Prevention is better than cure
We want happy clients. Clients come to us because they want a particular result or outcome to be achieved whether it be the successful purchase or sale of a house or flat or a satisfactory redistribution of assets following death, divorce or a cohabitation arrangement.
Some people do not care what happens when they have gone and are prepared to leave their estates to be subject to the vagaries of the laws of intestacy (when there is no will). If their descendants do not agree then they may have made a gift to the litigation lawyer to sort it out when a simple will could have avoided this.
A young couple may decide to buy a house out of joint funds. We were involved in a case when an unmarried couple bought a house making unequal contributions. We implored them to make a will or cohabitation agreement. The wedding date was set. One of the parties was killed in a car accident. The surviving owner inherited nothing.
We are often approached about an “amicable divorce”. That’s fine, but if no binding agreement is reached concerning the redistribution of the family assets you may find two or three years on there is another person to consider who has different ideas.
In most cases, we can achieve the cure if everyone is sensible but the cost will be more. That is why we urge our clients to make wills, enter into cohabitation agreements or deeds of trust, have a court consent order following a divorce and get the rights of ownership right before or when the house purchase is completed rather than put it off.
There was on occasion when I was sitting as a Deputy District Judge in Poole Court involving a building dispute that would last a few days. The usher brought the parties in. They were prepared to fight. I looked at them with a crazed expression and told them they could either decide the case between themselves or rely on me to do it. Not being familiar as to how I would perform under such circumstances they chose the former solution. If they had done that before embarking on litigation,they could have saved themselves a fortune. Our task is to prevent our clients from allowing themselves to become a litigation lawyer’s dream. We hope that some of our experiences and suggestions that appear on this site will assist our clients and friends from allowing these hazardous situations from occurring.