Dying without a Will can mean the probate process is much longer, more complicated and more expensive. Do you really want to leave your family a legal and financial mess to sort out. By writing a Will you will be in control of who inherits your wealth. Why not spend some time and a few pounds to ensure your wishes are met.
Some people will try to save money by writing their own Wills however, if you make a mistake in your Will your beneficiaries may pay the price later when you are not around to explain your actions.
It is important to take a number of different factors into consideration when writing your Will. These should include laws relating to taxation, property, family as well as social care. We are experts in these fields and are well positioned to advise on the drafting of your Wills.
Only about a third of adults get around to making even basic provisions for our loved ones via Wills. But we must also recognise that a Will has many limitations. We are often asked for Wills that leave everything to my spouse and then to my children. This type of Will fails to provide any flexibility for a change of circumstance and can lead to loss of assets.
If you have an existing Will you should consider what happens if you have an accident or illness. All you have worked for throughout your lifetime could be taken from you within a short period of time. If you are no longer able to live independently your estate could end up with someone other than your chosen beneficiaries.
A will is a legal document which ensures your wishes are carried out after your demise. It will help your family and dependents to distribute your estate in line with your wishes. The Executors of your will can be family members, friends, or legal representatives.
If you don't have a will, your assets will be distributed according to the law (Rules of Intestacy), and not necessarily according to your wishes.
This will mean:
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Probate - What is probate?
'Probate' is a term commonly used when talking about applying for the right to deal with a deceased person's affairs (called
'administering the estate'). In practice, different terms are used, depending on whether or not the deceased person left a will
and where they lived. Appling for probate can be timely and expensive, and can also be upsetting for the person Appling as often
they have lost someone close to them. This process will require many of the following actions:
- Settling Funeral Costs
- Completing Legal Documentation
- Applying To Probate Court
- Claiming On Insurance Policies
- Dealing With Executors & Trustees
- Setting Up Trusts
- Appointing Guardians
- Settling Outstanding Bills
- Final HMRC Tax Office Returns
- Finalising Inheritance Tax Liability
- Settling Business Interests
- Transferring or Selling Property
- Contacting Financial Institutions Regarding Investments and Holdings
If the deceased leaves a will
In this case one or more 'executors' may be named in the will to deal with the person's affairs after their death. The executor applies for a 'grant of probate' from a section of the court known as the probate registry.
The grant is a legal document which confirms that the executor has the authority to deal with the deceased person's assets (property, money and possessions). They can use it to show they have the right to access funds, sort out finances, and collect and share out the deceased person's assets as set out in the will.
If the deceased didn't leave a will
If there is no will, a close relative of the deceased can apply to the probate registry to deal with the estate. In this case they apply for a 'grant of letters of administration'. If the grant is given, they are known as 'administrators' of the estate. Like the grant of probate, the grant of letters of administration is a legal document which confirms the administrator's authority to deal with the deceased person's assets.
In some cases, for example, where the person who benefits is a child, the law states that more than one person must act as the administrator.
This is a general term which means executor or administrator.
Grant of representation
This is a general term which includes grants of probate and grants of letters of administration.
Is a grant of probate/representation always needed?
When a grant is needed - A grant is almost always needed when the person who dies leaves one or more of the following:
- £10,000 or more
- Stocks or shares
- Certain insurance policies
- Property or land held in their own name or as 'tenants in common'
Is a grant always needed? - A grant of representation may not be needed where:
- The person who died left less than £10,000
- They owned everything jointly with someone else and everything passes automatically to the surviving joint owner
Probate and Inheritance Tax
The personal representative won't be granted probate until some or all of any Inheritance Tax that is due on the estate has been paid. This can cause problems if the deceased has no “available cash” in their estate and all assets are tied up, in property for example.