Estate Planning & Probate

Estate planning isn’t just about what happens after your death, it’s also about how you live and who will look after your affairs for you in the event that you can’t do it for yourself.

Probate and Estate Planning

The bottom line is that unless you take the necessary steps, you will not be able to guarantee that your assets are protected and are passed onto the next generation in the manner that you would wish. You cannot wait until the last minute either, and overall, it is better to start sooner rather than later, the Probate process being very complicated and expensive if things are not done correctly. This means it is never too early to start creating your Estate Plan.

Who Would Manage Your Affairs If You Could Not?

It is an unhappy fact that sometimes people find themselves unable to look after their own financial affairs. Sometimes there is a medical reason, in others it is accidental, or perhaps it will be just down to age.

Power of Attorney

This is where the ‘Power of Attorney’ is so very useful. The appointed administrators can manage things until you are able. However, setting up what they can and can’t manage on your behalf is a complex procedure, the agreements having a significant impact on how you live your life. Our team of experienced solicitors can guide you through this process so that you are comfortable with the decisions you make and the attorneys you appoint.

You Must Have a Will

Our wills team can guide you through the complexity of making the right type of will and / or trusts for your family and ‘good causes’, ensuring that they have one less thing to worry about at an incredibly stressful time. They can also help you to review your financial affairs and take steps to reduce the impact of inheritance tax on your estate.

Probate Pricing

Obviously pricing for probate matters can vary considerably. However, to give you an idea of what to expect an uncontested probate with wholly UK based assets (that is completely deal with a deceased’s persons affairs and applying for Grant of Probate as necessary) our fees average between 2-3% of the gross value of the estate, inclusive of a 0.5% gross estate charge and VAT.

The hourly rate applicable is £250 per hour plus VAT.

In terms of disbursements, there is the £157.50 for the probate application fee, and £.50 for each sealed copy probate requested.

The timescales for probate vary from 3-12 months, dependent upon assets (for example if there is a property to be sold it will be as long as that takes to go through).

How To Make The Process More Efficient

  • Make sure you have a will, one that clearly identifies the Executor, Beneficiaries and how you want your assets to be divided. If you don’t have a will your assets will be divided according to the current Probate rules. For example, if you are living with a partner and not married, they will not be automatically entitled to inherit anything if you don’t have a will.
  • Updating your will is something that is often overlooked. This is a big mistake, estate planning being an ongoing process, and as things change, so should your will.
  • Don’t forget to include instructions about your digital assets and accounts either, it being a very good idea to create an ‘when I die’ file of accounts and passwords that can be referred to in your will.
  • If you own a business, the matter of ‘business succession planning’ needs careful attention, as this will decide who will be running the firm after your death.
  • Trusts are a highly effective way of reducing the amount of inheritance tax that is payable on death, but creating a trust is not something that should be rushed. Your estate planner, must be totally up to date with the ever changing trust laws.
  • Charitable giving is a great way of reducing income tax whilst you are living, but it must be remembered that there is a limit of £3000 a year in relation to gift-tax.
  • Estate Tax Planning is the area that most concerns people, it being necessary if your assets are going to be passed onto your surviving loved ones. To be carried out effectively, you will need the services of an estate planning lawyer as well as perhaps, a wealth management expert. These specialists have access to a host of information relating to trusts and life insurance policies and will provide invaluable help on any tax issues.

 

If you would like a consultation with one of our experienced estate planning lawyers,  please call us on 01787 277375 or use the online form.

 

"Thank you for all of your help, support and advice over both the past few months but also over the last four years". 

S and B Moorehead