The joys of 2016 being a Leap Year!

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Unlike the Roman God Janus who famously faced both back and forward, I tend to live in the moment and definitely look forward, rather than back. So for me a new year is an exciting time, full of possibility.

For some reason I also prefer even numbers to odd ones; and having been born in a leap year also have a fondness for them, too. So from where I’m standing right now 2016 is looking good!

Gary Rycroft.

Gary Rycroft.

Leap years are a way of keeping calendar years of 365 days in sync with astronomical years of 365.2425 days. The extra day every four years balances it out and keeps us all on track.

Those lucky enough to be born on February 29 not only have the delight of being called “leaplings” but also have to decide for three out of four years when to celebrate their birthday. In the year birthdays take on legal significance this could be of note.

For instance do you buy your first alcoholic drink as an 18 year old on February 28 or March 1? March 1 seems logical, as surely on February 28 you would still 17 and indeed under English Law that is in fact the established position.

But other jurisdictions take the alternative approach and favour February 28. The issue of leap years were considered in an American Court back in 2011. Over there a criminal was sentenced to “365 days” which ran over a leap year. However, the proper sentence should have been “one year”, which in a leap year is of course 366 days. The Court held 365 days is one year, leap year or not. So the criminal was released after 365 days.

Getting married is a matter of considerable legal significance. Despite great strides in equality men still seem be expected to do the asking. Unless it’s a leap year. Women can, by tradition, propose to a man on February 29. I, for one, would not encourage any such behaviour. As I’ve told my daughters many times, legally binding contacts should not be rushed into.

So do think before you leap into 2016. And if you need a New Year Resolution, make it to update your Will or make a Lasting Power of Attorney.

They will cost less than getting married; and may last longer.