reduced by the gift) but this could also have several negative consequences for tax purposes both for H and F.

Under the present arrangement, all W’s assets will pass to H free of inheritance tax regardless of the value, assuming that they are both UK domiciled. H’s estate will also be able to benefit from W’s transferable nil rate band (providing it has not been used up in her lifetime) and benefit from W’s unused residence nil rate band, assuming the property on his death passes to direct descendants and their joint estates are not over £2 million, in which case the residence nil rate band element is reduced by £1 for every £2 above the threshold.[4]

Should H wish to direct any portion of his beneficial interest to F, his transferable nil rate band will be eaten into and his estate will have a percentage available allowance depending on the value of the gift that has been passed to him.[5] Depending on the value of the gift, there might also be an immediate charge to inheritance tax.

Any gift through a deed of variation though, as long as H reserves no benefit from it once gifted, will reduce H’s taxable estate accordingly.

2) An absolute gift of assets passing by survivorship to the husband

Should H have inherited any assets through survivorship then he will be able to sever the joint tenancy post death and redirect W’s share of the asset to F should he wish.

If the family home was held as joint tenants and H severs the joint tenancy so that it is held as tenants in common and then gifts a half share (or other portion) to F he should consider this position carefully. If H wanted to sell the property, then he would need to have F’s consent. Problems can also arise between joint owners as far as maintenance of the property is concerned. If H wants to proceed with this option then a Declaration of Trust outlining the duties and responsibilities of the owners of the property in detail would be advisable. Separate legal advice would need to be sought by each party.[6]

If there is a charge on the property, then consent from the lender might be required for any change in ownership and it might be a requirement for F to become party to the mortgage.

In addition, the same impact for inheritance tax purposes will apply here where assets are passing to F as a non-exempt beneficiary.

There might also be capital gains tax implications on a disposal of the family home on F’s share if it is a second home for him.

3) A variation onto discretionary trust

H can opt to settle some or all of W’s estate onto discretionary trust through an instrument of variation.

In this case the Trustees would exercise their discretion over the trust assets, but discretionary payments of income or capital could be paid to a number of potential beneficiaries.

Here, both F and H could be potential beneficiaries as well as any other relevant beneficiaries perhaps as outlined in W’s will.

The flexibility of this arrangement could be beneficial for all parties since it might provide H with some financial security should he need it in the future and F with some benefit if this is in accordance with W’s wishes, subject to Trustees’ agreement to make distributions.

Inheritance tax will be payable on trust assets over the nil rate band and exit charges will apply.

It is unlikely to be desirable for H for the family home to be put into discretionary trust since the Trustees would need to exercise their discretion in relation to H’s occupation of it. If he wishes to continue to reside there then a market rent should be payable in relation to the portion held in the discretionary trust otherwise it risks being treated as a sham.[7]

It may however be favourable for H to consider this option for some of the assets. The same IHT treatment will apply for H’s estate in that it will affect his estate’s available transferable nil rate band, but the trust assets should be outside of his estate for IHT purposes on his death.

On trust income over £1,000 the trust assets will be charged at 38.1% on dividend income and at 45% on all other income which is pertinent for the income that will be received from the rental property[8].

Capital gains tax will also apply to trust assets, but holdover relief should be available.

4) A variation onto a life interest

Another option would be for H to vary his entitlement so that it passes onto a life interest for him with the future capital interest passing to F.

In this scenario H would be entitled to the income from the trust for life and would be able to benefit from any interest or dividends from cash savings as well as the income from the rental property. On H’s death the capital value would pass to F.

For IHT purposes the value of the life interest would be aggregated with H’s free estate but his estate would be entitled to benefit from any available transferable nil rate band (and RNRB if applicable) on death.

This type of trust is more rigid, and the default position is for income only payments to be made to H[9]. It may however mean that the capital value of the trust would not be taken into account as far as his financial assessment is concerned should he have the need for care in the future.[10]

An ability to distribute capital to H during his lifetime (or to F) could be included in the trust instrument to allow more financial flexibility for the beneficiaries but any capital payments would be subject to the Trustees’ agreement.

The income tax position would be more favourable here as dividend income will be taxed at 7.5% and all other income at 20%[11].

If there is a lifetime termination of the interest then it will be treated as a potentially exempt transfer (‘PET’) (see below) and CGT may apply.

Lifetime gift

As mentioned above, any gifts through variation passing to non-exempt beneficiaries will affect the amount of transferable nil-rate band available for H’s estate and might incur an immediate IHT liability. H could consider making a lifetime gift of assets passing to him from W’s estate to F.

This would be treated as a PET for inheritance tax purposes and therefore he would need to have survived seven years from the date of the gift for its value to be outside of his estate for inheritance tax purposes[12]. Reducing rates apply where H has survived the gift for between four and seven years.

Any gift over the nil rate band through variation would create an immediate liability to inheritance tax which a lifetime gift by H could avoid.

It should be ensured that no benefit of the gift is reserved by H to ensure that his estate is reduced for IHT.[13]


H could disclaim a gift due to him under W’s will.[14] But it is not possible to disclaim in favour of someone i.e. to re-direct the gift so if H disclaims any part of his inheritance then it will pass in accordance with the next entitled under the will or the intestacy rules.[15] If F was the next entitled under the provisions of W’s will then this might satisfy H’s wishes to surrender the entire estate. If this is not the case, then this course of action will not meet H’s objectives.

It should be noted that H cannot disclaim W’s share of property passing to him by survivorship and any joint tenancy cannot be severed by H post-death so that he can disclaim.

Should H choose to disclaim his share of the estate passing to him from W then there would be an immediate inheritance tax charge payable, subject to any applicable reliefs.


It may be that H’s objectives could be achieved by a gift in his will to F. An understanding of his circumstances would be required to take into account any competing claims under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependents) Act 1975.

Such a gift would not have the same negative impact on his transferable nil rate band, nor would it incur an immediate IHT charge on W’s death. Furthermore, it would allow H financial security for his lifetime, but it would mean that F’s beneficial entitlement would be postponed until H’s death.



[1] A Larke v Nugus ([2000] WTLR 1033) letter may be required

[2] See Care Act 2014 and deliberate deprivation rules

[3] S142 Inheritance Tax Act 1984 and s62 Taxation of Chargeable Gains Act 1992

[4] Sections 8D-M and s18 of the Inheritance Tax Act 1984

[5] Finance Act 2008 Schedule 4

[6] Solicitors Regulation Authority Code of Conduct Version 21 Chapter 3 and 4

[7] Rahman v Chase Bank Trust Co (CI) Ltd. (1991) JLR 103

[8] See Finance Act 2019 and Income Tax Act 2007

[9] Statutory powers of advancement will apply, subject to contrary provision in the trust instrument

[10] This might also be applicable to some of the other options listed

[11] See Finance Act 2019 and Income Tax Act 2007

[12] s3A Inheritance Tax Act 1984

[13] See HMRC Manual IHTM14333

[14] See RE Stratton’s Disclaimer [1958] Ch 42, [1957] 2 All ER 594

[15] re Scott, Widdows v Friends of the Clergy Corporation [1975] 1 WLR 1260 [1975] 2 ALL ER 103

Government Guidance on the safe reopening of businesses on 4th July

Government Guidance on the safe reopening of businesses on 4th July

Government Guidance on the safe reopening of businesses on 4th July
Posted on 25th June, 2020

The Government has updated its guidance for businesses to reopen safely on 4th July, 2020. See the links below for more information.


Environmental Health 01395 517456
Licensing for Premises licences and temporary event notices
Temporary structures to extend your outside seating see EDDC Planning

Can an estate be diverted to someone else?

Be in control of your estate … make a will!

Be in control of your estate … make a will!
Posted on 12th June, 2020

These are unprecedented times, and with difficult times comes difficult conversations. That includes thinking about what we want to happen to our estate when we die.

Making a will may not resolve all your fears or issues, but it goes a long way to giving you peace of mind to know how your estate will be dealt with upon your death. 

People often think that if they die without a will all their estate will go to their spouse or civil partner. This is not the case and it depends on the size of your estate. Another misconception is that unmarried partners will be entitled to a share of their partner’s estate if they die without making a will. This, also, is not the case and partners can be placed in a position of having to make a claim against an estate at a very difficult time for them.

There are important questions we may need to ask ourselves such as who will look after my children? Does my family know my funeral wishes? How will my digital assets be accessed? Do I need to do some tax planning or care fee planning?

Making a will puts you in control. You can choose the person, or persons, whom you want to sort out your estate. You might have a vulnerable child and want to protect their assets or a care package by placing monies into a trust.

My best advice is to discuss those important questions with a qualified adviser who can guide you through your choices that help you to achieve your objectives.

At this time, we are responding to the challenges of preparing wills and we have found flexible ways of working whilst maintaining professional standards. Our offices are not yet open to the public. Most instructions are taken via the telephone or by FaceTime, Zoom or Teams.  The signing of wills can be done remotely if clients can source their own witnesses. If not, we are now able to offer will signing outside some of our offices. Some home visits are available where it can be done safely, and all parties involved feel comfortable.

If you would like to discuss making a will, please call 01404 43431 or email Jane Flaherty at


Changes to the Witnessing of Wills

Why you should make or review your will

Why you should make or review your will
Posted on 15th May, 2020

Many people do not have a will, and others may have one which was made some time ago and has now, more or less, been forgotten or ignored.  Those without a will may think that the law will step in and deal with their estate in a fair manner; whilst those with an old will may assume that it has been dealt with and no further action is required by them.

Neither case is necessarily correct, and there will be winners and losers depending on the situation when you die.

Unmarried couples without wills often assume that their estate will pass to their ‘common law’ husband or wife. Unfortunately, this is not the case: if they were to die without a will, their partner would receive nothing and would need to bring a claim against the estate to try to stay in the house, if owned by the deceased, for example.  Such couples definitely need to make a will to protect each other for the future.

Another case where making or updating a will is important is where a married couple’s relationship is breaking down.  If there is a will leaving assets to the spouse, until there is a decree absolute (or final court order in the event of a civil partnership), that gift will be valid on death even if the relationship had broken down.  If there is no will, then the spouse would automatically receive a large proportion of the estate under the intestacy rules if death occurred before the marriage or partnership had been finally dissolved by the court.

These are difficult times for any family at the moment, but it is important to make a will and to keep that will under review as circumstances change.

Everys remains open with a full team of private client lawyers ready to help with any queries you may have.

Moving with the times … the wills drive-through

Moving with the times … the wills drive-through

Moving with the times … the wills drive-through
Posted on 15th May, 2020

As solicitors, we find ourselves in the somewhat tricky situation of having to manage the restrictions of social distancing whilst complying with the law, which has not changed despite the current pandemic.  We are all aware of the need to keep our distance and avoid contact with those outside our household, but the Wills Act of 1837 was not drafted with such restrictions in mind!

Many clients wish to make wills and appoint attorneys, and both processes require independent witnesses to the paperwork.  Most have been able to find witnesses who can help, such as neighbours who remain in their own gardens and witness papers over the back fence, but there are some who need us to assist.  This has proved challenging, but now that it is permitted to meet one person outside your household, our Taunton team have come up with the idea of a wills drive-through!

The clients drive into the car park, and we have witnesses at the office windows in full view.  The clients sign the papers which are then passed through the open window for the witnesses to sign, obviously with care, hand sanitiser and handwashing.

We will continue to move with the times and adjust our services depending on the restrictions currently in place.  A similar arrangement is also available at our Honiton office, both strictly by appointment only.

Forfeiture of Commercial Leases and Covid-19

Forfeiture of Commercial Leases and Covid-19

Forfeiture of Commercial Leases and Covid-19
Posted on 5th May, 2020

In response to the recent Covid-19 outbreak, a brief respite has been provided to commercial tenants by virtue of section 82 of the Coronavirus Act 2020 (CVA 2020) which prevents landlords of commercial leases from forfeiting the lease as a result of unpaid rent during the UK lockdown. However, it seems that commercial tenants may not be as protected as they would hope. This article looks at the limitations behind this new legislation and the long term problems which may still arise.

Tenant Protection

The protection provided to commercial tenants under s82 of the CVA 2020 is limited to tenancies to which Part 2 of the Landlord and Tenant Act 1954 applies (s82(12)(a) CVA2020). This will generally apply to most commercial leases and agreements for lease.

Under most commercial leases, if rent is unpaid for a specified period of time (usually 21 days), then the landlord would be able to exercise their right of forfeiture and bring the lease to an end. However, to ensure that commercial tenants are provided some protection during the UK lockdown, section 82(1)-(12) of the CVA 2020 restricts commercial landlords from being able to forfeit a lease during the ‘relevant period’. The ‘relevant period’ is defined under the CVA 2020 as beginning with the day after the day on which the CVA 2020 is passed (26 March 2020) and ending on 30 June 2020. However, extension of this period is built in to the legislation. What this means in practice is that if any rent (including other lease payments, such as service charge or insurance payments) is unpaid during the ‘relevant period’, then the landlord will not be able to forfeit the lease during that time.


Tenants must be aware that this measure is not a ‘rent free period’ as the landlord’s right to forfeit the lease due to the non-payment of rent will still be enforceable once the ‘relevant period’ has expired.

This may cause concern for tenants, and they should make preparations to ensure that they are able to pay rent when it falls due after the expiration of the ‘relevant period’. Furthermore, tenants not making rent payments during the ‘relevant period’ should consider that unpaid rent is likely to attract interest at the rate specified in the lease; which will still be incurred and accumulate throughout the ‘relevant period’.

A further limitation of the CVA 2020 is that the landlord is not prevented from enforcing a right of re-entry for a breach of other covenants under the lease. The landlord could therefore feasibly still forfeit, by way of peaceable re-entry, for breaches other than the non-payment of rent. However, the landlord should consider the tenant’s ability to remedy a breach during the COVID-19 outbreak when calculating what a reasonable period of time is for the tenant to remedy a breach.

Practical Considerations

An important point for the tenant to consider during the ‘relevant period’ is that they should express to the landlord their intention to use the premises again, once the restrictions relating to Covid-19 are lifted. This is to ensure that tenants are still deemed to be in business occupation even when they have vacated the premises and are unable to use the premises as a result of COVID-19 (Morrisons Holdings Ltd v Manders Property (Wolverhampton) Ltd [1976] 2 All E.R. 205).

Similarly, the landlord should ensure that they do not inadvertently provide an express waiver to rent payments. This is despite the legislation which provides that no conduct by or on behalf of the landlord during the ‘relevant period’ will be taken to waive the right to forfeit for non-payment of rent (section 82(2), CVA 2020). In providing an express waiver of rent payments, the landlord may find it difficult to request further payments for arrears after the UK lockdown and may have difficulties forfeiting the lease for non-payment.

In these uncertain times, it seems that commercial tenants may not have the relief that they might have hoped for under the CVA 2020. In practice, landlords may request settlement of arrears after the ‘relevant period’ which could severely damage many businesses. Failure to pay these arrears and any interest may lead to the landlord exercising their right to forfeit the lease. Of course, landlords will have to consider the novel commercial circumstances in deciding how to request and enforce rent payments. After all, the landlord may be having to choose between a tenanted property at a lower rent or a vacant property with little prospect of finding a new tenant.

If you are a landlord or tenant of commercial property, and have any questions, please get in touch with James Cleveland or Cameron Evans-Grainger.

Related Services

Commercial Property

Crystal ball gazing when making a will

Crystal ball gazing when making a will

Crystal ball gazing when making a will
Posted on 11th December, 2019

It is always difficult to decide how best to divide one’s estate between loved ones when making a will. There is no concrete way of knowing what your assets will be when you die, or what the position will be of those in the family whom you may wish to benefit. Parents in particular are often concerned about the possibility of divorce cropping up in the future and losing family assets as a result.

We do not have a crystal ball to consult when advising clients, which would be very useful both when considering their personal futures and when wondering what the likely tax regime will be when they die!

One option is to use what is known as a ‘flexible’ will, incorporating a discretionary trust to hold some or all of your assets on death. Although complicated legally, in practical terms for those making a will it simply means that your trustees (who must be chosen carefully) will divide your estate as they see fit after you have died. 

A separate letter of wishes is then prepared to tell those trustees exactly what you want them to do. Such letters could include instructions to look after your spouse for the rest of their life, or to divide the estate equally between your children, or to make whatever arrangements work best in terms of tax-saving at that time.

Those wishes are not legally binding, and so it is most important that you choose trustees in whom you have complete faith to follow your letter. The incorporation of a professional trustee can give some comfort here.

This type of will is useful because it means that no beneficiary has any right to your estate, and so if they are in difficult circumstances such as addiction or other personal problems, the trustees can choose how to look after them without jeopardising the family wealth. The trustees could, for example, purchase a property for that beneficiary to live in rent-free, or provide them with a regular income rather than a capital sum outright.

Another benefit is that once the will has been made, any update to the testator’s wishes can simply be made by a new letter. There is no need to prepare a new will each time. This can be useful when family circumstances are fluid.

Such wills tend to be popular with clients due to their flexibility, but careful analysis and explanation is required before they are made as there are various tax consequences to bear in mind. 

If you are considering this type of will, specialist advice is available from all our offices.


Why wills are not just for the elderly … .

Why wills are not just for the elderly … .

Why wills are not just for the elderly … .
Posted on 12th November, 2019

There is often a misconception that wills are made by the older generations to set their affairs in order as they enter later life. In reality, a will is something that every person should have. You never know when your estate will need to be dealt with, and it will need to be dealt with, no matter how large or small. As Game of Thrones star, Ian Glen, recently pointed out, “cheating death is only an option in fiction”.

The purpose of a will is to primarily set out how you wish your property to be distributed upon your death. A will gives your beneficiaries a legal right to their gifts under your will and, if prepared properly, will avoid any doubt or confusion as to how property is to be distributed. Your will also allows you to appoint Executors, who will be the person or people with the legal right to deal with your estate.

Wills are particularly important for parents of minor children. A will enables a parent to appoint Guardians for their children in the event of the death of both parents.

If you should die without having made a will, your estate will pass under the intestacy rules. While the intestacy rules may follow your intentions, the law provides that only specific family members will be entitled to deal with your estate. Such people may not be the most suitable people to deal with such an important task. It is also possible that the intestacy rules could change in the future and will no longer reflect your wishes.

A will gives you the control to decide who deals with your estate. Even if there is little or no value to your estate, accounts will still need to be closed, debts will need to be paid, and your funeral arrangements will need to be dealt with. It is often a lot easier to deal with an estate where there is a will to produce to asset holders, and this can make the task much simpler for your loved ones.

It is possible to make a will at any time, so long as you have the mental capacity to make one. As lawyers, we occasionally find ourselves at the side of a person’s death bed when they either wish to make their first will, or alter their current will. These difficult situations highlight the importance of preparing your will at a time when you are well and healthy, and in a frame of mind to make the important decisions for your family and loved ones. 

If you are considering making or altering your will, please do not hesitate to contact our wills and Probate Department who will be happy to help.



Posted on 7th November, 2019

Christmas will quickly be upon us and whilst many of us will be thinking of buying and wrapping gifts, many people will also be thinking of giving cash, too.

Giving away cash is the easiest way to avoid paying inheritance tax (IHT) when you die. However, the time at which you make a gift, the size of the gift and the size of your estate are all factors  in determining how much IHT will be payable on your death. 

Possible cash gifts that are unlikely to affect your inheritance position could be: 

  1. £250 to as many individuals as you want: family, friends or the cat sitter!
  2. £3,000 to someone who has not already benefitted from the £250 gift above.

If you didn’t make a gift of £3,000 in the last tax year, you could carry it forward – use it this year and give up to £6,000.

In addition, if your income is such that you have leftover funds to spare whilst maintaining your usual standard of living, gifts made from your excess income may also be exempt from IHT.

The start of the New Year is often a time to create new habits and you may wish to create a pattern of giving away the excess income. You don’t need to survive for any minimum period for these gifts to fall out of your estate for IHT purposes.

If you are contemplating making a higher value gift in the spirit of the festive season, outright gifts of cash in excess of the annual exemptions above will be potentially exempt transfers (also known as PETs) and you will need to survive a full seven years from making the gift for its value to completely fall out of your estate.

The Six Stages of Probate

DIY probate: is it worth the risks?

DIY probate: is it worth the risks?
Posted on 6th November, 2019

More and more people are looking to carry out their own probate without wanting to instruct a solicitor – generally to keep costs down but also as a result of the digital age we live in and the availability of tips and advice on the internet.

However, before deciding to take on this task, it is important that you fully understand the risks involved.

What is the role?

I think the best way to explain the role of an Executor/Administrator is to say that they close the doors on all the affairs of the deceased, and distribute the estate in accordance with their wishes or in accordance with statute where the deceased has not left a will.

What are the risks?

The following list is not exhaustive or in any particular order:-

  • The first difficulty is knowing what the actual estate of the deceased is. If an asset is missed on a taxable estate it will mean that not enough Inheritance tax has been paid, and when the asset comes to light at a later date there will also be interest to be paid on top of that.
  • Understanding the will and what it is actually saying. Legal jargon can be confusing and you will need to know how the estate needs to distributed. Is there a trust or is the gift being left directly? If you interpret the will wrongly then you may be sued by the beneficiaries who should have inherited under the terms of the will.
  • If there is no will then you will need to understand the rules of intestacy and ensure that you have a complete family tree. This is essential to ensure that the estate is distributed correctly or, again, you could find yourself being sued by the people who were legally entitled to the estate under the rules of intestacy.
  • There will be a lot of paper work. Paper work that you will need to sort through, paper work that you will need to complete and paper work that you will need to save in case there are any issues after the estate has been finalised that may crop up later for dealing with.
  • You will need to understand the taxes that might be applicable in the estate. Those being:
    • 1.Income tax for the year in which they have died and also income tax for any income received during the administration period.
    • 2. Capital gains tax for the year in which they have died and during the administration period.
    • 3. Inheritance tax for the deceased’s estate – this will include understanding the rules on the residence nil rate band and lifetime gifts.
  • Probate takes time: weigh up how much time you have to devote to finalising the probate. If you take over a year, you may find that there is interest to be paid on legacies or intestacies, and that may result in unhappy beneficiaries because this will impact on what is available from the estate for other beneficiaries.

It is very important to remember that you will be responsible for administering the estate correctly. You could become liable for mistakes and for acts you omit to undertake. You could also be held personally accountable by the beneficiaries if you cause a loss to the estate through poor administration.

My best advice is to seek professional advice from a private client practitioner, preferably someone who has a STEP membership as this is a quality mark to look for – it means that they are a Trustee and Estate Practitioner (TEP) and are specialists in this area of law.


How should I deal with my digital assets on death?

How should I deal with my digital assets on death?

How should I deal with my digital assets on death?
Posted on 23rd October, 2019

Digital assets: What are they?

Digital assets are increasingly part of everyday life. Most simplistically, they can be defined as anything that you may own or have rights to that exist online or on a hard storage device. In general, this means any accounts that you open online, including email, social networking, and photo sharing, as well as websites and domain names which you own. It also includes the items stored on your computer or online accounts, for example, photographs, word documents, family videos, emails, instant messages, spread sheets and any balances on your PayPal or gaming accounts.

Why do they matter?

Digital assets can have financial or sentimental value.  Your personal representatives may not be aware of them to deal with them on your behalf. This could result in a lot of information about you in various forms being available after your death which may not be appropriate.

Each provider of the digital asset will have its own terms and conditions that will determine what happens to the asset on the death of the account holder. They will also set out what access your personal representatives will have in order to administer that asset. Most of these terms and conditions forbid the sharing of any online content, such as by way of a bequest in a will.

What should I do?

There are a number of things that you can do to start to address this issue.

It is important that you have an understanding of your digital assets so that you know which ones need to be managed on death and which ones can be gifted in your will. An example to illustrate the importance can be seen with Bitcoin.  A virtual asset that can have substantial financial value is saved in a password protected digital ‘wallet’. If the wallet, the password or the device on which the wallet is stored are lost, the asset, and its value, is lost permanently.

I would advise checking the terms and conditions of all your digital assets and keeping a log in a safe place that your personal representatives are aware of.  Do not put any passwords in your will as this may become a public document if probate is required and, in any event, will be shared by some of your beneficiaries who may not be the recipients of your digital assets.

How, or whether, you can gift your digital assets depends on the terms and conditions of the particular Internet Service Provider (ISP) with whom your account is held.  There is no uniform set of rules. For example, in the case of iTunes, you are effectively leasing the content so you do not own it.  Whilst you can gift your iPod in your will, you cannot leave them the contents of your accounts.

There are providers that offer a chargeable service of an online “safety deposit box” in which you can store your usernames and passwords. Those details will then be made available to a nominated person following your death.

Have a routine of downloading photographs of sentimental value on to a hard drive ensuring that these will not be lost post death.

Ensure that the people you are asking to deal with your digital assets have the technical skills to deal with them.  You could appoint a digital executor that only deals with your digital property.

When making your will, ensure that you have a conversation with your solicitor about your digital assets.




We’ve been re-accredited!

We’ve been re-accredited!

We’ve been re-accredited!
Posted on 20th September, 2019

Everys Solicitors is thrilled to announce that we have been re-accredited by Lexcel. As the Law Society’s legal practice quality mark, Lexcel assesses seven areas of legal practice:

  • Structure and strategy
  • Financial management
  • Information management
  • People management
  • Risk management
  • Client care
  • File and case management

Following interviews with staff, detailed file reviews and an in-depth examination of our practice and procedures, the Lexcel Assessor commented on our “exceptional” standards.

James Griffin, Managing Partner of Everys, said, “The Lexcel accreditation recognises excellence and best practice in a law firm and is a reflection of the dedication of our staff to providing superb client care, amongst other things. Many thanks to all our staff, for the hard work they’ve put in to ensuring that we maintained our accreditation.”

Becoming Dementia Friendly

Becoming Dementia Friendly

Becoming Dementia Friendly
Posted on 19th September, 2019

Emma Gray and Joan Pullin, both Associate Solicitors in our Private Client department based at Honiton, have been working towards making Everys Solicitors a Dementia Friendly firm. After consultation with Gina Awad and Heather Penwarden of the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance (EDAA) and Honiton Dementia Action Alliance (HDAA) respectively, Everys is delighted to announce that this project is now underway.

Emma Gray said, “This is a really exciting time for us. We are very aware of the need to adapt our practices so that we are a fully inclusive firm. We have clients who are living with dementia and we want to ensure that they feel safe and confident in our offices, and when dealing with staff members.”

“With over one million people in the UK predicted to have dementia by 2021, it is important that we adjust our services and the way we deliver them now,” said Joan Pullin. “We are in the process of arranging training for all our staff and this will be provided by Gina Awad and Heather Penwarden, whose advice has been invaluable in helping us drive this forward.”

The training will help us improve our customer service by making all our offices welcoming and friendly, with clear signage and reduced noise to help alleviate any confusion our clients may encounter. The training will also enable our staff to be well informed of the issues surrounding dementia and to have the confidence to deal with clients who may be living with dementia to make them feel at ease and cared for.

Frailty Masterclass

Frailty Masterclass

Frailty Masterclass

It dawned on me, as I sat looking pretty on the display desk at Exeter Racecourse, that perhaps this was really the reason I had been allowed out of the office… to provide good luck to Emma Gray from the Private Client team. Emma is always busy, and this time she was presenting a couple of workshops to a variety of care providers, care staff, GPs, GP trainees and others who care for the Elderly.

On Monday, 9th September 2019, Emma represented Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) at the Frailty Masterclass, which is part of various training provided by the Devon Training Hub CEPN.  The day was advertised to all Healthcare Professionals and allied Healthcare Workers as a great opportunity to build knowledge in various areas of frailty.

The day started with an outline of the learning objectives, and two talks from doctors on best practice when caring for patients who are frail, and how to recognise frailty and manage it.  There were then two sets of morning workshops in which Emma presented to a variety of NHS staff and care providers on the benefits of Lasting Powers of Attorneys (LPAs), capacity and assessments.

Emma was disappointed that so few delegates had heard of SFE and was shocked by how few patients prepare Welfare LPAs, despite the care staff saying how beneficial it is to have them. It was interesting to have an interactive session so that people could ask questions and she could tailor the talk depending on the interest in each workshop.

After lunch, there were afternoon workshops where Emma heard about information sharing between health and social care, and optimising communication between care providers and the Community Health Care Teams.  Emma passionately believes in different professionals communicating and ensuring that together they get the best outcome for the patients/clients.

A MacMillan GP drew the day to a close with a talk about the long term consequences of cancer treatment and how everyone can help manage these.  All in all, there was a great buzz to the day and it was a privilege to be able to help raise awareness amongst the medical professionals who attended about some of the legal matters that Private Client lawyers do for the clients, as well as hearing practically how the documents are used at the critical time.

It was a great day, and at least, this time, I got to watch!

Michelmores’ 5k run – Thursday, 5th September, 2019

Michelmores’ 5k run – Thursday, 5th September, 2019

Michelmores’ 5k run – Thursday, 5th September 2019

She left me in the car park!

My first trip out of the office with a fee earner. And I was left … in a bag … in the car! No cheering, no supporting. On my own, with banners and flyers. Just waiting.

She did seem in a hurry, though; dashing out one more email before leaving the office, so I’m not surprised she was rushing off to meet yet another deadline. I just didn’t know that the deadline was a starter’s gun for a race.

So this is how my first mascot journey started… being bundled into a vehicle, an impatient drive into the glorious city of Exeter and then waiting until Emma returned to the car. Finally, yes finally, she told me all about it: she was taking part in the Michelmores 5k run. Well, that’s ok then.

Emma, and over a thousand other runners, gathered on Cathedral Green in the golden light of the evening sun. It would have been nice to see it, and feel the excitement and nerves in the air, and to cheer Emma on, of course, but … she forgot me! Did I mention that? It’s ok. Really, it is. I’m over it now, besides, it sounded rather hot and sweaty.

Emma told me she had run under a nine minute mile – considering Exeter’s hilly route up to the Castle and down to St David’s station, it’s no wonder she was buzzing with endorphins and pride. She said Exeter looked beautiful; I’ll just have to take her word on that.

People of all ages and abilities took part. Emma said it was extremely rewarding and she was happy that she had some ‘Team Everys’ support, albeit in the car park!  Perhaps next year I’ll be allowed to watch, with more Everys runners and more supporters?!


Wild Beef

Wild Beef

Wild Beef
Posted on 2nd September, 2019

In our latest podcast , Richard Vines of Wild Beef, Hillhead Farm (near Chagford) talks about how he built his business selling his beef into Borough Market, in London. He has found that his customers want to know how he rears his animals, the kind of a life they have on Dartmoor and where they are slaughtered. In short, they want to know that his animals have had a good life and a good death. Richard firmly believes that only pasture-fed beef produce flavour – and health benefits that are important for us all.


Richard Vines – part one

Richard Vines – part two

Ration Challenge Week

Ration Challenge Week

Ration Challenge Week
Posted on 4th July, 2019

On 16th June, Julie Chapman, a solicitor in our Sidmouth office, took up the challenge of eating the same food rations as a Syrian refugee in support of Ration Challenge Week.

The aim of the challenge is to raise money for food, medicine and education for Syrian refugees; and for people to gain a basic understanding of some of the hardships refugees face in regards to food.

Julie kept a diary highlighting the challenges of eating basic food, and the effect it had on her physically and mentally.

By day five, Julie said: “I feel heavy, bloated and sluggish.  There is so much starch and so little fibre and nutrients.  It is very sobering to think that these people, who came from living normal lives, are reduced to living on these rations.”

The ration packs contained: rice, lentils, flour, chickpeas, kidney beans, sardines and oil.  In addition to this, depending on the amount of sponsorship money raised, Julie could earn rewards such as salt, milk or a vegetable.

Although the challenge began on 16th June, it can be started at any time.  If you are interested in reading more about the challenge, check out the Ration Challenge website at

Well done Julie!

Julie Chapman with her ration pack contents

Grieving for a Pet

Grieving for a Pet

Our pets give us unconditional love and are often one of our best friends.  They never judge or answer back, and they are normally pleased to see us.  However, our pets are never just pets.  They are friends, companions, working dogs, service animals or therapy animals, and for many people losing a pet is just as devastating and painful as losing someone they love; in some cases, even more so.

Although there will always be those who fail to understand the depth of grief felt for the loss of a much-loved pet, there is no doubt that those feelings are real and valid and, therefore, warrant a proper grieving process.

Everybody grieves in different ways: what may be right for one person may not be right for another.  For some people, the grief may confine them to their beds but others may want to throw themselves into their work to stop the feelings of sadness from surfacing.  However you manage your grief, it is important to try not to delay the grieving process.  At some stage, owners need to acknowledge the fact that their beloved animal has died.

It is fundamental to the healing process to accept that whatever feelings you are experiencing are perfectly natural.  Give yourself time: remember, this was a pet you loved and it could take weeks, months, or even longer before the sadness starts to lift.  Importantly, do not hesitate to seek support from understanding friends, relatives or professionals; what you are feeling is normal.  Plus, do not forget that grieving is an expression of the love that you had for your pet.



Memorials and mementos are important links from the past to the present: they enable the living to remember those who have died.  This is usually at the deceased’s resting place, but with cremation on the increase many people no longer have a conventional grave to visit.  In 1960, only 34.7% of deaths involved cremation.  By 2017, that figure rose to 77.05% with it set to continue rising further due, mainly, to the increasing cost of burials.

Memorialisation was traditionally a ceremony to remember a loved one, but the definition has expanded and is now the process of preserving memories of people which can be done in a variety of ways, particularly with the ashes of the deceased.

Many people choose to scatter the ashes (keeping in mind some places require a permit to do so), or to keep the urn containing their loved one’s ashes with them at home.  Others, however, wish to have a place of remembrance where they can reflect, remember and find moments of peace such as a park bench, a rockery or a rose garden.  Increasingly, though, novel ways of memorialising are emerging by creating mementos out of the deceased’s ashes or turning them into a tattoo.  Other ideas of things which have been done with ashes include:

  • Bury, inter or plant them (for example, with a tree);
  • Creating a vinyl record with their favourite song, or a recording of their voice;
  • Producing hand-blown glassware or stained glass;
  • Having a huggable stuffed animal which contains a compartment for the ashes;
  • Fireworks; and
  • Jewellery.

The way in which you choose to remember your loved one is incredibly personal, but memorialisation is a human need – for those being memorialised and those who are grieving.  Previously, it was reserved for the upper classes, but now it is almost considered a fundamental human right for all people.

However you choose to remember your loved one, the most important thing is that it helps bring solace in your moments of grief and, later on, peace and acceptance.

Funeral Costs

Funeral Costs

Dying is expensive; there’s no getting around it, and the expense can come as quite a shock to those responsible for arranging your funeral.  In recent years, the cost of a simple funeral has risen sharply due to a number of factors such as grave shortages and local authorities increasing cremation fees.

According to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), who have been reviewing funeral costs, the average cost of a simple funeral in 2017 was just under £3,800.  This excluded the optional extras such as embalming, the funeral service, funeral venue and limousines.  In 2018, Sun Life produced a report “2018 Cost of Dying Report” in which they found a standard funeral had risen to £4,271 before extras.  These optional extras can increase the cost by an additional £2,061; this means a total of over £6,000 for the average funeral.

So what can be done to help lessen the burden?

Provided there is enough money in your estate to cover the costs, some funeral directors are happy to liaise with the solicitor assisting you to get the bill paid directly from the deceased’s bank account or, in some cases, even delay payment until probate has been settled.  Failing that, a funeral plan, whereby you pre-pay the funeral costs, may be an option.  It is vital, however, that you fully understand exactly what is covered by the plan so that there are no further unexpected surprises to add to the burden of grief your loved ones will already be experiencing.  In addition, you must ensure that the funeral company is a reputable one and is regulated by the Funeral Planning Authority.

Generally, a funeral plan will cover the following:

  • Funeral director fees
  • Coffin
  • Transport
  • In some instances, cremation or burial fees
  • What you want to happen at your funeral

Additional fees are payable for the cost of the doctors’ fees for the death certification; the funeral celebrant; the death notice; the order sheets; the venue hire for the wake; plus, in some cases, the burial or cremation fees are not covered by the plan.  As well as these, you need to be aware of solicitors’ fees for administering your estate, especially if using your estate to cover these costs.

With standard funeral costs expected to rise further to £7,000 by 2020, making plans now to lock in the cost of a funeral at today’s prices is good preparation.  A bit of research and planning now will go a long way to helping relieve the future anxiety of your loved ones.

For advice on funeral plan companies and further frequently asked questions, see

Are We Ready?  Let’s Talk About It…

Are We Ready? Let’s Talk About It…

Death and taxes are the two certainties in life.  Whilst we can’t prevent either from happening, we can be prepared.

The benefits of ensuring that your paperwork is in order, and that it reflects your current wishes, are frequently underestimated: peace of mind comes from knowing that your loved ones will not have to tackle complicated legal matters in addition to coping with grief.

As a young widow, Emma Gray, an Associate Solicitor in our Private Client office, believes that being prepared ensures you can have the “best death possible”.

“My late husband was only 38 when he died of oesophageal cancer,” said Emma.  “He left me and our two young children emotionally at sea.  However, the energy he put into organising the paperwork around his death was inspiring.  As well as having an up to date Will, power of attorney and Advance Directive / Living Will, he also left behind letters, gifts and memory boxes for all three of us.  This meant that he died peacefully surrounded by those he loved.”

Although, as solicitors, we do not assist with personal notes or emotional things such as memory boxes, we can ensure that clients are not afraid to talk about death and dying and have all their legal paperwork in place.  As Emma says, “Ensuring that your legal papers reflect your wishes means that you can put aside legal concerns and get on with living the rest of your life and spending quality time with your nearest and dearest.  My late husband managed to do this and it gave him the freedom to spend precious time doing a great ‘bucket list’ of activities with our young children, happy in the knowledge that the paperwork had been taken care of.”

Previously, Dying Matters week has addressed the question ‘What Can You Do?’; this year the theme is ‘Are We Ready?’.  The key things we recommend clients deal with as soon as possible are:

  • Ensure you have a Will and it is up to date;
  • Ensure you have Powers of Attorney for your finances and welfare;
  • Record your funeral wishes;
  • Tell your attorneys your wishes and how to manage your affairs, if needed; and
  • Plan your future care and support, and document it in an Advance Decision / Living Will.

Solicitors in the Everys Private Client department are based in all our offices in the South West: Exeter, Exmouth, Honiton, Seaton, Sidmouth and Taunton.  For more information on how we can assist, please click here.