OUR SERVICES:

WILL WRITING

While there are default rules of inheritance if you die without a will, there are many reasons why it is preferable to have a will, for example:

  • You can choose who will be the Executors and Trustees of your estate

  • If you have minor children, you can appoint testamentary guardians

  • You can leave specific gifts to family members, friends or charities

  • You can choose your residual beneficiaries and the amounts or assets that they will inherit, rather than being subject to the inflexible intestacy rules

  • It is possible to reduce or postpone inheritance tax in certain circumstances

  • You can establish trusts for specific beneficiaries, e.g. a disabled relative (see the section on Trusts below)

  • You can give directions about your funeral arrangements, e.g. burial or cremation

Our will-writing service includes the following:

  • Taking detailed instructions either in person or via electronic means to ensure that we understand your individual circumstances and wishes fully

  • Preparation of a holding will in cases of urgency

  • Advising on which assets fall into your estate and which assets pass directly to third parties outside of the terms of the will

  • Advising on possible claims by dependants under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975

  • Inheritance tax advice, if applicable (see section on Inheritance Tax Planning below)

  • Advice on incorporating a trust or trusts into the will (see section on Trusts below)

  • Preparation of a draft will for discussion purposes

  • Making necessary amendments and producing the final version for signature

  • Ensuring that the will is correctly signed and witnessed

We do not provide a will storage facility but recommend a third-party facility being the National Will Archive (https://www.thenationalwillarchive.co.uk/).  Other will registries and storage facilities are available.

 
 

ESTATE PLANNING & INHERITANCE TAX ADVICE 

Inheritance tax ("IHT") is currently 40% of your net estate, after exemptions and reliefs.  It is important to understand what the impact, if any, of IHT will be on your estate and how it will affect your beneficiaries.  There are lawful ways of reducing or postponing the IHT of your estate and we can advise if any of these might available to you.  

Areas which we cover in advising on IHT include:

  • Which assets fall into your estate and which do not for IHT purposes

  • Exemptions, e.g. spousal exemption, charities exemption, the nil-rate band and the residence nil rate band

  • Reliefs, e.g. Business Property Relief and Agricultural Property Relief

  • The effect of lifetime gifts and donations

  • Transferable nil-rate band and transferable residence nil-rate band

  • Reduction in the rate of IHT with a minimum donation to charity

We will normally work on estimated values of assets to assess the likely IHT liability.  Professional valuations, particularly of substantial assets such as houses, will enable a more accurate assessment.

LASTING POWERS OF ATTORNEY

Under the common law, a power of attorney becomes invalid if the principal loses mental capacity.  This can obviously prevent a power of attorney from being used when it is most needed.  To overcome this problem, the Mental Capacity Act 2005 introduced Lasting Powers of Attorney, which enable appointed attorneys to look after the affairs and interests of persons who have lost the requisite mental capacity to act for themselves.

There are two types of lasting power of attorney, namely:

  • Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney

  • Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

It is possible to do one or other of the two types or to do both.  They have to be in the respective prescribed forms and each type has to be registered separately with the Office of the Public Guardian.  They have to be correctly completed and signed by all relevant parties including the grantor/donor, the certificate giver, the attorney(s) and replacement attorney(s), and witnesses.

Our service includes:

  • Advice on the necessity for and effects of each type of lasting power of attorney

  • Advice on who would be a suitable attorney or replacement attorney

  • Preparation of the lasting power of attorney

  • Supervision of signature and provision of the certificate

  • Registration with the Office of the Public Guardian

 
 

TRUSTS

Trusts are a popular and well-established vehicle for achieving certain aims, including:

  • Separating legal ownership from beneficial ownership to ensure that assets are preserved while providing income or use of assets for life or for a limited period to a beneficiary

  • Providing income or use of assets to a beneficiary who is not able to manage the trust assets, such as a minor child or a disabled person 

  • Charitable purposes

Essentially, legal ownership of assets is transferred to trustees who are obliged to manage the assets and pay over income in accordance with the trust deed.  Trusts can either be established during the lifetime of the donor/grantor (inter vivos trusts) or by will (testamentary trusts).  There are various different types of trusts such as life interest trusts and discretionary trusts.  

Trusts are complex legal instruments and require careful consideration.  We will advise on the advantages, disadvantages and legal effects of establishing a trust and the appointment of trustees.  We will incorporate a testamentary trust into a will or draw up an inter vivos trust deed as required.

PROBATE / ADMINISTRATION OF ESTATES

Probate is the process of registering the will of a deceased person with the Probate Registry so that the executors obtain the necessary authority to wind up the estate.  As solicitors, we are authorised to apply for probate on behalf of executors.  This includes preparation of the necessary inheritance tax returns.

We also carry out the administration of deceased estates either as nominated executors or as agents of the appointed executors.  In addition to applying for probate, this includes taking control of assets, obtaining valuations, selling assets where appropriate, paying creditors and estate expenses, securing payment from debtors and distributing the net estate to the legatees and heirs in terms of the will.