An update from our wonderful trainee Solicitor Chloe
My name is Chloe and I am now in the second year of my traineeship with Blackwood & Smith.
You might remember reading my previous blog in 2021 where I provided an insight into a day in the life of a first-year trainee at the firm. Fast forward to now, and I am now less than 10 weeks away from qualifying as a Solicitor! Time really does fly and much of my day to day work has changed in the last year or so.
I continue to primarily deal with Conveyancing transactions such as sales and purchases, however I am now also working on executries where someone has passed away, and I also deal with private client work including Wills and Powers of Attorney.
An example of a busy day in the office!
09.00: When I arrive at the office, the first thing I do is check my emails and I then deal with most urgent ones. I then start working on a separate list of matters which require my attention, such as purchases or sales which are due to settle that week. It is quite common to deal with a large volume of calls first thing in the day, such as calls from new and existing clients requesting quotes, taking instructions for a note of interest on a property, or an Offer to purchase a residential property.
11.00: I have a meeting with Executors to sign an Application for Confirmation (form C1). I had previously emailed a draft version of this application to the clients, and this was then approved. Confirmation is a court document which is often required by an Executor before they can wind up a deceased person’s estate. The C1 includes a full inventory of a deceased person’s estate. These forms can take some time to prepare, so having a C1 signed is always a sign of good progress in an executry. Following my meeting, I will then prepare a letter to the Sheriff Court with the Form C1 enclosed along with a cheque for the relevant sum. The court fees currently range from £276 (for an estate under £250,000) to £554 (for an estate exceeding £250,000).
11.30: A client has just approved draft versions of their Wills and Powers of Attorney. I arrange over the phone for them to pop in the following week to sign both sets of documents. The Wills require to be witnessed by an independent witness and often we will act as that witness; it can however be anyone else, so long as the witness does not feature anywhere in that document. The Powers of Attorney also require a witness; however, they additionally require either a Solicitor or a GP to fill out a certificate confirming that the client has the necessary mental capacity to grant a Power of Attorney. I therefore arrange a suitable time where one of our Solicitors can also attend the meeting. If there is any doubt over a person’s capacity, then we may need to seek a second opinion from a GP.
11.45: I start preparing a file note for the phone calls and meetings that I have had with clients this morning.
12.00: I head off out for lunch around 12pm. The weather is picking up again and it is good to get back out in the fresh air to clear the head. Sometimes I do fall into some of the gift shops! Oops.
13.00: I have a meeting with a client to discuss their proposed purchase. They are a first-time buyer and so are completely unfamiliar with what to expect. They are still searching for their perfect property, but I reassure them that we can prepare for when the time comes. I advise the client to obtain a mortgage in principle – this should hopefully put them in a better position when they do decide to offer, as they will have already been pre-approved by a mortgage lender for a certain amount. I explain the process of submitting an offer and I advise the client of the outlays they would likely incur overall during their purchase (outlays can often vary depending on the Purchase Price a client decides to offer). The client also has a Help To Buy ISA and I explain the process of closing that down and how to go about receiving their bonus from the government.
14.00: I receive a call from one of our Estate Agents along at our Eastgate office. One of our clients’ properties went to a closing date this morning and there were four offers. The client has considered the offers and has chosen to accept one. This is great news, so I send an email to our client congratulating them on their successful closing date. I advise them of the next steps and that I will be in touch shortly to take instructions for a written acceptance. I quickly check our system to find out if we hold the title deeds for the property and we do. I head to our strong room and pick them out, ready to start the conveyancing for our client’s sale.
15.00: I begin working on a client’s purchase. We received the title deeds this week for the property they are buying, so I start work on reviewing these. The property is registered in the Old Sasine Register of Scotland and there is a large bundle of old deeds to examine. Some of the deeds date back to the early 1900s and they refer to the property and the larger area of ground that the property once formed part of. I carefully sift through the deeds to make sure that I have a full set of documents. I then look to establish the property’s conveyancing description; this is often quite lengthy detailing the boundaries on the north, east, south and west. Sometimes there is a plan attached to the deeds, so I check over this too. I then turn to examining the rights associated with the property and also the burdens. In terms of rights, I am largely checking to make sure my client will have the necessary access rights to the property. Burdens on the other hand are obligations which affect the land usually in relation to the maintenance and repair of boundary walls/fences, common parts of a building etc. Burdens can also impose title conditions on a property, for example, the property is not to be used for any trade, business or profession, the property is not to be sub-divided, it must be kept constantly insured etc. I make sure to document my examination of title as I go along and also make a note of any observations that I have. This will then be used to prepare a report on title to my client.
16.00: I have a meeting with a client whose purchase is due to settle next week. They have a mortgage and are popping in this afternoon to sign a Standard Security in favour of their mortgage lender. I explain to the client what the implications are of signing a Standard Security, and that this document will give the lender a right to repossess the property as a last resort if they default on their mortgage repayments. I explain that it is registered against the property and will need to be repaid and discharged if they do decide to sell the property in the future.
The client also has a couple of questions about what to expect on the date of entry, so we have brief chat about what to expect. The most common question we get asked is “what time will my purchase settle?”. This is something that we can’t always answer, as it depends on a couple of things.
At the date of entry, the seller’s solicitor must provide us with a signed Disposition in our client’s favour. This is a deed which transfers ownership from the seller to the purchaser, once that deed is registered in the Land Register of Scotland. It is up to the purchaser’s solicitor to register this deed.
We must also be satisfied that the seller’s solicitor has notified the Land Register of Scotland that an application is going to be made in our client’s favour – this is what we call an “Advance Notice” and this puts a block on any party (other than the purchaser) registering title to the property for 35 days.
If the seller has a mortgage, then they will usually need the sale proceeds in order to repay their mortgage. If that is the case, then we will also require the seller’s solicitor to provide us with a Letter of Undertaking, confirming that they will repay and arrange for the seller’s mortgage to be discharged from the property’s title deeds.
We also require the seller’s solicitor to provide us with a Legal Report showing that there are no adverse entries against the seller or purchaser which would inhibit them from selling or buying a property.
Sometimes all of these documents will be provided to us in advance of the entry date, however we may still be waiting for some of these or all of these documents on the entry date and this can sometimes delay settlement. Once we have all of the settlement items, we then transfer the funds to the seller’s solicitor. Once funds have been received, the solicitor can then agree to settle the transaction. If there is a chain where people are reliant on their sale settling first before they can proceed with their purchase and so on, this may also delay the time it takes for you to get your hands on your keys!
17.00: I finish the day by writing a short note of what needs to be done as a priority the following day and then I give my desk a quick tidy up.
As you can tell from Chloe's busy day our Solicitors deal with a wide range of legal services. If you would like to discuss anything our experienced team would be delighted to assist.
Alternatively please fill in our online enquiry form https://www.blackwoodsmith.com/contact-us