Contesting a Will

Disputing a Will. What can you do?

The death of a loved one is a difficult time, and, where there are disputes about a Will, the stress and upset can make it even harder. But what can children, spouses and partners do if they feel they have been overlooked unfairly in the last wishes of their nearest and dearest? And, how can we prevent such disagreements from arising in the first place?

Why do Wills get disputed?
There has been a rise in disputes between family members over inheritance. Changing family structures – which often include people co-habiting, second marriages and second families – are thought to be contributing to this rise. Also, an ageing population means that Wills are being written later in life, at a stage where capacity is more likely to have deteriorated – this is another ground on which a Will can be disputed.

In addition, rising property values mean that a growing number of estates are now thought to be worth contesting. Furthermore, the number of people leaving money to charities after they have gone has risen, and this corresponds with a rise in disputes over charitable gifts in Wills.

Dying without a Will
In many cases, disputes over inheritance occur because a person dies without a Will and so their final wishes are not clear.

Many individuals still believe that their estate will automatically go to their spouse when they die, but this is not always the case.

With disagreements over money or property devastating those left behind, and often very expensive to resolve, a properly prepared and considered Will should be a priority for us all.

However, it’s important to note that, even with a Will, written in sound mind, it can still be challenged. In fact, recent cases have shown that a Will can be overruled if it is thought to be unreasonable or purely spiteful. As such, careful drafting and consideration is essential.

Who can dispute a Will?

  • Husbands, wives and civil partners
  • Former spouses/civil partners who have not subsequently remarried or entered into a civil partnership
  • Children of the deceased (including adoptive children and adult children)
  • A cohabitee who lived with the deceased person for two or more years before they died
  • Someone who was financially dependent on the deceased
  • A beneficiary under the Will or an earlier Will
  • Someone who is owed money or was promised something by the deceased.

With research suggesting that just 40% of Britons make a Will, and arguments around mental capacity being put forward in an increasing number of cases, this issue is likely to become increasingly more contentious.

To make sure your Will is passed on in line with your wishes, or to dispute a Will, speak to legalmatters. Call us on 01243 216900 or email us at

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Understanding Probate

Understanding Probate…

Probate is the process of sorting out an individual’s money, debts, property and possessions when they have passed away. If you’re appointed the executor of someone’s Will then you’re responsible for carrying out probate.

The probate process

There are 4 main stages of probate:

  1. Assess the total value of estate and if it’s liable for inheritance tax
  2. Apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate and submit an inheritance tax form to the tax office
  3. Pay off any inheritance tax due and swear an oath at the solicitor’s office or the Probate Registry
  4. Administer the estate by collating assets, paying off debts and distributing the remainder according to the Will.

You may choose to do probate yourself, although this can be very time-consuming. Many people choose to appoint a solicitor to help them along the way. Even though this comes with a certain cost, it could save thousands of pounds in the long-run by greatly reducing any potential mistakes made in the process.

There are some circumstances in which you’ll definitely need a solicitor:

  • The person died without making a Will
  • There’s a possibility the Will is invalid
  • The estate value exceeds the Inheritance Tax threshold because it’s still bringing in a regular income
  • The estate includes overseas property or assets
  • The estate may go bankrupt / is bankrupt
  • Some of the assets are held in a trust
  • Dependants of the deceased have been purposefully left out of the Will but may want to make a claim on the estate
  • The deceased lived outside the UK for tax reasons.

When is probate needed?

Probate is required if the deceased owned property including houses, land or buildings. Furthermore, if the person held assets with a certain bank then you’ll need to enquire about the bank’s threshold amount, as each bank sets its own limit. A Grant of Representation will be needed to claim assets from the bank or other financial institutions.

Probate without a Will

Sometimes a person may die without making a Will – this is known as dying intestate or intestacy. The law will decide how to distribute assets including everything from money to pets. Intestacy rules don’t tend to acknowledge unmarried couples, step children, step siblings and unregistered partners. As a result, it’s essential to make a Will during your lifetime, especially if your family includes any of these relationships.

If you’d like to discuss your Will, get in touch with us at legalmatters. Call us on 01243 216900 or email us at

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What happens to your social media accounts when you die?

At present, the UK has over 38 million active social media users. The popularity boom for social media across all ages means it has become an integral part of our lives, whether intentional or not. Social media is also fast becoming a significant way to remember loved ones when they pass…

Facebook allows you to appoint a ‘Legacy Contact’ who will look after your account when you die. The Legacy Contact section can be found by clicking the arrow at the top right, then going to Settings, General, Manage Account and finally selecting Legacy Contact.
Your chosen legacy contact will be able to pin posts on your timeline, update your profile picture, request to have your account removed and respond to friend requests. However, they won’t be able to post anything, remove / add friends, change past posts on your timeline or view your inbox messages.

When choosing your legacy contact, you also have the option to allow them to download a copy of what you shared on Facebook. This includes timeline posts, shared posts, videos and the About section, but it doesn’t include your messages.

Once you’ve chosen your legacy contact, Facebook will notify once a year to check whether or not you still want that person as your legacy contact. If you don’t want to choose a legacy contact, then your family can request to have your account deleted instead.

In the event of your passing, your Facebook account can be memorialised. The word ‘Remembering’ will appear just before your name to signify that your account has been memorialised. No one will be able to login to this account, but people may still post on your timeline from their own accounts to write tributes and share posts.

At present, there isn’t a memorialisation option for Twitter accounts, although your friends and family can request to have your account removed. Once your loved ones have submitted a privacy form requesting the deactivation of your account, Twitter will send a confirmation email with further instructions.

Instagram also offers the option to memorialise a loved one’s account. Your friends and family can also request the removal of your Instagram account providing they have proof of your passing such as your death certificate or proof that they’re your lawful representative.
Once memorialised, your account can’t be changed – this includes followers, likes, tags, posts and comments. Your posts are only visible to your chosen audience. For example, if your profile was set to private then it will remain private.

Should you include social media details in your Will?
In conclusion, you’re very much in control as to what happens to your social media accounts when you die – you just need to make preparations in advance.

It can be upsetting for loved ones to see your social accounts after you’ve gone. That’s why it’s always a good idea to leave certain details in your Will such as links to your social media accounts and other online entities.

For guidance on including social media account details in your Will please give us a call on 01243 216900 or e-mail us at

What is a Trust?

A trust is a legally binding arrangement where an individual or group (settlor) delegates the management of money or assets to another person or an organisation (the trustees), who in turn passes them to a person/people (beneficiaries). Here’s more information on trusts, why people set them up and the sort of trust funds available in the UK…

When people set up a trust
The money or assets involved in a trust are usually designated to support a person who can’t manage money, such as a child or a person with limited mental capacity or a learning disability.
A trust may also be used in reverse. This is when your own money is used to look after you if you’re unable to look after yourself due to an illness or disability.

The costs of setting up a trust
As trusts can be complex, they should really be set up with professional help to avoid any costly mistakes. Usually, setting up a trust costs around £1,000, but if you’re setting up a trust for a disabled child there are a number of charities, such as Mencap, offering contribution schemes to assist with the financial aspect.

Reasons for setting up a trust
There are a number of different reasons why families, groups and organisations may set up a trust, some of which include:

  • Protect those who are unable to control their spending
  • Protect family assets and keep them in the family
  • Safeguard assets against bankruptcy
  • If the beneficiary is a child or someone with a learning disability (including adults)
  • A company distributing pensions over the duration of an individual’s employment.

There are many different types of trusts, although bare or absolute trusts are the most popular type of trust that people can set up in the UK. The settlor transfers money or assets to the trust for the trustees to look after and, when the beneficiary turns 18 years old, they receive all the assets and money from the trust.

An interest in possession trust involves the trustees transferring all trust capital to the beneficiary for a fixed period of time – usually for the rest of their life. The beneficiary is then known as a ‘life tenant’ and the trust is known as a ‘life interest trust.’ The interest in possession will end when the life tenant dies and the ‘capital beneficiaries’ (usually the children when the income beneficiary spouse dies) inherit the capital of the trust.

To find out more about Trusts, and help in deciding which is best for your own circumstances, give us a ring on 01243 216900 or e-mail us at

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When did you last update your Will?

Over half of people have not updated their Will. That’s according to a recent online poll. The survey found that while people have started to recognise the importance of Wills when it comes to establishing their final wishes, the majority are still unaware of the need to review them.

However, life can change quickly, so it is recommended that you review your Will after any significant life event, or every five years.

When do you need to update your Will?

The poll shows that people are largely unaware of the impact legislative and domestic changes can have on the distribution of their estate.

For example, even where a Will already exists, most people don’t know that getting married automatically invalidates it.

Here are just some of the instances when you should check your Will:

  • The birth of a child or grandchild
  • When buying a home (or other property)
  • When getting married
  • If you inherit any money or property
  • If you get a divorce
  • If you remarry
  • If you sell a home (or other property)
  • If you start a second family
  • If you need care and assistance.

Each of these circumstances will have an impact on your Will and some could even nullify it. Likewise, increases (or decreases) in wealth also require a Will review as it is crucial to ensure it reflects your current financial situation. That’s why, even if everything else stays the same, it is important to review your Will at least once every five years.

Regulatory amendments, such as inheritance tax changes, should also prompt a review to make sure you are taking advantage of all available exemptions and allowances.

Updating your Will is easy

Efficient and regular planning will give both you and your family peace of mind, and minimise the amount of inheritance tax due. By speaking to one of our expert team and taking the time to update your Will, you can help to ensure that your wealth is passed on in-line with your wishes.

We can provide all the guidance you need to update your Will so that it accurately reflects your wishes. Call us on 01243 216900 or email us at

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Successful succession…

Thinking about the future and what will happen to your family after you die, is not exactly a fun thing to do.

However, if you want the wealth that you have built up to continue on through your children and grandchildren’s generations, then it’s important to take a proactive approach.

So how do you ensure a successful wealth succession? Here are a handful of simple steps that are worth bearing in mind.

Initially, it’s worth discussing with your family how you see the wealth being used in the future – essentially, what is its purpose? Is it simply there to provide them with a comfortable lifestyle or do you have other grand hopes and aspirations?

Ensuring that the distribution of your assets is fair is another key factor. That doesn’t necessarily mean splitting them equally – this may not be desirable nor convenient.

Being open with those who will inherit on how you see the assets changing hands, and why, will likely help quash any potential resentment.

It’s important to get your family prepared for how they will handle that wealth too. If this represents a big change for them, there is a greater chance of the wealth being squandered.

So give them the opportunity to at least see how you manage those assets, if not giving them the chance to do so themselves in a controlled environment. With this level of preparation behind them, they will be better equipped to ensure the wealth continues on through future generations.

Finally, be on your guard for future risks. From economic crises to changes to the tax infrastructure, there are plenty of as-yet unknown dangers which could diminish that wealth.

Protecting against them will often involve the use of advisers, so get your loved ones used to working with them in advance of any actual succession.

Nobody likes to think about dying or how our families will cope after we have gone. But it is important to make sure they are prepared to handle the wealth left to them, in order to ensure it lasts throughout further generations, and that means talking openly about it.

Of course, the best way to ensure that your assets are divided precisely to your wishes is to write a comprehensive Will. Speak to one of the team here at legalmatters to make sure that your Will reflects your wishes. Call us on 01243 216900 or email us at

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A right royal birth…

Unless you have managed to avoid all forms of media – both social and otherwise – this week, it can’t have escaped your attention that the newest addition to the House of Windsor has arrived.

The son of the future king of England was born, with exceptionally patriotic timing, on St George’s day. What a gloriously poetic and symbiotic meeting of all things English. Only Hugh Grant Morris dancing to God Save The Queen could have made the event more of a celebration of the Empire.

Within hours, both parents appeared at the door of the Lindo Wing looking impossibly flawless and presenting their gorgeous squishy bundle to the world’s expectant press. Catherine exchanged surgical stirrups for sling backs in less time than it takes the average mama to savour her buttery NHS toast and post natal cup of tea. Whilst undoubtedly proud, healthy and happy, not a single person would blame the Duchess if she were to scrape her hair back in a top knot, chuck on some comfy pjs and settle down with her newborn, a box set and a family size packet of Hob Nobs as soon as the doors of Kensington Palace closed behind her.

The Duke and Duchess are now officially outnumbered and life will be all the busier, noisier, messier and more filled with love as a result.

Any life changing event, especially the arrival of a new addition, is an excellent opportunity to consider your current legal arrangements. Future generations can even be catered for, without having to specifically name them within your estate planning documents. Which is handy when it takes a little while to decide on a moniker (although ‘Prince Gus’ certainly has a majestic ring to it if the Cambridges’ are looking for some suggestions).

Legalmatters are always available to review any existing documents in place or advise on new arrangements, to ensure that your family are considered and looked after in your lifetime planning and in your Will. Call us on 01243 216900 or email us at

Why do I need a Trust?

A Trust can be used to help manage your assets, to protect your legacy, and look after those you care about. And today, while the tax advantages of a Trust have been reduced, they are becoming increasingly popular.

What is a Trust?

Trusts are used to hold and manage money or other assets on behalf of its beneficiaries. There are various types of Trusts and many different reasons for using them. For example:

  • To provide a secure way of holding money for children who are too young to handle a large inheritance
  • To pass on assets when you are still alive
  • To protect vulnerable or disabled people who are incapable of looking after their own affairs
  • To minimise estate and inheritance tax (IHT) liabilities
  • To create a contingency fund to look after you during your lifetime (e.g. should you become unable to take care of yourself due to mental or physical health).

Once assets are placed in a Trust, they are no longer owned by the person who set it up. Therefore, they are protected from claims from creditors, family disagreements, financial setbacks, lawsuits etc.

Who is involved?

There are three main parties involved in a Trust:

  1. The settlor. The person(s) who puts assets into a Trust.
  2. The beneficiary. The person(s), organisation or anything else (e.g. a pet) that benefits from the Trust
  3. The trustee. The person(s) who manages the Trust

Beneficiaries and trustees are appointed by the settlor. While in most cases these parties are all different, in some circumstances the settlor or trustee may also be a beneficiary.

Who can be a trustee?

A trustee can be a person the settlor knows and trusts. For example, a friend or family member. The trustee can also be an entity such as a solicitor’s firm. A Trust must always have at least one trustee. Multiple trustees can be appointed – this is recommended in case something happens to an individual trustee. Ideally, you should have at least two trustees, but no more than three or four.

The role of a trustee is to:

  • Deal with assets according to the settlor’s wishes
  • Manage the Trust on a day-to-day basis
  • Pay any tax due (from the Trust)
  • Decide how to invest or use the Trust’s assets.

What are the rules?

When you create a Trust, you establish the rules by which the trustee must manage it. However, the legal wording needs to be exact, so you should ask a qualified professional to set it up for you.

To find out more about Trusts and what they can do for you, speak to one of our team at legalmatters on 01243 216900 or email us at for further details.

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What are the benefits of GDPR for consumers?

Data protection has become a huge concern in recent years, and now more than ever, customers are worried about how their data is being used and by whom.

This is where the new General Data Protection Regulation comes in, introduced in the hope that this new level of transparency will lead to customers putting more trust into organisations and having the confidence to share more of their data.

Although many businesses will find initial compliance with the GDPR technically challenging the new regulations are beneficial to both consumers and businesses in the long run.

How will the new regulation benefit customers?

The purpose of the GDPR is for customers to ultimately become more confident in the knowledge that their data is being stored safely and in line with legal standards. For example: the GDPR outlines that data is to be deleted if: it was unlawfully obtained; an individual no longer wants their data to be retained, providing there are no legitimate reasons for keeping it. This will be known as ‘right to be forgotten’.

With cybercrime GDPR requires data processors and collectors to be more vigilant about safeguarding personal data against loss, theft and unauthorized access. Another benefit to note is the ‘new mandatory data breach notification rule’. This means that if a breach occurs, it must be reported to its supervisory authority within 72 hours. And if it is likely to pose a high privacy risk for individuals, they must also be informed.

Another essential element is ‘data protection by design and by default’, meaning that safeguards will be built into most products and services, and privacy-friendly default settings will be soon be the norm. Now, companies will have to supply consent forms that are plainly worded and transparent. This means that you must explicitly agree before you are subscribed to anything.

Under the GDPR, customers will also have the ‘right to rectify mistakes’. This means they will be entitled to have their personal information corrected if it’s inaccurate or incomplete. This could be vital if, for example, a financial institution input the wrong information concerning your credit history.

Here at legalmatters we are already preparing for GDPR. Your data, including your Will and associated documents, will always be held securely. We’re also inviting clients and interested parties to subscribe to legalchatters, our news, views and update service direct to your mailbox. Or Follow us on FaceBook.

For help with writing your Will, please give us a call at legalmatters on 01243 216900 or email us at for further details.

Bitcoins – are they properly covered in your Will?

Digital currency such as bitcoins are relatively new. However, they still form part of your estate when you die. They’re classed as “digital assets” similar to frequent flyer points or gaming credits. They might have dipped in value recently, but they are still worth money so you want to make sure they’re included in your will.

There are two key things to consider about this digital legacy.

The first thing relates to bitcoins being properly defined in your Will. If you already have a Will in place, you should check this. If they’re not covered, then you need to make an amendment. If you’re writing a new Will, then a professional Will-writer will be able to advise you on this from the start.

The other important factor to consider is how your beneficiaries are going to access your bitcoins. Passing on digital currency is more complex than passing on money stored in a traditional way such as a bank or savings account.

Bitcoins are stored in an encrypted electronic wallet which can be accessed only by an electronic key or password. Unlike banks and building societies, cryptocurrencies do not store names and addresses against the electronic wallets, so aside from the electronic key there is no way to identify who a wallet belongs to.

It’s vital then to make sure that you keep a secure copy of the key for your executors. Without it, it will be virtually impossible for them to access the wallet and the money will be lost.

You could consider entrusting the key with a secure storage service, in a safety deposit box or with your executor or a trusted family member. The main thing here is that it needs to be someone you trust as you are handing them access to your money.

For help with this or any aspect of Will writing, please give us a call at legalmatters on 01243 216900 or email us at for further details.

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