The firm was formed as part of the succession arrangements put in place for the Private Client work previously undertaken by a local law firm, whose roots go back over 40 years.
We advise a wide client base including wealthy individuals, land owners and trustees. A significant part of our work is tax or asset protection based with both a strong equity or property connection.
We refer contentious, company and family work to other specialist firms who share our values in being totally client focused.
H & C Lawyers is one of the few specialist law firms dedicated to the financial, property and tax affairs of private individuals and trustees. Our wish is to be recognised as a niche and leading legal firm of choice for the South West and for our expertise both nationally and internationally in the following sectors:
Sharon D Whyte, Director
Sharon is an extremely experienced professional property lawyer and fully qualified Licensed Conveyancer. Sharon deals with all aspects of residential conveyancing and works very closely with the private client team, undertaking high value and complex transactions as part of client’s general estate, tax and succession planning.
In addition to residential sales and purchase, re-mortgages and transfers of equity Sharon has considerable experience in matrimonial property matters together with Declarations of Trust in respect of property acquisitions by unmarried or other joint owners.
Sharon enjoys a growing client base and is able to service commercial property work by special arrangement.
Stephen C Haggett, Director
Stephen started in private practice in 1984 and prior to joining H & C he was department head for trust and tax planning within a national based top 70 law firm.
Stephen is a full member of the Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners (www.step.org), a worldwide organisation with an international membership of over 16,000 professionals. Full Members of STEP are considered to be the most senior and experienced practitioners in the field of trusts and estates.
He is also a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Legal Executives and a Commissioner for Oaths.
Stephen has built a solid client base, regularly writes articles, and has also been invited by the College Of Law to appear on the Legal TV Network as an expert on the subject of private individuals & related capital taxes.
Stephen also hosts seminars in addition to his comprehensive fee earning work.
Adam Confrey, Associate Director
Adam has worked for H & C Lawyers for a number of years in the property department as an assistant. He qualified as a Licensed Conveyancer in 2015.He has already received repeat business from his residential property clients and has a large volume of clients who instruct him following personal recommendation. Adam deals with all aspects of residential conveyancing and he works alongside Sharon Whyte with the private client team.
Case Study A – Synopsis
Our client had been widowed for several years and was in her early 80’s. Her home (which was in her sole name) was worth around £600K and she had savings and investments collectively worth around £350K. About 4 years ago her son (who lived with her) had substantially improved our client’s property. The son had his own building company and is well known locally and regularly acquires (with bank support) plots for residential development. Our client was not in good health and unlikely to survive 3-5 years. The son was facing a potential IHT inheritance tax liability of £270K.
Case Study A – Solution
It was possible to avoid any IHT liability. Lifetime gifts were difficult because of our client’s limited life expectancy. It was possible for our client to become a shareholder in her son’s building company and to extract income in the form of dividends. This secured the benefit of 100% BPR after just 2 years, an IHT savings in itself of £140K. This also avoided the son’s need for gearing, increasing the overall profitability of the family company. It was also possible by employing constructive trust and proprietary estoppel arguments, for a declaration to be put in place recognising the son’s contribution to our client’s home, thereby immediately removing 50% of its underlying value from IHT liability. All planning avoided any IHT liability. Other taxes such as POAT (Pre-owned Asset Tax) and CGT (Capital Gains Tax) were also successfully dealt with.
Case Study B – Synopsis
Our client’s principal residence was in London. Originally they contacted our conveyancing department about the acquisition of a second home in the South West. Our property lawyer alerted them to various tax issues and referred to our specialist private client team for technical support and strategic advice. The obvious problem was a potential CGT liability on a future disposal. There were also IHT and other estate planning issues.
Case Study B – Solution
Ordinarily, it is only possible to secure the benefit of the 100% Principal Private Residence Exemption (PPR) on the main home. Therefore a second home is treated as an investment and any profit liable to CGT, potentially at 40% (from 2008/09 18%). However, it is possible to exploit the legislation to ensure that both properties continually qualified for PPR. The planning can be complex and may involve the use of trust structures to trigger deemed disposals to fully secure the benefit of PPR and achieve substantial tax savings. Will and succession planning implemented also secured longer term IHT savings and secured significant asset protection i.e. against nursing home fees, death, divorce etc which were also a concern to our clients.