When a loved one dies there is often a lot to sort out. Beyond the practicalities of registering the death and arranging the funeral there are important legal and financial ends to tie up and that is where we can help.
The Grant of Representation (Probate if there is a Will or Administration if there is no Will) is the legal name for the document which will enable those responsible (Executors if there is a Will or Administrators if there is no Will) to deal with the assets and liabilities of the estate.
If you have been appointed as an Executor in the Will or you are one of the closest members of family of the person who has died you may need to take advice because dealing with the administration of the estate can be complex. You will, for instance, need to find out about the value of the person’s possessions and make sure that any Inheritance Tax is paid to HM Revenue and Customs.
At TV Edwards, we’re here to guide you through the process from beginning to end.
Wills and Tax Planning
If you want to decide how your estate should be distributed after you have died you should make a Will. Where someone dies without having made a valid Will their assets may not necessarily be distributed in the way they would have wanted or in a tax efficient manner.
We specialise in pre and post death matters, including:
- preparing Wills, including advising on Inheritance Tax
- preparing trusts, particularly trusts for disabled people
- preparing and registering Lasting Powers of Attorney
- applications to the Court of Protection in the case of mental incapacity
- post-death family arrangements
- applications for grant of letters of administration or grant of probate including dealing with HM Revenue and Customs requirements
- collecting in and distributing an estate and preparing final estate accounts
- resolving disputes about Wills or about the management of an estate.
Funding your case
Where Legal Aid is not available we can quote you a competitive fixed price for our work. Click here to find out more.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who should make a Will?
Everyone with any assets or children for whom they wish to appoint a testamentary guardian.
Do I really need to make a Will, won’t my partner or children get everything anyway?
Yes you do need to make a Will. If you are not married to your partner your partner has no rights under intestacy rules (see below). If you have children it will go to your children but it will go to them equally and this may not be your wish. If you are married with children and your estate exceeds a certain amount not all of your assets will pass to your spouse if there is no Will.
What happens if I don’t make a Will?
Your assets are divided in accordance with the intestacy rules. These are determined by parliament. An intestacy is the word used if a person dies with no Will.
Do I really need a solicitor to make a Will?
No there is no requirement to have a solicitor to make a Will. Most people find it helpful and it does ensure that you do not fail to think about things which are useful in connection with your Will and that the Will is properly executed so that it is a valid document.
What is my estate?
The estate is what you leave namely your assets, money, bank accounts, and properties less your liabilities e.g. outstanding mortgage, credit cards and other debts.
Who can I name in my Will and what can I give away?
The making of your Will is relatively unconstrained and you can name any beneficiaries you wish and you should give everything away by your Will. It is possible that certain classes of people e.g. spouses and children if they feel that the provision made for them is not reasonable may make a claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975.
What is an executor?
An executor is the person who is responsible for ensuring that your estate is properly wound up; that all returns are made to HM Revenue and Customs; the Will is proved; liabilities are paid; and the remaining assets distributed in accordance with the terms of your Will. If there is no Will this person is called an administrator.
Can executors also be beneficiaries?
Executors can also be beneficiaries and very often are.
Who should I choose to be my witnesses?
That is a matter for you. The witnesses cannot be beneficiaries under the Will. They must be aged over 18 and able to watch you make your signature i.e. not be blind.
What things should I cater for in my Will?
- Appointment of executors;
- Any financial gifts you may wish to make to godchildren, nieces, nephews, charities, schools, universities etc.
- The gift of any personal chattels whether of value generally or of particular value of one person.
- The division of your residue.
Who should I tell that I have made a Will?
There is no requirement to tell anybody that you have made a Will but it is often useful if you speak to your executors so that they know their anticipated duty and that they know the Will has been made.
I already a Will, do I need to revoke it if I make a new one?
The new Will if properly drafted will automatically revoke an earlier Will.
I have just got divorced, do I need to update my Will?
Almost certainly. If you are divorced the Will itself remains valid but all the gifts to your former spouse become invalid and if not addressed there may well be a substantial part of your estate which is intestate.
I have property overseas, should I make a Will in England or abroad?
It is best to make a Will in England to deal with your English assets and a Will in the country in which your other assets are held. The freedom to make bequests varies from country to country.
What is a mirror Will?
This is an informal not a legal phrase used to describe usually a position where two people make a Will which is identical but in reverse i.e. in one Will husband leaves everything to wife, in the other wife leaves everything to husband.
What is a trustee?
A trustee is a person who will manage a trust. Trusts can arise under a Will. For example if the beneficiaries are minors, their beneficial gift will be held by the trustees until they reach the age of 18. If the Will so provide it may be for a longer period. The trustee manages assets for the benefit of someone other than him/herself.
What is a guardian?
A guardian is a person appointed under a Will to look after the testator/testatrix’s children until they reach the age of majority.
Will my estate estate be charged inheritance tax?
Every estate over £325,000 (present nil rate band or tax free amount) will be liable to inheritance tax which is charged at 40%. If the deceased is the second to die in a married partnership or civil partnership any unused nil rate band for the partner who died first may also be applied.
How long is a Will valid for?
It is valid indefinitely although as people’s lives change it needs to be reviewed with relative frequency say every 5 years so that the Will keeps pace with changes in assets and liabilities and in the family structure.
Where should I keep my Will?
This is a matter of some disagreement. It is often appropriate that the testator/testatrix retains the original him/herself. Many people do however leave their Wills with the solicitor who prepared the Will. It is possible to deposit the Will with the Public Trustee Office and an informal register of Wills is kept by a company called Certainty.
Is there a central register of Wills?
No there is no central register of Wills. Certainty, a profit making company, is seeking to develop an informal register of Wills.
On what grounds could my Will be challenged?
- On the grounds that you lacked capacity to make it e.g. you did not understand what you were doing;
- that you made it under duress i.e. it was not voluntarily made;
- if there is any element of fraud; or
- because a person has a potential claim under the Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975 (see above). This may vary the Will’s provisions rather than attack the validity of the Will.