Caithness and Sutherland Property – what happened in 2017 and the prospects for 2018.

Georgesons Estate AgencyI’m pleased to say that 2017 has been a good one for Caithness and Sutherland and there is great confidence in the air. Sales are reported by the Registers of Scotland to have increased, overall, in the Highland area by 10.3%.

As regards prices, nationally in Scotland, prices increased, overall, by 2.8% with the average price being £143,544

Semi-detached properties led the charge with an increase of 4.2%. Interestingly, detached properties were right down 0.9% but that is, probably, because of the Stamp Duty changes which punish the higher property price brackets. More of that later.

Highland did rather better at 3.5% and our average price is, also, higher at £159,874. Unfortunately, the Registers of Scotland do not sub divide their statistics within Highland so it is not possible to see statistics for localities.

On the pricing front, we are, generally, obtaining a price equal to the asking price which is, usually, based on the Home Report valuation. The surveyor will have built in the price increase and all this indicates a confidence in the market.

The predominant interest, at the moment, in Caithness and Sutherland is from first-time buyers. Happily, in our area, prices are moderate and people are able to buy a decent home the first time around. The second most predominant group of purchasers are folk relocating North to retire or prepare for retiral, and they are, generally, downsizing to rural locations. They are able to sell up down South, buy a home here and still have some funds left over.

One happy change this year is the return of the closing date. We have been able to set a number this year. If you can reach all potential buyers out there, there are benefits as, with a closing date you know that you are getting the maximum price. Buyers have only one chance in this closed bid system – which is a joy for sellers and a nightmare for buyers!

Buy to let purchasers were a big feature at one time but they have died a death, taxed out of existence with a double whammy of tax increases both on stamp duty and income.

As to the future, I read the finance pages and I am seeing nothing that, seriously, worries me. There is the usual economists’ doom and gloom but I have, consistently, ignored that because my experience is that these “experts” have no more insight than the average person. The forecasts have been, consistently, wrong since the crash (and even before). I believe that most people are also of the same opinion and a recent survey by the Bank of Scotland on barriers to moving house confirms that, showing only 15% citing an “uncertain economic outlook”.

As for the tax issue, Stamp Duty (now called Land and Buildings Transaction Tax) seriously bites if you are in the over £380,000 bracket but, happily, for the average price in Highland, it actually offers a saving over the old rate. So, don’t doubt it, there are benefits in living in the North!
As I write this, the Scottish Budget has been announced. Stamp duty for first-time buyers has been abolished but only up to £175,000 whereas, in the rest of the UK, it is £300,000.

As for the future, for the past four years, we have had nothing but good news and, for 2018, my advice to potential sellers and buyers is that all is well and go ahead with your plans!

Anyone who would like to comment on this article or for this column to touch on any particular matter, please email me on [email protected]

Bruce de Wert has over 25 years of experience of Law and Estate Agency and is the Principal Solicitor at Georgesons and a director of Georgesons Estate Agency Ltd.

Ross-shire Property – what happened in 2017 and the prospects for 2018.

Georgesons Estate AgencyI’m pleased to say that 2017 has been a good one for Ross-shire and there is great confidence in the air. Sales are reported by the Registers of Scotland to have increased, overall, in the Highland area by 10.3%.

As regards prices, nationally in Scotland, prices increased, overall, by 2.8% with the average price being £143,544

Semi-detached properties led the charge with an increase of 4.2%. Interestingly, detached properties were right down 0.9% but that is, probably, because of the Stamp Duty changes which punish the higher property price brackets. More of that later.

Highland did rather better at 3.5% and our average price is, also, higher at £159,874. Unfortunately, the Registers of Scotland do not sub divide their statistics within Highland so it is not possible to see statistics for localities.

On the pricing front, we are, generally, obtaining a price equal to the asking price which is, usually, based on the Home Report valuation. The surveyor will have built in the price increase and all this indicates a confidence in the market.

The predominant interest, at the moment, in the Ross-shire area is from first-time buyers. Happily, in our area, prices are moderate and people are able to buy a decent home the first time around. We are lucky not to have the overcrowding that is to be found in more southern parts. This is reflected in the fact that the second most predominant group of purchasers are folk relocating North for work.

Buy to let purchasers were a big feature at one time but they have died a death, taxed out of existence with a double whammy of tax increases both on stamp duty and income.

As to the future, I read the finance pages and I am seeing nothing that, seriously, worries me. There is the usual economists’ doom and gloom but I have, consistently, ignored that because my experience is that these “experts” have no more insight than the average person. The forecasts have been, consistently, wrong since the crash (and even before). I believe that most people are also of the same opinion and a recent survey by the Bank of Scotland on barriers to moving house confirms that, showing only 15% citing an “uncertain economic outlook”.

As for the tax issue, Stamp Duty (now called Land and Buildings Transaction Tax-LBTT) seriously bites if you are in the over £380,000 bracket but, happily, for the average price in Highland, it actually offers a saving over the old rate. So, don’t doubt it, there are benefits in living in the North!

The Scottish Budget has been announced. Stamp duty for first-time buyers has been abolished but only up to £175,000 whereas, in the rest of the UK, it is £300,000. Disappointing but not surprising.

As for the future, for the past four years, we have had nothing but good news and, for 2018, my advice to potential sellers and buyers is that all is well and go ahead with your plans!

Anyone who would like to comment on this article or for this column to touch on any particular matter, please email me on [email protected]

Bruce de Wert has over 25 years of experience of Law and Estate Agency and is the Principal Solicitor at Georgesons and a director of Georgesons Estate Agency Ltd.

No Will in Scotland?

So what, you might ask.

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These are amongst the possible results:-
Your loved ones will be (even more) upset because no-one knows what to do or who is in charge.

Who you want to inherit might well not.

A court action will be needed.

It will be more expensive to wind up your estate.

The family might go to war.

Your wishes for your remains may be unknown or, if known, ignored.

Your wishes for a service (or wishes for no service) may be unknown or, if known, ignored.

These are just examples. There are other potential pitfalls for you and your family.

Don’t leave it too late!

The BBC said it was easy and took just 10 minutes to make a Will on my website.

Look for yourself – you pay nothing until you are satisfied.

Bruce de Wert
Solicitor
www.MyScottishWill.co.uk

Why a Power of Attorney is a family’s gift of love

What motivates people to make a Power of Attorney?

Seeing many clients in this situation, as I do, raises that question. My opinion is that, mostly, deep down, it is love.

That love is, often, hidden by my clients which is not surprising since this is a difficult and emotional subject as it is associated with old age, potential  dementia and general worries about family.

Different sides of the family show that love in different ways.

 

For parents, it is a gift of certainty. Once made, everybody knows what role they have to play and they know that, if it is needed, there will be no stressful Guardianship court action and no delay. Sadly, the truth is that when you need a PoA, you need it now, not some months down the line once you’ve negotiated Solicitors and the courts. Incidentally, my system has guides for everybody involved and, so, everybody knows what is required of them.

For children, it is a gift of care. Just as parents cared for their growing children, so there may come a time when the children will need to care for their parents. By being an Attorney, they are giving a big thank you to Mum and Dad.

 

 

 

If you’re reading this and you are out of your comfort zone, then you are not alone. Both parents and children think that the other will be upset to talk about this subject. However, that is not, in fact, my experience. Parents, particularly, are very happy to talk about such practical stuff! Just as they know that making a will is necessary, a Power of Attorney is, these days, a topic which needs to be thought about – and talked about.

MyScottishAttorney is unique because, once talked about, you can do it, there and then, without leaving home. It just takes a few minutes if you have everybody’s names and addresses. And you can do it together. No waiting for appointments with Solicitors. Of course, you will need to see a doctor to have it signed off but that’s no stress.

Share this with your siblings and parents and, by doing so, challenge them to think out of their comfort zone! You and they won’t regret it.

More information at MyScottishAttorney

Bruce de Wert

Bruce de Wert

 

Dementia and Alzheimer’s. What happens when it’s too late for a Power of Attorney in Scotland?


If someone loses mental capacity before they have a Power of Attorney in place, who can manage their finances and welfare?
Arranging a Power of Attorney early can save money and avoid problems in later life.
Nobody wants to consider what would happen if they or a family member lost capacity to make their own decisions.
But if you leave it too late to put a Continuing Power of Attorney in place, you risk a court appointing a stranger rather than a trusted friend or relative.
It’s not an automatic right that a next of kin takes on dealing with your affairs. If you have or a parent has just been diagnosed with dementia, for example, it is vital to consider a Continuing and Welfare Power of Attorney. The Continuing part deals with the financial side and the Welfare with medical treatment and personal matters.
This allows allows you to choose one or more people to handle your financial and property affairs, alongside making decisions about your health and welfare.
However, this can only be done when you have mental capacity – the ability to make sound decisions.
This is as important as making a Will in these days when people are living longer.
By the way, a diagnosis of dementia does NOT mean it too late.
If no PoA is in place, someone has to apply to the Sheriff Court to become a Guardian before they can deal with matters on your behalf.
At a stressful and upsetting point, this takes a long time. It is, also, expensive costing some thousands of pounds.
If a relative is not appointed, a professional will be and there will be ongoing costs.
Better, all in all, to avoid that and the easiest and most affordable way is at www.MyScottishAttorney.co.uk.
You can have it, in the next half-hour, for yourself or relative, like your Mum and Dad, and, although you need to go to see a doctor (or Solicitor) to have it signed off, the rest is all dealt with at home.

Bruce de Wert
Scottish Solicitor

Bruce is a Solicitor who, as Director of the company behind MyScottishAttorney, makes the complicated simple.
You can make  a Scottish Will or a Scottish Power of Attorney for yourself or your loved one.

 

Dementia and Powers of Attorney in Scotland

 


Dementia comes in all shapes and sizes and can vary from time to time but there is a touchstone so far as Powers of Attorney (PoA) are concerned.

A diagnosis of dementia does not infer that capacity to make a PoA has been lost. When told that someone has lost capacity, the next question should always be – capacity to do what? Even with severe dementia, the capacity to go to the shops and contract to buy your groceries may never be lost. Perhaps entering into a contract for a complex investment trying to be sold by a pushy salesman may be a different matter, however!

What a diagnosis of dementia may well be, however, is a wake-up call to make your PoA as soon as possible, so don’t delay. If there is doubt, ask your doctor beforehand but, if there is no doubt, just go ahead and make one straight away.

The swiftest way to make one in Scotland is at MyScottishAttorney and, as well as lots of free information about PoA’s, there are videos which give the background, there.

You can make one for yourself or for your parents. It is available in your inbox as soon as you have paid and, although you will need a trip to the doctor to have a capacity certificate signed, it is done and dusted without the usual need of, at least, two visits to or by a Solicitor and at a lot less cost.

Bruce de Wert
Scottish Solicitor

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bruce is a Solicitor who, as Director of the company behind MyScottishAttorney, makes the complicated simple and you can make  a Scottish Will or a Scottish Power of Attorney for yourself or your loved one.

Scottish Powers of Attorney are different


The comments of the English Judge on Powers of Attorney should be treated with caution in Scotland, which has it’s own laws and systems.

The most important difference is that, at the time of signing, there is an assessment of the capacity of the granter.

 A doctor or lawyer must sign a statement saying that he or she

  1. interviewed the granter immediately before he/she subscribed the power of attorney;
  2. was satisfied that, at that the granter understood its nature and extent.

This is not true in England and is an significant safeguard because it weeds out those who are abusing the vulnerable as they will not want their prey to be seen by a professional.

The Office of the Public Guardian Scotland has pointed out that most Powers are produced by lawyers and they have additional safeguards. This is true and valuable.

However, whilst the doors of the Ritz are open to all, not everybody can afford to enter them and, similarly, many people cannot afford a lawyer or are too frightened to ask for an appointment fearing the potential cost.

That is where MyScottishAttorney makes a valuable contribution. Designed by me, a Solicitor, this website provides a high-quality Power of Attorney at, approximately, a third of the price of a Solicitor and with much more convenience.

Despite the savings, the safeguard of the assessment remains in place and, accordingly, it is a safe and affordable method of providing cover should the worst occur.

Bruce de Wert

Director

For a video on how it works see https://www.myscottishattorney.co.uk/video-01.php

Why Powers of Attorney are all about trust

Well, assuming you know anything about Powers of Attorney (and if you don’t, click here) then you will know that you are placing yourself in the hands of your Attorney.

You must, therefore, have absolute trust in this person and you must, therefore, ask yourself (and be honest) do I trust this person to look after me or will they, rather, look after themselves?

If you have doubts, find someone else!

Most of the time, in my experience, it is your loved ones that you appoint. Your spouse or partner and/or children are the usual favourites.

A Power of Attorney kicks in when you decide that it should but that decision is made by you when you make the document.

Most people make it have immediate effect. This is because when you need an Attorney to make decisions for you, you need it now (for instance, if you’ve had a stroke or a fall). If it does not take effect until medical practitioners have decided you have lost your capacity, there is going to be a delay whilst they get themselves together. More information here

If you don’t have trust, you should not make it immediate but, then, if you do not have trust, you should not be appointing that person!

The benefit of immediacy, however, is that your Attorney can get to work whenever you ask them to. Perhaps there will be occasions when you cannot be bothered to go to the bank or you are abroad. It’s a very flexible document!

Making one does not take long and they are “file and forget”.

You can make one immediately –  just go to MyScottishAttorney 

And if you don’t want to do it yourself, your kids can make it for you

Bruce de Wert
Scottish Solicitor

 

Making a Will by text message in Scotland?

Texting a Will whilst having your coffee and biscuits.

The suggestion is that you could, in the future, make a will by texting, voicemail and email.

It is, just now, England only but, to my mind, not a great idea. I am all for easing Will-making – after all I own MyScottishWill which allows you to make a valid Will at home – but I am not keen on the relaxing of the signing and witnessing arrangements. There is something about that ritual which means that people do not make hasty and unwise decisions.

It also makes it less easy for bad people to strong arm the elderly and vulnerable.  It doesn’t need much imagination  to see what could happen. It happens now with all the checks and balances.

Leaving it to a judge to decide whether it is a valid will is also questionable. In England, there is a whole legal industry of challenging Wills because the law is uncertain as to what you must leave your children. That is not true in Scotland where court fights are rare. The law should be simple and certain. If it has to go to a judge that is potentially very costly and not, I suspect, something that the deceased would have desired.

The making a Will and the reading of it, after a death, is an emotional experience. Let’s not make it harder.

You can make one immediately –  just go to  MyScottishWill

Bruce de Wert
Scottish Solicitor

 

 

Lesson for Scots from legal fight over Will

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Heather Illot – Picture PA

Will dispute fought out in Supreme Court

I think this story is quite tragic as it deals with a very sad family rift but there is a clear lesson involved.

If you want your wishes followed after your death, you must make a Will.

The story is about English law and Scots Law would have dealt with it differently but the essential fact is that the daughter, in this case, felt that she was entitled to a significant share in her mother’s wealth. Had her mother not made a Will, she would have got it a lot more than the court awarded.

So the moral of the story is, if you are the parent make a Will or what you want may not happen and, if you are the child, don’t fall out with your Mum and Dad!

One very easy, private and inexpensive way to make your Will in Scotland is at MyScottishWill

Bruce de Wert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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