Wills and Probate
Writing a Will and ensuring it is kept up to date is very important as it stops your loved ones experiencing any problems when you die.
By making a Will you can ensure that your estate passes to those who you want to benefit from it such as family or friends. It is also an essential way of letting people know who you would want to care for your children if there were no surviving parents.
You are able to leave specific or cash gifts in your Will as well as any funeral wishes you may have. This is an important way of letting your Executors know any wishes that you may have in regards to whether you would prefer a cremation or a burial.
A Will is also a key element in financial and tax planning. Arranging your affairs properly in your Will can substantially mitigate your Inheritance Tax liability and ease the burden to your family.
If you own a business a Will can ensure a smooth transition of its ownership or sale after your death.
A regular review of your Will is essential as relationships change and something that you may have wanted previously may not be the case now. You want to make sure that the people you want to benefit from your estate are the ones named in your Will.
While you wait Wills
We now offer a while you wait Will service as long as you have relatively straight forward instructions. This means that you can see a Will Writer to give instructions, receive a draft Will and sign the final version within one appointment. Please see attached our guide to see if you are eligible for this service.
If you require anything more complicated or require estate planning advice we can also offer you a bespoke Will service with our Senior Will Writer or one of our Solicitors.
A Will is an important way of naming individuals who you would like to care for your children if they are under 18. Legal guardians are named in your Wills as the people you would like to appoint to look after your children should both parents die leaving minors.
You can appoint anyone as a legal guardian but you need to make sure they are willing to take on this responsibility. It is advisable to choose someone who you would trust to make the right decisions in regards to their upbringing and this is why most people will choose a family member. It is usually advisable to write a letter to the Guardians to let them know any wishes you have for the upbringing of your children, although this is not legally binding it is important for them to receive some guidance from you as parents.
If you fail to appoint guardians in your Will and both parents die before your children reach 18 the courts will appoint guardians instead, but they won't necessarily choose the people that you would have preferred to take care of your children.
We have a specialist team of Solicitors who can advise you on the use of Trusts in a variety of contexts. We can assist you in both their implementation and management and we can advise you on the varying types and terms of the Trust and the powers required.
Trusts are essential if you are intending to leave money to minors, a vulnerable person or if you have a more complicated family set up for example children from different marriages. A trust can also ensure that if a beneficiary is receiving state benefits the money you leave to them will not affect this.
A Trust may also safeguard assets from being used to pay for care home fees yet the money in the Trust could still be used for the benefit of the person receiving care. These types of Wills are known as Life Interest Trust Wills.
Updating your Will
It is essential to update your Will as over time your relationships and situations change. A few examples of situations changing are if you have married, divorced or separated, had children or grandchildren, had a change in assets, bought property abroad and many more.
If you die before updating your Will then your previous wishes will be carried out, this means that people may benefit from your estate when you had actually intended to remove them. Therefore, it is important to review your Will every few years to make sure that it still reflects your wishes.
If you need to make any changes to your existing Will then a New Will is going to be required, however, this can be done within our Will While you Wait service as long as your instructions are simple.
If you require more in depth advice for example in relation to trusts or estate planning our Senior Will Writer or one of our Solicitors would be happy to meet with you.
Please note that in circumstances where an address has changed or a name due to marriage, divorce or deed poll you do not need to make a new Will. We ask that in these circumstances you write a letter to us to confirm the changes and we will then store this with your original Will free of charge.
Powers of Attorney
Powers of Attorney are very important documents to have in place as they enable people to act on your behalf if for any reason you are unable to act for yourself. These documents are not just important for the elderly but are for people of any age. You may not just suffer from an illness such as dementia it could be that you have an accident and require someone of your choosing to help you.
Enduring Powers of Attorney
These ceased to be made after October 2007 and it is only Enduring Powers of Attorney that were made and signed before 1st October 2007 that can be used. You can start using an EPA at any time if it is legal and the donor gives you permission. If the donor starts to lose or has lost mental capacity then you are required to register the document with the office of the Public Guardian which is something that we can assist you with.
Lasting Powers of Attorney
There are two types of Lasting Powers of Attorney, Property and Financial Affairs and Health and Welfare.
The Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Powers of Attorney enables individuals that you have appointed to make decisions in regards to your finances and your property. This form can be used both while you have capacity and when you have lost capacity, it is completely up to you as the donor as to when this is used.
The Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney enables you to appoint individuals to act on your behalf when you cannot act for yourself because you do not have mental capacity. They are able to make decisions about your general health and welfare as well as decisions about life sustaining treatment if you give your permission for them to do this.
With both of the Lasting Power of Attorney forms your Attorneys are required to act in your best interest at all times. These forms are very powerful as you are giving individuals the same rights that you currently have, this means that it is very important to appoint individuals who you trust to take on this responsibility.
If you do not have anyone who you can appoint then we would be happy to act for you in relation to the Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney. Unfortunately we cannot act for you in relation to the Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney because of its personal nature.
General Power of Attorney
Some people many need to appoint someone to act for them for a short period of time for example if they are in another country or are in hospital. You would still have the mental capacity to make these decisions but just need someone to help you manage your affairs. A General Power of Attorney would allow someone to do this for you but the form would end if you lost mental capacity.