Solicitors are perhaps more associated with wills and probate than with any other aspect of the law, and for good reason. Whilst drawing up a will may seem relatively simple, dealing with its administration is a complex procedure that can involve juggling the requirements of various administrative bodies with those of beneficiaries and, of course, the wishes of the deceased. The terms of your will represent your last opportunity to give gifts to friends, family or charity, secure your children’s future and even choose the details of your funeral – there’s no need to leave anything to chance.
Why should I make a will?
Although many people don’t make a will until they’re middle-aged or older, it’s advisable for younger people to make a will too. Whatever your assets – property, savings, investments, a vehicle or even valuable or sentimental personal items – you need a will to ensure that they’re divided in accordance with your wishes.
Your will can address, amongst others, the following areas:
- Who benefits from your estate – your spouse, other family members, friends, charities or a trust can all be named.
- What your beneficiaries will receive – this could be a set sum of money, a percentage of the value of your estate or a specific item such as jewellery.
- How your children will be cared for – if you have children under the age of 18, you need to make provision for their care.
- How you would like your funeral to be conducted – this covers everything from whether you want to be buried or cremated to the music you’d like played.
- Who will carry out your wishes – your executor or executors can be family members, trusted friends or professionals such as a solicitor.
If you die intestate (without a valid will) then your wishes will not be considered when your estate is dealt with. The Rules of Intestacy will divide your estate in a predetermined way, which may result in your beneficiaries being people you would not have chosen. This is also unlikely to be tax-efficient.
Inheritance Tax advice
Inheritance Tax can adversely affect the value of an estate, and the challenge of meeting a full Inheritance Tax bill without preparation can affect the way your will is carried out. For example, you could plan to leave your home to your children; but if the worth of your other assets isn’t enough to settle your Inheritance Tax liability, your house might have to be sold to meet HM Revenue and Customs’ requirements.
We can advise you on a number of ways to minimise your inheritance tax liability, ensuring that your savings and other assets are protected to the greatest possible degree.
Dealing with an estate
If you have been named executor of a will, we can assist you when obtaining a Grant of Probate and with the administration and distribution of the estate. We can also help you deal with an intestacy, including applying for a Grant of Letters of Administration and guiding you through the subsequent formalities.
We can offer advice and support at any stage of the will and probate process. If you would like to discuss any of the above, whether or not you currently have a will, please contact us for more information or to book an appointment with one of our solicitors. We are happy to review existing wills with you, and will not charge unless changes are necessary.