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Wills

A survey by the Law Society revealed that one in three people have not yet made Wills. If you are one of them, please read on to find out why you should.

It is commonly acknowledged that everyone should make a will regardless of the value of their assets. It is only by making a will that you are able to ensure that your estate is divided according to your wishes after you die. If you die without making a will it is the law, not you, which directs how your estate should be divided. This may not be what you want. For example, a wife would not necessarily be as well provided for as her husband would wish, if he died without having made a will. Contrary to popular belief, under the law everything does not necessarily automatically pass to a wife when her husband dies.

Apart from ensuring who will benefit from your estate, a Will makes it much easier for those who are left to deal with your affairs. This applies equally to large and small estates.

Please contact our probate department to discuss your requirements further.

Probate

When a person dies, someone else has to deal with their estate regardless of whether they died with or without a Will. The Probate Registry is the government body that safeguards these procedures and ensures the person who will administer the Will and fill out certain forms enabling the Probate Registry to confirm that the Will is valid and legally binding.

If a person dies intestate (without a Will) there will be no named executors to carry out the wishes of the Will. Somebody else will therefore have to take responsibility and in order to do so legally they will have to obtain letters of administration. The same would apply to someone named as an executor but is unable or unwilling to take on the responsibility.  On the other hand, if there is a Will and there are named executors, then they will need to obtain a grant of probate.

Either way, the probate office must grant certain documents before you proceed, either:

Grants of Administration – Intestacy
Grants of Administration are normally granted to one or more persons who are entitled to a share in the estate of a deceased person who has died without leaving a Will. It can also be granted to a person (individual or company) acting on behalf of such persons such as a solicitor.

Grants of Administration – Legal Will
Grants of probate are normally granted to the executor of a legally valid Will. The executor will administer the estate subject to the wishes of the deceased.

Please contact our probate department to discuss your requirements further.

Trusts

A trust is a legal arrangement under which a person (the settlor) places property under the control of persons (the trustees) for them to hold and deal with for the benefit of others, according to instructions contained in the document containing the trust. A husband and wife can also be trustees in many cases.

Trusts are treated separately for tax purposes and are assessed independently to income tax, capital gains tax and inheritance tax.

Trust is said to be the “greatest and most important achievement” of English Law and whilst the concept was developed even before the Norman Conquest of 1066, it is still widely applicable in modern practice. It can be particularly useful in estate planning. For example, policies of life assurance can be held upon trust for a named beneficiary. This means that the proceeds pass directly to that person rather than forming part of your estate – thereby avoiding inheritance tax that may be due on the value of your estate. Other uses are too numerous to mention but if you have a potential inheritance tax liability then you should contact us to find out how trusts can help you.

Please contact our probate department to discuss your requirements further.

Power of Attorney

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a document that you (the Donor) can give another (the Attorney) for authority to act on your behalf in relation to property and affairs. There is also a Lasting Power of Attorney for health and welfare. Please contact our probate department for further information about Lasting Powers of Attorney.

You can also appoint an Attorney on a temporary basis to carry out specific tasks such as signing documents if you are likely to be out of the country for a period of time. This is particularly useful if you are about to go on holiday or are working abroad and are in the process of buying or selling a property.

Please contact Robin Townsend, here or via the contact us link at the top of the page, to discuss your requirements further.

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