Proper reviewing and planning of your private assets will have a positive impact on your personal wealth and make future provision for estate administration and long term care so much easier. You should also review your affairs on a regular basis and especially on occasions such as marriage, moving properties, starting a family, divorce, bereavement or retirement.
We will guide you on matters such as tax planning, powers of attorney, tax efficient wills, estate planning and nursing/care home fees. Thanks to the practical yet sensitive approach we take to our clients’ private financial affairs, much of our business in this area is either repeat business or is the result of recommendations from clients’ family or friends.
The Administration of Estates Act offers a formula for the distribution of estates for which no will has been prepared, but the only way to be sure that your wishes will be carried out after your death is to make a will.
Around 70 per cent of people die without a will. The rules of intestacy can lead to unnecessary distress for the family of the deceased. Writing a will ensures that your estate passes to those you intend to receive it. As specialists in wills, trusts and probates, we can also help you to save on inheritance tax by guiding you through the most tax efficient methods of estate planning.
A will becomes void following marriage (unless written in contemplation of that marriage). It should also be altered following the granting of a decree absolute (divorce). Keeping your will updated according to your changing circumstances is vital and we recommend that you review it every five years.
We can offer advice on various means with which to avoid or reduce capital gains tax and inheritance tax, which otherwise may be payable on the transfer or disposal of your property or business assets during your lifetime or on your death.
Whether in a lifetime settlement or in a will, trusts can help ensure long term financial provision and tax saving. We can advise you regarding the most favourable use of trusts and also assist with their preparation and administration. Our partners will act as professional trustees if required, although we suggest including at least one lay person as a trustee.
We will take care of all aspects of estate administration proactively, efficiently and sensitively, including application to the court to obtain probate and preparing and submitting the necessary tax forms.
As administrators, our responsibilities will include:
- checking the terms of the will
- producing a schedule of assets
- communications with the beneficiaries, the Probate Court and asset holders
- resolution of any problems following closure of accounts
- producing statements for the beneficiaries
- completing the final tax returns and obtaining inheritance tax clearance
- final distribution of the estate and production of estate accounts.
Where the executors prefer to undertake some of the work themselves, we will undertake limited aspects such as obtaining the Grant of Probate, as required.
Lasting Powers of Attorney
Lasting Powers of Attorney have replaced Enduring Powers of Attorney as of October 2007, though any Enduring Powers of Attorney made before then are still valid.
Via what is known as a living will, you may wish to appoint your next of kin or family friend to make decisions regarding your medical treatment in the event of your own incapacity.
Court of Protection – Deputies (Previously known as Receivers)
In circumstances where a family member or close friend has not made an Enduring or Lasting Power of Attorney and is no longer capable of dealing with their affairs, we can assist you with an application to the Court of Protection for receivership of that person.
Long Term Care
Some 40,000 people in the UK are forced to sell their homes or use their life savings every year to pay for nursing or residential care home fees – a figure that is likely to increase. We can help you manage your assets with long term care in mind and maximise the benefit your family will receive from your estate.
Contesting a Will
Disputes over wills usually arise when:
- A dependant has not been sufficiently provided for. Provisions for dependants fall under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975, which allows certain family members who were dependent upon the deceased at the time of death to challenge the will
- The validity of the will is challenged – for example, if it was signed incorrectly; if the deceased was being influenced by another person at the time that they entered into the will; or that they were not capable of understanding the terms of the will, through mental or physical incapability.
- The mental capacity of the deceased person at the time they made the will is challenged. In this case, we will advise you regarding probate law and court procedure in either challenging or defending the will.
Contact us to find out more or to arrange an appointment with one of our experienced estate lawyers.