Wills & Estates Planning
A Will is a very important legal document and will outline and instruct how a persons’ estate should be divided up in the event of their death.
When thinking about your Will, one key consideration will be how you would like your property to be distributed and how you wish your dependants to be provided for. Not only will some proactice Wills & Estate Planning ensure your wishes are carried out to your specific instructions, it can also avoid a lot of unnecessary heartache and additional costs for your family should you die ‘intestate’ without a Will.
Despite its obvious importance it is a sad fact of life that many of us procrastinate over the drafting of a Will – perhaps mistakingly thinking it will take a long time to complete or that there is still plenty of time to ‘get our house in order’. In reality, it is never too early to put a Will in place and, to avoid any possible legal issues, it is best to have a Solicitor draw up your Will (Wills & Estate Planning) rather than take the task upon yourself.
You will be obliged to pay Inheritance Tax if the value of your estate is above £325,000. The standard Inheritance Tax rate is 40%, although it is only charged on the portion of your estate which is above the threshold.
Inheritance Tax (IHT) is a tax that may be payable on an individual’s estate upon death and will be dependent on a number of factors including the size of the estate and the types of transfers to be made. IHT may also be payable upon gifts made during a person’s lifetime and will be payable on any ‘chargeable transfers’ made either during your lifetime or upon death.
Inheritance Tax is a complex area however through the careful drafting of a Will it may be possible to reduce the amount of tax which may be liable from your estate on your death.
Enduring power of attorney
It goes without saying that a Will can only deal with your affairs after death. However, there may be circumstances during your lifetime when you may be incapacitated from, for example, a serious illness or loss of mental capacity. In such circumstances having an Enduring Power of Attorney prepared in conjunction with your Will should help ensure your loved ones can make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to do so.
Preparing for the future is always a good idea – never more so if you have a progressive illness or are advancing into older age. Some of us will reach a stage in our lives when we will be unable to make important life decisions relating to our assets and financial interests. If you are concerned that this may occur, or if it has happened to a member of your family, you should consider using the services of a Solicitor to appoint an Enduring Power of Attorney.
Enduring Power of Attorney
By nominating an Enduring Power of Attorney, you are giving your consent that another individual can act in your best interests to deal with your affairs when you are unable to do so yourself. The person you nominate can do almost everything that you can do for yourself but you must name them when you are still fully capable of doing so. Often the nominated person is a close and trusted family member of friend, such as your adult son or daughter or your life partner. Some clients may even ask their solicitor to act as attorney for them solely, or together with a family member. Whomever is selected as the Enduring Power of Attorney, they will be named as such in the person’s Will and be called upon to make important decisions on their behalf should the need arise.
How We Can Help?
At Hunt Solicitors we can advise you on the creation of an Enduring Power of Attorney and if or when required, we will support and guide you through the important decisions which need to be addressed, such as in relation to property, savings and investments matters. We will endeavour to make the process as straight-forward as possible to avoid any added stress or uneasiness on their part.
Common areas which an Enduring Power of Attorney may need to make decisions upon include:
- Paying Bills
- Managing Bank Accounts
- Changing Investments
- Giving Gifts
- Managing / Selling Property
When no Enduring Power of Attorney exists the Office of Care and Protection, which is a division of the High Court, can appoint a Controller who is usually a relative. If this occurs we can help to obtain the necessary reports and prepare the relevant applications to the Court.
Probate and administration fees
When a relative or loved one passes away it can be a very emotional and upsetting time. Whilst grieving it is understandably difficult to think clearly and turn your mind to practical matters such as the execution of their Will and division of their assets (Probate and Administration of Estates).
Your Solicitor therefore needs to be experienced and sensitive to your situation in order to help you deal with all the relevant financial affairs and assets in the best way possible – whether or not a Will is in place.
What Is Probate?
Probate is the general term which refers to the procedure where the Will of the deceased is proved as the last valid Will. On completion of this process a Court Order known as the Grant of Probate is issued by the Court. A different type of Order is obtained if the deceased did not have a Will and is known as a Letter of Administration.
The Executor of the Will is then obligated to distribute the estate in accordance with the terms of the Will. These Court Orders will provide comfort to the Banks, Building Societies and other financial institutions holding the assets of the deceased so that they can release the relevant assets into the names of the right people.
It is also important to note that the Court is not allowed to issue a ‘Grant of Probate’ until any Inheritance Tax (IHT) due has been paid. The forms associated with IHT are often complex but Hunt Solicitors will help to guide you through all aspects of the tax affairs relating to the estate.
How We Can Help?
At Hunt Solicitors we offer a full probate service to manage and help minimise the legal difficulties that often arise after a loved one passes away. We deal with probate matters sensitively and proactively to ensure everything is handled as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Areas in which Hunt Solicitors can legally assist you include:
- Will execution
- Wealth management
- Estate transference
- Inheritance tax
- Disputes over Wills & Probate
How can we help?
At Hunt Solicitors we are experienced in drafting Wills no matter your personal circumstances. We will carefully guide you to ensure that you consider all of the major items which need to be addressed. If you feel you may be subject to Inheritance Tax we can also ensure that your Will takes this into consideration in order to potentially minimise your tax liability.
The team at Hunt Solicitors can help you with the following Wills and other related matters.
- Drafting of Simple Wills including mirror Wills
- Drafting of Complex Wills involving establishing Trusts, advising on foreign assets and Wills for clients who have complex business interests
- Changing or updating a Will
- Administration of estates
- Contentious probate
- Enduring Powers of Attorney
- Pension planning
- Financial planning, including Inheritance Tax
- Trusts and estate planning
To speak with a member of our Wills & Estates Planning team, to discuss your circumstances, or to arrange a free initial consultation, please fill in this short form to make an enquiry.
Alternatively you can contact us with the following details.
77 High Street
7 Donegall Square West