Wills and probate

Looking after your legacy
A scene at dusk as the moon rises above a lake. This image illustrates the importance of wills and probate legal advice after major trauma injuries

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Very few people make plans for what would happen to their finances and health should they ever suffer injury, illness or disability as the result of a serious accident. If the worst happens, there can be devastating consequences for your family and loved ones. We are here to help you work through the process of probate, wills and Lasting Powers of Attorney (“LPA”), ensuring that you have everything in place to legally support your family in the event of an accident that changes your lives forever, or in the event of your death.

There are financial implications almost immediately when a person suffers an accident and we will do everything we can to support you by putting in place the processes and legal parameters that clearly set out what should be done in different circumstances.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney and when can I make one?

An LPA is a legal document which allows you to choose the people you would like to make decisions on your behalf should you ever be unable to do so.  It can provide you with peace of mind and protection for you and your family in the future.  The person creating the LPA is known as the Donor and the person, or people, you appoint to act on your behalf are known as Attorneys. 

There are two different types of LPA:

  • A health and care decisions LPA – will allow your attorneys to make decisions on your behalf regarding your health and your care, including consent to medical treatment. This may include decisions such as where you live, day-to-day issues, such as your diet, dress or daily routine and important decisions regarding medical treatment, including end-of-life choices;
  • A financial decisions LPA – will allow your attorneys to make decisions on your behalf regarding the sale and purchase of any property and other assets owned by you, the operation of bank and building society accounts, claiming benefits, pensions and other allowances.

What is a will?

A will is a legal document that clearly sets out your wishes regarding what you would like to happen to your estate in the event of your death. It ensures that your belongings, money, house and other assets are given to the people you want them to go to.

When should I make a will?

There is no set time or date when you must make a will. You can do so at any time after the age of 18, but it is especially important if you get married, have children or start to own assets, such as a house or a bank account. Making a will is the only way to ensure that your partner, children and loved ones are looked after upon your death. It ensures that everything is looked after as you wish and prevents the stress and ordeal of leaving everything for your family to contend with.

Do I need to use a solicitor?

It is important to have your will drawn up by a qualified and experienced professional. A home-made will could potentially lead to problems in the future for your loved ones and beneficiaries.

Do I need to worry about tax on my death?

A correctly drafted will can also save your beneficiaries from paying too much inheritance tax (“IHT”). This is why it is so important to have expert legal advice when creating your will. We will help you cover all aspects of estate planning to best suit and support your beneficiaries.

What do I need to put in a Will?

We can help you put together your will, making it a simple process to make the following choices:

  • Executors – these are the people appointed in your will who are responsible for administering your estate; they can be friends, family, spouse/partner or a professional, such as a solicitor or accountant;
  • Guardians – for children under 18 years of age;
  • Personal belongings – you can leave your personal belongings as part of your general estate, or leave specific items to named individuals;
  • Legacies – you could leave gifts of money to a favourite charity or to particular relatives or friends; alternatively, you can leave a gift of a specific item, for example, a property or some shares;
  • General estate – whatever remains after the payment of legacies, funeral expenses and other liabilities and administration expenses is known as your residual estate. This can be left either to one person or many in equal or unequal proportions. You should consider naming alternative beneficiaries in case one of your main beneficiaries dies before you do;
  • Trusts – can be used either to safeguard assets for future generations or disabled beneficiaries and to save inheritance tax.

What is a statutory will?

A statutory will is a will made by the Court of Protection on behalf of someone who is unable to make one themselves because they lack the required mental capacity.

A statutory will has the same effect as if the person lacking mental capacity made and executed the will themselves. There are rare exceptions which involve property in jurisdictions other than England and Wales.

What is a grant of probate and when is one needed?

Dealing with a deceased person’s estate sometimes requires the person responsible for this to apply for, and obtain, a grant of probate. If the deceased left a will, this should appoint executors to carry out the role. If they didn’t leave a will, the rules of intestacy will appoint an administrator to carry out this role instead. For low-value estates, also known as small estates, probate is not always required.

The grant of probate is an official document issued by the Probate Registry, a section of the Court. This document gives the executor or administrator authority to manage the deceased’s estate, including their property, money, debts and possessions.

What happens if someone dies without a will?

Sixty percent of adults in the UK do not have a will. If a person dies without a will, their estate is usually administered by an administrator appointed under the rules of intestacy. The administrator must divide the estate according to the rules of intestacy, which are as follows:

  • If there is a spouse by marriage or civil partnership and children – the spouse of the deceased will receive a statutory legacy of £270,000. If the estate is worth less than this legacy then the whole estate passes to the spouse. The spouse will also receive the deceased’s personal possessions. Anything over the statutory legacy is divided in two, with one half passing to the spouse absolutely and the other half being held on statutory trusts for the children of the deceased. Whilst they are under the age of 18 the trusts can be used to maintain them. Upon each child reaching the age of 18 they become absolutely entitled to their share;
  • If there is a spouse by marriage or civil partnership but no children – the spouse inherits everything;
  • If there are children but no spouse – the children inherit everything with all proceeds split evenly between siblings, with inheritance given upon the age of 18. Adopted children can inherit but stepchildren cannot;
  • If there is no spouse or children – the estate goes to the parents or in the following order of surviving family members: brothers and sisters of the whole blood or their children if a sibling has already died; brothers and sisters of the half blood or their children if a sibling has already died; grandparents, uncles and aunts of the whole blood or their children in the same way as above; uncles and aunts of the half blood or their children in the same way as above;
  • If there are no living relatives – the estate goes to the Crown meaning any friends or partners to whom you are not married will miss out. Financial dependents who do not inherit under intestacy rules would have to make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.

Should I write a will?

It is easy to forget about writing a will. For many people it is something that is talked about doing but it always falls down the to-do list. We completely understand that but we also know how important it is to have a will and to set out your wishes should you die.

A will allows you to:

  • Nominate an executor;
  • Decide how your estate will be passed and to whom;
  • Name a guardian for your children (if both parents die);
  • Make funeral requests;
  • Donate to a charity;
  • Give personal items to loved ones;
  • Leave your pet(s) to someone;
  • Minimise inheritance tax;
  • Protect and preserve assets for your loved ones.

Can you help me write a will or deal with probate?

Probate can be confusing and stressful. If you have suffered major trauma that has left you with a long-term illness or disability you will no doubt have seen your life change beyond recognition. Having the plans in place to make decisions during these tough times can help, and. with our assistance, we can ensure you are fully covered for all eventualities thus taking the pressure away from your loved ones in the event of your death or incapacity due to your injuries.

If you would like our help in writing a will or dealing with probate please get in touch.

A scene at dusk as the moon rises above a lake. This image illustrates the importance of wills and probate legal advice after major trauma injuries

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