An Overview of Wills and Probate

Why should I make a will?

  • To authorise a person of your choosing to deal with your affairs after death
  • To ensure that your property is distributed in accordance with your wishes

Why should I use a solicitor to make will?

  • Solicitors are properly trained, qualified, regulated and insured.
  • To ensure that your will is appropriate for your circumstances and that your wishes are accurately reflected
  • To ensure it deals fully with your estate, so that you are not at risk of a partial intestacy
  • To make full use of inheritance tax allowances, ensuring your estate does not pay more inheritance tax than necessary

How do I make a will?

Make an appointment with a specialist solicitor who will take full instructions and find out about your circumstances and wishes. You will then need to sign your will once you are happy with its contents.

If I do not make a will, what happens?

  • Nobody will have authority to deal with your affairs until an application is made to the court for a Grant of Letters of Administration
  • You will have no say in the distribution of your assets, which will be distributed to family members in strict order according to the law
  • This could result in unfortunate outcomes – for example, your estranged spouse or distant relatives inheriting assets rather than your children or close friends.

How do I change my will?

Make an appointment with a specialist solicitor. The formalities can be complex.

What do I do if a family member dies and has not left a will?

Make an appointment with a specialist solicitor, who will advise you as to who is entitled to make an application for a Grant of Letters of Administration in order to deal with the deceased’s affairs.

How does relationship/marital status affect wills?

  • Marital status has a significant effect on inheritance tax and you should discuss this with your solicitor when making your will
  • If your divorced ex-spouse is still named in your will, the law will treat them as having died on the date of the decree absolute
  • Unless your will was made ‘in contemplation of marriage’, your will becomes invalid on the date of your marriage and you should make a new one

How much will it cost me?

  • At Churchers, we charge £235 for a straightforward will (i.e. without the inclusion of trusts or other specialised provisions)
  • ‘Mirror wills’ (i.e. for a couple whose wills contain largely similar provisions) cost £360
  • No charge for will storage
  • Preparation of a specialised wills are charged at a higher rate.

How does a lasting power of attorney work?

  • If you become unable to make decisions for yourself, you can choose a trustworthy individual as your lasting power of attorney (LPA) to make them on your behalf
  • There are two types: 1.) Health and welfare, and 2.) Finance
  • Ideally, we should all have lasting powers of attorney as this removes the need for friends and family members to make costly and time-consuming applications to the Court of Protection if we should lose the ability to make our own decisions

For more information about LPAs, click here.

If you have any questions or wish to seek advice on any issue concerning the writing of a will, management of an estate or lasting power of attorney, please call us on 01329 822 333.

 

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