Wills, Trusts and Probate
Probate solicitors ensure that all your assets and property will pass in accordance with your wishes.
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One of the first steps in this process is the proactive step of making a Will. This will provide you with the opportunity to choose who will look after your affairs when you die, as well as ensuring that you have made adequate arrangements for your children through the appointment of guardians.
Probate solicitors can also help you decide what to do after somebody has died, especially when circumstances are complicated. For example, if the estate is over the inheritance tax threshold, if there is no will or if there are doubts about the validity of the will.
No matter what your circumstances, the expert team of probate solicitors at Beecham Peacock can help. Our team offer sympathetic, friendly, professional advice on all probate and estate administration matters. Contact our Newcastle office today on 0191 232 3048 to find out how we can help you.
What happens if I do not make a will?
It becomes necessary for your closest relative to apply to the Probate Court for what is called "Grant of Administration". If the Court is satisfied with the formal documentation lodged with them, a sealed court certificate (called "Letters of Administration") will be issued and that will be full authority for the named person to collect in the assets of the deceased. There is a strict "pecking order" of beneficiaries depending upon whether the deceased left a husband or wife and whether or not there were children. If for example there is a widow and there are children then the first £250,000 of value is paid to the widow plus the personal household items and the rest of the estate is divided into two halves: One half is shared immediately between the children and the other half is held on trust so that the widow receives the income for life after which it is divided between the children. This usually is a most unsatisfactory arrangement and can have very unfortunate financial consequences for the widow. It would be the direct result of the deceased having failed to protect his family by making a will.
Is it expensive to make a will?
Our charge for a straightforward will is £150 + VAT. It will, of course cost more if you have complicated requirements involving trusts etc. The legal charges involved are relatively insignificant when compared, in some cases, to the tax savings that can be achieved. More importantly than cost is that the distribution of your assets is done in accordance with your wishes and not some rigid and often irrelevant intestacy rules.
How can I avoid paying inheritance tax of 40%?
Firstly of course you must make a will because Inheritance Tax mitigation is virtually impossible otherwise, except by giving assets or money away during your lifetime and successfully surviving seven years. At the present time every individual has a tax free allowance of £325,000. If the estate is less than that figure then there is no tax payable at all. Due to a recent change in the law, it is possible that the Inheritance Tax entitlement of one spouse can be passed to a second spouse if any part of it remains unused on the death of the first spouse. This means that in the event of the death of the second partner, a tax allowance of up to £650,000 can be made available to reduce or remove the extent of Inheritance Tax. There is also an exemption from tax relating to any sum left by a husband to wife or vice versa. Each individual will need to consult in some detail with his or her solicitor on these points. There are other allowances against Inheritance Tax, which can be discussed at that time.
What is an executor?
After selecting the individuals who will benefit from your will, you have to appoint someone you trust to carry out the administration work and to put your wishes into effect. This is your executor. You can appoint anyone as your executor such as a member of your family, a friend or a professional person. You could even appoint your bank although you would be dismayed to learn how much your bank would take out of your estate as payment for their services. Normally the executor carries out his duties free of charge except where you choose to appoint a solicitor or other professional person.
Who should I appoint as executor?
By far the best person is a close relative or a major beneficiary of the will.
Why should I make a will?
Without a will you could create serious financial problems for your spouse by depriving them of funds needed to maintain their standard of living. You could paying substantial sums in Inheritance Tax that could have been avoided and you will give up the opportunity to make individual specific gifts to persons you would have preferred to "remember" in your last will and testament.
How should a will be signed?
The formalities are extremely rigid. Two witnesses who are not beneficiaries must be present when you sign and they themselves must sign as witnesses in the presence of all three of you. A mistake in this respect cannot be corrected after the testator has died.
What exactly is involved on an application for a grant of probate?
Estates vary in their constituent assets and in value generally. The Executor will probably need the help of a solicitor who will firstly investigate all assets in order to calculate the estate value and this may entail the engagement of a professional property valuer or accountant where a business is involved. After that the application forms need to be prepared and signed by the Executor including in particular an oath to be sworn by him confirming the facts of the application generally and undertaking to carry out his duties lawfully. Details must be supplied to H M Revenue & Customs and all Inheritance Tax paid at that stage. Only when you have a clearance and tax receipt can the matter proceed further to an application to the Probate Court.
What do solicitors charge for probate work?
This varies from firm to firm. Some charge as much as two and a half percent of the estate plus a time charge. Beecham Peacock Solicitors will normally charge for the time spent on the matter at £192 per hour but this will be negotiated between solicitor and client on each occasion. It is likely to be higher on a complicated estate.
Why Choose Us
- Over 180 years experience within our team of experts
- Highly qualified staff
- Industry recognition as a leading firm
- Extremely high customer satisfaction feedback
Contact our Wills, Trusts and Probate specialists today on0191 232 3048
My wife and I would like to say thank you for your help with my father’s estate and for making this process stress-free throughout an incredibly emotional time in our lives.