When you’ve worked hard for your money, you will want to make sure as much as possible passes to your loved ones. We will advise you of the best way to do this, and prepare well drafted, legally robust, Wills.
We can also provide lifetime asset and tax planning advice, Lasting Powers of Attorney and trusts and, when the time comes, deal with the administration of your estate.
A Will is one of the most important documents you will ever make and our aim is to make the whole process as straightforward and stress-free as possible. Our caring and experienced professionals will advise you every step of the way.
Making a Will will bring peace of mind for many reasons:
- To ensure your loved ones are provided for, including those who may not automatically have rights to your estate, for example, unmarried partners
- To mitigate claims from people who may feel entitled to a share in your estate
- To appoint guardians for children under 18
- To provide for people who may have a debt problem
- If you have a business, you may want to make special provision for this
Once you have made your Will, we recommend you review it regularly as circumstance can frequently – and sometimes unexpectedly – change. We have an excellent reputation locally and lasting relationships with our clients. This means you can review matters with ease and often with someone who is familiar with your background and your existing Will.
Our team includes a member of Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) and as such we follow the STEP code for Will preparation in England and Wales.
A trust is a legal agreement which is mainly used as a means of protecting your money and assets. It can be within a Will, or set up separately. We can help you choose what type of trust you may need and advise the Trustees, the people that look after the trust, or the beneficiaries, the people who benefit from the trust.
Trust can be used as a measure of protection and for preserving your wealth. There can be a number of reasons why you may want to set one up, such as:
- To provide for a child under 18
- To create a trust fund which a beneficiary can only access at a certain age
- If an illness or disability prevents you from being able to look after your money yourself, money can be given to a Trustee to decide how it can be best used for your benefit. This can also apply to the beneficiaries of your Will
- To ensure that you don’t lose any means tested benefits should you receive compensation, perhaps after a personal injury award
- To prevent an adult child’s inheritance being taken into account should be going through bankruptcy or divorce when you die
- To prevent the local authority taking the value of your house into account should you need nursing or residential care.
It is often a concern when making a Will or planning for the future that your estate will be subject to taxes, leaving less for your loved ones. There are ways we may be able to reduce Inheritance tax payable on your estate, including:
- Making lifetime gifts
- Tax efficient Wills
- Creating a trust
- Investing in certain products/companies that qualify for Inheritance tax reliefs
- Deeds of variation
- Leaving money to a charity
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which you set up when you have capacity to allow someone you choose to make decisions on your behalf should you be unable to do so. There are two types:
Property and Affairs
This gives the necessary legal power to your appointed attorney(s) to make decisions about your property and finances. This covers almost anything that you would be able to do yourself, such as buy or sell your property, change bank accounts, etc, and this can be when you have capacity –for convenience - and if you do not.
Health and Welfare
This gives your attorneys the power to make decisions about your wellbeing only when you are unable to communicate for yourself. This could be anything to do with your medical treatment or care. In particular, you can decide whether or not to give your attorneys the ability to make decision relating to life sustaining medical treatment.
You can appoint up to four attorneys and even have different attorneys for each type of LPA. You may want a professional person dealing with your finances but a close family member to deal with the care and medical aspects. Attorneys can act independently or together and replacement attorneys can also be chosen so that there is someone to step in if the initial attorney(s) cannot act for any reason.
A General Power of Attorney (GPA) is a document which can give somebody authority to deal with financial matters on your behalf but is only valid when you have capacity. If you lose capacity then this document becomes void.
Our professional team are experts at dealing with vulnerable clients, and have extensive experience in advising the elderly, due to many years of working with clients of all ages – and often several generations of the same family.
We tailor our advice to your needs, and our aim is to make every step of the way as straightforward and easy as possible for you.
This can include advice on asset protection, long term care contracts, Powers of Attorney, Court of Protections issues, making gifts, wills, Statutory Wills and funeral planning.
We appreciate that it isn’t always easy for clients to get to us, and if you are unable to attend our offices, we offer home visits. Or, if you prefer, we can conduct meetings via Skype.
A Court of Protection application may be necessary when a person lacks mental capacity to make certain decisions and has not previously set up Lasting Powers of Attorney. People may lack mental capacity for many reasons, such as serious brain injury, illness, dementia or severe disability. It may occur in totally unexpected circumstances, such as going into hospital for an operation or procedure and it not going as planned.
Somebody interested in their welfare can apply to the Court of Protection to become their Deputy. If authorised, the Deputy will be able to make decisions for them. Lasting Powers of Attorney, made when the person has capacity can avoid this. However, should it be necessary, we can guide you through the whole application process.
When a loved one dies, the prospect of dealing with their lifetime assets at an already emotional time can be daunting. We can minimise the stress by administering their estate for you in a professional yet sensitive way.
When you are appointed executor in a Will, or if you apply to be an Administrator under a person’s intestacy, there is a lot to consider which may be confusing. The process usually involves dealing with a variety of different possessions, property and monies and there are legal time limits in relation to claims and payment of any taxes due. You will usually need to apply for a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Letters of Administration which will give you the necessary legal authority to manage the deceased’s estate.
You can hand everything over to us at the outset, and we will report back periodically, so you can rest assured that in the interim period we are organising matters on your behalf. We can arrange valuations of assets and liabilities in the estate, preparation of the correct tax forms, discharge any taxes, application for the Grant of Probate of Letters of Administration, arrange the sale of property, pay legacies, provide full Estate Accounts for approval, and eventually distribute the entire estate in accordance with the Will or the Law of Intestacy.
If an estate is very simple, we can also offer a ‘Grant Only’ service, where the Executor or Administrator provides all the information and we apply for the Grant on their behalf. Professional applications typically take half the time of a personal one, and the Court fee is lower. Once the Grant is issued we pass it to the Executor or Administrator to deal with the remainder of the Estate.
Whether you have concerns about the validity of a Will, the interpretation of a Will, the manner in which an estate or trust is being administered, or have not received what you expected by way of inheritance, our specialist team can assist.
A Deed of Variation is a legal document that enables beneficiaries to reorganise the distribution of an estate within two years of the date of someone’s death. The advantage of this is that any changes are ‘read back’ as if they were in the Will itself.
- A Deed of Variation may be made for a number of reasons:
- To include someone not in the Will
- To mitigate or avoid Inheritance Tax
- To pass assets on without the original beneficiary needing to survive seven years for their own inheritance tax position
A Declaration of Trust can set out how to divide future proceeds of sale where the purchase of a property may be unequal for some reason. For example:
- A couple buys a property as joint legal owners but one party contributes all, or a higher amount of, the deposit
- An individual is the sole legal owner but another person has moved in and is contributing to the mortgage or home improvements
- A married couple divorce owning a property in joint names, one party is responsible for repayment of the mortgage and both seek to protect their respective interests
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