Will Lawyers and Probate Lawyers

Wills are things that are only too easily put off and thought needs to be given to make sure you are being fair to your family.

At HB 121 Solicitors we understand that it can be emotional and that you want to do what is best for your loved ones.

Why you need a will

It’s important to make sure that after you die, your assets and possessions (known as your estate) will go to the people and organisations (known as your beneficiaries) you choose, such as family members and charities you want to support.

Your estate includes your personal possessions, as well as assets such as:

  • Property (in the UK or overseas).
  • Savings and investments.
  • Insurance funds.
  • Pension funds.

If you die without a valid will, it could be difficult for your family to sort out your affairs. Your estate will be shared out according to the rules of intestacy. Under these rules, only married partners, civil partners and certain close relatives can inherit your estate.

If you and your partner are not married or in a civil partnership, your partner won't have the right to inherit – even if you’re living together.

It’s important to make a will if you:

  • Own property or a business
  • Have children
  • Have savings, investments or insurance policies

How to make a will

Start by making a list of the assets you want to include in your will. Then decide how you want them shared among your beneficiaries. If you want to leave a donation to a charity, you must include the charity’s full name, address and its registered charity number.

You’ll also need to consider:

  • What happens if any of your beneficiaries die before you.
  • Who should carry out the wishes in your will (your executors).
  • What arrangements to make if you have children – such as naming a legal guardian or providing a trust for them.
  • Any other wishes you have – for example, the type of funeral you want.

Our Expert team can give you advice about any of these issues.

You can make your will yourself, but you should only consider this if your will is straightforward. If you do make your own will, you should still get a solicitor to check it over.

Making a will without using a solicitor can result in mistakes or something not being clear, especially if you have several beneficiaries or your finances are complicated. Your executor will have to sort out any mistakes and might have to pay legal costs. This will reduce the amount of money in your estate. Mistakes in your will could even make it invalid.

At HB 121 Solicitors we will charge a fee for making a will, but we will explain the costs at the start.

It’s important to use a solicitor when:

  • You share a property with someone who is not your wife, husband or civil partner.
  • You have a dependent, such as a child, who cannot care for themselves.
  • Several family members may make a claim on the will.
  • You own property overseas or a business.
  • Your permanent home is not in the UK.

Information you’ll need to give your solicitor

  • All the assets you want included in your will, such as property, vehicles, savings and investments.
  • Details of who should have these assets after you die.
  • Any other wishes – such as the type of funeral you want.
  • Details of any children and family members, including children who are not biologically yours – such as step-children or adopted children.

Executors

Executors are people named in your will who will carry out your wishes after you die. They can be family or friends, but you should ask them first if they’re willing to take on this role as it involves a lot of responsibility.

An executor can also be a professional person, such as your solicitor. If you use a solicitor for this service, you’ll have to pay a fee.

Most people have two executors, but you can have up to four. You should at least have a second executor in case your main one is unable to act on your behalf.

  • After you've made your will.
  • Make sure it’s valid

Your will is only valid if two witnesses watch you sign it. They must also sign the will but do not need to read it. Your witnesses must:

  • Be over 18.
  • Not be your beneficiaries.
  • Not be your beneficiaries’ spouses or civil partners.

Keep it safe

Make sure your executors know where your will is kept. They must have access to it without needing to apply for legal permission.

Do not store your will in a bank safety deposit box. The bank will not be able to open it until the executor gets legal permission, which won’t be granted without your will.

You can leave your will with a solicitor (they’ll give you a copy). There’s no charge for this service if you leave it with the solicitor who drew up your will.

You can also store it with the government’s Probate Service.

  • Keep it up to date.
  • Get married or enter a civil partnership – this will automatically cancel any existing will
  • Buy a new property or an expensive asset such as a new car.
  • Divorce or separate from your partner.

We can assist you in making a Will.

For more information and expert advice please contact HB 121 Solicitors on 01562 702655 or email us on info@hb121solicitors.co.uk.

Probate Lawyers

At a difficult and stressful time administering a loved one’s estate can often be a difficult and complicated process to undertake. At HB 121 Solicitors we can help you with this giving sensitive and practical advice to Executors and Administrators on all aspects of the probate and administration of an estate.

We can help you with all of the paperwork, advise you in relation to an application for a Grant of Probate or a Grant of Administration, assist you with taxation issues and deal with the collection of assets, discharge of liabilities and the distribution of the estate.

Dealing with someone’s affairs when they die

Applying for probate gives you the legal right to deal with someone’s property, money and possessions (their estate) when they die. In England and Wales, there are two types of grants which give you this legal right:

  • Grant of probate – if the person left a will.
  • Grant of letters of administration – if the person did not leave a will.

Both these documents are often referred to as grants of representation. In both circumstances, the application process is the same.

We can help you apply for probate by:

  • Making the process easier.
  • Making sure you do not get penalties if you submit the wrong information.

Most people name an executor when they write a will. An executor deals with the person’s estate when they die.

If you’re the executor, you’ll need to find out whether to apply for a grant of probate.

A grant of probate is an official document issued by the probate registry (part of the HM Courts & Tribunal Service). It gives you the legal right to deal with the estate of the person who died.

If you’re the executor but you do not want to or cannot act, you can:

  • Appoint someone else to apply for probate by using appointing an attorney.
  • Refuse to act, if you have not already started to deal with the estate and file it at a probate registry with the will.

You can have up to four executors and you must all agree who applies for probate. You can only submit one application.

If the person did not name an executor in their will, the probate court will appoint someone.

  • If the person did not leave a will.
  • If the person did not leave a will you can apply to be an administrator of their estate. This gives you the legal right to deal with the person’s estate when they die.

You can usually apply to be an administrator if you:

  • Are their next of kin (usually a close relative).
  • Were married to them, or
  • Were in a civil partnership with them.
  • To apply to be an administrator of an estate you follow the same steps as applying for probate.

    If successful, you’ll get a grant of letters of administration.

    When to apply for probate:

    • You may not need to apply for probate if the person who died
    • Only had savings or premium bonds – some banks and building societies will release money without needing probate or letters of administration.
    • had jointly owned land, property, shares or money.

    You may need to apply for probate to administer the estate of the person who died if they left

    • More than £5,000.
    • Stocks and shares.
    • A house or land, or
    • Certain insurance policies

    However, some financial organisations may require a grant before giving you access to less than £5,000.

    Before applying for probate, we can help you estimate the estate's value and report it to HM Revenue & Customs. Depending on the value, you may have to pay inheritance tax.

    Applying for probate is time consuming and can be frustrating.

    We can guide you through the stages of applying for probate. For example, we can:

    • Tell you if you need to apply for probate.
    • Value the estate.
    • Submit inheritance tax forms to HMRC.
    • Apply for a grant of representation for you.
    • Collect the assets of the estate.
    • Make sure the estate is distributed accurately.

    Affordable Probate Costs

    • If the value of the estate is under £5,000, there’s no fee.
    • If the value of the estate is over £5,000, the application fee to apply for probate is.
    • £215 if you apply yourself.
    • £155 if you use a solicitor.

    Our Probate fees

    Charges for using our service can vary depending on what’s involved in administering the estate.

    After you’ve applied:

    Grant of probate

    You’ll usually get a grant of probate within eight weeks, but there are currently delays with the probate service.

    Probate for Estate

    Dealing with the estate can take about a year. The estate cannot be dealt with until all claims against it have been received. Stop a probate application

    You can stop a probate application if there’s a dispute about:

    • Whether a will exists.
    • Who can apply for probate.

    To stop a probate application, you need to “enter a caveat”. This prevents anyone else getting a grant of probate until the dispute is resolved. We can help prepare a caveat and send it to the probate registry. The fee to enter a caveat is £20. The caveat will last six months but it can be renewed.

    If you need support or assistance in the administration of an estate and you are not sure what to do then please contact us on 01562 702655 or email us on info@hb121solicitors.co.uk.

Powers of Attorney

At HB 121 Solicitors we can assist you in preparing power of Attorney’s. We understand that you and your family matter and that you will want to keep their best interest at heart. We can help you and make the process stress free

Managing your future

Every adult has the right to manage his or her own money and affairs. Sometimes, however, our ability to do this decreases as we grow older. Whether this is caused by illness, disability, or an accident, there are a number of practical steps you can take to prepare for this.

If this describes your situation, or that of someone close to you, you should consider getting legal advice. A solicitor can help by encouraging you to get your affairs in order and make your wishes for the future known. This may involve anything from writing a will to choosing someone to take power of attorney (legal authority to act for you) over your financial affairs, if this is necessary.

This can lighten the burden on relatives or carers who might otherwise find it difficult to make complicated decisions on your behalf.

Where there is not enough time to take these precautionary steps, or if a person is already 'incapacitated' (unable to handle their own financial affairs), it is usually the relatives of the person who need advice. In these circumstances there are a number of options available. One of these options is to contact the Court of Protection, which can make arrangements for managing the person's financial affairs. A solicitor will tell you the best course of action in your case.

What the solicitor will need to know

If you are the client, the solicitor will need to know:

  • Whether or not you have made a will.
  • Who you would choose to handle your affairs, if this is necessary.
  • What assets or income you have.
  • Any special wishes about how you want your property or assets to be handled; and
  • Whether you have a particular medical condition (if so, they will need permission to speak to your doctor).

If you are getting advice on behalf of an older person, the solicitor will first need to confirm with the older person that they want to instruct the solicitor and get the appropriate information. Once the solicitor has had a chance to consider the information, they can explain your options to you. These are as follows.

An ordinary power of attorney

This is a legal way of giving someone else the power to manage your financial affairs when it is difficult for you to manage them yourself, perhaps because of a physical disability. Usually you appoint someone you trust, such as a close relative, friend, or solicitor as your 'attorney'. Nobody can simply 'take' a power of attorney. You have to 'donate' it willingly. The donor decides who to appoint as attorney, and can cancel the arrangement at any time.

Power of attorney only applies if you are fully aware of the implications of the arrangement. The power of attorney will come to an end if you become mentally incapable of managing your financial affairs.

Lasting power of attorney

A lasting power of attorney goes one step further than an ordinary power of attorney, because it carries on, or 'lasts', even after you have become unable to manage your affairs - whether temporarily or permanently, or because of an illness, disability or accident. Lasting powers of attorney have now replaced enduring powers of attorney, although valid enduring powers of attorney made before 1 October 2007 can still be used. No new enduring powers of attorney can be made after 1 October 2007.

For a lasting power of attorney to be valid, you must fully understand the implications of the arrangement at the time of making it. A certificate provider will need to sign a certificate to say that you are aware of the implications and that nobody is pressurising you into making a lasting power of attorney. (A certificate provider is someone who has known you for at least two years, or someone with specialist skills in to enable them to confirm a person understands the significance of the lasting power of attorney.) The attorney must be at least 18 years old and must not be bankrupt if appointed to make decisions about a person's property and money. More than one attorney can be appointed at the same time.

Your attorney cannot start making decisions on your behalf until the lasting power of attorney has been registered by the Office of the Public Guardian, who will make sure your attorney is aware of his or her duty to act in your best interests. The Office of the Public Guardian will charge a fee for registering the lasting power of attorney.

There are two types of lasting powers of attorney:

  • Health and welfare lasting power of attorney; and
  • Property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney.

Health and welfare lasting power of attorney

A health and welfare lasting power of attorney can be made to give your attorney the right to make personal welfare and medical treatment decisions on your behalf if at some time in the future you are unable to make those decisions yourself. A health and welfare lasting power of attorney can only be used when it has been registered and the donor has lost capacity (the ability to handle their own affairs).

Property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney

A property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney can be made to give your attorney the right to make financial decisions, such as managing your bank account. Once registered, a property and financial affairs lasting power of attorney can be used while the donor still has capacity, unless the lasting power of attorney specifies otherwise.

Consulting a solicitor is the best way to make sure a lasting power of attorney is properly set up and registered, and that it is in the best interests of the donor.

The Court of Protection

If someone is mentally incapable of making a particular decision at a particular time, and they haven't made a lasting power of attorney, and the decision isn't one that can be made on an informal basis, the matter can be referred to the Court of Protection. The court may either choose to make the decision itself on the person's behalf, or choose someone else, known as a 'deputy', to make the decision for them.

Where the court appoints a deputy to manage someone's property and financial affairs on an ongoing basis, the deputy usually has to keep accounts, enter into a security bond, and report to the Office of the Public Guardian. The Court of Protection charges an application fee, and the Office of the Public Guardian charges a yearly fee to cover the cost of supervising the deputy's work.

Appointeeship

If a person is incapacitated and entitled to receive a retirement pension or other state benefits, the Department for Work and Pensions can choose an 'appointee' to receive those benefits on that person's behalf. The appointee can be a relative, friend or someone from the caring professions (such as the local authority social services department). They will be asked to produce some proof that the claimant is incapacitated, such as a doctor's certificate. There is no fee involved in this service.

Other financial matters

A solicitor can advise on a wide range of other legal matters affecting elderly people. For example:

  • equity-release schemes, where you can unlock some of the capital tied up in your home.
  • Funding arrangements for long-term care.
  • Estate planning by making a will or lifetime gifts; or
  • Where you suspect that an elderly person may be the victim of financial abuse.

Power of Attorney at Affordable Costs

Charges vary between solicitors and depend on your circumstances and how much advice or help is needed. Before deciding on a particular solicitor, you should always check whether their offices are accessible, and how much experience they have in this particular area of the law. You will also want to get a clear idea of their charges, but cost is not the only thing you should consider. It is just as important to find a solicitor who is approachable and whose advice you understand.

We also offer legal services related to Property Litigation & Conveyancing, Civil Litigation, Family law and divorce

For more information and expert advice please contact HB 121 Solicitors on 01562 702655 or email us on info@hb121solicitors.co.uk.