Your legal questions answered by Fahmida Ismail, Partner at Sydney Mitchell LLP. As featured in Worcester News, 31st March 2015.


Q. My grandparents owned a shop which was the subject of a compulsory purchase many years ago. Part of the land was built on but the shop is still there. On a recent visit the owner said she was intending to buy the property, but that she would also have to pay for the “goodwill”. Will my grandparents have received such a payment?

A. Almost certainly, as long as their business was profitable. It’s not easy to quantify goodwill, but it’s reckoned to be the additional sum a purchaser is prepared to pay for the probability that customers will continue to resort to the old place of business, or continue to deal with the firm of the same name. Even though the original intention may have been to demolish your grandparents’ shop, its value for compulsory purchase purposes will have been calculated on the basis that it would continue.


Q. I divorced my husband four years ago, and the house was signed over to me through a consent order. Last year my ex-husband went bankrupt. I knew nothing about it, having had no contact with him about money matters. Now the people who are handling his debts are asking me to go in for an interview.

A. It is possible for creditors to ask a court to overturn a property transfer in pursuit of money they’re owed. Some people give away their property at the last minute in an attempt to avoid their debts. However if you can show that your ex-husband incurred his debts after the house was transferred into your sole name it’s unlikely that a judge would be persuaded that the consent order was a deliberate attempt on your ex-husband’s part to deprive himself of capital. You should see a solicitor about this before the interview.


Q. If a beneficiary of a will dies after the person who made the will but before the estate is wound up, so that the residuary beneficiaries have not received their legacies, what happens to that person’s share?

A. It depends whether the will contained a clause stipulating that any beneficiary must survive the testator (will maker) for a stated period of time, commonly 28 days. If the beneficiary does not survive for the specified period then the gift will fail. If they do survive that time period, the legacy will form part of the beneficiary’s estate. The executors of the original will may require sight of a grant of probate to the beneficiary’s estate before making a payment to the estate, or would require an indemnity that the payment will go to the true beneficiary of the estate.


For further information on any of the issues raised, contact Fahmida Ismail on 0121 698 2200 or fill in our online enquiry form.

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