How Old Do I Have To Be To Instruct A Solicitor?
Posted on 12th May 2020
Our solicitors in Lancaster quite often hear the phrase “I’m too young to think about that”. But are you really? Well, our expert team are here to de-bunk the common myth of age being a barrier against accessing (and needing) legal expertise.
From the age of 18 in England and Wales, you are considered old enough to do a whole number of things: buy fireworks, alcohol and cigarettes (the things that we know, quite often, people count down the days to being able to purchase, leading up to their 18th birthday), you can get married and, unless otherwise stipulated in your loved one’s Will, you can legally receive inheritance.
But, how else may you need our team’s help once you’ve passed the big 1-8?
How old do I have to be to buy property?
Under section1(6) of the Law of Property Act 1925, in order to purchase a property or be named on a property’s Deeds, you have to be at least 18 years of age. This law applies in England and Wales and, like most legal matters, may differ if you live in another country, or if you’re considering purchasing property in another country.
Not only do you have to be 18 to purchase a property, if you inherit a property, or if your parents are thinking of gifting their property to you (read our property conveyancing solicitors in Lancaster’s blog on whether it’s a good idea to gift your property to your children, here) and you are still under the age of 18, the property will usually need to be held in the name of an adult or adults on your behalf. These people would be known as the Trustees.
This would mean that the Trustees are shown as the legal owner of the property, with you, the minor, being the beneficial owner. You can read more about the difference between legal and beneficial ownership in our property solicitors in Lancaster’s blog, here. Once you’ve turned 18, you could then consider whether it’s time to change the legal register to reflect your ownership.
As you can see from the above, however, just because you’re under 18, it doesn’t mean that you cannot ‘own’ property at all; therefore, you may still require the assistance of our expert property solicitors in Lancaster.
How do I contact the Property team?
How young do I have to be to make a Will?
Well, you may be able to guess from the tone of our blog so far, you have to be 18 to make a Will in England and Wales. You may have noticed that our question was posed slightly differently: how young do you need to be to make a Will?
That’s because, a phrase we hear all too often, is that people are “too young” to consider making a Will. That is not the case!
Everyone should consider having a Will in place as, sadly, it’s not just old age that can end a life. As has been made all too clear by recent worldwide events, any person of any age can have their life ended, whether through disease, a tragic accident or other circumstances, and therefore, if you’re over the age of 18 (or you fit into one of the exceptions outlined, below), you should at least speak to our expert wills solicitors in Lancaster to see whether you need to make a Will.
Exceptions to the Law
There are only two categories of exceptions to the law of how old you need to be to make a Will, which have been in place since the end of World War 1: Soldiers on active duty and sailors at sea. This is because, no matter what your age is, if you are placed in dangerous situations whilst in active duty, or whilst working at sea, you should have the opportunity to record your final wishes.
Our expert Will drafting solicitors in Lancaster have discussed topics around the validity of a Will and how to make sure a will is valid in some depth on our previous blogs (you can read more about these topics, here). However, it’s important to note that different rules do apply to certain people, usually the ‘exception’ categories.
Under section 11 of the Wills Act 1837, any soldier who is in active military service, and any mariner or seaman at sea, can dispose of their property after their death, without the formalities required for other people. This is often referred to as a Privileged Will. You can read more about Privileged Wills, here.
How do I make a Will?
How old do I need to be to make a personal injury claim for compensation?
Access to justice is important at any age if you’ve been injured through no fault of your own. Just because you’re still a minor, you shouldn’t have to live with your injuries for life without any compensation.
Therefore, whilst the official age to make a personal injury compensation claim yourself is 18, our team of personal injury solicitors in Lancaster often deal with claims on behalf of younger people, through a Litigation friend.
What is a Litigation friend?
A Litigation friend is a person over the age of 18, is who is legally named on the claim paperwork as dealing with the matter on a minor’s behalf.
Even if you’re 17, and feel ‘old enough’ to make the claim, unless you want to wait until you’re 18, you will need a Litigation friend to be listed on the claim forms, and to act on your behalf.
Who can act as my Litigation friend?
The most common type of Litigation friend that our personal injury solicitors in Lancaster come across are parents or older siblings of the minor. However, in theory, you could appoint anyone.
Can I wait until I’m 18 to make my claim?
Yes. The law has been drafted in such a way as to not disadvantage those who are under 18, as far as possible.
If you’re injured and you’re over the age of 18, you have three years from the date of the accident (or from the date of knowledge of your injuries – i.e. the date that you found out you were injured) to make a compensation claim.
Therefore, if you’re a minor when you were injured, you have three years from the date of your 18th birthday, so up to the day of your 21st birthday, to make a claim. However, our team would suggest starting the ball rolling sooner rather than later, as if you leave it until the day before your 21st birthday to consider making a claim, you may find yourself with too little time, and therefore back yourself into a corner with how you can try to resolve your claim.
How can I instruct MG Legal?
Why do you have to be 18 to do so many things?
Although it may not seem like it at the time, it’s not just the law being ‘unfair’ or trying to disadvantage young people by make certain things ‘adult only’; in a lot of cases, it’s to protect younger people from doing something without fully understanding the implications or from entering into an agreement (for example, with a mortgage lender) before they have legal capacity to do so.
However, as our solicitors in Lancaster have highlighted above, that doesn’t stop a minor from sorting their legal matter: they may just need the assistance of someone over the age of 18.
Why choose MG Legal?
With over 80 years’ combined experience, our team really do know their stuff. We’re approachable, friendly, yet professional, and we’re here to guide you through your legal matter, every step of the way.
You can contact us in a way that’s easiest for you: by calling your local office, via email, online, or by popping into see the team at your local office.
And, if you need even more reason, you can read our excellent reviews, here, to see what our previous (and, in case you were wondering, frequently returning) clients think.
Tagged as: Family Law, Property Law, Solicitors in Lancaster, Wills & Probate, Your Local Solicitors
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