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  • Yes. It is perfectly normal and perfectly legal to name the same person or people as both an executor and a beneficiary in your will.

  • You can apply for probate without a solicitor, however, it is a good idea to get legal advice if you do not understand the Will or where the estate is complicated.

    As part of the process of applying for probate, you will need to calculate the value of the deceased’s estate which includes everything they own. In addition, you will need to calculate the Inheritance Tax due. This can become complicated when someone has left assets held in trusts or overseas, or where the deceased owned a business for instance.

    Executors are personally responsible for correctly administering an estate, including accurately valuing the assets and calculating the right taxes, settling any debts, and distributing to the beneficiaries. If this is done incorrectly, executors can be held personally and financially liable. Instructing a solicitor gives the executor peace of mind and protection if anything goes wrong.

  • Yes, if you are aged over 18 and have assets. This is because a will is the only way you can make sure that your wishes will be carried out after your death.

  • You only need to change your will if you change address if you have made a specific gift of that property in your will.

  • Yes. Entering into a marriage or civil partnership automatically revokes your will unless it was made in specifically in contemplation of marriage and states that it is not to be revoked by the marriage.

  • Winston Solicitors do not charge for storing your will. We cannot say what the position is with all solicitors.

  • Yes, but there are consequences.

  • In order to determine whether there is any inheritance tax due from the estate you will need to calculate the net estate for inheritance tax purposes and where necessary check if you are eligible for any inheritance tax reliefs.
  • When someone dies having already made a will, they are likely to have explained in their will which assets they are leaving such as property, money, and possessions, and to whom they would like to leave them (the beneficiaries). Everything that is owned by the deceased is called their “estate”. The will should name the executor which is the person in charge of distributing the assets.

    The executor will then need to apply for probate to give them legal authority to collect the assets within the deceased’s estate and distribute them to those that will inherit the assets. Before the executor applies for probate, they will need to estimate the value of the estate and calculate whether any Inheritance Tax is due.

  • Where the solicitor is acting as the executor, they will often hold inheritance money for 6 months after the Grant of Probate is given. This is because if anyone wants to make an Inheritance Act claim against the estate because they reasonably expected to receive an inheritance, they must do this within 6 months of probate being granted. Therefore, if someone does make a claim for money from the estate and they are successful, the amount can be deducted from the total held by the solicitor before it is allocated amongst the beneficiaries.

  • It currently takes in the region of two months to receive a grant of probate after the application has been submitted, however, there can be exceptions. 

  • Once you have applied for probate, it should take within 8 weeks to receive the Grant of Probate if a Will has been left, or the Letters of Administration if no Will has been left. If additional information is required or there is something wrong with the application, it can take longer.

    After you have been granted probate, the length of time it will take to administer the estate will depend upon the complexity of the assets.

  • In theory, you could have as many as you like but in practice, you would not normally have more than 4. If you appoint more than one, you do have to say whether they are to act: A. Jointly – meaning that any decisions must be taken by all attorneys together. B. Jointly & Severally – meaning that: each attorney can make a decision independently of the other. If it is joint and several the Lasting Powers of Attorney will not end if an attorney can no longer act but it would do normally if the attorneys have to act jointly.

  • Up to four executors can apply for a grant of probate. Executors should discuss in advance if they would all like to apply for a grant of if anyone would like to step back from their role as an executor.

  • Yes, this is possible. If the property is jointly owned by you and your spouse, it is essential that the property is held as tenants in common rather than joint tenants. It is possible that if you leave your spouse a life interest in your half of the property and your spouse subsequently goes into a care home that only half the value of the house would be taken into consideration by the local authority when carrying out an assessment. It is essential that the life interest trust is properly worded in the will and you should ensure, for it to be done properly, that you consult a specialist solicitor.

  • No. If you would like to update us of a change by letter, please do so.

  • Just because you are named in the will as an executor does not mean you have to act as an executor. If you do not want to take on the role of an executor you can do one of the following:

    1. Give up all your rights to act as an executor
    2. Reserve your right to act as an executor in case you want to be involved in the future
  • No. As long as you have mental capacity, you retain control. In fact, you can always revoke the power of attorney. With a health and welfare lasting power of attorney, your attorney cannot in fact make decisions unless you have lost mental capacity.

  • If you are not married or in a civil partnership and you do not make a will then the answer is no. However, property held with your partner in joint names as joint tenants will pass automatically to them on your death.

  • I consider that it is wise to review your will if there is any change in your circumstances or those of the beneficiaries referred to in the will. In addition, if there are changes in inheritance tax, it may be appropriate to review your will.

  • In theory, you could have as many as you like but in practice, you would not normally have more than 4.

    If you appoint more than one, you do have to say whether they are to act:

    1. Jointly – meaning that any decisions must be taken by all attorneys together.
    2. Jointly & Severally – meaning that each attorney can make a decision independently of the other.

    If it is joint and several the Lasting Powers of Attorney will not end if an attorney can no longer act but it would do normally if the attorneys have to act jointly.

  • If the value of the estate is over £5,000 then the application fee for a grant of probate is either:

    1. £215- if you apply yourself
    2. £155- if a Solicitor applies on your behalf

    If the value of the estate is less than £5,000 then there is no fee to apply for probate.

  • If you transfer your home and the sole intention is to avoid the payment of care home fees, the council will deem the transfer to be a “deliberate deprivation” of assets. If the local authority believe a transfer has occurred, it can place a charge against the property so that care fees are repaid when the property is sold.

    Tax implications:

    A transfer of property, in which you are living, to your children can be regarded by HMRC as a “gift with reservation”. This means that even after 7 years have elapsed, it can be treated as part of your estate for inheritance tax purposes. Some people think that they can avoid this if they pay a nominal rent to their children. However, the rules are extremely strict and it is necessary to ensure that the rent paid it a full market rent and that there are regular rent reviews. This is not a comprehensive list of the rules which would apply.

    Other consequences:

    There can be other unforeseen consequences. For instance, should your child subsequently get into financial difficulty and be made bankrupt, this could result in the trustee in bankruptcy calling for your home to be sold. In addition, if your home is transferred into a child’s name and then that child divorces, their share of the home may form part of their divorce settlement.

  • If you cannot find the deceased’s will amongst their possessions then you should try contacting:

    1. The deceased’s solicitor. If you are unaware of who the deceased’s solicitor was then you may want to consider contacting the local solicitors to the deceased and make enquiries.
    2. The deceased’s bank (some people store important documents with their banks).
    3. A will search company.
    4. London Principal Probate Registry If a will is not located then it is assumed that the deceased did not have a will when they died.
  • An application to the court for a grant of letters of administration will need to be made by the next of kin of the deceased.

  • No. Your family will have no access to your bank accounts and cannot sell your property unless they make an application to the Court of Protection for a deputyship order which is a costly and lengthy process.

  • If you do not make a will then the intestacy rules apply on your death. This can mean that those who you wish to benefit from your estate could lose out and it could cause considerable hardship to your family.

  • A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) is a legal document which allows a person to appoint someone they trust (the ‘Attorney’) to make decisions for them when they no longer have the mental capacity to make them themselves. An LPA has to be made while the person concerned (the ‘Donor’) still has the mental capacity to give their consent to handing over their affairs.

  • A will is an important legal document which governs the distribution of your estate (which is everything that you own) upon your death. If you die without making a will, you are ‘intestate’ and the law will determine who inherits your estate. It is important to seek professional legal advice when writing a will to ensure it complies with all legal requirements and can be executed with ease.

    Many people believe that everything they own will automatically go to their spouse, but unfortunately this is not always the case. A properly drafted will sets out your wishes clearly and unambiguously.

    It can also deal with other matters, such as appointing guardians for any children under the age of 18. For clients with more valuable estates, having the correct will in place could save many thousands of pounds of inheritance tax.

  • If a person who died did not have a will then the person who is granted the grant of letters of administration is called the administrator.
  • An attorney is a name for someone who acts on behalf of another person. You can choose your attorney. The attorney may be a member of your family, friend or professional person.

  • An executor is a person named in a will who sorts out the estate of the person who has died.

  • Probate is the word normally used to describe the process of dealing with the estate of a person who has died.. There are two different types of grants:

    1. Grant of probate- applied for if the person who died with a valid will
    2. Grant of letters of administration- applied for if the person who died did not have a valid will.
  • If the deceased does not have a will then the next of kin will have to receive a grant of letters of administration before they can deal with the estate. If the deceased does have a will then you may need to apply for probate if the deceased had:

    • more than £5,000
    • stocks and shares
    • property/land
    • some insurance policies

    Institutions have their own procedure and requirements before releasing assets and will inform you of these when you communicate with them.

  • A lasting power of power can only become effective once it is registered with the Office of the Public Guardian.

  • A person can usually apply to be an administrator if they:

    • Are the next of kin (close relative) of the deceased
    • Were married or in a civil partnership with the deceased
  • Probate may not be needed if the person who died only had cash savings, owned shares or money with someone else, or owned land or property as joint tenants.

    If the deceased has bank accounts with savings, probate may be necessary if the banks or financial institutions need to see proof of a Grant of Probate before allowing access to the accounts. You will need to ask the bank or building society about their individual requirements as these vary.

    If probate is not required, the assets can be distributed to the beneficiaries, unless it is found that the estate is insolvent, which means it does not have enough assets to pay off debts owed.

  • It is important to write a will if you would like to choose what happens to your assets after your death. If you do not write a will, you will have no control over your assets which would be distributed according to the Intestacy Rules.

  • When you instruct a solicitor for probate, it can take time to collect the correct documentation and understand the assets involved. After this, the probate forms will need to be completed. The majority of the time will be spent waiting for the government to process the Grant of Probate or the Letters of Administration. Once probate is granted, the time it takes to collect and distribute all the assets will be dependent on the complexity and size of the estate.