Category Archives: Personal Finance

Mobile phone insurance – call to combat phone crime!

Mobile phone crime is on the up – why is this the case and what can we do about it?

Last year alone, over three hundred and thirty mobile phones were reported stolen to the police. Taking into account the fact that many phone thefts are not reported, it is estimated this figure could be as high as nearly three quarters of a million were stolen throughout last year alone.

Who are the people most at risk of phone theft? Children under fifteen years of age (in particular, those between the ages of 11 and 15) are most at risk of mobile phone theft according to the government.

iphone

What can be done to beef up the security of our children’s mobile phones (besides not providing them with one)? Perhaps the mobile phone companies can come to our rescue.
If it weren’t for mobile phone theft, street robberies would be down and so the Home Office is, quite rightly getting involved through lobbying manufacturers to improve phone security. For the last year the government have been hoping to persuade the mobile phone manufacturers to install immobilisers via each phone’s IMEI (International Mobile Equipment Identity) which is expected to dramatically reduce the crime statistics overnight. Through the IMEI a network is able to immobilise a phone deeming it useless immediately it is reported stolen. Unfortunately two major networks Vodafone and BT Cellnet have refused to set in place such security measures straight away until they have launched new generation phones.

What we can do ourselves to improve our mobile phone security is to keep phones concealed as much as we can. The tendency is to place the mobile phone in front of you on the coffee shop or café table. Everybody does it. Instead, just simply keep your mobile phone in your pocket or in your bag (ensuring your bag is safe too). Phone thefts are such a problem in London that the Metropolitan police are stressing that the public should take responsibility and not make calls whilst walking along the street. In other words, don’t attract attention to yourself and your phone.

In the event of having your phone stolen, the ideal scenario is to have mobile phone insurance which will allow you to replace your phone without added expense to yourself. Remember, when you take out a policy on your mobile phone to check with the terms and conditions.

No-Win No-Fee Solicitors

No-Win No-Fee solicitors may be a good choice if you have been injured through no fault of your own and you wish to seek restitution. Rather than paying the legal fees up front, your solicitor will deduct any legal fees from the judgment you receive. If for some reason you do not win your suit, you pay nothing. Chances are that you will win if the solicitor agrees to take your case.

There are many kinds of personal injury claims. You may have been injured by a single individual or a large corporation. In most cases, your solicitor will be dealing with an insurance company. Dealing with insurance companies on your own is difficult to say the least. Trying to do that while you are recovering from an injury is really difficult.

Your injury may be physical or mental. You might have property damage. A good solicitor will help you come up with the total damages and the amount you should seek in court. This may be quite a bit more than you expected.

The most common kinds of injuries result from traffic accidents, work-related accidents, falls caused by property owner negligence and injuries caused by defective products. Medical negligence is also relatively common.

No-Win No-Fee solicitors also take cases related to “industrial diseases”. An industrial disease is one that was caused by exposure to toxins such as asbestos or by an unhealthy work environment. Repetitive motion injuries are an example of the latter.

It is best to contact a solicitor and begin proceedings as soon as possible after your injury. In England and Wales, the proceedings must begin within three years of the date of the accident. If you fail to make a claim before the three years are up, you lose your right to make a claim. The only exception is for injured people who are under the age of 18 at the time of the accident. If you are under 18, you have until the day before your 21st birthday to make a claim.

No-Win No-Fee solicitors are also referred to as contingency based. They are working for you without compensation until the final judgment is made. It is safe to say that the solicitor will work harder for you because unless you are compensated, he or she will receive no compensation.

The percentage received by No-Win No-Fee solicitors should be explained to you up front. Make sure to read your contract and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Your solicitor is working for you.

Care Options For The Elderly

We are all living longer and we are all getting older. Once we reach middle-age we might well find ourselves wondering about the well-being of our parents or other elderly relatives.

While your relative has choices about where and how care is provided, he or she may also have to make compromises. For example:

  • If your relative cannot climb the stairs, would he or she want to live downstairs in the house, install a stair lift or move to ground-floor accommodation?
  • If your relative is very frail, does he or she want to stay at home and risk being isolated – and possibly frightened – or move to extra care housing or a care home and risk being with people he or she may not like? # Should care be provided at home or in a care home? While his or her lifestyle can be maintained at home, it may not be the same level of care as would be provided in a care home and your relative may get very worried if carers do not turn up as arranged.

The role of a relative can be a difficult one. Most relatives do not live with the older person, but still act as the main contact and organiser when help and support are needed. Each person will find his or her own ways of dealing with the problems of regular visiting as well as telephoning, sudden crises and negotiating relationships with other family members, while trying to encourage the older person to continue doing as much as possible for themselves. We’ve listed the main alternatives below.

Staying in your own home
Most people choose to stay at home for as long as possible. If your relative is having difficulty coping, there are now an increasing number of services that can help. These include carers, alarm systems, equipment, alterations to the home, meals at home, day centres and services to meet health-related needs. Older people who want to stay at home are often those who have (or develop) a local support network, including family, friends and neighbours.

Retirement housing
Retirement housing is self-contained, easily managed housing usually with some communal facilities and support on-hand if needed. It is available for people over a minimum age, usually 55 or 60, and can be rented from the council, a housing association or charity, rented privately, purchased leasehold  or as shared ownership (part rented/part bought) from a housing association.

Retirement housing appeals to people who value the safety and security it offers, are happy to pass the responsibility for maintenance and repairs of the building and upkeep of the garden to a management organisation and who like living with people of their own age. It is also a popular choice by people who are away from home for long periods, such as those lucky enough to spend winters in warmer climes, and like to know that their home is safe in their absence.

Extra care housing
This is a form of retirement housing with personal care, meals and 24-hour support available for those that need it. Extra care housing can be rented from the council or a housing association, purchased leasehold or as shared ownership from a housing association. Extra care housing is sometimes called very sheltered housing, close care, assisted living or a retirement village. It appeals to people who like company and need the reassurance of knowing that support and help with personal care and meals is available now or in the future. It is particularly useful for couples who have different needs and it can sometimes offer an alternative to a care home.

Care homes
A care home is a residential establishment that provides accommodation, meals and care for vulnerable older people. There are two types of care home:

  • Care homes providing personal care, which used to be known as residential homes. These provide living accommodation, meals, help with personal care, such as dressing, supervision of medication, companionship and someone on-call at night.
  • Care homes providing nursing care, which used to be known as nursing homes. These provide personal and nursing care 24 hours a day for people who are bedridden, very frail or have a medical condition or illness that means they need regular attention from a nurse.

A move to a care home can offer company and a safe and comfortable environment. It can also be a big relief to someone who needs a lot of care and has been struggling to cope at home, or who has become isolated and frightened or who is suffering from severe memory problems. It can also relieve the stress on relatives and carers.

So there you have it, what choice is made is down to individual choice, finances and needs. It’s likely that all parties will have to make compromises of some kind but surely the happiness of the elderly relative is paramount.

NOTEThe above article has been written from a UK viewpoint. Options will be different in other parts of the world

Splitting Up – Cohabitation

When a married couple splits up there are countless laws governing who gets what and who pays what. Nothing is so clear cut for cohabiting couples, be they heterosexual or same-sex couples. This article deals with jointly owned property.

If you both agree what shares you have in the property and there is no dispute, there is no need to take further action; your agreement will regulate what happens next. More difficulty comes when there is a dispute about what the agreement was, or what you meant, or if your situation/contributions have changed.

When you first purchased/transferred the property in joint names you would have been asked how you wished to own it. This would include if you wanted a declaration of trust drafted, which is a document outlining the contributions you made and how the ownership of the property would be shared.

There are two ways of legally owning joint property; as joint tenants or as tenants in common. How you register your ownership from these options has an impact on the way the property would be treated on your death, as well as having consequences regarding the general ownership of the property in the future. Your solicitor should have discussed these options with you at the time of the purchase/transfer of the property, and if they did not there may be claims you could have against that firm.

You can end a joint tenancy by taking steps to ‘sever’ it, which then converts the joint tenancy into a tenancy in common in equal shares. You should seek advice about the effect and consequences of taking such a step before doing it.

The way the property was registered when it was purchased (or subsequently) is the legal starting point for determining how it will be shared. The registration can be checked by looking at the Land Registry title and reviewing documents that were completed by you both at the time. If those documents declared that you would officially own the property jointly so far as the Land Registry were concerned, then unless certain facts can be shown, the presumption is that you will both own the benefit of the property equally in financial and practical terms.

In this situation, if you cannot reach an agreement with your former cohabitant about what shares you both have in the property – either directly, through mediation, or through solicitor negotiation – it will be necessary to apply to the court to ask then to determine the shares you both own of the property, and how these should be realised.

If you wish to argue that the property should not be owned equally, the burden is on you to show why your share of the equity in the property should be different to the legal title. There are limited options to try to prove this:

  • Identifying an issue about the way the conveyance (transfer into joint names) happened and the original terms of the purchase; for example, there was mistake at the time. This is rare and can be difficult to prove. The judge has to review the facts of what happened at the time and the burden of proof is on the person who does not agree that the legal title should be followed. Unless they can show there was a problem with the original agreement, the judge will declare that your shares in the home should remain as the legal title states.
  • By showing that there was a subsequent agreement. This could be a formal document – such as a subsequent declaration of trust document – or a more informal agreement, such as a verbal agreement or what you thought was a mutual understanding that you relied on. Again, there would need to be a review of the facts of what happened between you to establish if this is sufficient to overturn the legal title as registered.
  • By showing that events or actions since the transfer make the legal title illogical. This would need one of you to have acted in such a way that your behaviour was completely inconsistent with equal joint ownership. For example, each owner agreeing to share the purchase costs and mortgage, but then one paying little or nothing towards the property improvements, repair or mortgage. In this situation, it would seem illogical that you both still intended to share the property equally. The court will look at what has actually happened and what is fair in light of the terms of the original agreement you had.

Unless one of these three grounds can be established and proved, the presumption remains that the beneficial ownership follows the legal title.

NOTE – The above article applies to UK law, and those laws are likely to be different in whatever country that you live in.