Many people think that making a Last Will and Testament is something you only need to think about in the later stages of life. Others may not ever consider writing a Will at all.
However, a Will is vital for legally protecting your wishes, legacy and loved ones in the event of your passing. We strongly recommend drawing up a Will to safeguard your property or assets, and to provide financially for your spouse or civil partner, or children.
There is a compelling list of reasons why you should make a Will. Below are a few key examples:
A properly drawn up Will gives you real peace of mind. You can make provisions for your partner and family, and rest safe in the knowledge that your wishes will be carried out.
If you do not have a will, your assets including your personal possessions, cash, bank accounts, investments, pensions, and property will default to the rules of Intestacy.
If you do not make a Will then your estate will be distributed according to the rules of intestacy. It’s important to note that Intestacy does not always distribute assets in the most tax efficient way, and it does not legally recognise individuals that co-habit, no matter the duration or type of relationship.
In some circumstances this can cause a great deal of distress for those who are left behind, and can sometimes cause hardship.
Intestacy allows for your Estate to be passed onto your spouse and blood relations. In England and Wales this includes your spouse, children including legally adopted children, siblings including any half-siblings who both share a parent with you, as well as your parents, grandparents, uncles or aunts (full blood), uncles or aunts (half blood). It excludes stepchildren and your partner if you co-habit.
Intestacy requires an Administrator to act on behalf of your estate and may require a ‘Letter of Administration’ in order for them to prove they have the legal right to deal with the estate.
Naturally, the biggest problem with Intestacy is that someone you wish benefit with part of your estate, like an unmarried partner, may get nothing if a Will has not been put in place!
Worse still, your estate may pass onto someone, who in life, you weren’t comfortable with inheriting your assets.
A properly drafted Will by our Solicitors can make sure your wishes are honoured and the people you want to provide for will be a named Beneficiary on your Estate.
A Will drawn up by us, or a Solicitor, can address who the Beneficiaries are in a clear, effective and more importantly a legally valid way.
Second marriages can present unique inheritance dilemmas, for spouses and children, and in these cases you should always seek advice from a Solicitor.
And if you have complicated assets, like businesses, property overseas, multiple investments, like bonds, pensions, ISAs, or stocks it’s best to consult a professional.
The reason is, when it comes to dividing your estate, only the known assets will can be divided if left out your Beneficiaries may struggle to claim it.
During the meetings in our Estate Planning Service we’ll go through all of your assets, beneficiaries and will tailor an inheritance solution that works for you!
We can also advise you on the best way to handle Inheritance Tax through the provisions in your Will.
A ‘Do it Yourself’ (DIY) Will can be downloaded off the Internet sometimes for suspiciously cheap prices, but all too often these types of Wills can create far more problems than they solve!
There are a number of common flaws and shortcomings associated with DIY written Wills, which include (but aren’t limited to):
It is essential that your Will is properly prepared and regularly updated by a qualified, professional Solicitor to avoid any confusion, minimise disputes, and ensure your wishes are completely carried out in the event of your passing.
As authorised and regulated Solicitors, at Farleys Solicitors LLP we can advise you on the best course of action for your specific circumstances, as well as the best ways to leave your assets to family or loved ones.
And remember, any discussion you have with a Solicitor on these matters is completely confidential.
What is Probate?
Probate is a term used to refer to the legal process of organising, administering, and distributing a deceased person’s estate once taxes and debts are cleared.
Only the named Executor of a Will has the legal ability to apply for a Grant of Probate. However, Probate does not always apply in cases of intestacy.
How long does Probate take?
Every case is different. The amount of time it takes for an estate to complete Probate will be determined by the complexity of the Will, the amount or complexity of debts, and the complexity of distribution to the beneficiaries.
Generally, the Probate process can take anywhere from 6 months to a year, and in highly complex situations it may take several years to be settled.
When is Probate Required?
Probate is generally required for all Last Will and Testaments if an estate includes a least one piece property.
You may not need probate if the estate is made of cash assets including cars, furniture, or jewellery. Or if the amount of the estate is small, the property or bank accounts are held jointly, the estate is insolvent, or life insurance policies and pension benefits in the estate.
The only condition where Probate is not required is in cases of Intestacy that are governed by a different set of rules and regulations.
Do I need a Solicitor to handle Probate?
A Solicitor is not required to handle Probate. You may choose to do it on your own to have more money for the distribution of the estate. If you are the named Executor on a Will with one asset or few debits you may find it financially beneficial to forgo the services of Solicitor. However, it will be a time consuming process and requires high levels of organisation.
You will need a Solicitor to handle Probate if a Solicitor was named the Executor in a Will. Naming a Solicitor or LLP is a common practice for Wills in the UK particularly where large estates are passed down, this is due to the complexity and timing of paperwork to complete the Probate process.
How do I apply for Probate?
In some cases you can apply for Probate using the official online application for form PA1P and then you’ll need to send original documents directly to the probate registry.
The list of documents required to be granted Probate is sent to you directly by HM Courts & Tribunals Service. There may be cases where an online application cannot be completed in which case you’ll need to complete the PA1P on paper and mail in with all original documents.
If you’re using a Solicitor they can gather all documents and submit the Probate application on your behalf.
How much does Probate cost?
The cost of Probate will depend on if you are using a Solicitor to handle the process or if you are going direct to HM Courts & Tribunals Service.
Our service will vary from case-to-case depending largely on the complexity of the Estate and duration it takes to sell any property. Our average costing is based on an estate where:
What is the average price of Probate?
In similar cases as outlined above the estimated number of hours required to deal with the administration of the estate is 10-20 work hours at a cost of £195 per hour.
The base cost will typically range from £1950.00 to £3,900.00 (+VAT) and then will also include several additional costs as outlined below. It’s important to note, if there is one beneficiary and no property, costs will be at the lower end of the range. Costs will be larger if there are multiple beneficiaries, at least one property, or multiple bank accounts.
Are there any additional costs associated with Probate?
Additional Costs may include:
For the most accurate costings, specific to your situation and circumstances, we recommend you give us a call on, 0845 050 1958.
What is the cost of writing a will?
The costs involved in with writing a Will can vary depending on a wide range of individual circumstances, the complexity of your estate, the number of beneficiaries, and other provisions you may require.
If you need professional legal advice or want a Solicitor to draft your Last Will & Testament, please give us a call on 0845 050 1958, our friendly, expert staff are ready to take your call!
Who is an Executor on a Will?
The Executor is a person, either a Solicitor or named person in a Will that will be responsible for handling the estate through the process of Probate.
The Executor is responsible for notifying banks the of deceased person so they can freeze all of the associated accounts, and will ensure that assets such as property are not sold until a Grant of Probate has been initiated.
Once the Executor is granted probate, they will be able to collect the assets, pay all outstanding debts, and distribute the assets according the Beneficiaries outlined in the will.
Dealing with probate can be a long and complicated process, and for this reason many Executors may choose to hire a specialist probate Solicitor who will be able to act on their behalf.
What to do before you see a Solicitor?
Before you seek legal advice for Wills, Trusts, or Probate it can be useful to have some idea of the documents you have — that way when you meet with your Solicitor they can advise you of which additional ones you’ll need. Sometimes the documentation required may be a bit obscure and may require you wait a period of time before it can be completed or obtained.
In addition, in order to set out clear provisions in your Will you’ll need to know business earnings if you own a business, have access to any mortgages (if any), a list of your investments, a list of know debts (if any), and some idea of who you’d like to Execute your will if different from your spouse or children.
You may also want to think about what happens to your Estate in a worst case scenario, if for example, you and your spouse or partner both pass away.
Farleys Solicitors LLP is a friendly, trusted, and straight talking local firm with over 50 years of experienced serving clients all over the North West. Our experience staff can answer all of your most pressing questions regarding wills, trust, and probate!
Farleys aim to provide the best service for our clients and can write your Last Will and Testament specific to your needs, situation, and assets in addition to advising you on Inheritance Tax — so that you can make an informed decision about what you leave behind.
If you need to speak with one of our specialist Solicitors about any of our services please give us a call on 0333 331 5776, use our online chat, or email us. We’re here to help!
When a person doesn’t leave a Will, their estate must be divided according to a strict set of rules, called ‘intestacy’ whereby only m...Read More