COLUMN: A legal perspective on the plans and resolutions being made for a new year

John Lynch writing in this week's Nationalist

John Lynch

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John Lynch

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news@nationalist.ie

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John Lynch of Lynch Solicitors

With a New Year usually comes new plans and resolutions or in some cases dusting off last year’s resolutions.

While his is a very unusual year for us all, it might provide the time and resolve needed to follow through on our resolutions.

Being confined to quarters could prove a good time to reflect and tidy your legal closet!

One of the positive things that has come out of a very bleak 2020 is our ability collectively to continue to undertake work during lockdown.

Lynch Solicitors were able to build on our paperless office and can now undertake meeting online, exchange documents online and do all this from our kitchen table.

We are seeing the new phase in a technology driven world for law firms.

Here are a few legal resolutions to ponder.

FAMILY MATTERS
Divorce has now a shorter waiting period.
Whatever the reason, if you made the decision to go your separate ways, it takes less time to take the legal step.
The Family Law Act 2019.
The Act reduces the minimum living-apart period specified in the Family Law Divorce Act 1996 to two years.
A court will allow this two years period for couples who continue to live under the one roof, be have lived separate and apart – i.e. if they do not live together as a couple in an intimate and committed relationship.

MORE RESOLUTIONS
If you are an unmarried father, regularise your status as a Guardian, get a Declaration of Guardianship.
If you are living with someone in a committed relationship put a Co-habitation Agreement in place.
Pre-nuptial agreements are increasing steadily in Ireland.
We have seen a growth in the number of pre nuptial agreements being sought by farming and other asset rich business families. It is no surprise that over 70% of farmers support calls to make pre-nups formally recognised legally in Ireland.
It is important to remember that courts are not bound to give pre nuptial agreements full effect. If the Court considers that the agreement does not make adequate provision for a spouse or dependant the Court may vary the agreement.
However, if a Pre-Nuptial agreement is fair, there is every chance that it will be honoured by the parties and it will be considered favourably by the Court.

MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE / Personal Injuries / Accidents
The New Year can also see an increase in people enquiring about Medical negligence and other litigation cases.
What’s important to remember if you are to succeed in a claim, is that you must show both negligence and causation.
In other words, you have to show that there is a duty of care; that there has been a breach of that duty; and that such breach caused your situation that gave rise to your injuries.

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Make sure you don’t run out of time to take a case.
Review solvency of defendant – make sure that the person you are taking the case against will be able to pay.
A New year is always a good time to see how your case is progressing.

MAKE A WILL
It is hard to talk about New Year’s resolutions without talking about wills.
Some of the reasons (but not all) for making one are :
getting married - marriage revokes previous wills, getting divorced or separated, buying a house,inheriting property or cash, settling a litigation claim,acquiring assets – home, gift, inheritance, having children, retiring, getting older or suffering illness or the risk of illness.
Making a will is not a once off exercise, you should regularly review your will.
Enduring Power of Attorney – a living will
In these times, this is an example of “you can’t have one, without the other.” If you make a Will , you should also have an Enduring Power of Attorney.
As we grow older, we run the increased risk of losing the ability to manage our affairs without help.
This is where an Enduring Power of Attorney comes into play – you nominate peopleo to handle your personal or financial affairs if you lose the ability to do so.
A few reasons to do it:
We live longer -
If there is a history of illness in the family, If there is longevity in the family and as a precaution.

BUSINESS AFFAIRS
Regularise the position with your business.
Now is a good time – while we are confined to quarters – to have a look at how we do business.
A few possibilities include - make a succession plan, form a limited company, draw up a shareholder’s agreement, make yourself aware of your responsibilities as director, draw up a partnership agreement and regularise employment contracts.

PROPERTY TRANSACTIONS
We saw an increase in property transactions being approved for loans towards the end of last year. As we start another year, the indications and predictions are positive on the Home front.
A few suggestions:
If you own property with someone else you should consider a Co-ownership Agreements
If you own property in your sole name you should consider the benefits of a Transfer into Joint Names
If you Build a house, use a building contract
Review your Lease and talk to your landlord.
If you get into difficulty with your mortgage, talk to your Lender.
Register any rights of way on your lands before the end of this year
These are just a few thoughts that you might consider during our current lockdown – in between Netflix and the News!
Now is a good time to do them and the fact that we are now entering the era of online business means that there are no impediments to doing any of these, even during these strange times.

FURTHER ADVICE
For further advice or if you wish to discuss any other legal area please contact reception@lynchsolicitors.ie or telephone 052-6124344.