Re-mortgage your house

Is Equity Release Right for You?

A guide to the increasingly popular equity release mortgages and their pros and cons

Equity release allows you to borrow against you the value in your home whilst you continue to live in it. This is aimed at those aged 55+. Equity release has been soaring in popularity recently. Figures for the first three months of 2018 show that equity release lending has more than doubled over the past two years, from £394 million in the first quarter of 2016 to £870 million this quarter. There are a number of reasons for this; the aging population, shortfalls in private pension plans, retirees still facing indebtedness, the increasing cost of care and so on.

What plans are there?

There are really two main categories of equity release plans. The first are lifetime mortgages. Here you take a loan out against the property whilst you retain ownership of the property. You can take the loan out in a lump sum, or in staged payments. You can borrow up to 60% of the value of your property.

You don’t have to make any repayments whilst you are alive although some plans give you this option. The interest rolls up and is paid off on the sale of the property. If the property increases in value you will benefit from the increase in value. However the interest can build up surprisingly quickly. Try and draw down the loan in stages to minimise the interest that will accrue.

Most plans will have a no negative equity guarantee. This means that when your property is inevitably sold, and the associated costs to lawyers and agents paid, if there is not enough money left to repay the outstanding balance of the loan then your estate will not be liable to pay any more.

A home reversion plan works a little differently. This allows you to sell all or some of your home. In return you get a lump sum or regular payments. You can get up to 60% of the market value of your property. The size of the percentage you can take will depend on your age. The older you are the greater share you can sell.

Like the lifetime mortgage plan you have the right to remain in the property for the rest of your life. It will also have a no negative equity guarantee.

What are the downsides?

A key aspect to remember is that any form of equity release will reduce the size of your estate. This means you will be leaving less behind for your friends and family. Equity Release is something that you should discuss together.

If you opt for a home reversion plan it will not realise anything close to what you would get for your property on the open market.

It can also affect your entitlement to means tested benefits such as pension credit.

The arrangement fees can be expensive (£1,500 to £3,000) and so can the repayment charges.

You need to speak to an independent financial adviser, that you trust, if you are considering equity release. Then your next port of call should be us. Phone 02891 817715 or contact our property team by email at property@boydricesolicitors.com.

neurology review

Neurology Patient Review

Disturbing information has recently come to light regarding the treatment and care of a significant number of neurology patients here in Northern Ireland.

Approximately 2,500 patients have received letters from the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust notifying them that their cases are subject to an urgent review.

There is no doubt that this will be very distressing for those involved and many heart-breaking stories have been reported in the media.

If you are one of the people affected by this review and you have suffered as a result of the misdiagnosis or mistreatment of your condition then you may be entitled to seek compensation.

For over 30 years Boyd Rice Solicitors have been representing people who suffered injuries resulting from medical negligence. We will ensure your circumstances are thoroughly investigated and will strive to get you the compensation that you deserve.

If you have been the victim of medical malpractice please contact one of the injury claims team on 02891 817715, by email claims@boydricesolicitors.com or complete our Online Enquiry and let us explain how we can help you.

Re-mortgage your house

Reap the Rewards by Overpaying on your Mortgage

Here’s how to save ten of thousands on your home loan and become mortgage-free years early

Have you ever considered overpaying on your mortgage? If not, there’s two major reasons why you should start giving it serious thought right now. The first is that savings rates are still extremely poor. You’ll be hard pressed to find a safe investment where you can get a decent return. Overpaying on your mortgage will save you tens of thousands, guaranteed. The second is that interest rates are expected to continue to increase over the coming years – increasing repayments. Overpaying will reduce the total you begrudgingly give over to the bank and end your indebtedness years in advance.

Monthly Overpayments or Lump Sum Overpayments?

You can make a lump sum overpayment which will have an immediate effect on the remaining length of your mortgage. For obvious reasons this option is not available to most but those who have come into an inheritance or sold an asset can save enormous amounts of money.

An alternative option is to repay slightly more than required each month on your mortgage. Money Saving Expert have a useful calculator to help you determine how much you can save by regularly overpaying each month. Say, for instance, you have £150,000 left on your mortgage, 25 years to go and an interest rate currently at 4.5%. By paying just £100 per month extra you would save £20,010 in interest repayments and pay off the mortgage nearly four and a half years earlier.

Check the fine print

In you are in a fixed rate period, or an introductory offer then a lot of lenders may only allow you to pay up to 10% of your mortgage balance as an overpayment each year. You really need to check the fine print on your terms and conditions as you don’t want to be liable for penalty fees. These can typically be between 1% and 5% of the overpayment made. Again, you’ll need to check the fine print to check what the exact penalties are.

If you are on a standard variable rate then the vast majority of lenders won’t have any restrictions on the level of overpayments you make. Keep in mind standard variable rates are more expensive so you might be better off getting a re-mortgage and fixing your rate.

Overpayments and Re-mortgages

If you have been overpaying your mortgage consistently and then you go to re-mortgage you may find you get a far better deal than you expected. The reason for this is the deal your lender will give you will depend on your loan-to-value ratio (LTV). This measures the size of the outstanding mortgage compared with the market value of your property. If you purchase a property with a 10% deposit then your LTV is 90%. As you pay off your mortgage your LTV will drop. If you’re overpaying on your mortgage it will drop at an increased rate. Then you can get an even better deal on your re-mortgage.

Make sure you have a contingency fund

It is all well and good making overpayments on your mortgage but what if you were unexpectedly made redundant or you needed to spend significant money on something that you did not anticipate. You would still be obligated to make your mortgage repayments in full each month (although some mortgages allow you to underpay if you have built up some credit). Therefore you should really have some funds saved for emergencies before you start overpaying your mortgage.

If you would like advice in relation to any issues regarding remortgaging your property please give us a call on 02891 817715 or contact our property team by email at property@boydricesolicitors.com.

enduring power of attorney wills solicitors

How to look after your relative’s affairs if they develop dementia

Ards and North Down “tops dementia table”.

This week it was reported in The Newtownards Chronicle (Thursday 5th April) that, “More people are affected by dementia in Ards and North Down than in any other Northern Ireland council area.” The Chronicle referred to figures produced for 2017 by the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency which showed that ten in every 1,000 people here in the borough are suffering from dementia related conditions. This, then, is a condition which impacts upon a great many of the community here; husbands, wives, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, grandchildren.

The emotional distress of coping with a relative suffering from dementia, or a related condition, is difficult enough to bear on its own. What compounds the problem are the associated financial issues, e.g. paying for their care or attempting to sell property on their behalf. This is where we can help. We can advise you on the correct processes to follow so that you can obtain power of attorney in relation to your relative or you can be made controller of their affairs by court order.

Enduring Powers of Attorney and Controllership Orders

Both of these allow you to manage their financial affairs whenever they no longer have the mental capacity to do so.

Your relative can protect themselves in advance of declining mental acuity by signing an Enduring Power of Attorney in your favour. This will give you (as ‘attorney’) certain powers, which can be as wide or as limited as the ‘donor’ wishes. In the future then when it appears that the donor may be losing their mental capacity the Enduring Power of Attorney can be registered with the Court.

This allows the powers granted pursuant to the Power of Attorney to endure beyond the time when the ‘donor’ loses capacity. You can then act on your relative’s behalf. In theory they you do anything from operate bank accounts on their behalf, sell property to raise finances, redeem mortgages, etc. However limitations may be applied at the time of the creation of the document. It is important your ‘donor’ decides how far ranging he or she wishes the powers to be before the document is signed.

What if your parent or relative never signed a power of attorney and they have already lost their mental capacity? In this case we can help you make an application to the court to have a Controllership Order made in your favour. We will have to seek expert medical evidence from an appropriate doctor to confirm that they have lost their mental capacity. There can be objections from rival family members to your application but we can provide expert guidance and help you every step of the way.

Get in touch

We appreciate the issues relating to dementia are not easy for everyone to discuss, we offer an initial free, no-obligation consultation where we can discuss the issues you and your family are facing. Then we can plan the path forward.

If you or your family are concerned about any of the issues discussed please give us a call on 02891 817715, or contact our estates team by email at estates@boydricesolicitors.com.

What to Look out For When Purchasing a New Home

5 Top Tips when Viewing a Potential New Home

How to make sure you don’t buy a new property that will leave you pulling your hair out

With it now coming into the Spring this is the prime time of the year for people seeking to move house. With that in mind we thought we would offer some helpful tips and advice for things to look out for whenever you are viewing a potential new home.

1. Damp

This is a common one. Sometimes the presence of damp will be obvious; watermarked walls; a mouldy smell; plaster flaking off. Other times it may not, or the vendor may have covered it up. If you have any doubt employ a surveyor to inspect and report back. This could help you knock a few pounds off the asking price.

2. Check the Windows

If there is double-glazing then look closely to see if there is any condensation between the panes. If there is then this means the double-glazing is faulty. Try pressing your finger into wooden window frames, if this is easily done then they are rotten. This should set off the alarm bells and make you pay close attention to the rest of the property.

3. Structurally Sound

First of all, check to see if there are any cracks in the walls or ceilings. Check where the walls meet the ceilings, the areas around bay windows and where walls meet. If you spot cracks then you will need to investigate further. Even if the property appears to be solid and sound you may wish to instruct a surveyor for your own peace of mind.

4. The Plumbing

Do the radiators work? How long has the gas boiler been installed? They should be replaced every ten to fifteen years so consider the costs of a replacement if it is coming to the end of its life cycle. Run the taps, does the water gush or tickle out? Check to see if the hot water comes on.

5. The Roof

A roof will need changed every 15 to 20 years so make sure you ask when it was installed. It will cost you thousands to replace. Check for any missing or broken tiles which are a dead giveaway for a roof in poor condition.

If you are purchasing a new home and would like advice in relation to any issues regarding the condition of the new property please give us a call on 02891 817715 or contact our property team by email property@boydricesolicitors.com.

Re-mortgage your house

A ticking time bomb for interest only borrowers

If you are on an interest only mortgage do not delay making plans to eventually clear your debt

On an interest only plan you will pay less to your lender each month. This sounds great in theory, however in practice it means that you are not paying off any of the capital sum of your loan. Once you come to the end of your mortgage, the initial borrowing will still need to be paid off in a lump sum. If you haven’t planned in advance then you will likely lose your home, either through being forced to sell or the bank will repossess it.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders estimates that around a fifth of mortgage holders in the UK are on interest only plans, some 1.9 million borrowers. Financial regulators have clamped down on who has access to these types of mortgages, but this does nothing to help those who have already entered into these deals.

If you are currently on an interest only plan you need to act now while there may still be time. It is your responsibility to pay off the loan so the earlier you speak to your lender or mortgage adviser the more time you will have to make a difference. You need to assess how much you owe and when it is due to be repaid. Once you have clarity on this issue then you can work out whether you are likely to be able to repay it in full. You may be planning on downsizing at the end of the term, but check to make sure you will have enough money to do so. You may be able to switch your mortgage to a capital and interest repayment plan or even change the length of the term. It’s crucial to speak to your lender or mortgage adviser to see if this is an option.

Once you have discussed with your lender or mortgage adviser and you have come up with a plan, it may involve a remortgage. If so you will require our expert guidance in relation to dealing with the legal formalities.

If you are on an interest only mortgage and would like advice in relation to any issues regarding remortgaging your property please give us a call on 02891 817715 or contact our property team by email at property@boydricesolicitors.com.

Ulster Property Sales’ Open Day

We were absolutely delighted to be invited to Ulster Property Sales’ recent Open Day at their Newtownards’ Office.

It was a fantastic event with plenty of budding home buyers popping in for a quick chat. We were on hand to answer any legal queries and to generally explain the conveyancing process, given not many know much about it.

Many thanks to Rachel and the rest of the UPS team.

Wills and estate solicitor Newtownards

5 Reasons to Make or Update Your Will

1. Decide who Inherits

This is the most obvious reason to make a will. You can decide who gets what. You can make specific gifts of cash and items to particular beneficiaries or have everything split up equally amongst a group of named individuals. If you don’t make a valid Will then the rules of Intestacy decide who inherits your estate. This could mean someone, that you don’t want to, benefits from your death.

2. Decide who administers your estate

You can name executors (we recommend naming at least two) who will have the legal responsibility to administer your estate. This will involve paying your debts, funeral and testamentary expenses and distributing the assets amongst the beneficiaries. This can be a difficult job so you should think long and hard about who you select. You can name us as one of your executors which may give you some peace of mind.

3. Make sure your unmarried partner is provided for

If you and your partner are unmarried and you were to die without making a Will your partner will not automatically be entitled to share in your estate, whereas a spouse or civil partner would be entitled to the whole estate. Therefore if you wish to protect your unmarried partner (and vice versa) then you should think about making a will immediately.

4. New Kids

Having new children means you should update your will and make sure they are provided for. If not they may have to apply to the court to gain entitlement to a portion of your assets. This could add to their grief at, what will already be, a difficult. You can also nominate people to care for any children under the age of 18 until they reach adulthood.

5. Marriage or Divorce

These are life-changing circumstances. Getting married will immediately invalidate your will, therefore you should always make a new one after getting hitched. Conversely getting divorced does not automatically revoke your will so you can’t stand the thought of your ex benefitting from your death then you may wish to rip it up and start over.

If you have gone through any big changes in your life recently and are considering making or updating your will please give us a call on 02891 817715, or contact our estates team by email at estates@boydricesolicitors.com.

How to ensure you are safe on the roads in the snow

Accidents sky-rocket when it snows, here’s how to avoid them and stay safe

Given the extreme adverse weather conditions we are currently experiencing, we at Boyd Rice Solicitors thought it might help if we produced a quick guide to driving safely in the snow. We know from experience that the number of accidents rise exponentially when it snows here but there are ways you can avoid this happening to you.

1. Don’t drive

If you can avoid it, simply don’t go out on the roads! This won’t be an option for many but if a journey isn’t necessary it’s better to stay home and stay safe.

2. Plan your journey and leave more time

Know a cross-country shortcut to work? Give that route a miss for now and stick to the main roads wherever possible. These are more likely to be gritted and safer to drive on. By leaving more time you can de-ice your car properly before you begin and you can drive a little slower to take account of the hazardous conditions.

3. Check your tyres

This is important because poor tyres will not grip when driving on snow and ice. This could lead you to skidding and having an accident. Therefore you should check your tyres to ensure there is adequate tread.

4. Prepare for the worst

Pack your mobile and make sure you have your breakdown provider’s number saved on it. You don’t want to breakdown when you are in the middle of nowhere and its freezing cold. Bring some water, food, a hi-vis jacket, ice scraper, blanket, jump leads, anything that will ensure if that your car can’t drive you will be safe until someone comes to rescue you.

Even if you follow the above precautions you may still find yourself involved in an accident as a result of the actions of someone else. If so, please contact one of the injury claims team on 02891 817715, or by email at claims@boydricesolicitors.com and let us explain how we can help you.

We offer a free initial consultation where we will confidentially discuss the circumstances of your accident and will assess how we can assist you in the best way possible. We use leading experts to investigate accidents and our team of medical practitioners are extremely experienced.

Holiday from hell?! A guide to dealing with road traffic accidents abroad.

Renting a car whilst on holiday is becoming more and more popular. Competition amongst car rental companies means greatly reduced prices for holiday makers but renting a car abroad can carry its own risks. Driving in another Country on the opposite side of the road normally makes us more cautious behind the wheel but accidents can still happen. If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a road traffic accident whilst on holiday, we would recommend that you take the following steps:

– Get details of the other driver and details of their insurance company;

– Keep details of any witnesses;

– Call the local Police immediately and request a copy of their report;

– Notify your own insurance company or if you have rented a car during your holiday, notify the rental company;

– Take photographs of the damage caused to both your own vehicle and the other vehicle involved;

– If you attend hospital or a Doctor take a note of the address of the Hospital/ Surgery and record the name of the medical practitioner that administered treatment. Ask for a copy of any medical records before you leave;

The law relating to compensation claims differs from Country to Country and therefore advice should be sought at the earliest possible opportunity. The good news is that there is legislation in place that will allow you to bring your claim from here in Northern Ireland if your accident occurred in another EU Member State.

Boyd Rice Solicitors have significant experience in obtaining compensation for clients injured whilst on holiday. Please contact one of the injury claims team on 02891 817715, or by email claims@boydricesolicitors.com and let us explain how we can help you.

We offer a free initial consultation where we will confidentially discuss the circumstances of your accident and will assess how we can assist you in the best way possible. We use leading experts to investigate accidents and our team of medical practitioners are extremely experienced.