Category Archives: Wills

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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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.

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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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Unresponsive...

When an Executor fails to deal with the administration of a Will

If the administration of an estate is delayed because an Executor stops responding, it can be frustrating for everyone.

A Will may name one or more Executors whose job it is to deal with the winding-up of the deceased’s affairs and the distribution of assets.

Before the administration begins, each Executor must decide whether they are willing and able to act. It is important to think this through carefully as it is difficult to withdraw partway through the administration.

Deciding not to act

If a joint Executor does not wish to take on the task, then they can renounce the role or alternatively request that power to be reserved to them, which means they can ask to act later if they choose. These decisions must be made before any action is taken in administering the estate.

Stepping down partway through administration

If an Executor wishes to cease acting during the administration it can be difficult to have themselves removed. There is a rule that once someone has ‘intermeddled’ in an estate, they cannot retire from the position of Executor.

For this reason, it is important to understand exactly what is required of an Executor before taking on the role. They are required to collect in and value all of the deceased’s assets, arrange for payment of any debts, calculate and pay any tax liabilities, prepare estate accounts and distribute the net estate to the beneficiaries named in the Will. There can be personal liability for failure to act correctly in the administration.

When writing a Will and choosing Executors it is important to ensure they know what the role entails and that they believe they will have the time and capacity to take on the job.

If you do not have anyone who is willing to act as your Executor, you can appoint a professional to act on behalf of your estate.

Dealing with an unresponsive Executor

When an Executor stops responding to communications partway through an administration, it can be very problematic. There is a time limit for completion of estate administration and any other Executors will be mindful of facing accusations of failing to carry out their duties, as well as the potential for penalties arising from late payment of tax and other debts. Beneficiaries will also be keen for the administration to be finalised.

It is important to try everything to attempt to re-establish contact with an unresponsive Executor and see if an agreement can be reached with them to conclude the process. Failing that, it may be necessary to apply to the court to have the Executor removed. The court will take into account the best interests of the estate and any beneficiaries when reaching a decision.

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

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empty office

Where there’s a [need for a] Will, there’s a way [to get it signed]!

As we all get to grips with home working, home schooling and staying up until midnight to get a supermarket delivery slot, we are all becoming a more au fait with the ‘new normal’.

Like many other companies, we are seeing a surge in the number of clients who want to make Wills and those who are finally ready to provide those last few instructions that they have put on the back burner. We understand that there’s always something nicer to think about, something else that sits higher up the priority list – but, really, what’s more important than protecting our loved ones and making sure our wishes are followed in the event of a crisis?

Solicitors who make Wills and who need to therefore ensure the valid signing of those Wills are now classed as ‘key workers’. Good news. But, how do we cope with the draconian rules around signing? Well, where there’s a Will, there’s a way!

We are having to be creative here and our ability to engage with our clients over video conferencing helps us a great deal. We can fully address issues around mental capacity assessments and ensure clear taking of instructions so that we can be sure our clients’ Wills are valid and less likely to be challenged.

As our regulators grapple with potential changes in the law, we can provide advice relevant to your circumstances as to how best to sign your Will in the ‘presence’ of two (socially distanced) witnesses!

So, challenging times for us all – but here at legalmatters we are keeping our (latex gloved) finger on the pulse and are here to help.

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

We hope you all remain safe and well.

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We love our NHS

Making Wills and Reduced Rates for NHS Staff…

These are challenging and worrying times for us all, and all our staff at legalmatters send best wishes to all who are suffering in any way as a result.

We’re following the government health advice to make sure our clients and our colleagues stay safe and we are putting all the necessary measures in place to ensure this advice is followed by everyone.

We are however continuing to provide a full range of services via our website and by phone, and we will continue to ensure you have access to all the legal advice you need.

We have also thought about what we could do to help individuals and families at this difficult time, and to help bring a degree of peace of mind in areas where we can.

So we wish to offer a reduced price for anyone who would like to make a Will.

In recognition of the fantastic work that our NHS staff are doing, we want to reduce the cost of this service (which would normally be £216 (single person) or £360 (couple)) to £172 (single person) or £288 (couple) for all health service staff.

For all others, we wish to reduce the rate to £194 (single person) or £324 (couple). .

This is available for everyone who instructs us by the end of June.

We hope that this helps in some small way, and will serve to bring peace of mind to individuals who may be concerned about their particular situation.

To take advantage of this offer, please contact us on info@legalmatters.co.uk or call us on 01243 216900.

We hope you all remain safe and well.

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Skeleton staff

Legalmatters continues to support its clients during trying times

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.

You can ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Protecting ourselves during coronavirus pandemic

Protecting ourselves, our families and our businesses…

With the spread of coronavirus being ever more present, thoughts turn to protection in all its guises. We need to protect ourselves, our families and our businesses. Here at legalmatters, we are taking recommended precautions to enable our business to continue so that we can provide great support to our clients at a time when they may need it most.

Our ability to provide remote services (i.e. or by phone and email) makes us ideally placed to support our clients in times of uncertainty. Making a Will has never been easier. Our new online Wills service is an easy, convenient and secure way to ensure that your estate is protected for your loved ones.

Using state-of-the-art smart technology, you simply engage in an adaptive online experience that disregards irrelevant information, so you only have to provide details about the things that are relevant to your personal situation.

Once completed, your circumstances are reviewed fully by a solicitor, so you can have peace of mind that your Will meets your wishes.

There is even an online ‘chatbot’ to answer your legal questions, and we can provide guidance over the phone or via video conference if required, without obligation.

All this for a competitive fixed fee, wherever you are in the country, at any time of the day or night.

To speak to us call 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk for more information.

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Avoiding a Statutory Will

Who can write my Will for me if I am not able?

The appointment of an Attorney can help you deal with your affairs once you are no longer able. But they are not allowed to write a Will on your behalf.

By appointing an Attorney under a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), you can have someone you trust to deal with both your financial affairs and your health and welfare, should you become unable to manage them yourself.

If you do not make provision for an Attorney to act on your behalf, then your loved ones may have to make a lengthy and expensive court application in order to appoint one if you lose the ability to deal with your affairs.

You can choose to appoint an Attorney to deal with your health and welfare and in respect of your financial matters, or you can appoint an Attorney for only one of these aspects.

With regard to health and welfare, the Attorney can only act for you once you have lost the capacity to make your own decisions. In respect of a financial affairs LPA, you can choose to implement this while you still have capacity. This means that your Attorney could, for example, help you by going to the bank on your behalf if you find it difficult to go there yourself.

If you do not have a Will in place, and you lose the capacity to make one, your Attorney or anyone else cannot write one on your behalf. The process of putting a Will in place in this situation can be complicated and lengthy. An application would need to be made to the Court of Protection by your Attorney, asking them to put in place a Statutory Will.

Applying for a Statutory Will

The Court of Protection will need to see all the details of your financial situation when an application for a Statutory Will is made. This will include details of exactly what is in your estate, your outgoings, for example, care home fees, and also information regarding your family relationships.

The Official Solicitor will act on your behalf to review the information provided and put in place a Statutory Will that they consider to be fair. Anyone who may have expected to receive an inheritance from you can be involved in the process and will have the right to have their views considered.

Avoiding the need for a Statutory Will

By putting a Will in place while you still have the capacity, you can avoid the difficulties of potentially having a Statutory Will. Having a Will drawn up by a qualified professional means that you can be sure that your loved ones will receive what you wish them to have. You can also discuss estate planning, to ensure that your assets are protected as far as possible from expenses such as Inheritance Tax. You may also want to ensure that loved ones have the benefit of living in any property you own for as long as they need to.

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

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