Wills, Trusts & Probate
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 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
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.
Deborah is one of our equity partners with more than 20 years experience in Private client work. She specialises in Wills and Probates and all matters relating to elderly client law. She has helped thousands of families and individuals. Deborah read for her LLB Honours degree in South Africa and then worked for Ernst & Young in both Canada and the United Kingdom, before completing her graduate diploma in Law and legal practice at the University of Westminster. Deborah regularly studies a variety of professional development subjects in order to ensure that the advice to her clients is always up to date.
Deborah converted her degree at the University of Westminster and requalified in England in 2009.
Deborah’s expertise covers:
All issues that surround a person’s estate in later life and on death
Lasting powers of attorneys
Claims under the Inheritance Act
Elder client law
Protecting the vulnerable and their assets
Negotiation and compassion are two of Deborah’s strengths and these are key to ensuring that her clients achieve the best result. Deborah is an affiliated member of STEP, she sits as a Trustee and acts as attorney for clients. She has also been appointed by the Court on a number of instances where she acts as an independent party when an individuals liberty has been deprived.
In her spare time, Deborah enjoys spending time sailing and running after her two children.
Personal Assistant to Senior Partner, Deborah Neiteler
Legal Assistant to Senior Partner, Deborah Neiteler
Derek has many years experience specialising in Probate and Trust work, Wills and Powers of Attorney. Qualifying in 1988, Derek has acquired considerable expertise in his chosen fields. Renowned for his warm and friendly manner, Derek has built up a considerable following of clients, some of whom have been with him for over 25 years.
Outside the office, Derek enjoys cycling, walking and visiting National Trust houses and gardens,
Legal Secretary - Derek
Legal Executive - ACILEx
Jeanie is a member of the Institute of Legal Executives and is an experienced Conveyancer and private client lawyer.
She advises clients on all property matters and her clients find her approach down to earth , friendly and extremely competent. Jeanie is well known in Leighton Buzzard in the property industry and is an asset to our firm .
In her spare time Jeanie can be found with her feet up enjoying a good book!
Legal Secretary - Jeanie