Wills & Probate Solicitors
Knowing where to start when it comes to Wills, Probate, Powers of Attorney and Trust Work can be difficult and it’s often a topic people don’t like to think about. Having a team which understands the sensitivity surrounding this area, that has your best interests at heart and offers appropriate discretion and genuine sensitivity, is essential – and those qualities are what Walker Foster are renowned for.
Over the years we’ve helped hundreds of satisfied clients with matters of Probate, Wills, Tax Planning, Lasting Powers of Attorney and general legal services for the elderly. We pride ourselves on the fact that the majority of our clients have remained with us for many decades, which speaks volumes about our ability to provide an effective and thorough service, and one that is every bit as approachable as it is affordable.
Giving you peace of mind is a top priority and our large Private Client team draw upon a wealth of experience and deliver a highly personal level of service and real attention to detail that ensures nothing is left to chance.
Why should I have a Will?
Any adult over the age of 18 who has assets should have a Will. The main thing about a Will is that it provides certainty. A Will can be challenged, if for example a person argues that someone did not have ‘capacity’ or understanding when they made their Will or if someone who has been left out a Will and is reliant on the deceased for financial support challenges its contents, the courts can allow the challenge. It is therefore very important that you seek legal advice when making your Will to protect against the possibility of future challenges. Click here to read more about why you should make a Will.
What sorts of things can I include in my Will?
A Will allows you to set out your wishes to be carried out after your death. No one Will have to ‘guess’ what your wishes would be. Making a Will gives you certainty and allows you to make decisions about things like: -
- Who you would like to look after your children in the event of your death.
- What your wishes would be in terms of your funeral
- Which charities you would like to donate to from your estate.
- What specific, monetary or other gifts (known as legacies) you would like to give to specific people on your death.
- What you would like to happen to your estate, i.e., everything you own after gifts, donations and debts, on your death.
If you don’t have a Will at the time of your death, your estate will pass under the Laws of Intestacy. These are inflexible and strict rules which do not allow for your personal wishes, but instead set out the order of who should receive your estate on your death. It may be that the person who benefits is not someone you would have chosen to have left everything to!
Should I review my Will at any time?
Yes, absolutely. Your Will should be reviewed every few years to ensure that you still wish to make the same provisions and gifts – you may have disposed of a specific item that you had previously gifted to someone.
Also, if your personal or financial circumstances change, for example if you get married or have children or grandchildren or become divorced or separated, you should definitely review your Will. Click here to read more on when I might to change my Will.
What is an Executor?
This is the person named in the Will and appointed by you who will be responsible for dealing with your estate at your death. It is important who you choose because the executor has responsibilities and duties and you should therefore appoint someone you trust and value.
What is Probate and will my family need to obtain this on my death?
This is the name given to the legal document required to deal with the deceased’s estate. This is referred to as a grant of probate in cases where there is a Will and letters of administration if there is no Will. It gives those responsible the permission they need to deal with the estate (if the estate is valued at over £5,000 after the deduction of funeral costs)
Any inheritance tax due must be paid within 6 months of a person’s death. Failure to make the payment will result in interest being paid. It may be possible to pay this in instalments where the Inheritance tax is attributable to property. Inheritance tax can be complex but we can advise and guide you through the process and rules relating to Inheritance tax. The current nil rate band allowance is £325,000 plus an additional residence nil rate band of £100,000 for the tax year 2017/2018 (but whether you qualify for this additional relief will depend on your own personal circumstances and the content of your Will). If your estate is worth more than this, you would be liable to pay 40% on anything above the threshold.
There are ways you can reduce your Inheritance Tax liability and we can guide you through the options available to you and help you plan for what you want to happen.
What is a Lasting Power of Attorney and who should have one?
A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which allows someone you trust to make decisions on your behalf about things such as your health care or finances, if a time arises when you lack the mental capacity to make those decisions yourself.
The person who making the Lasting Power of Attorney is called the ‘Donor’ and by making the Lasting Power of Attorney they are authorising someone called the’ Attorney’ to make decisions on their behalf.
There are two forms of Lasting Power of Attorney. One which specifically deals with your health and wellbeing, called a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney and allows decisions to be made about medical treatment, social care issues and life-sustaining treatment.
The second type is called Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney. This allows decisions to be made in relation to your property and finances, for example, buying and selling property, managing your bank accounts and investments and claiming pensions and benefits on your behalf.
You can make one type of Lasting Power of Attorney without making the other, or make both together (although they are separate documents) and you can apply restrictions and conditions to the use of the Power of Attorney if you so wish.
It is necessary to register a Lasting Power of Attorney at The Office of the Public Guardian if it is used to be used. They maintain a record of all registered Powers of Attorney.
Unfortunately, any one of us can potentially lose capacity and so having a Lasting Power of Attorney is something that we should all seriously consider having.
We can help and advise you on Lasting Powers of Attorney and help you make the right decision for you and your family. Click here to read more about Lasting Powers of Attorney
Links to websites you might find useful:-
HM Revenue and Customs
Registry of the Office of the Public Guardian
Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Click here for a reminder of what needs to happen when a person dies.
Do you want to chat to one of the team to find out more? We’re happy to answer any queries or fill out our Wills questionnaire form here.