Monthly Archives: July 2020

What happens if I don't leave a Will

What Happens To My Estate If I Do Not Leave A Will?

When a person passes away without a Will, or has a Will that is considered invalid, they are considered to die ‘intestate’.

What happens to your estate will be governed by the intestacy rules according to where you live in the UK.  The rules follow an order of succession in regard to who will benefit from the estate first.

1, Spouse

In England and Wales, the first person who will benefit from some of the estate is your surviving spouse or civil partner.  If the estate is worth less than £270,000 or you have no children, your spouse will receive the whole estate. If it is worth more though, what happens depends on whether you have children or not.

If you have children, the estate will be split slightly differently.

Your spouse will receive the first £270,000 and all your personal belongings, and the remaining amount is split equally, with half going to your spouse and the other half being split equally between your children. If any children have predeceased you, then their share will pass to any children, your grandchildren, that they have left behind.

It is worth mentioning that this rule only applies to spouses and civil partners, it does not apply if you are not married or in a civil partnership.

2, Children and direct descendants

If you are separated and not yet divorced, your spouse or civil partner can still inherit under these rules. However, their right under these rules is revoked as soon as you are divorced or the civil partnership is dissolved.

If you no longer have a spouse, or were never married or in a civil partnership, the next to inherit under the rules would be any children.  The estate will be split equally between them, and once again, if any child has predeceased you, their share will go to any children they leave behind.

Whilst adopted children have the same rights as natural children, step-children will not be considered and so will not inherit under these rules

3, Parents

Although many people will outlive their parents, if you do not have a spouse or children, and a parent is still alive, they will inherit the first 50% of your estate.

4, Siblings

If your parents have predeceased you, the next in line to inherit your estate will be any siblings, who will receive the estate in equal share.  As with children, if your siblings have predeceased you, their share will go to any children that they leave behind.

Following these rules, should a beneficiary still not be found, the list will continue as follows:

5, Half brothers and sisters

6, Grandparents

7, Aunts and uncles

8, Half aunts and uncles

9, The Crown

As you can see, without making a Will your estate is left in the hands of fate, with no control over where it will go.  In the worst case it could go to a person you really would not like to benefit under your estate, such as a disowned child or separated spouse.

Equally, a much-loved partner could also end up with nothing if you are not married or in a civil partnership, or step-children would not be considered at all.

It is always best to protect your family and your estate by making a Will, so that your wishes clear.

Services from legalmatters during Covid-19 pandemic

Here at legalmatters, we continue to do everything we possibly can to service our existing and new clients during these very difficult times.

Our ability to provide remote services makes us stand out from the crowd.  This means that you can deal with your will, power of attorney, probate, trust and tax advice etc all over the phone or by email and documents are sent to you by post.  We are also advising our clients on signature processes bearing in mind social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, the office continues to operate with minimal skeleton staff for the protection of our staff, clients and visitors, enabling us to still process physical documents for our clients.  If you do find that you need to call into the office for instance to have documents witnessed when it is otherwise difficult for you to arrange that with family and friends then do please get in touch.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert lawyers about your Will, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Role of Executor

Role of an Executor

The person appointed as “executor” in a Will has been entrusted, by the deceased, to arrange the payment of the estate’s debts and expenses as well as the distribution of the deceased’s property.

The role of an executor is not an easy one, or one to be taken lightly. They will have a legal responsibility for sorting out the finances.

The required forms for inheritance tax will need to be completed by the executor and any tax due will have to be paid.  Depending on the complexity of the estate, this can range from a relatively straight forward task to a complicated one that takes time. The executor will need to ascertain the value of the estate as well as its liabilities, which are then submitted by the court.

The Grant of Representation, which gives the person entrusted with dealing with the deceased’s estate legal authority to do so, cannot be obtained until the inheritance tax that is immediately due to HMRC is paid.  This means that the deceased’s assets cannot be realised for distribution.

Once the inheritance tax has been paid, the Grant of Representation can be applied for either online or by post, for a fee of £215 for any estate that is worth over £5,000, or no fee if worth less than £5,000.

It cannot be forgotten that prior to distributing the estate of the deceased, all liabilities need to be dealt with, including any debts. It may become apparent that at this point that there is not enough money to cover the debts from the estate, meaning it is insolvent. If this is the case, specialist advice should be sought, so that any creditors are paid in the order of their priority. It is crucial that creditors are not paid until advice is sought.

If not all debts are known, a ‘deceased estates notice’ can be placed in The Gazette, which will give creditors two months to contact the executor to register any claim. This protects the executor from any claim they may have missed following the distribution of the estate, where they would be held personally liable.

If the estate is solvent, the distribution of the estate can begin in accordance with the Will or the rules of intestacy.  The assets – such as bank accounts, shares and any property – will need to be collected in. They should then discuss with the beneficiaries under the Will how they would like to receive the assets, for example the sale of property or specific items sold.

An executor should always keep a full record of accounts and when the estate has been distributed, a prepared final set of accounts, which should be shown to the beneficiaries if requested.

As the role of executor can be difficult and daunting, if you have any concerns about the duty or obligations, it is always best to obtain specialist legal advice.

Services from legalmatters during Covid-19 pandemic

Here at legalmatters, we continue to do everything we possibly can to service our existing and new clients during these very difficult times.

Our ability to provide remote services makes us stand out from the crowd. This means that you can deal with your Will, power of attorney, probate, trust and tax advice etc all over the phone or by email and documents are sent to you by post. We are also advising our clients on signature processes bearing in mind social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, the office continues to operate with minimal skeleton staff for the protection of our staff, clients and visitors, enabling us to still process physical documents for our clients.  If you do find that you need to call into the office for instance to have documents witnessed when it is otherwise difficult for you to arrange that with family and friends then do please get in touch.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert lawyers about your Will or administration of Probate, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

Enjoyed this post? Why not sign up to legalchatters, our free news, views and updates service direct to your mailbox. Or Like Us on FaceBook.

If not all debts are known, a ‘deceased estates notice’ can be placed in The Gazette, which will give creditors two months to contact the executor to register any claim.  This protects the executor from any claim they may have missed following the distribution of the estate, where they would be held personally liable.

If the estate is solvent, the distribution of the estate can begin in accordance with the Will or the rules of intestacy.  The assets – such as bank accounts, shares and any property – will need to be collected in.  They should then discuss with the beneficiaries under the Will how they would like to receive the assets, for example the sale of property or specific items sold.

An executor should always keep a full record of accounts and when the estate has been distributed, a prepared final set of accounts, which should be shown to the beneficiaries if requested.

As the role of executor can be difficult and daunting, if you have any concerns about the duty or obligations, it is always best to obtain specialist legal advice.

Services from legalmatters during Covid-19 pandemic

Here at legalmatters, we continue to do everything we possibly can to service our existing and new clients during these very difficult times.

Our ability to provide remote services makes us stand out from the crowd.  This means that you can deal with your will, power of attorney, probate, trust and tax advice etc all over the phone or by email and documents are sent to you by post.  We are also advising our clients on signature processes bearing in mind social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, the office continues to operate with minimal skeleton staff for the protection of our staff, clients and visitors, enabling us to still process physical documents for our clients.  If you do find that you need to call into the office for instance to have documents witnessed when it is otherwise difficult for you to arrange that with family and friends then do please get in touch.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert lawyers about your Will or administration of Probate, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

Enjoyed this post? Why not sign up to legalchatters, our free news, views and updates service direct to your mailbox. Or Like Us on FaceBook.

The Rights of a Beneficiary

The Rights Of A Beneficiary

When a person passes away, the people named as “beneficiaries” have various rights when it comes to the administration of how the deceased’s estate is distributed and how any trusts are being administered.

As a beneficiary under a Will, you have a legal right over the share of the inheritance only when it has been divided. However, you are able to obtain information on the administration of the estate before you obtain your legal right.

The “executor” or “administrator” of an estate is in charge of administering the estate according to the Will or by the rules of intestacy. They are under no obligation to share all the information with a beneficiary, but it is good practice for them to be as open as possible.

There is an obligation though for the person administering the estate to keep accounts of the estate and have them available for beneficiaries to see when asked. This ensures that they are keeping to their duties.  If a beneficiary feels that the estate is not being administered correctly, or it is being mismanaged, they have the right to take formal action.

A beneficiary only has the legal right to view a Will after the Grant of Representation has been issued as this is when the Will becomes a public document.  Most administrators, however, will allow a beneficiary to see the Will once it is known who is to be a beneficiary of the Will.

The most common issues that beneficiaries face against those administering the estate are:

  • Delays in obtaining the Grant of Representation or in administering the estate once it has been obtained
  • Information about the process not being made available, including not disclosing the accounts the administrator is obliged to keep
  • The administrators being dishonest or selling property either at undervalue or to themselves.

If a beneficiary thinks that the person administering the estate is not meeting their obligations, they can do things like requesting to view the accounts and what the estate comprises of, or even apply to remove the person from their position.  If the administrator has breached their duties, a claim can also be made to hold them personally accountable for any financial loss.

If a beneficiary does suspect that a person administering the estate is either not meeting or is breaching their duties, their best option is to take professional advice on how to approach the situation and what steps they may take to relieve the situation.

Services from legalmatters during Covid-19 pandemic

Here at legalmatters, we continue to do everything we possibly can to service our existing and new clients during these very difficult times.

Our ability to provide remote services makes us stand out from the crowd.  This means that you can deal with your will, power of attorney, probate, trust and tax advice etc all over the phone or by email and documents are sent to you by post.  We are also advising our clients on signature processes bearing in mind social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, the office continues to operate with minimal skeleton staff for the protection of our staff, clients and visitors, enabling us to still process physical documents for our clients.  If you do find that you need to call into the office for instance to have documents witnessed when it is otherwise difficult for you to arrange that with family and friends then do please get in touch.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert lawyers about your Will or administration of Probate, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

Enjoyed this post? Why not sign up to legalchatters, our free news, views and updates service direct to your mailbox. Or Like Us on FaceBook.

What is probate?

What is probate?

Probate is not a topic of conversation that many wish to have, but most people will have to deal with probate at some point in their life, so it best to know what the process is and what is involved.

What is needed to distribute a person’s estate?

When a person passes away and leave behind what is known as their estate; this will include their possessions, money and any property.  For an estate to be distributed, the person or people dealing with it will need a ‘grant of representation’, which will depend on the circumstances of how the deceased left their estate.

If a person has left a will, executors or personal representatives will have been appointed to distribute the estate.  To do this they will need to get a ‘grant of probate.

If a person has died with no will, known as intestacy, the next of kin will need to apply for a ‘grant of letter of administration’.

What happens when a grant of representation is obtained?

A grant will allow those winding up the estate to legally take control of the estate and distribute it either according to the wishes in the will or to the rules of intestacy, which is currently what is known as probate.

What happens during probate?

The process of probate will involve gathering up any assets, paying any bills and then distributing what remains.  The grant will allow the person dealing probate to begin gathering up the estate by sending copies to companies that may hold assets, such as bank accounts, life insurance, pension providers and mortgage companies.

Any joint accounts will automatically transfer to the other party, which is the same for any property hold as joint tenants, under survivorship.  However, if property is owned as tenants in common, the deceased’s share will pass in accordance with the will or by the rules of intestacy.

Does probate need to be done for every estate?

No, not every estate needs to have the representative obtain a grant of representation.  If the estate is going to pass through survivorship or to a spouse, probate is not usually required.

Probate is also not required when the estate is ‘small’, which generally means the estate is worth less than £5,000. However, there are other circumstances where probate may not be required, such as when the estate is straightforward and falls well below the Inheritance Tax threshold.

If you are unsure as to whether a grant of representation is needed for probate, it is best to get professional advice.

Services from legalmatters during Covid-19 pandemic

Here at legalmatters, we continue to do everything we possibly can to service our existing and new clients during these very difficult times.

Our ability to provide remote services makes us stand out from the crowd.  This means that you can deal with your will, power of attorney, probate, trust and tax advice etc all over the phone or by email and documents are sent to you by post.  We are also advising our clients on signature processes bearing in mind social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, the office continues to operate with minimal skeleton staff for the protection of our staff, clients and visitors, enabling us to still process physical documents for our clients.  If you do find that you need to call into the office for instance to have documents witnessed when it is otherwise difficult for you to arrange that with family and friends then do please get in touch.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert lawyers about Probate, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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health and welfare LPA

Why is it important to create a Lasting Power of Attorney?

We are living in uncertain times. Apparently healthy people are dying or being left incapacitated as a result of contracting Covid-19.

If a person is left unable to assert their wishes once they have lost capacity, there is a fear that those acting on their behalf may not make decisions in line with the person’s beliefs.

The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) is calling on families to consider making Lasting Powers of Attorneys in order to take sensible precautions at such an uncertain time.

What is a Power of Attorney?

A power of attorney is a legally binding document where the creator (donor) gives the appointed person (attorney) the right to make decisions on their behalf if the donor loses capacity to make safe decisions themselves. Or, in some circumstances, the donor can pass the right to the attorney whilst they still have capacity.

A lasting power of attorney has no expiry and can be made via application to the Office of the Public Guardian and can be made to protect both financial and health matters.

Property and Financial Affairs LPA

This form of LPA will enable the attorney to help out with the management of bank accounts; paying all bills; collecting benefits and pensions and if needed, coordinating the sale of property.

Health and Welfare LPA

At such difficult times, many people have been struck down with incapacity and have faced unwanted time in intensive care as they battle the virus.

Having a plan already in place would help the medical community understand the best way to help your recovery whilst ensuring your express wishes are considered.

This form of LPA would enable the attorney to make decisions on your medical care; the life-sustaining medical treatments you may need; the medical care you receive and decisions on the care you receive concerning eating, washing or dressing.

The signing and witnessing of these documents can be made via post or by innovative ways to comply with social distancing measures such as witnessing on a doorstep, over a garden fence or through a window.

Services from legalmatters during Covid-19 pandemic

Here at legalmatters, we continue to do everything we possibly can to service our existing and new clients during these very difficult times.

Our ability to provide remote services makes us stand out from the crowd.  This means that you can deal with your will, power of attorney, probate, trust and tax advice etc all over the phone or by email and documents are sent to you by post.  We are also advising our clients on signature processes bearing in mind social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, the office continues to operate with minimal skeleton staff for the protection of our staff, clients and visitors, enabling us to still process physical documents for our clients.  If you do find that you need to call into the office for instance to have documents witnessed when it is otherwise difficult for you to arrange that with family and friends then do please get in touch.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert lawyers about an LPA, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

Enjoyed this post? Why not sign up to legalchatters, our free news, views and updates service direct to your mailbox. Or Like Us on FaceBook.