Wills & Probate

Wills

A Will states who inherits your estate. Without one, you die intestate and your estate is distributed according to the rules set by law. These rules do not cater for your specific wishes and can mean family members may benefit when you would prefer them not to do so.  In some circumstances your assets may go to distant relatives you have never met or even pass to the Crown. Hunting for heirs is lucrative as “heir hunters” sometimes charge up to 50% of monies they recover from estates after seeing legal notices of intestate deaths.
Although everyone knows they should have a Will, 60% of the UK adult population do not have one. Of the 40% that do have a Will, 1-in-4 do not reflect the wishes of the client or are simply not valid.  Often that is due to change of client circumstance or not signing the Will properly.
Making a Will is the only way to make sure that your estate goes to the right people. If you make a Will, you can:
  1. Set out your funeral arrangements and ensure it is paid for
  2. Make specific gifts to named beneficiaries, such as jewellery, paintings and alike
  3. Ensure legal guardians are appointed to look after children
  4. Ensure an unmarried partner benefits
  5. Choose trusted people to manage, organise and distribute your estate
  6. Leave money to charity
  7. Avoid “sideways disinheritance”, if you have remarried or have children from a previous relationship
  8. Potentially reduce your Inheritance Tax liability
  9. Create a life interest for your spouse or partner whilst leaving your home to your children.
Your Will is your statement after life about:
  1. Who benefits from and can use the assets from your estate
  2. How your property is to be dealt with
  3. Which of your trusted friends or family is in charge of distributing your estate; your Executor.

For these reasons having professional legal advice in the preparation of a will is advisable. 

Probate

When someone dies, you’ll need to acquire the legal right to deal with their estate (property, money and possessions). To execute a Will, you will usually need to obtain the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration. In England and Wales probate can also be called a “grant of representation”, ‘grant of probate’, ‘letters of administration’ or ‘letters of administration with a will’. The kind of grant that you need will depend on your circumstances, which is outlined as follows:

  • If you are named executor in the Will – Grant of Probate.
  • If you are the administrator with no Will – Letters of Administration.
  • If you are the administrator of a Will – Letters of Administration (with Will).

When someone dies without a will, it is called leaving the deceased “intestate”.