Wills, Probate, Tax and Trusts
Many people put off making a Will as, understandably, they do not wish to consider their own death. Although it may not be a particularly cheerful thing to do, making your Will means that you have signed an important document which can save stress and heartache for those left behind. With house prices having increased massively in recent years, most homeowners fall victim to Inheritance Tax. Our expert team can give advice on tax planning and can draft wills to reduce as much as possible your tax liability.
If you die without making a valid Will you are regarded as dying intestate. This means that the law of the country dictates that certain individuals benefit from your estate in pre-determined shares although priority is given to a surviving spouse and to children. In other words you lose the right and opportunity to decide who will receive what and when. For many people knowing you have provided for your loved ones whether they be family or friends in the event of your death provides comfort and peace of mind. It is therefore essential that you make a Will.
For unmarried couples a Will is the only way your assets will be inherited by your Partner. Without a Will the rules of intestacy state that only spouses will automatically inherit and therefore an unmarried Partner is excluded from that protection.
Some people may be deterred from making a Will as they see it as a complicated process involving a lot of technical jargon they do not understand. In fact, the process is fairly straightforward and there are a number of benefits from making a valid Will, including:-
It is important to review your Will from time to time. Many things change over the years and a Will made years ago may no longer reflect your wishes. Getting married, or remarried, for instance, may not only “affect your wishes” but will invalidate your Will and all previous Wills.
Elderly client services (incl. Trusts and Lasting Powers of Attorney)
Trusts provide considerable scope to pass on assets or reduce tax liability by placing the asset outside of your estate. We can act as Trustees on your behalf or draft Trust documentation to place the Trusteeship with your person of choice.
Lasting Powers of Attorney came into effect on 1st October 2007 and allow you to place the day-to-day administration of your finances with an Attorney, if your health is poor or your mental faculty prohibits you from attending to financial affairs.
It is also possible to sign a Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney to appoint your choice of Attorney to deal with all your financial aspects of your personal affairs. For example your care and medical decisions.
Our specialist practitioners can advise and assist in how to use these documents and draft them in accordance with your wishes.
Inheritance Tax planning
Increasing house price inflation in the UK means that Inheritance Tax is no longer “a tax on the rich”. The threshold for Inheritance Tax is currently set at £300,000 for the tax year 2007/2008, with fixed increases imposed by the Government so it will reach just £325,000, for the 2009/2010 tax year*. Inheritance Tax is a flat rate tax at 40%, payable on the value of the estate that exceeds the threshold figure.
A wide range of tax planning measures can be taken to reduce the potential for paying Inheritance Tax. Our experts can advise you on the best options for your particular situation.
*The October 2007 pre-budget announcement promises the extension of Inheritance Tax relief for married couples and civil partners. The proposals will only become law when embodied in the Finance Act 2008.
Probate and administration of estates on death
Our team of Probate specialists provide advice with understanding and sensitivity when winding up and administrating estates. They can establish whether it is necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration to allow assets to be collected and distributed in accordance with the wishes of the deceased.
Where appropriate, the service includes tax saving advice to ensure the estate is passed on, in as efficient a manner as possible, to the beneficiaries.
For all enquires please contact: