Dying without a Will can create upset and distress for your loved ones in the future; yet nearly two- thirds of us in the UK ‘put off’ the task of arranging a Will. When you die without a Will in place, this is known as ‘dying intestate’.
When you die ‘intestate’, the State directs who will inherit your assets and can therefore result in your family members, friends and even favourite charities receiving nothing. It is particularly important to make a Will if you are neither married nor in a registered civil partnership, and/or have children, in order to avoid uncertainty about who will look after your children, or provide for them, if you die.
Our experienced and qualified Will writers can advise you every step of the way and make sure you’ve considered everything, and everyone, as part of the Will-writing process.
By making a Will you can help secure your family’s future; it couldn’t be easier.
When to review your Will
If you have a Will in place this should be updated every 3-5 years.
Wills should also be updated if there have been changes to your personal circumstances such as:
- Separating from your partner or going through divorce
- If you have got married and anticipation of marriage to a named person has not been written into your existing Will
- Having a child
- If a named executor has passed away and a replacement has not been named
- Changes to financial situation such as receiving or inheriting a large amount of money or losing money as you can only leave what you have
- Changes to beneficiaries’ circumstances such as divorce or bankruptcy, suffering from medical issues, in receipt of benefits
It is also a good idea to update your Will if you have not nominated guardians for any children under 18. If you have no Will in place social services and the courts can make decisions regarding your children.
Lasting Power of Attorney
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPOA) involves giving someone you trust the ability to make important decisions on your behalf, in the event that you become incapable of doing so. Your chosen LPOA will have the legal authority to handle your affairs, together with guidance and instructions on how they should act.
If you do not have an LPOA in place and you become unable to deal with your affairs yourself, then a relative or other appropriate representative would have to make an application to the Court of Protection to be appointed to make decisions on your behalf.
This can be a costly and time-consuming process and means that you have no control over who is appointed or what decisions they can make. We can help you avoid this by arranging an LPOA. Contact us today to discuss the best route suited to your circumstances.
Inheritance Tax Planning
Inheritance Tax (IHT) applies to around 30,000 estates per year. But careful planning can help to minimise your tax obligations.
IHT becomes an issue when someone dies. It is a one-off tax, paid on the value of the deceased’s estate above a set threshold which is currently £325,000.00 (2022/2023). The tax payable is currently set at 40% of the value of your assets and estate over the threshold.
Our financial advisers and dedicated tax consultants can work with you to help you organise your estate in a way that can mitigate paying more Inheritance Tax than you need to. A full review of your assets and estate can mean that planning is put in place as early as possible, meaning the burden does not lie with your family.
A Trust is a legal arrangement whereby one or more trustees are made responsible for assets, which are placed in a trust environment, for the benefit of chosen beneficiaries. This can be an effective tool to potentially mitigate or reduce the value of your estate when you die; resulting in excellent planning for Inheritance Tax purposes.
Setting up a Trust can be a long and complex process and as such, using our specialist financial and tax advisers can give you peace of mind that the task has been carried out effectively and efficiently.
Probate is the process of dealing with the estate of someone who has died, which generally means collecting in their assets, clearing their debts and distributing their estate in accordance with their will. Technically, ‘probate’ refers to getting permission to carry out the wishes within someone’s will, though the term also applies to the whole process of settling someone’s estate. If you’re responsible for executing someone’s will, there are specific rules that set out how you notify the authorities and distribute the estate.
Whether you chose to carry out the probate and estate administration process yourself or you instruct us to do the work for you, the general process involves the following:
- Finding the Will
- Applying for the grant of representation
- Administering the estate
- Preparing the estate accounts
- Distributing the assets to the beneficiaries of the estate.
Please note that the process and terminology differ in Scotland. There are separate rules if someone dies without a Will, known as intestacy.
Probate can be complex, especially if your loved one owned a business or a significant amount of assets. Working with us can make the process much smoother, especially if we already have an in-depth knowledge of your loved one’s business affairs.
Time and Fees
It can take a significant amount of time to take care of an estate so it is not always possible to provide a set price for the work. However, we do not charge based on a percentage of an estate but instead on the time taken to deal with each matter and the level of complexity involved.
At the outset we will provide an estimate of fees for the work to be carried out. If we identify anything that is likely to significantly alter the fee, we will advise you accordingly as soon as possible. For an idea of the scope of work that we undertake and the possible associated costs please see our ‘Fee examples’ below.
The process of dealing with an estate can take a significant amount of time and there are several factors that can affect the process. We will ensure that we work with you and keep you informed of progress on a regular basis so that you know where we are with a case. As a basic guide:
- Identifying and valuing assets/liabilities and preparing the Inheritance Tax forms then applying for probate may take up to 9 months.
- Selling assets and collecting in the money may take time depending on the market and this could take up to a further 6 months.
- Completing estate tax returns, settling tax liabilities, preparing estate accounts and making final payments to beneficiaries may take 2 months.
We will work with you through this difficult process and always be on hand to help with any queries you have.
Fee example 1
Obtaining a grant of probate (easily identifiable low value assets)
In this example, there is a simple Will in place, assets are identifiable and easy to value.
These assets are not subject to Inheritance Tax.
Valuations can be easily obtained and there are no complicating factors.
The estate can be reported to HMRC via the informal route and a probate application made on behalf of the executors.
The executors deal with the administration of the estate.
Total fees between £750 and £1,500 (plus VAT).
Fee example 2
Calculating Inheritance Tax and obtaining a grant of probate (high value assets, simple Will)
In this example there is a simple will in place, the assets are all understood however there is Inheritance Tax to pay.
There may be a few beneficiaries.
Valuations of the assets are obtained and there are no complicating factors.
The relevant Inheritance Tax forms are prepared (IHT400) and a probate application is made on behalf of the executors.
The executors deal with the administration of the estate.
Total fees between £2,000 and £3,500 (plus VAT).
Fee example 3
Acting on behalf of executors
In this example we would carry out the full process and this would include the following:
Identify the assets, value the estate and calculate Inheritance Tax.
Apply for probate.
Collect in the assets, repaying debt and distributing assets to the beneficiaries.
Preparing accounts and tax returns for the estate.
Total fees between £3,500 and £6,000 (plus VAT).
Fee example 4
Acting on behalf of executors (complex estate)
In this example we would act on behalf of the executors and there would be complex matters in the estate and this could include the following:
Identifying the assets and seeking valuations.
Working in foreign jurisdictions.
Dealing with high value assets including agricultural property.
Dealing with complicated business assets.
Assisting with the administration of the estate.
Accounting for the estate and completing the necessary trust tax returns.
Total fees over £10,000 (plus VAT).
Probate Application Fees are £273. There is a small additional charge for extra copies of the Grant of Probate.
Notification in The London Gazette and a local newspaper of the individuals death to protect against claims from unknown creditors – £300 to £500.