Wills & Probate
Most adults will benefit from having a will. Every person should review their will when their circumstances change significantly i.e. buying a new house or receiving an inheritance.
If you don’t have a will, someone, and not necessarily the person you might have chosen yourself, will have to make some important decisions after your death.
Having a will enables you to decide what happens to your estate on your death. In your will you can:
- include wishes for burial/ cremation
- appoint executors
- appoint guardians
- make gifts to chosen beneficiaries
If you have young children, it is advisable to appoint guardians.
A will can ensure your possessions will go to those people you really want to have them.
A will can make provision to protect vulnerable members of your family and to provide for dependant relatives who may have special needs. Wills can be used to create a trust after your death.
A good will can sometimes help to minimise the impact of inheritance tax and protect your estate for the benefit of your family.
A badly written will could be worse than no will at all, and a will that does not comply with the Wills Act will not be valid.
We can advise you on how best to write a will that meets your requirements. We aim to provide a will that not only reflects your wishes but is practical and will require as little updating as possible.
When preparing your will, we can advise you about possible claims against your estate and the best way to structure your will to achieve your wishes even if your circumstances change.
Probate and administration of estates
To administer an estate is to deal with the assets and liabilities of someone who has died.
- Personal representatives (PRs) – means executors appointed by a will or administrators appointed by the court (when there is no will) who administer an estate.
- Assets – investments, land, property or anything of value.
- Liabilities – debts or money owed by the person who has died i.e. unpaid taxes and bills.
- Grant – an official document issued by the high court which confirms the authority of the PRs to deal with the estate.
What do PRs do?
No one has to act as PR. If you choose to take on the role of executor or administrator, then you have a number of obligations under general law, as follows:
- to secure any property (collect keys, check insurances);
- identify the assets;
- identify the liabilities;
- calculate and pay any inheritance tax due;
- pay the liabilities and distribute any remainder according to the will, if there is one; otherwise according to the law which applies on intestacy.
The law holds PRs responsible for administering an estate correctly. If a PR pays the wrong person, he is personally liable, up to the value of the net estate, even if the PR did his best or did not realise he was making a mistake.
Some estates are straightforward to deal with; others are not. It is not always easy to tell which is which.
This firm has been undertaking administration of estates since the 1830s. We have a wealth of experience and practical knowledge.
Our probate team offers:
- pro-active advice on efficient administration
- advice on how to maximise tax exemptions and reliefs and identify tax saving opportunities
- ensure proper precautions are taken to protect you from personal liability
- a fast and efficient service working to the highest professional standards.