Below is a selection of commonly asked questions relating to wills, will trusts, LPAs and more.
A Freelance Solicitor is someone, like me, who is a fully qualified Solicitor who is practising on their own. I am fully regulated by the SRA and I have to comply with all the normal Anti Money Laundering Regulations set out in law. I am fully insured for the work that I undertake.
No, there is only me and I will deal with everything. You can phone me and email me and if I can’t answer your call right away, leave a message and I promise to call you back. Or email me and I will respond just as soon as I can.
The starting answer to this is no, I only take instructions from you. You are my client, and your instructions are confidential. I will ensure that I only do what you want, not what anyone else wants.
If you really do want me to discuss matters with family and providing I have no concerns that they are putting pressure on you, then yes, I can talk to them but I will always check that it is what you want at the end of the day.
We will arrange a meeting – I can usually do that within a few days. After that meeting, I will send you my engagement letter and, assuming you confirm you want me to go ahead, I will draft your documents 5-7 working days after I have had your final instructions and signed engagement letter.
Although you can buy an off-the-shelf Will very cheaply, the Wills and other legal documents I draft, are individual and bespoke for you. The law surrounding Wills and tax is complex and some Wills can be a lot more complex than others. I take time to understand your circumstances and to advise you properly. So, I’m just not able to say what the cost will be without knowing more about what you want and what you need. However, I do promise that after our initial no obligation meeting, I will provide you with the cost before you need to commit.
I don’t store Wills or other documents. I advise that you use the National Will Archive for the storage of your Wills, LPAs and Trusts etc. They charge a modest annual fee of £30 and will also register your Will with "Certainty, the National Will Register" at the same time, so the whereabouts of your Will can always be found.
A properly drafted Will is a binding legal document which comes into effect when you die. It sets out what you want to happen to your property and other assets after your death. It enables you to distribute your estate to people of your choice, it can help protect your estate from unnecessary inheritance tax and it can do extra things like appoint Guardians for minor children.
Yes, you can, but please bear in mind that a Will is a technical legal document which needs to be flexible and future proof. There will be consequences if you do not do it properly and it is easy to make mistakes. Mistakes can have devastating consequences for family members, they can lead to the Will being invalid and you dying intestate or having to pay unnecessary Inheritance Tax. A poorly drafted Will can lead to misunderstandings and expensive arguments through the courts.
These are statutory rules which set out exactly how your assets will be distributed amongst your surviving relatives. What you might have wanted is irrelevant. There is never a situation when dying Intestate is justifiable.
The law does not compel you to leave anything to your family, but if you do not make suitable financial provision for immediate family, cohabitees or other people financially dependent on you, they may be able to challenge your Will through the court. It is important to have a professionally prepared Will to have the best chance of defending any claim.
It is a common myth that your estate will automatically go to your surviving spouse or civil partner. This is not the case and inheritance tax may become unnecessarily payable. The Intestacy Rules do not provide for cohabiting couples, stepchildren or charities and make no provision for the guardianship of minor children.
Administering an Intestate estate will be more expensive than if there is a Will.
For some people, simple Wills are the best way to meet their needs. For other clients, more complex wills are needed because of their family circumstances, assets or for Inheritance Tax reasons. Effective tax planning often means simple Wills are not the most tax efficient and actually, very few people’s circumstances are that straightforward.
A properly drafted Will can do a list of things, such as including express provisions for your funeral, naming who you want to administer your estate and who you want to be responsible for the guardianship of any minor children.
It can make gifts of your personal possessions or of money or property to friends, family or charities.
It can minimise the effects of taxation and will clearly state your instructions for the distribution of your assets to beneficiaries of your choice, including what happens if your chosen beneficiaries die before you.
You choose who you want to be your executors. These people can be friends or family or professionals such as a solicitor or accountant.
It is usually advisable to appoint two executors and to have a substitute in case one dies or is unable to act. Executors are also often referred to as Trustees in a Will.
Parental Responsibility is a bundle of all those duties and responsibilities involved in being a parent. It includes things like the ability to sign medical consents, to make decisions about schooling, and the ability to have a voice when dealing with third parties like social workers.
You can appoint someone, like a member of your family or close friend as a "testamentary guardian". Parental Responsibility will pass to that person if there is no parent left alive with parental responsibility.
Children cannot inherit until they reach 18 but you can provide for your minor children by leaving money for them in a trust and giving your trustees the power to pay money out of the trust fund for their maintenance, education and benefit before they reach 18 years or older if you like.
Your Will can include specific gifts to specific beneficiaries of assets, property, money or items such as jewellery. You can also leave gifts of a percentage of your estate.
You can include gifts to people outright or into a trust.
In short, yes:
If you divorce, executorship and gifts to your ex will fail but the rest of the Will remains valid.
If you marry, it will automatically revoke any Will completely unless that Will specifically provides for that marriage and you will be left Intestate.
I advise that the original Will and any Trusts, Letter of Wishes, or Lasting Powers of Attorney are stored with the National Will Archive so they are kept safe for you. I can help you to arrange this with them.
I also strongly advise that the Will is registered with "Certainty, the National Will Registration" service, and if you store your Will through the National Will Archive they will do this for you automatically and as part of their fee.
Once your Will has been completed you cannot make changes by simply amending it yourself. It needs to be amended or updated formally.
You should review your Will every three to five years and especially if there's been a major change in your life.
Trusts are a way of looking after assets for the benefit of a person or group of people known beneficiaries. You name some people called Trustees to look after the assets in the Trust on behalf of the beneficiaries.
Just a few examples:
Bare trusts. These are typically used where the beneficiaries are minor children and cannot inherit the asset until they reach the age of 18 when they will become entitled to it as of right.
18 to 25 trusts. This type of trust brings both flexibility and protection. Monies can be released earlier if the child needs them but can be held onto until they are 25 if necessary. There may be some tax issues depending on how much is in the trust, but we can discuss these when we meet.
Life interest trusts.
A common example being when you allow your spouse or civil partner to continue to live in your share of the home after your death but the capital value of your share of the home passes to your children on the eventual death of the surviving spouse.
This type of trust is very common, it provides for the surviving spouse, yet it also offers protection against them remarrying or changing their Will after you have died.
Nil Rate Band Discretionary trusts. They are less necessary now for IHT planning but should still be considered if you are not married or in a civil partnership and your estate is taxable or if you have assets which are likely to grow in value.
Discretionary trusts. This type of Trust is flexible and has many uses. They can be used to reduce exposure to Inheritance Tax, to protect young children or other vulnerable beneficiaries and as part of succession planning for a business.
Disabled persons trusts. These are specialist trusts for people who fall within in a statutory definition of disabled. They are supposed to be a tax efficient way of protecting assets for a disabled person but can be inflexible in their use. Please do not assume that just because your child is disabled that this is the right trust for you.
Business Discretionary trusts. These are specialist trusts which are typically used by owners of businesses or farms to protect and maximise the very valuable business and agricultural property inheritance tax relief that is available.
The most common assets are:
If your Estate includes assets such as life insurance policies or death in service benefits. Combining these assets with lifetime trusts can often substantially reduce or even completely eliminate any inheritance tax liability on your death.
If you take no action, you might find that you have to pay 40% IHT on them, if not on your death then certainly on the death of your spouse or civil partner.
You cannot make provision for this in your Will; however, you can prepare for it by doing Lasting Powers of Attorney.
There are also Advanced Decisions which allow you to make decisions and set out your wishes in respect of matters such as future life sustaining medical treatment now that will be applied if certain circumstances arise in the future.
Inheritance tax is a tax that you might have to pay on your death, depending on the value of your estate. It is generally payable at 40% and if you have made gifts during the seven years before you die, these may be included in the calculations.
It is an Inheritance Tax allowance that everyone has. You don't pay IHT on the first £325k of your estate.
It is an extra slice of Nil Rate allowance on top of the basic £325k. It can amount to an extra £175k IHT free, but there are conditions attached to its use.
Where spouses or civil partners don't use up their Nil Rate Bands on first death, they can be transferred and used by the surviving spouse on their eventual death.
Apart from gifts to spouses / civil partners and charities, your estate pays IHT on gifts to everyone else.
Yes but if you die within 7 years of that gift, the value of the gift will be included when working out what IHT your estate pays.
Everyone is allowed to give away £3k per year and it doesn't matter how long you survive afterwards. You can give away as much as you want over that amount, but for it to be ignored for IHT you have to survive 7 years.
A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document where you authorise another person or persons (known as your "attorney(s)") to act for you if you have lost capacity and cannot make your own decisions.
There are two types of LPA:
You can have either or both types of LPA.
This type of LPA allows your attorney to deal with your financial affairs, for example to pay your bills, sell your property or investments and operate your bank accounts.
This type of LPA allows your attorney to make decisions about matters such as your medical treatment, your diet, where you live and how you spend your time. Unlike the LPA for property and financial affairs, your attorney can only use it after you have lost the mental capacity to make those decisions yourself.
LPAs must be made using a specific form. There is a different form for each of the two types of LPA.
The form seems simple to complete but before completing it there is a lot you need to think about.
It depends how you set up your LPA. You can say that your attorneys always have to act jointly for all decisions, or you can say they can act jointly and independently. You can also set out that they have to act jointly for some decisions and independently for others.
Yes, you can also place additional restrictions on the authority of your attorney(s) in the LPA by setting out instructions in the LPA itself.
You can also give guidance to your attorney – guidance is about how you would like them to manage your affairs.
If you cant find what you’re looking for above or need clarification on anything, please feel free to get in touch and I’ll be happy to help.