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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.

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Vulnerable relatives

The importance of the right advice when it comes to vulnerable relatives

When it comes to protecting vulnerable individuals, it is important that people obtain the right advice. There are a range of options, with tax and inheritance implications, where the right guidance can ensure vulnerable individuals are both protected and provided for.

Who might be considered a vulnerable person?

A vulnerable person can be classed as someone who:

  • Isn’t mature
  • Isn’t financially sensible
  • Lacks capacity to deal with financial affairs
  • May be good with money but has their finances ‘means tested’ for benefit purposes.

An example scenario

‘Sarah’ has learning disabilities. She used to live with her parents, but decided she wanted to live independently so moved into sheltered housing. This gave Sarah her independence but also provided her with the support and supervision she needed as and when required.

To pay for her accommodation, Sarah received benefits, Local Authority funding and Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

Sarah has a huge passion for steam engines. She lives, breathes and dreams of steam engines, and will do all she can to go and see them. This passion has seen her travel across the country on various occasions to see famous engines.

Sarah’s parents encourage this passion, and upon their death would like to leave her some money so she can continue to enjoy the thrill steam trains give her. They also want to leave money to Sarah to help maintain her and ensure she is looked after, but don’t want this inheritance to impact on the means tested benefit Sarah receives.

What options do Sarah’s parents have?

It’s only right that Sarah’s parents seek advice from a professional who could advise them of the best routes to take and why.

Some routes the parents SHOULDN’T consider include:

  • Leaving all of the money to Sarah’s brother. By not putting the money into a Trust for Sarah and leaving the responsibility on her brother to ‘see her right’ can lead to problems for Sarah. Firstly, the parents are relying on the brother’s integrity to provide for his sister. Secondly, this leaves the inheritance they left their son at risk of any issues that could affect his wealth. Such issues as divorce, creditors, being spent etc.
  • Create a Deed of Variation. This can have tax implications, but also be classed as ‘deprivation’ with regards to the care Sarah receives in sheltered housing. The Deeds of Variation would be included in the means tested benefit which could result in Sarah receiving a reduced payment – or losing this benefit altogether.

So, what should they do?

In this scenario, the best option for Sarah and her parents would be to place any inheritance into a Discretionary Trust. Ideally a Disabled Discretionary Trust, as this would protect Sarah’s means tested benefits. There are also tax advantages available to Sarah if this is the route chosen by her parents.

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 protecting a vulnerable person after your death, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Probate changes

What changes have been made when applying for probate?

All estates of any deceased person need to go through all legal channels before the deceased’s assets can be distributed to all beneficiaries.

In England and Wales, this is referred to as the Grant of Representation and will be needed even if the deceased did not leave a Will. Any Will executor will need to apply for a Grant of Probate whilst anybody looking to administer the estate of those without a Will will need to apply for a Grant of Letters of Administration which will enable the executor to administer the estate under intestacy rules.

During lockdown, completing the administrative process of applying for probate has changed and executors or probate professionals will need to ensure they are adhering to the new system to avoid the form being returned and the process getting delayed.

At the end of March HM Courts and Tribunals Service introduced an eight week introductory period for a new standard grant of representation application forms. The introductory deadline lapsed on May 18 and all forms will now need to comply with the changes if they are to be processed.

The main change will see older iterations using ‘statements of truth’ obsolete and any forms sent after May 18 which uses this older system, will see their forms returned.

The new forms have been designed to digitize information from the start of the process, reducing the number of errors and creating a more efficient process as the new forms can be bulk scanned.

Three grant of representation forms have been redesigned. Any executor applying for probate will now use the updated PA1P form.

Those who are administering an estate without a Will and applying for a grant of letters of administration should apply for a PA1A form.

Anyone needs to apply for a caveat will need to use the updated PA8A form.

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 Wills and Probate lawyers, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Do I need to be an executor

Do I need to be an executor?

A person is able to entrust their estate to relatives, friends or organisations – like banks or a firm of solicitors – when deciding who they would like to administer their final wishes.

A person making a Will also has the right to appoint as many executors as they feel necessary to administer their estate effectively and properly.

However, as a maximum of four people are able to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Probate, this figure tends to be the maximum number.

If the deceased has named more than one executor to help administer their estate, there are many positives in applying for a Grant of Probate as a unified team. This can help provide a level of equality and ensure that all voices are heard. Preventing disputes is really important to ensure an efficient and swift administration of the estate and ultimately distribution of assets to beneficiaries.

Some people may not feel comfortable with this responsibility and may not want to undertake the role. Whilst it is important to consider the deceased’s wishes, there are various routes a person can take.

 Creating a Power Reserved Letter

 Any executor named in the Will who does not want to apply for probate or who cannot practically help with the administration of an estate will need to inform the Court of this via a Notice of Power Reserved.

The power reserved letter will effectively mean that you relinquish your responsibilities and entrust the administration of the estate to the executors applying for probate but allows you the right to rekindle your responsibilities in the future.

The Grant of Probate, once issued, will name the executors who had applied but will also state that an un-named executor has the power reserved. This can be useful if the executor in question is ill or living abroad and therefore unable to deal with the administrative obligations.

Given the current situation involving Covid-19, increased levels of illness and travel restrictions, this option may be needed.

Renunciation – resigning as executor

An executor has the right to resign from the position at any point and can renounce their right to apply for probate via a Deed of Renunciation.

This process can only take place if the Will executor has not had any formal dealings in administering the estate up to the point they decide to renounce their role.

This process is usually binding. Following the submitted Deed of Renunciation to the probate registry, the executor will sever all ties with the estate.

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 Wills and Probate lawyers, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Lasting power of attorney

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document giving a person legal authority to make financial decisions or medical decisions on your behalf.

You can appoint a person to either make decisions regarding your health and welfare under a Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney, which will cover things like medical treatment, where you will be treated, and even whether you should receive life-saving treatment (although this will need to be expressly declared in the document).  The only time this power can be exercised is when the person granting it has lost mental capacity.

For financial decisions a person can be appointed a Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney.  Under this the attorney may have access to bank accounts, power to buy and sell property and manage any financial obligations.  This power can be appointed to begin at any time you wish, for example immediately or if you lose mental capacity.

If you wish to make a Lasting Power or Attorney (LPA) then you must be over 18 and have mental capacity.  This means that you have the ability to make a decision, from mundane ones such as what to have for lunch, to important decisions such as where to live.

For most people, this will not be a difficult thing to prove or for it to even be questioned.  However, there is a two-stage test to ensure a person is deemed to have mental capacity:

  • Does the person have an impairment of, or a disturbance in the functioning of their mind or brain?
  • Does the impairment or disturbance mean that the person is unable to make a specific decision when they need to.

By consulting with a solicitor before making an LPA there is less chance of any problems later on, they will also be able to sign it as a certificate provider; a person that can confirm you have understood the implications of an LPA and you have not been put under any pressure to sign it.

There is no limit to the amount of people you can appoint, but issues can arise if you have many people trying to act on your behalf at once.  It is advisable however to appoint more than one in case the one person you chose to act is unable to do so for whatever reason, such as their own mental capacity, they cannot be traced when an urgent decision is needed or they die and you are no longer considered as having mental capacity.

If you appoint more than one attorney, this can be done so they act ‘jointly’, whether they have to make decisions together, or as ‘jointly and severally’ whereby they can make a decision on their own with or without the decision of the other.

You may also appoint a person to step in and act as a ‘replacement’ should another attorney be unable to act.

An LPA can help protect couples who have joint accounts that may be frozen if it becomes a concern, to a bank, that one may take control of the account if the other is deemed as having lost mental capacity.  In these cases, it can take months and costly legal proceedings to apply to the Court of Protection to become a ‘deputy’, acting as the legal representative for the mentally incapable partner.  This also means that an annual supervision fee will be payable to the Court as well as annual accounts prepared and a security bond.

LPAs can also be a very useful tool, especially to those who know they have a medical condition where they know they will be unable to make their own decisions, such as dementia.

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 Wills and Probate lawyers, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Help with funeral expenses

How to get help with Funeral Expenses…

Grieving the loss of a loved one is already one of the most stressful times in a person’s life without the additional burden of paying for their funeral expenses.

Thankfully, funeral expenses can be paid for from the estate. However, this can only be claimed after the probate process has finalised which could take up to a year.

This means that loved ones are left to find the money needed to pay for the funeral until the probate process concludes.

This can be a difficult sum of money to find. Especially when the average cost of a funeral in the UK in 2019 cost £3,986.

What are the options to help cover the costs of a funeral?

Firstly, executors of the estate or the deceased’s family or friends need to assess whether a funeral plan was purchased before death.

In this case, the funeral costs will be taken care by the policy provider.

The deceased may also have a life insurance policy which could have a clause, contributing towards the funeral.

If this is not the case, then the executor, family members or friends of the deceased will need to cover the costs in the short term. Whilst any bank account in the deceased’s sole name would freeze upon notification of death until the probate process is finalised, they frequently release funds for funerals.

If you are unable to pay for the funeral, many probate and funeral care providers offer services to cover the costs which are then recouped once a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration – the legal document permitting a named person to wind up the estate – have been authorised.

The government also offer a number of options to help low income earners. These include:

  • Funeral Expenses Payment – This option is open to people who claim a number of benefits. The amount offered will vary depending on the deceased’s estate and money available from loved ones. It is unlikely to cover all costs but will help towards funeral expenses.
  • Budgeting Loan – This option provides an interest free loan to cover funeral costs for those receiving certain benefits for more than 26 weeks. The money will then be repaid through a person’s benefits.
  • In the unfortunate event of a child under the age of eighteen dying, the government will now pay the majority of the costs on the family’s behalf. The Children’s Funeral Fund for England will pay burial and cremation fees and will contribute towards the cost of a coffin, helping to ensure grieving families are not burdened with financial distress.

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 Wills and Probate lawyers, 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.

How to get a house and contents valued for probate

How to get a house and its contents valued for probate…

How to calculate the value of a property and its contents for probate

Probate is the legal process where you manage a deceased person’s possessions and allocate their money, assets and belongings once they have passed away – this is known as their ‘Estate’.

From the outset of probate it will be essential to calculate the total value of the Estate to find out if inheritance Tax is required to be paid.

More often than not, one of the largest assets that a person will own is their home and all their belongings inside. So, how do you work out how much everything is worth in readiness for probate?

Valuing a property and assets throughout the Probate process

One of the most crucial parts of the Probate process is valuing the deceased’s home and possessions. Throughout the administration of the Estate, you will need to keep a log of how much money is being transferred into and going out of the Estate in order that you can pay in total remaining debts owed and work out how much inheritance remains to give to the beneficiaries who are entitled to it.

When making these calculations it makes it clearer in terms of inheritance tax (IHT) and whether the Estate is liable for it or not. If the estate is accountable for tax, you will be able to calculate how much. You will then need to pass all the information to HM Revenue & Customs.

Valuing a house and its contents can be a difficult task but there are processes in which you can follow to make it easier. Following processes will help you in the long run as it lessens the risk of a dispute with HM Revenue & Customs.

How to calculate the value of property during probate

It is important to remember when calculating the value of a property or land that there are various factors impacting the price of it. These factors include development land opportunities, remedial maintenance needed to the property and sales of properties alike in the surrounding area.

If the Estate is liable for IHT, it would be prudent to seek a valuation from a Chartered Surveyor as they are skilled and experienced in providing valuations specifically for IHT so are much more likely to be approved and acknowledged by the HMRC.

How to Get a Property Valuation in Probate

To ensure the accuracy of a property valuation, the District Valuer Service (DVS) of HMRC would need to check and examine the valuation presented to them. If the DVS think the valuation is wrong, they will contest it and ask for additional evidence to back up the valuation given. If Executor(s) of an Estate negligently obtain a property valuation they could be at risk of being fined. Equally, if Executor(s) found the valuation sent to HMRC was too low, they will have to contact the HMRC in writing to advise them of the correct value.

If the deceased person’s property was jointly owned with someone else, known as ‘Joint Tenants’, then the property value will need to be split down the middle to find out what the deceased owned. However, if the property was owned jointly with someone else as what is known as ‘tenants in common’, then the value will need to be worked out along the lines of what proportion of the property the deceased owned e.g. 60/40 split between owners.

Working out the value of the house belongings

The first stage when valuing the contents of a house is to make a list of items which you think might be worth something e.g. cars, jewellery and furniture. Next, do some research on the internet to find out how much the items are worth or sold for, taking into consideration their age and condition. For specialist antique items it is advisable to seek a professional valuation who have the expertise and specialise in valuing these items.

Working out the Value of the Estate for Inheritance Tax

IHT will only need to be paid if the value of the Estate surpasses the nil-rate band. At the moment, the nil-rate band is £325,000. If the Estate is worth less than £250,000, HMRC will probably be happy with an estimated value. However, if the estate is worth more than £325,000, it will be obligatory to pay IHT, although there are some exceptions whereby you could end up paying less IHT by increasing the threshold due to certain factors.

It is crucial to understand that when valuing the Estate for IHT that you calculate the ‘gross’ value of the taxable Estate. The taxable estate includes all assets which are owned by the deceased, plus any gifts too in the 7 years before they passed away.

Apart from the deceased’s home and contents, other assets will need to be looked into such as bank accounts, pensions, investments, shares and life insurance.

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.

We work with specialist valuation companies who continue to provide formal valuations of property during Covid19 by providing desktop valuations.  These valuations are thorough and rarely lead to enquiries from HMRC. 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, 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 Wills and Probate lawyers, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Stepchildren in your Will

What do I need to consider when I have stepchildren?

Family structures are complex in the 21st century. Increases in second marriages over the past decade has led to more blended families and testators having to consider stepchildren.

Whereas people marrying for the first time have fallen from 176 thousand marriages in 2012 to 159 thousand in 2017, remarriages have held firm at a five year average of 37 thousand up to 2017, the most recent figures available, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

As more people cohabitate and blend their families, what do people need to consider when making a Will?

What to consider when writing a Will involving stepchildren

It is important to understand that inheritance laws in England and Wales do not automatically recognise stepchildren in intestacy law. This means that if you die without a valid Will your estate will not necessarily be inherited by your stepchildren.

The only way to ensure your express wishes regarding your estate are considered is to write a valid Will.

English and Welsh law offers ‘testamentary freedom’ which allows the testator the right to leave your property and belongings to whomever you choose. If you fail to write a Will, your estate will automatically pass to your spouse and biological children. By writing a valid Will, you are able to specify who will inherit and how much they will receive.

If you are looking to create complete fairness and equality in the amount biological and stepchildren inherit, a Will is crucial.

A valid Will can also avoid contentious probate issues arising after your death. If you die and your property is passed to your children’s stepparent, animosity or concern may develop, but your Will and estate planning considerations can help to pacify any feelings of concern. Afterall, if a Will passes the entirety of an estate to a spouse, then your children may be disinherited after your spouse dies.

Adding a Trust in your Will could allow your spouse the freedom of living in the property whilst also providing certainty that your children are provided for in the future.

Asking a professional to draft a valid Will and Trust has never been so important, especially when living through such uncertain times. Rest assured that the services provided by legalmatters are efficient, easy and individualised to the unique needs of each testator.

Services from legalmatters during lockdown

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, 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 Wills and Probate lawyers, 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.

Can I still make a Will

Can I Still Make A Will Whilst In Lockdown?

Many essential services have struggled in recent weeks as traditional ways of working become increasingly difficult.

Social distancing measures introduced to prevent the spread of Covid-19 have hindered the way legal professionals are able to facilitate the increased demand for Wills.

However, rest assured that Wills are still being written. Legal professionals have just needed to become a little more creative in the ways they ask testators and witnesses to sign a Last Will and Testament.

What has changed?

Wherever possible, people should stay at home and avoid meeting others to stop the virus from spreading and overwhelming the NHS.

This has had a huge impact on the way legal practitioners complete the Wills process where face to face meetings were usual practices.

Under Section 9 of the 1837 Wills Act, a testator must sign their Will in front of two independent witnesses (witnesses who are not beneficiaries or executors of the estate). Whilst this was fairly easy in the past, quarantine advice makes this process almost impossible.

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, 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.

How can I comply with government advice and make a valid Will?

Testators should ensure that witnesses remain at least two metres from the testator and other witnesses and make sure that separate pens are used to sign the document.

Before this stage, legalmatters has embraced video technology as a way for the legal practitioner to make sure the testator has the mental capacity to make the Will and to understand whether the Will request is being made without undue influence.

This will also be a key opportunity to use technology to ensure the testator’s final express wishes are considered and documented.

Whilst the approaches in creating a valid Will are much changed at present, the process remains the same and we remain dedicated in ensuring virus-based restrictions do not prevent such an important document from being written.

Where there’s a Will, there’s a way.

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

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Our home

When the joint owner of a property dies, does the property pass to the survivor?

If you own a property jointly with someone else, you may automatically become the sole owner when they die, depending upon the way in which the property is held.

If you live in a home which you own jointly with someone else, it is important to understand the type of ownership you have. This is because it will determine what happens to the property after the death of one owner.

The two types of property ownership

If a property is owned as tenants in common, then each owner has a specified share of the property. For example, a couple may choose to have 50 per cent each, or if one has contributed more to the purchase price they can agree on different shares.

When a tenant in common dies, their share of the property passes in accordance with the terms of their Will or, if they did not have a Will, then under the Rules of Intestacy to specified close family members. This means that the person living in the property will not necessarily inherit it and they may have to leave so that it can be sold.

The second type of property ownership is a joint tenancy. No share is specified and the property is deemed to belong to the owners jointly. When one of them dies, the remaining owner automatically owns the whole of the property.

This is the case, even if the deceased left a Will leaving all of their assets to someone else, because a joint tenancy interest in a property passes by the Right of Survivorship and not via a Will.

The Land Registry will need to see a certified copy of the Death Certificate to amend the Register after the death of a joint tenant, however they will not ask for a Grant of Probate, although this may still be needed for other assets that the deceased may have held. If the property is solely owned or owned by tenants in common, the Land Registry will require a Grant of Probate before they amend the Land Register.

How is my property owned?

To find out how a jointly owned property is held, you need to check the Land Registry title. The property is owned as tenants in common if the section marked ‘B: Proprietorship Register’ contains this or similar wording: ‘No disposition by a sole proprietor of the registered estate (except a trust corporation) under which capital money arises is to be registered unless authorised by an order of the court.’ If there is no restriction then ownership is as joint tenants.

Estate planning

In some cases it is advantageous to your estate for your property to be owned by way of a tenancy in common. It is still possible for someone to stay in the property after the death of the other owner by leaving them a life interest in it. Planning for the future can be a complex area and it is advisable to seek legal advice to ensure that your loved ones are provided for as you would wish.

If you would like to speak to a Wills and estate planning expert, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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