- Who will look after my children? My parents? My sibling? Social Services?
- Who will administer (deal with) my estate once I’ve gone? Someone I don’t know or trust? Someone capable of doing so?
- Who will inherit my wealth? How much will the State take?
It makes sure that your children are looked after by people you choose and not someone unknown to you or them.
It makes sure that the people you want to inherit do inherit. Your spouse/partner, children and other rightful beneficiaries will receive what you have and this can also be protected.
So regardless of what the future hold, breaks ups/ divorces and third party claims, all can be planned for and, in some cases, unnecessary Inheritance Tax can be reduced and managed.
So whether you haven’t got one, are reviewing an old one or your circumstances have changed, you need advice. Without professional guidance, much of your hard-earned money might end up in the wrong hands or be lost completely.
Taking professional advice on the drafting of your Will and updating/reviewing it regularly is the only way to make sure your wishes are adhered to.
Our process is that we will first get to know you or reacquaint ourselves either by a Zoom or Teams video call, a telephone call or face-to-face in person. This means us understanding your wealth, family, and who you want to inherit. We will then provide you with all the information you need to make informed decisions before proceeding and parting with any money.
Everyone’s affairs can be quite different and so we will provide advice tailored to your wishes and circumstances. This could (and usually does) include supplementary documents or services too but never involves a hard sell. As above, we want you to make a decision from being in an informed position.
We are members of the Society of Society of Will Writers and one of our Directors is an Affiliate Member of STEP, so you’re in safe hands. We also hold professional £2.5m of indemnity insurance so are insured as should anyone be who undertakes this kind of work.
Trusts & Estate Planning
Invented in England during the 12th and 13th centuries, trusts are much more widely used than people realise and certainly aren’t reserved for just the very wealthy. About 85% of our clients use them in some form.
We all want our hard earned wealth to pass to those we want and Wills help with this, Trusts however can provide more certainty and form a more comprehensive part of your Estate Planning.
- Our homes and/or other properties we own
- Current & savings/deposit accounts
- ISAs/Bonds and other investments
- Business and agricultural assets
- Personal belongings such as jewellery, cars, etc.
These can be handled by your will and also by the use of trusts. But there are other things which might pay out upon your demise such as:
- death in service benefits
- life insurances
- other trusts
Things not necessarily considered in your planning can result in your wealth being lost, unintentionally shared or whittled away, such as:
- a new partner/spouse and then their children
- claims against your beneficiaries from third parties such as creditors, bankruptcy or local authorities/benefits agencies
- Your estate is taxed on your death, again when your children die and perhaps again when your grandchildren die. Over just a few generations HMRC could be an unnecessary beneficiary of your estate.
- Your death in service benefits will pass to your partner/spouse tax-free but when they die your children could be sharing it with HMRC.
- After you die, your partner/spouse finds someone else. Your wealth might be lost to that new partner or his/her children – people you’ve never met.
- Vulnerable people might not be properly catered for or perhaps have their existing provisions damaged
- Your property is sold to pay for long term care. With average annual costs of approximately £40,000, your beneficiaries will share their inheritance with the local authority or perhaps miss out altogether*
*this shouldn’t be the sole reason to use trusts. So please ensure you take and understand the advice given before proceeding, regardless of who you instruct.
Powers of Attorney
We all hope to live long and healthy lives but we may not always be able to manage our own affairs. If you were to suffer physical or mental incapacity, a Lasting Power of Attorney could make your live and the lives of those around you easier as well making sure your wants and needs are taken care of. Some of us finding dealing with money and paperwork difficult at the best of times but if you become unable to manage your own affairs for any reason, it may be impossible.
If you don’t have LPAs, then the only way that your affairs can be managed is by application (by a relative or friend) to the Court of Protection. Not only is this likely to cost considerably more than LPAs, but it will take several months. Most people can’t wait months. During this time your finances and those of people around you could be seriously damaged, decisions could also be made by someone you wouldn’t have chosen. In the case of non-financial affairs, decisions could be in the hands of those unfamiliar with your wishes.
A Lasting Power of Attorney allows you to appoint people you know and trust to look after your finances and welfare should you no longer be able to too or when you would like help. It is a legal document which gives authority and can also include preferences and instructions if you so wish. In some cases it might be suitable to appoint a professional but generally only if there really is no one else available or your affairs need a professional.
Not only do LPAs cover the everyday things we do such as managing finances, dealing with financial institutions, paying bills, signing cheques and dealing with your bank they also cover buying or selling property and making decisions on medical and life-sustaining treatment. They are also important to those of us who have their own businesses or a share in them.
Powers can be restricted under LPAs too. For example, if it business related you might wish to appoint fellow directors/partners or even your accountant to make business decisions rather than your family.
These are therefore powerful documents which need proper consideration and advice.
Probate & Estate Administration
When someone passes away, the persons appointed as Executor in the Will, or the next of kin/beneficiairies where there is no will, are legally responsible for finalising the affairs of the person who has died. This is known as Estate Administration but often generically referred to as Probate. The work involved include such things as closing the bank accounts, selling property, paying tax and other liabilities, as well as applying to the Court for a Grant of Representation (either a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration) and finally paying the inheritance to the beneficiaries.
But dealing with the death of a loved one can be one of the most difficult and emotional times in our lives. Dealing with these things will be overwhelming for some people and many will struggle to cope. Bereavement isn't an everyday experience and for many, it will be their first experience of dealing with grief and they will be left feeling unsure about what to do and where to turn. Afterall it’s something that most individuals have no experience of, it carries a high administrative burden and can involve language that we simply are not familiar with.
But don't worry, you're not on your own. We are here to help you. Whether you want to talk to a specialist to simply be pointed in the right direction or if you would prefer to have help with the 'legal bit' or even hand the responsibility and burden on to someone else, then we have services tailored to meet your individual needs.
You choose how much or how little help you need and we will provide it. All prices are fixed in advance so you know what you will pay before you agree to proceed. We will also beat any like-for-like quotation.
See our FAQ's regarding Probate below:
Probate Frequently Asked Questions
When someone has died without leaving a valid Will, then they are said to have died "intestate".
The assets will need to be distributed to the appropriate people in accordance with the law, these are usually the closest relatives and the belongings are distributed in a set order. The person(s) responsible for dealing with the assets and finalising the affairs will be known as the administrator.
Please note, intestacy can also arise from a Will being invalid or being revoked (cancelled) prior to the date of death, or because there are no beneficiaries named in the Will or they have died before the person who has died, the latter is what is referred to as a “partial intestacy”.
“Common Law Partners / Cohabitees” - if your partner has died without making a Will then you are not automatically entitled to inherit from the estate. You may be entitled to make a claim for reasonable provision under Inheritance (Provision for Family and Dependants) Act 1975. You should always seek legal advice in these circumstances. Stepchildren also miss out from inheriting under the rules of intestacy,
There are a number of legal and financial requirements that need to be completed when a person dies, this whole process is referred to as "Administering the Estate" or "Estate Administration". The Personal Representative is responsible for the administration of the estate and will find themselves having to manage a wide range of legal, financial and administrative tasks, these may include things such as:
- valuing all of the assets and debts as at the time of death,
- applying to the Probate Court for your official authorisation to act,
- selling properties and investments,
- settling loans, mortgages or other debts
- dealing with tax and completing tax forms, such as Income Tax, Inheritance Tax and Capital Gains Tax
- providing Estate Accounts to the beneficiaries and the Probate Court, if required
- paying out the estate to the correct people.
This can be a complex and onerous task for an individual and so before a person begins the process, they need to be clear in their mind that they want to take on this responsibility.
It is important to realise that a Personal Representative is not obliged to act and can renounce their appointment (step down). Although, once they renounce they have no say or control over what happens to the estate of the person who dies.
A Grant of Representation is a court order and the official authority to deal with the estate of the person who has died. The grant is issued by the Probate Registry which is part of the High Court.
There are different types of grants and the most common are:
- Grant of Probate - This is the court order issued to the executors under a Will.
- Grant of Letters of Administration - This is the court order issued to the administrators where the person died without a valid Will.
- Grant of Letters of Administration with Will annexed - This is the court order issued to the administrators where there is a valid Will, however, there are no executors appointed or they are unable or unwilling to act.
You may hear this being referred to as “Probate”.
Following the death, many of the assets will be frozen and the asset holders will only release the assets to the executors or administrators once they are happy they have the authority to act. The Grant of Representation evidences this authority.
If the person who has died left a Will, then you have to make sure that their wishes are carried out correctly as far as possible. If they died without a Will, then you must adhere to the strict rules outlined in law, known as the Intestacy Rules. As a Personal Representative, you are duty bound, not only to the beneficiaries but also to the court and any creditors.
You are obligated to achieve the maximum possible value from the estate for the beneficiaries and to act in their best interest at all times. You must keep the estate administration completely separate from your own affairs. If you get something wrong, even unintentionally then you could be held personally liable and you may have to put things right out of your own pocket.
You can be afforded some protection, such as by placing Statutory Notices in the Gazette and the local paper. You should also open a Bank Account as soon as possible to manage the money in the estate and to make sure that this is kept completely separate from your own.
People generally underestimate the time it takes to administer the estate. You will hear people saying 4 - 6 weeks but in reality, this would only be to get you in a position to apply for the grant.
The whole process can take between 40 – 60 hours to complete and this time could span over 9 months to a year, and sometimes longer. Bear in mind, every case is different and delays can arise through no fault of your own.
The short answer is no, in fact around half of the population deal with the process themselves and without using a professional. However, it is important to understand what is expected of you when dealing with the affairs on someone who has died.
There are many legal, financial and practical obligations and so it is important to ask yourself before you begin the process whether you feel you would be able to cope or whether you would find more comfort in a professional managing everything for you and on your behalf.
Storage - My Life Dox
Once your documents are completed by you and confirmed by us as having been correctly signed and witnessed*, to prevent them being lost or destroyed, our sister company My Life Dox Ltd will store them for you for free.
We don’t just put your documents in a filing cabinet in the office, we provide safe and secure storage for you via our partners Iron Mountain.
My Life Dox Ltd is a stand-alone entity. Being separate ensures all contact and services remain intact for the future.
When you store, we provide you with storage certificates so you, your executors and/or attorneys will know where to turn to.
So, whether you have subscribed to My Life Assist (with all its benefits) or not you should store with My Life Dox. We’ve seen it all, torn up documents, documents that have been written on or “amended” and even grandchildren colouring them in. You’ve spent money getting your affairs in order so don’t leave things to chance.
We securely store:
- Letters of Wishes
- Lasting & Enduring Powers of Attorney, and
- Title Deeds
Your documents can be retrieved at anytime as required or at a time of need all within 4 working days. A retrieval fee of £15 applies to cover the administration of retrieval and then forwarding by Royal Mail Special Delivery.
To retrieve your documents call 0330 555 1231 or complete our request form below.
We will need:
- Full identification for yourself (please see here for what is acceptable)
- A Death Certificate if applicable
- Completed Authority to Release (link to Word file attached)
- Payment of the retrieval fee.
Usually email copies are fine.
*only applies to documents prepared by us and we cannot be held responsible for any documents produced elsewhere