Exeter’s legal community raises £2,780 for city tribute

24th May 2017

Members of Exeter‘s legal community gathered in Southernhay on 11th May 2017, for a charity cheque presentation, after raising over £2,500 for the creation of a permanent cultural tribute to the buildings that perished in last year’s Cathedral Yard fire.

Property Search Group came up with the idea of bringing together Exeter’s law firms to raise money for the Historic Exeter Fire Appeal, by commissioning and auctioning a painting of a day in the life of Southernhay, traditionally the city’s legal hub. The unique and quirky painting, created by Devon artist and illustrator Sara Nunan, features the city’s solicitors and barristers enjoying their hobbies and interests from surfing to singing and rugby to reading.

The painting was auctioned at the Mercure Exeter Southgate at the end of March, by TV’s Homes under the Hammer auctioneer Scott Gray, and won by 24-year-old Tom Backhouse, of TerraFirma, whose father Inspector Mark Backhouse was involved in the emergency response to the blaze.

The original painting was sold for £310, with an accompanying painting by Sara of Cathedral Yard selling for £320. The funds raised from the auction were combined with donations from the 13 law firms, for involvement in the painting, and the sale of limited edition prints, giving a final total of £2,780.

The Fire Appeal, administrated by Devon Community Foundation, has already raised over £20,000 and given grants to staff and small businesses affected by the fire. With the Fire Fund now coming to a close, the money raised by the Southernhay Life campaign will go towards the creation of a permanent cultural tribute, after a public vote run by the Foundation.

Scott Walker, of Devon Community Foundation, said: “The Southernhay Life campaign was a very fitting way to draw to a close the Exeter Historic Fire Appeal.

““I would like to thank PSG, the Exeter Legal community and the winning auction bidders for their generosity. The money raised will enable us to carry out the community’s wishes, to use the remaining money to create a permanent cultural tribute that recognises the historical importance of the buildings lost.

The participating law firms, who donated funds are, Browne Jacobson, Crosse and Crosse, Dunn and Baker, Everys, Foot Anstey, Ford Simey, Gilbert Stephens, Kitsons, Magdalen Chambers, Michelmores, Morgan and Pope, Stephens Scown and WBW Solicitors.

Andy Towers of PSG, which provides conveyancing search services to legal firms across the region, said: “We’re thrilled that so many of Exeter’s legal firms decided to come together to support the campaign and thank them for their generous donations. We are also grateful to Devon and Somerset Law Society for their support of the campaign.

Terry Bastyan, Managing Partner of Gilbert Stephens is delighted that the firm have been able to participate in this worthwhile initiative of the creation of a permanent cultural tribute to the buildings that perished in last year’s Cathedral Yard fire.

Protecting the Family Farm

24th May 2017

Everyone needs to protect their family’s future in the event of death. Those who run businesses also need to consider the future of their business. Farming businesses have particular issues to consider, so Will making becomes part of a bigger process. For example, a tenant farmer will need to ensure that the tenancy can pass to the next generation. Not all farm tenancies give such succession rights, so that a new tenancy might be needed.

Farmers who own their farmland will pass the land to their chosen successors under their Will. However, they still need to ensure that the business passes to the right people and this may require a change of the business structure. Many farms are run as business partnerships and unless there is a written Partnership Agreement that arrangement will terminate on the death of any partner.

There is an assumption that Agricultural Property Relief exempts all farms from Inheritance Tax. Unfortunately, it is not that simple. The exemption for farmhouses is limited so there can be tax to pay on the farmhouse. There can be a loss of tax relief in consequence of diversification and the narrow definition of “agriculture” used for tax legislation can take parts of a farm business outside the relief.

Richard Walford, Partner at Gilbert Stephens says “These considerations all sit on top of the normal family and tax considerations that everyone has to grapple with when making a Will. The simple message is that professional advice should be always be sought when you make or revise your Will.”

For more information on this subject, please contact Richard Walford on 01392 42 42 42.


Richard Walford

The Important of Planning Ahead

19th May 2017

It’s hard to face up to one’s mortality and tempting to postpone estate planning. The problem with yielding to temptation is that untimely deaths do happen, so we all need to have a Will in place.

Making a Will is the only way of ensuring that the right people administer your estate and inherit from you. It also gives an opportunity to take proper professional advice on how best to fulfil your wishes and to explore ways in which Inheritance Tax can be minimised.

If you die without making a Will your assets will be divided according to a formula which may not fit with your agenda and those nominated to administer your estate might not be the people you would have chosen for that task.

Lasting Powers of Attorney provide the opportunity of deciding for yourself who will make decisions on your behalf if you cannot make them yourself. This is the only way to ensure the smooth running of your finances should you come to be living with dementia or any similar condition. This is also the only way for you to choose who will make decisions about your health and welfare on your behalf.

Richard Walford, Partner at Gilbert Stephens says “Keeping Wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney under review is important. Your wishes may change over time as your circumstances change and any change of heart will be ignored if it is not reflected in revised documents. It is also sensible to review arrangements when tax rules change.”

For more information on this subject, please contact Richard Walford on 01392 42 42 42.

Gilbert Stephens team attends the ‘Really Big Quiz’ night

12th May 2017

On Wednesday 10th May 2017 a team of quiz masters from Gilbert Stephens attended ‘The Really Big Quiz’, arranged by Simpkins Edwards, at the Corn Exchange, Exeter in aid of the Lord Mayors charity The Devon Freewheelers. The evening raised a staggering £7,604.26 that will help The Devon Freewheelers continue their work in the area.

The event was well attended with all 72 teams battling it out to be crowned the winners of the 2017 event.

The Gilbert Stephens team of Richard Walford, partner, Sam Tapp, Claire Thompson, Simon Cornwell and Cheryl Bolt placed well in the large field and had a great night supporting this worthy cause.

The Advantages of Voluntary Registration

11th May 2017

The Advantages of Voluntary Registration

If the title deeds to your home are currently unregistered, then you may like to consider the many advantages of applying for voluntary first registration of your title at the Land Registry (whether or not you are thinking of selling).

These benefits include having a state-backed registration giving greater title security and also providing protection against the possibility of losing your land due to a claim for adverse possession. When you sell your home, or apply for a mortgage, it is also favourable if your title is already registered.  This is because you will already have a register setting out the rights that benefit your land and the matters which affect your land.  You will also have a Land Registry filed plan showing the extent of your title, which is useful for marketing purposes.

Since 1 December 1988, unregistered land in the West Devon Borough Council area that has been bought for value or mortgaged for the first time has been subject to compulsory registration at the Land Registry. For such land in the Teignbridge District Council area, the relevant date was 1 February 1978.

If your title is not registered, then your only proof of ownership is the collection of unregistered title deeds and searches, which can often be mislaid or destroyed.

Philip Horlock, Solicitor at Gilbert Stephens says “I encourage owners of unregistered titles to apply for voluntary registration. Registered title holders enjoy greater protection from claims for adverse possession and if they decide to sell, the conveyancing process is generally faster and more certain”.

For more information on this subject or on buying and selling property, please contact Philip Horlock on 01837 51 21 00.


For more information on this subject or on buying and selling property, please contact ku.oc1563800674.sneh1563800674petst1563800674rebli1563800674g@kco1563800674lrohp1563800674ilihp1563800674">Philip Horlock on 01837 51 21 00.

Philip Horlock

Gilbert Stephens proud to support Kenton Primary School May Day event

9th May 2017

Gilbert Stephens were again proud to support this years Kenton Primary School May Day celebrations held on the 1st May 2017 at the Kenton School field.

Each year this fun event is well attended by parents and the local community alike and this year saw a record figure of over £2000 being raised. The Firm supported the event by sponsoring the raffle tickets and BBQ which raised £800 and importantly ensured that energy levels were maintained throughout a busy day of bouncy castles, Sumo wrestling, pony rides, maypole dancing around the magnificent maypole show below and live music.

The firm would like to express its congratulations to all those involved with organising the event and the mammoth efforts put in in advance and on the day.







GS YPN team attend a fundraising wine tasting event

2nd May 2017

On Friday 28th April 2017, members of the Gilbert Stephens YPN attended a Headway Charity fundraising wine tasting and quiz evening at the XCentre, Exeter.

Interestingly the quiz was wine related. 6 wines, provided and discussed in detail by Majestic Wines, were tasted over the course of the evening and the team had to guess the type and country of origin. Fortunately for the team, their combined experience of years of wine sampling paid dividends and they scored a healthy 5/6 in the quiz and nearly came first, only losing out in the tie breaker question, guessing that Majestic Wines had 700 wines when in fact the answer was 600!

Headway is the UK-wide charity that works to improve life after brain injury. Through its network of more than 125 groups and branches across the UK, it provides support, services and information to brain injury survivors, their families and carers, as well as to professionals in the health and legal fields.

Team line up: Antonia D’Alessio (GS YPN), Nick Shepherd (NatWest, Business and Commercial Banking), Gemma Townsend (GS YPN), Cheryl Bolt (GS YPN).

Peter Bennett retires from the Firm after 15 years service

2nd May 2017

On Thursday 20th April 2017, Peter Bennett retired from the Firm after a long and successful career in the legal profession. Peter was born, raised and educated in Exeter. In 1976 he became a Fellow of the Institute of Legal Executives and subsequently in 1993 he was a founder member of The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. He has worked locally for all his professional career having joined Gilbert Stephens in 2002 as Senior Private Client Legal Executive from which he now retires after 15 years service.  Peter specialised in private client matters at the Firm, particularly the preparation of Wills, Inheritance Tax planning and estate administration.

Over the years, Peter contributed a great deal to the Firm and will be greatly missed by the partnership, his clients and colleagues alike.

A late afternoon drinks reception was held in the Library at the Firm’s offices in Southerhay East.  Colleagues gathered to wish Peter a fond farewell and best wishes for his future which will involve being an active grandparent, walking, cycling and making more of his membership of the Exeter Golf and Country Club.

GS Young Professionals Network host an Easter drinks evening at their offices in Exeter

13th April 2017

On Tuesday 11th April 2017 the GS Young Professionals Network hosted an informal Easter drinks evening at their office in Southerhay East, Exeter. The event was held slightly earlier in the week than normal to cater for members taking an extended break over the Easter holidays and over 20 members attended.  The Gilbert Stephens library felt very ‘Spring like’ as Easter Eggs adorned the mantelpiece and the mood was upbeat and jovial with talk of everyone’s plans over the Easter weekend – and of course local business matters.

New Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) now in force

6th April 2017

Since the Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB) was announced in 2015 it has been the topic of much discussion. The new band came into force on 6th April 2017 and now that it is finally here, it is time to ask what this new tax break means for you.

The RNRB has been described as increasing the amount that individuals can pass inheritance tax free from £325,000 to £500,000, however, that is not quite true. Currently everyone can pass £325,000 to anyone they like. This current ordinary nil rate band can be set against any asset. The RNRB is different. It is initially £100,000 but will increase every year until 2020 when it reaches £175,000. When added to the ordinary nil rate band, this brings us to £500,000 but it can only be set against your family home, and only if you leave that property to your direct descendants. This stipulation may cause problems to those using a discretionary Will trust to benefit their family. The situation for married couples and civil partners is slightly different as anything left to a surviving spouse passes inheritance tax free and on the survivor’s death their estate can claim both nil rate bands and both RNRBs. It is important to remember Inheritance Tax when making your Will and you should review your Will in light of these changes. With additional tax savings on offer, it would be a shame to miss out.

For more information on this subject or on Wills, Estate and Tax planning, please contact Claire Thompson on 01837 512100 or Richard Walford on 01392 424242