Wills, Inheritance Planning and Estates FAQs

How do I make a Will?

Make an appointment to meet one of our private client lawyers and we can go through with you what you would like to happen to your estate after you die. After an initial meeting we will send you a draft copy of your Will for your approval and arrange a time that is convenient for you to come and sign the Will.

Will I need to attend the office to make my Will?

We would need to meet you to discuss your instructions and sign the Will, but if you are unable to come to the office in some circumstances we are able to come and see you at home. Please call for more information and we will be able to advise you further.

How much does it cost?

We charge fixed fees for standards Will and would be happy to discuss this with you. If the Will is complicated we may charge more but this would all be discussed with you first.

Can only solicitors make me a Will?

It is not only solicitors who can make you a Will. Anyone can set themselves up as a ‘Will writer’, however these can be unregulated, uninsured and untrained. We are trained professionals who are regulated and insured. We specialise in this area and can help you decide the best options for you.

My friend wants to make me Executor of their Will but also wants me to benefit from the Will. Is this Possible?

Yes, you can be an executor of a Will and still benefit from it. However you will not be able to witness the signature of the Will and still benefit from it.

What happens if I die before I make my Will?

If you die without making a Will, you will have no say in the distribution of your estate. Instead, the Rules of Intestacy will come into play and your estate will be divided in a pre-determined way. This may mean that your assets are not given to the people you would wish to benefit from them. If you live with someone, even if you are married, they will not automatically inherit all your estate.

Should I change my will if I get married or divorced?

If you get married any Will made before the marriage, unless it specifically states it is made in contemplation of that marriage, would be considered revoked and you would need to make a new will

If you get divorced this can make part of your Will invalid in relation to the former spouse. It would therefore be best to change your Will to reflect those changes.

Can you store my Will and would I be charged for this?

We offer free storage of your Will for as long as you wish. We will also provide you with a copy for your records and copies for the executors named in the Will if you would like.

WHEN SOMEONE DIES

What do I need to do when a member of the family dies?

When someone dies there is a lot of things that will need doing. We understand that at this distressing time some people feel unable to manage or are unsure as to what they should do.

Do I need a Grant of Representation?

A Grant of Representation is not always needed e.g. if the person left less than £5,000 in total or everything passes to a spouse. Some financial institutions may still require a grant before allowing you access to the money though.

A Grant will be needed if the deceased person had more than £5,000, any stocks or shares or owned property in their sole name.

What is an Executor/Personal Representative?

The Executor/Personal Representative (“PR”) is the person who will be responsible for administrating your estate after you have died. If you leave a Will they should follow your wishes. It is therefore important to carefully consider who you would choose, as it should be someone you trust. If there is more than one executor/PR they must work together.

It is possible to have someone who would benefit in the Will as an executor.

What if a Beneficiary cannot be found when someone dies?

If a beneficiary has died before the person who made the Will, the gift will ‘lapse’ or fail and become part of the residuary estate.

If the beneficiary is still alive and cannot be found the executors should make all reasonable enquiries to establish the beneficiary’s whereabouts e.g. using a Private investigator or advertising. If they still cannot be found rather than waiting to distribute the rest of the estate the executors could make an application to the court, take out missing beneficiary insurance or pay the money to the court for that beneficiary. We can help to guide you through this process.

TAX PLANNING/GIFTS

Are there any inheritance tax implications if I make gifts during my lifetime?

  • If you are a married couple or civil partner, there is no Inheritance Tax on any gift you give each other – as long you both live in the UK permanently.
  • You are able to make gifts of capital of £3,000 each per financial year free from inheritance tax. You can carry this forward to the next year with a maximum gift in the sum of £6,000.
  • You are able to make small gifts of up to £250 to any one person exempt of inheritance tax in any one tax year.
  • Payments made to someone as part of your normal expenditure out of your income are exempt for tax. You must have sufficient income after the expenditure to maintain your standard of living and regular payments are often indicative of it being “normal expenditure”.
  • Therefore if you find that you are not spending all of your income you could give this to your beneficiaries now.
  • Gifts to qualifying charities transfer free from inheritance tax whether they are made whether by outright gift in your lifetime or by a gift in a Will, this is regardless of the value of the gift.
  • You can make lifetime gifts worth up to £325,000 which could be potentially exempt from inheritance tax. If you survive for 7 years following the transfer, then it becomes fully exempt. If you do not survive the 7 years then the gift will be brought back into your estate and will use some or all of your Nil Rate Band depending upon the size of the gift.

All information correct at 1st May 2016 but is subject to change. Please follow the link for the current figures: www.hmrc.gov.uk/inheritancetax/pass-money-property/exempt-gifts.htm