Private Client: Wills, Probate, IHT & Trust
Securing the future for your loved ones
Dying without a Will can create problems for family members, loved ones and other beneficiaries. On the other hand, a Will which is both flexible and as tax effective as possible in terms of inheritance tax gives an assurance that family members and loved ones will not be subjected to the uncertainty of the intestacy rules. Our level of expertise, personal approach and deep understanding of what families go through following the death of a loved one equips us with the ability to guide you through the Will making process and to ensure that the best protection is afforded to your family and loved ones.
The period after death can be very stressful for the family and friends of the person who has died. The formalities can be especially daunting. However because we have been helping bereaved families for over 25 years we understand the difficulties, challenges and complexities involved. We will provide you and your loved ones with solutions which are bespoke to your particular circumstances.
Tax is also becoming increasingly complex and it is more important than ever that proper advice is taken before making any major commitments or decisions, especially when contemplating tax planning with family home. Our Wills, Probate, Tax and Trusts team members possess an unrivalled level of expertise with which your matter will be knowledgeably dealt with. As amiable as they are professional, they are fiercely dedicated to protecting your best interest and ensuring that your wishes are carried out.
The threshold* for the value of an estate before it attracts inheritance tax is currently £325,000.00, which is known as the Nil Rate Band (NRB). Everyone is entitled to the Nil Rate Band. This means that there is no tax payable when your estate is left to your spouse if the estate is under the threshold. However, where the value of an estate exceeds the threshold, the excess value attracts 40% inheritance tax when left to others. If you are married or in a civil partnership, on the demise of one spouse, there is a possible total NRB allowance to be used of £650,000.00 before inheritance tax becomes payable. A new exemption ‘the Residence Nil Rate Band (RNRB)’ came into force in April 2017. This relates to an interest in residential property that you leave to your children and other descendants. From April 2020 this allowance will be £175,000. If you have any questions about how the Inheritance Tax rules affect you and your loved ones, we will be happy to assist and advice on matters of Inheritance Tax planning.
*As at February 2020
Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA)
A LPA is a legal document which gives another person power to act on your behalf in respect of your financial or property affairs and health and welfare when you can no longer deal with your own affairs.
The benefits of making a LPA
Having a LPA in place can save a lot of time, trouble and expense in the future. You can choose who you wish to appoint as your Attorney or Attorneys which can be anyone you know and trust such as spouses, children over 18 or professional advisers. Your Attorney will be able to do anything with your finances which you are usually able to do, for example, open and close bank accounts, pay bills, sell your property and make investments. You can include restrictions and/or conditions in your LPA. Even though a LPA has been made this does not prevent you from dealing with your own affairs while you are still able to do so.
Unfortunately Trust and estate disputes are on the increase. These can be in the form of challenges to a Will or to the Executors, or where somebody has been left out of an estate. The obvious challenges include contesting the Will, if there might be issues with the Will itself, a claim under the Inheritance (Provisions for Family Dependents) Act 1975 where somebody has been left out of an estate, or not left as much as they believe they need. There may also be contentious probate disputes if there is a disagreement over how the estate should be administered. Trust disputes may also arise, necessitating the removal of a Trustee. Similarly, claims of professional negligence can be brought where a solicitor or Will writer is believed to have incorrectly drawn up a Will or has given negligent advice.
In any of these situations, careful and professional handling is always key. With specialist knowledge and skilful guidance, we can assist where there are disagreements between beneficiaries, those in charge of administering the estate, or looking after various assets.
Deciding how best to handle the affairs of a loved one following their death can be a very daunting task, even when they have left instructions in their Will on how they would like their estate distributed.
The administration of someone’s estate usually falls into two distinct stages; the first is obtaining Probate and the second is the distribution of the assets/estate. Where the deceased left a valid Will, Executors usually, but not always, need to obtain a Grant of Probate in order to deal with the estate. Where the deceased dies intestate, i.e. they did not leave a Will, then their next of kin will need to obtain Letters of Administration. There are strict rules about who is able to make the application. The Grant of Probate and the Letters of Administration are the documents that evidence someone’s authority to deal with a deceased’s assets.
Once Probate or Letter of Administration is obtained, the second stage commences with the accumulation of all the deceased’s assets (which constitute their estate), paying off any liabilities that they had and distributing the remainder to their chosen beneficiaries. This final part can be particularly complex where the deceased died intestate.
If you are an Executor or a loved one has died and you feel that you need assistance or guidance on how best to deal with their estate, please do contact us. We would be happy to meet with you to discuss the situation in detail so we can help explain the steps that you need to take.