Wills, Probate, Tax and Trusts
People are living longer than ever before and the need to protect accumulated wealth for your own use, or to pass on to your heirs, is vital.
Pre-recession house price inflation means many homeowners fall into the Inheritance Tax net and with more and more people buying second homes, in the UK or abroad, there is increased need to use specialist advice to protect estates.
Many people put off making a Will as, understandably, they do not wish to consider their own death. However, making your Will means that you have signed an important document which can save stress and heartache for those left behind. With house prices having increased greatly in recent years, many homeowners now fall victim to Inheritance Tax. Our expert team can give advice on tax planning and can draft Wills to reduce your tax liability as much as possible.
If you die without making a valid Will, you are regarded as dying intestate. This means that the law will dictate which individuals will benefit from your estate in pre-determined shares, although priority is given to a surviving spouse and to children. In other words you lose the right and opportunity to decide who will receive what and when. For many people knowing that you have provided for your loved ones, whether they be family or friends, in the event of your death provides comfort and peace of mind. It is therefore essential that you make a Will.
For unmarried couples a Will is the only way your assets will be inherited by your Partner. Without a Will the rules of intestacy state that only spouses will automatically inherit and therefore an unmarried Partner is excluded from that protection.
The process for drawing up a Will is generally far more straightforward than most people believe. It is an action that can provide you with the knowledge that, in the event of your death, your wishes can be acted on promptly and in a timely manner. It also ensures that the distribution of assets can be undertaken quickly and efficiently following death to provide security for your family.
We can advise on the drafting and updating of Wills to ensure that as your circumstances change, your Will continues to reflect your wishes. Making a Will is a very skilled task and involves considerable time, care and attention on the part of the Solicitor preparing the Will. Even so, preparing a Will need not be greatly expensive.
If you would care to call a member of our Private Client Team to discuss your requirements, we would be happy to provide a costs estimate or alternatively if you would prefer an appointment, we can offer a free consultation for half an hour for more detailed advice, including advice on tax planning and asset preservation.
More complex Wills, or Wills involving a home visit(s) inevitably involves a greater time commitment on the part of the solicitor instructed but would be available for an additional fee. We are always happy to provide a quotation.
Elderly client services (incl. Trusts and Lasting Powers of Attorney)
Trusts provide considerable scope to pass on assets or reduce tax liability by placing the asset outside of your estate. We can act as Trustees on your behalf or draft Trust documentation to place the Trusteeship with the individuals you nominate.
A Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to place the day-to-day administration of your finances with an Attorney, if your health is poor or your mental faculty prohibits you from attending to financial affairs. Generally the Attorney will be a relative or close friend in whom you have absolute trust. It is also possible to appoint two Attorneys if you prefer, although this requires advice and discussion. A Lasting Power of Attorney provides the flexibility to continue to deal with matters while you are able or willing to do so.
Alternatively, if mental capacity has already failed, we can advise you on how to make an application to the Office of Public Guardian for the appointment of a Deputy to deal with an individual’s affairs.
Our specialist practitioners will explain how these documents can be best used to support your circumstances and will draft them in accordance with your wishes.
Inheritance Tax planning
House price inflation in the UK means that Inheritance Tax is no longer “a tax on the rich”. The threshold for Inheritance Tax is currently set at £325,000 for the tax year 2016/2017. Inheritance Tax is a flat rate tax at 40%, payable on the value of the estate that exceeds the threshold figure.
A wide range of tax planning measures can be taken to reduce the potential for paying Inheritance Tax. Our experts can advise you on the best options for your particular situation.
Probate and administration of estates on death
Our team of Probate specialists provide advice with understanding and sensitivity when winding up and administrating estates. They can establish whether it is necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration to allow assets to be collected and distributed in accordance with the wishes of the deceased.
Where appropriate, the service includes tax saving advice to ensure the estate is passed on, in as efficient a manner as possible, to the beneficiaries.
For advice upon Wills, Probate and LPAs contact: Hannah Pedley, Associate Solicitor.