PRIVATE CLIENT SERVICES
We should all make a Will as we all care about what happens to our loved ones after we die. Without a Will, legislation directs who inherits, so your friends, favourite charities and relatives may get nothing.
It is futher important to make a Will if you are not married to your partner. This is because the law does not recognise partners as having the same rights as husbands and wives or civil partners. Therefore, even if you have been together for many years, your partner may be left with nothing if you have not made a Will.
If you have any children that may still be under 18 when you die, you may need to name someone as their legal guardian. A Will is also vital if you have dependants who may not be able to care for themselves.
Without a Will there could be uncertainty about who will look after or provide for your dependants if you die.
Legal advice should be considered in particular circumstances, for example, if someone is dependent upon you financially, they can make a claim on your estate.
Remember that if you have had a Will drawn up, some changes to your circumstances and legislation can make all or part of that Will invalid or inadequate, for example marriage, separation or divorce. This means that you must review your Will on a regular basis.
A Will enables you to appoint as Executors these are people who carry out your wishes as set out in your Will after your death. These could be relatives, friends or a professional such as a solicitor. An ideal combination would be a close friend or family member who may be familiar with your financial affairs together with a solicitor.
You may also require advice on:
How Inheritance Tax affects your estate?
How the spouse exemption on Inheritance tax is calculated?
Nil rate and Residence Bands
There are many reasons why someone would want to set up a trust. They can enable you to:
We offer free consultation appointments if you would like to discuss how a trust may be beneficial to you.
ensure that your money is used to provide for your needs if you cannot take care of yourself.
to reduce the tax your future beneficiaries may have to pay, ensuring that your loved ones benefit from your estate.
to provide for your care home fees in old age, removing that stress for your family.
to protect your assets from legal action.
to pass on your estate to your beneficiaries without the cost and time delay of probate.
to give financial support to a loved one who cannot manage their own affairs.
enabling your trustees to grow and manage your wealth for generations to come.
reduce tax liabilities.
to provide a definite future for children in families where one or more parents have remarried.
When a person dies someone has to deal with their affairs. This is called administering the estate. If the person who has died leaves a Will, it will usually name people to act as Executors. The Executors will need to apply for a Grant of Probate. This is an official document which the Executors will need before they can collect in any assets. Probate is issued by a section of the Court known as the Probate Registry.
Where there is no Will the process is more complicated. This is known as dying intestate. The Administration of Estates Act 1925 sets out who has the legal right to deal with the affairs of the person who has died. This person is known as an Administrator and they can apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Letters of Administration. This is an official document issued by the Court which allows the estate to be administered.
Did you know that a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration is not always needed? Sometimes banks and building societies may agree to pay funds to an Executor or Administrator without a Grant of Administration or Probate. We can check whether this applies to you.
Obtaining a Grant of Probate
We can offer varying degrees of assistance depending on the complexity of the estate of the person who has died. If the estate is relatively simple and straightforward we will tell you how to apply for a Grant in person.
In the event that you would like us to act on your behalf to deal with the whole of the administration of the estate, we will provide with a written estimate of our costs and explain to you the procedure involved in applying for a Grant of Probate and collecting in the assets and paying off any liabilities before distributing the estate in accordance with the deceased´s wishes, or under the intestacy rules if the person who died has not left a Will. We will calculate whether Inheritance Tax needs to be paid. This depends on how much the property and belongings of the deceased were worth when they died and also on the value of any gifts that they gave before they died and who they gave these gifts to. It also depends upon which people benefit under the Will or under the rules of intestacy.
Winding up the affairs of someone who has died can take a long time. A year is not unusual and perhaps longer if the estate is complex. There are many Institutions involved in the process, for example Banks, Building Societies, Insurance Companies, Department of Work & Pensions, HM Revenue & Customs and the Probate Registry.
The things that may affect the time taken in administering an estate are:
Whether the financial affairs of the deceased were in order.
What the person who died owned and the location of the asset.
Whether the person who died had an interest in a farm or a business.
What the Will or the rules of intestacy say.
Whether there are any legal disputes or claims against the estate or claims by the estate.
Whether Inheritance Tax needs to be paid.
Making sure that all HM Revenue & Customs files are closed and that matters relating to income tax, Benefits Agencies and pensions have been sorted out.
Arguments between relatives, beneficiaries or personal representatives can also delay matters. Any disagreements and claims must be sorted out before the affairs of the person who died can be settled.
LASTING POWERS OF ATTORNEY
A Will protects your affairs when you have passed away, whereas lasting powers of attorney can protect your financial affairs and protect your health and welfare during your life, if you have lost the capacity to do so yourself.
If something does happen, and you do not have the capacity to manage your own affairs, you will need an LPA in place for someone else to be able to legally make decisions or deal with your property for you. If you do not have an LPA in place, your loved ones would need to make a Deputyship Application to the Court of Protection to help you, which can be a very costly and time consuming process.
There are two types of LPA: Health and Welfare, and Property and Financial Affairs.
A Property LPA can be used at anytime after you have registered it, meaning that if you simply need someone else to handle a financial issue for you whilst you are temporarily incapacitated, for example, if something happens which means you need to stay in hospital for a while, your attorney can pay bills etc during this time.
A Health LPA can only be used if there is medical evidence that you have lost capacity, and your attorneys therefore need to make decisions concerning your health and welfare based on your wishes.