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It is often said that the only certain thing in life is death. Depressing but true.
Many people seek legal advice only after someone has died, but in fact planning ahead with our help can be an invaluable investment and make the future for those you leave behind much clearer and secure.
Our experienced and approachable legal team will take the time to understand your needs and they can assist with:
If you are not able to come to see us at one of our offices, we are happy to visit you at home.
It is important that you make a Will if you want to ensure that your property passes to those closest to you or to your favourite charities.
If you do not have a Will your property and possessions could be divided according to the law rather than how you would wish.
The law states what will happen to your property and money, known as your estate, after your death if you have not left a Will. The provisions divide your estate between your closest blood relatives i.e. not cohabitants, stepchildren or family members by marriage or registered civil partnership. If you have no blood relatives, your property will pass to the Crown.
If you live with your partner but are not married or in a registered civil partnership the law would not automatically recognise your partner and they may be left with nothing if you have not made a Will.
If you make a Will you can decide who should inherit from you when you die. These people are known as your beneficiaries. You can also include charities or causes close to your heart.
Your Will would also state who should deal with carrying out the terms of your Will after your death. These people are called your Executors. You can appoint family members, friends or a professional such as your Solicitor.
The executors must be over 18 and the maximum number who could deal with your estate is four. A beneficiary named in your Will can also be named as an Executor.
If you have children under the age of 18 you might want to consider naming someone in your Will to act as legal guardian for them if your children are still under 18 when you die.
For Inheritance Tax purposes everyone has an allowance of £325,000 (called a Nil Rate Band) when they die. Inheritance Tax may be payable at 40% on your estate above this level.
There are a number of exemptions and allowances which can reduce the tax payable. We strongly recommend that you discuss your situation with us when you make your Will so that we can make sure you pay as little tax as possible.
The loss of someone close to you can be difficult to cope with and often the formalities and paperwork involved in dealing with their affairs can seem daunting.
If you are named as an Executor in a Will or your relative did not leave a Will and you are unsure what to do we can advise you and help you through the process.
After a person dies, someone has to handle their affairs e.g.deal with their money and property. This is called administering the estate and the individuals responsible for this are called personal representatives (PRs).
If the person left a valid Will it should name Executors and those people are the PRs of the estate. If there is no Will the person is treated as dying intestate and the role of the PR can be taken on by any person entitled to a share of the estate i.e. by the next of kin. This type of PR is known as an Administrator.
The PRs have to administer the estate according to the terms of the Will or, if there is no Will, following the rules set out by law for administering intestate estates.
The administration of an estate involves collecting in the assets in the estate and then ensuring that all liabilities are paid. The remaining assets should then be distributed to the beneficiaries.
If a person leaves an estate of less than £15,000 the PRs can usually collect in the assets without the need for a Grant of Representation. If the estate is larger it is generally necessary for a grant to be taken out.
The grant is legal confirmation that the PRs are entitled to administer the estate. Banks, insurance companies, other financial institutions and the Land Registry will require sight of the grant before they will allow PRs to encash or transfer assets.
There are various types of grant, the main two being Grants of Probate (where there is a Will) and Grants of Letters of Administration (where the person died intestate). The application for the grant is made to the Probate Registry.
If there are substantial assets in an estate the PRs are responsible for finding out whether Inheritance Tax is payable. There are various exemptions and reliefs available for Inheritance Tax and it is important that PRs get advice about the position if it seems likely there could be a liability.
In most cases the administration of an estate is straightforward and can be dealt with quickly. However, it can sometimes be a more complex affair involving many organisations. In the latter case it can sometimes be difficult to give a likely timescale for the administration to be finalised especially if there are any disputes or claims against the estate.
Trusts offer flexible, tax efficient ways of passing on or protecting family wealth for the long term. They can help protect the people you care about, such as your partner or children.
If you would like to find out more about whether a trust would help you, please contact one of our specialist wills, probate and trust solicitors for a free, no obligation discussion about your particular circumstances. We can then advise you about the best solution for you.
We can provide advice on the following matters:
If you are struggling to deal with your own affairs, you can give someone else authority to help you by making a Lasting Power of Attorney.
If you care for someone who is no longer able to make decisions you can apply to the Court of Protection to become their Deputy and take over their affairs.
We offer advice on the issues to consider when making Lasting Powers of Attorney and applications to the Court of Protection and can draw up the paperwork for you.
See also : Care of the Elderly
Sometimes people feel unhappy about the way the estate of someone who has died is to be divided.
In certain circumstances a claim could be made against the estate especially if a dependent has not been left reasonable financial provision.
Challenging a will or making a claim against an estate can be a complex process. If you think you might have a claim please contact us as soon as possible, as there are strict deadlines involved in making claims.
See also: Inheritance Dispute Resolution.
Specialises in probate, wills, trusts and elderly client.
T : 01298 77511
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Specialises in probate, wills, elderly client matters,trusts and property.
T : 01298 816931
E : firstname.lastname@example.org
Specialises in residential and commercial property, wills and probate.
T : 01298 816933
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Specialises in residential property, wills and elderly client.
T : 01298 812138
E : firstname.lastname@example.org
Specialises in wills, probate and elderly client
T : 01298 77511
E : email@example.com
Specialises in wills and probate and elderly client.
T : 01298 77511
E : firstname.lastname@example.org