Category Archives: Wills

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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contents of a will

Can anyone see the contents of a Will?

When someone dies, often loved ones would like to see the document that they have left outlining their wishes and stating who is to benefit from their estate. We look at who is entitled to see the contents of a Will.

Immediately following a death, the only people initially entitled to read the Will are those who have been appointed as executors under its terms.

If the document is held by a firm of solicitors or a bank, they will be able to let you know who the executors are and will also let you know if there is anything in the Will or in an accompanying letter regarding the deceased’s funeral wishes.

The executors are responsible for the winding-up of the estate, to include listing all of the deceased’s assets, obtaining valuations of them, selling assets, which may include property, accounting for any tax liabilities, preparing estate accounts and distributing the estate to the beneficiaries named in the Will.

They should also contact all of the beneficiaries and advise them of the date of the deceased’s death, the names of the executors and what they are to inherit.

Who is entitled to see the Will?

Small estates do not need a Grant of Probate, and in that case, the Will does not have to be shown to anyone other than the executors.

If all of the executors agree, then it is possible to show the Will to another party.

Where a Grant of Probate is needed, then once this has been issued by the Probate Registry anyone can apply for a copy of the Will.

If Probate is not required, then you can make a formal request to the executors to see the Will. If they refuse to provide a copy and you suspect that you may be named as a beneficiary, you may wish to take legal advice as to how to proceed. The executors might then be compelled to apply for a Grant of Probate, making the Will a matter of public record.

Appointing an executor

The role of executor is an important one, not just in respect of the fairly onerous tasks involved in winding-up the estate, but also in the care and consideration provided to the deceased’s beneficiaries.

You should take this into account when choosing who to appoint. Carrying out the administration can be lengthy and time-consuming and there is personal liability for dealing correctly with the estate and accurately accounting for tax and estate funds.

If you do not have anyone willing or able to take on the role, you can consider appointing a professional executor. This would usually be a solicitor who is experienced in the administration of estates and who could prepare the necessary accounts and distribute the funds to the named beneficiaries.

If you are thinking of making a Will, speak to one of our experts on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Life Interest trust

Protecting your assets with a Life Interest Trust

Leaving someone a life interest in your Will means they will have the benefit of the asset, for example a property, for the rest of their life following which it will pass to a beneficiary chosen by you.

There may be times when it is better to leave someone a life interest, rather than give them an asset outright. By setting up a trust in your Will, you can arrange for a loved one to have use of the asset for as long as they want or need, then give it to a third person. There are two main reasons why someone might wish to proceed in this way.

To prevent the ‘sideways disinheritance trap’

The so-called sideways disinheritance trap occurs when someone with children from a previous relationship remarries. If their estate passes to their new spouse when they die, then their children may receive nothing. This can happen either because their new spouse makes a Will leaving the estate elsewhere, the new spouse fails to make a Will meaning that the estate passes to their relatives (this does not include step-children) or because the new spouse uses all of the funds, for example for care home fees.

To protect assets from care home fees

If a couple leaves all of their assets to each other, then there is a risk that the last to die will use up all of the funds in paying for care home fees. The local authority will not provide financial support until the value of a person’s assets, to include any home, falls below a set threshold, currently £23,250. This means that very little from the joint estate may be left to pass on to any children.

Using a life interest trust to protect assets

By including a life interest trust in a Will, rather than simply leaving the whole estate to a spouse, the sideways disinheritance trap can be avoided.

You can leave your new spouse the right to live in a jointly owned property for the rest of life. They would still be able to move house if they wanted, and retain a life interest in the new home. But on their death, your interest in the property or other assets would pass to your chosen beneficiaries as detailed in your Will. To pass only a life interest in a property, it must be owned as tenants in common and not as joint tenants, otherwise the property automatically becomes solely owned by the other joint owner on the death of the first to die.

Similarly, by leaving a spouse the right to live in a property for the rest of their life, but not passing them your share outright, you can prevent your half of the property being included in local authority calculations for any care home fees they may incur.

It is advisable to seek professional advice to ensure that your assets are adequately protected and that they will ultimately pass to your choice of beneficiary.

If you would like to speak to one of our wills and probate experts, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Writing a Will when you don't own your home

Making a Will even when you don’t own your own home…

If you don’t own a property, it is easy to assume that you don’t need a Will. In fact, there are several good reasons why you should still make one.

Leaving a Will can be of great comfort to loved ones, as you can set out your wishes with regard to what you would like to happen after your death. You can also appoint people to take on various responsibilities. If you put your requests in writing in a formal legal document, it can also help avoid disagreements between family members at a difficult time.

What your Will can contain

As well as giving details of who you would like to receive your estate, you should also choose someone to administer your estate. This can be an onerous task, as your assets will need to be collected in, valued, sold, estate accounts prepared and the money distributed in accordance with your Will. If you don’t have anyone prepared to take on this role, you can appoint a professional executor.

Your Will can include your wishes regarding your funeral and resting place, and you can also leave your personal belongings to your choice of beneficiaries.

Looking after children in your Will

Your Will can appoint a guardian to look after any children who may be under the age of 18 and you can also leave money in trust for them and appoint trustees to administer the trust fund.

This means that your children will be able to benefit from the money you leave, at the discretion of your trustees, before they actually inherit it. You can also choose the age at which you would like them to inherit, for example 25, if you feel that 18 is too young.

Why it’s never too soon to write you Will

Even if you don’t own a property or have any children, it is still a good idea to put a Will in place so that your loved ones know what you would like to happen to your estate after your death.

As you go through life, you are likely to accumulate assets and responsibilities, so making a Will now means that you can be sure your chosen beneficiaries will receive what you would like them to have. A well-drafted Will can take account of potential future changes, for example if you become a home owner.

You can also leave a Letter of Wishes, explaining your choices to your loved ones, and even detail what you would like to happen to your online assets and accounts.

It is a good idea to periodically review your Will, particularly in the event of any major life changes, for example the birth of a child. If you get married, your Will automatically becomes invalid, so it is particularly important to write a new Will then.

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

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Homeowner mortgage

What happens when a homeowner with a mortgage dies

When someone who has a mortgage dies, it is important to notify the lender as soon as possible. If the property has been left to you in a Will, you should ask them about the options for taking on some or all of the mortgage if it cannot be repaid.

After a death, notifications need to be sent to all of the organisations where the deceased held an account. This includes any mortgage lender.

What happens next

The monthly payments will still need to be made while the estate is administered. If the mortgage was in the sole name of the deceased, then the mortgage company has the right to ask for the repayment of the amount owed in full.

If the property is passed to someone else and they are able to meet the mortgage payments, then the mortgage company may consent to transferring the mortgage debt to that person.

It is important to speak to the lender early on after the death, so that they can set out the options.

If the property is sold, then the mortgage will be repaid from the proceeds of sale.

Where there is a joint mortgage

When a property is held with someone else as joint tenants, then the property and the mortgage will automatically pass to that other person on the death of the other owner.

This means that they will be responsible for making the mortgage payments. If this is not possible, then the property may have to be sold to repay the debt.

If the property is held as tenants in common, then the situation can be more complicated as the deceased’s share of the property becomes part of their estate and will pass in accordance with the terms of their Will or the rules of intestacy.

If the remaining owner does not inherit the rest of the property, there may be an option for them to purchase it.

To prevent a tenant in common being forced to leave the property, it is possible for property owners to leave each other a life interest in their share of the home. This means that the surviving spouse or partner would be able to continue to live in the property after death of the other. Following the survivor’s death, the share of the property owned by the first to die would still pass in accordance with their Will.

It is particularly important to think about what you would like to happen to your property after your death if you have a mortgage over it. You need to consider whether others would be able to afford to take on the debt and, if not, how you can secure their future, for example, by leaving them a bequest or taking out a life insurance policy.

If you would like to talk to one of our Wills or property experts, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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Writing a future proof Will

Writing a Will that is future proof

Over time, changes in circumstances can mean that a Will becomes out of date and doesn’t accurately reflect your wishes. We look at how to ensure your Will can cope with changes.

It is a good idea to make a Will, even if you are young. It helps keep your financial affairs organised and if anything should happen to you, it will be of comfort to your loved ones to know your wishes. You should review your Will from time to time, and update it if necessary. But careful drafting will help it stand the test of time.

Executors and guardians

When you write a Will you need to appoint one or more executors to deal with the administration of your estate. This can be a time-consuming and complicated job, so you should ensure that whoever you choose is able and willing to take on the role.

Over time, their circumstances may change however, and if you have appointed more than one executor, along with substitutes, then there is a good chance that even if someone cannot act, one of your other choices will be able to take over.

Similarly, if you are appointing guardians for children who are under 18, then you should consider alternatives in case your first choice cannot take on the role.

Beneficiaries

If you leave bequests to children by name, then babies who are born after your Will is written may be excluded.

It is possible to draft a Will that takes into account future births, and includes them alongside those who were already living at the time the Will was made.

Marriage

Although it is possible to take a number of steps to future-proof your Will, you should note that upon marriage or civil partnership, any Will you have made becomes invalid, unless it was specifically made in contemplation of that marriage or civil partnership.

Change in the value of your estate

Over time, your estate may alter in value considerably, for example if you come into money or if a substantial amount of money is used in care home fees.

This can affect the proportions of any gifts you leave under your Will. Specified sums are paid out first, then the remainder is split between your choice of named beneficiaries. If the amount in your estate decreases, this could leave those inheriting the residue with less than you envisaged them having.

Even if you are confident that you have future-proofed your Will as far as possible, it is still advisable to review it regularly, and re-draft it if necessary.

If you would like to talk to one of our Wills experts, ring us on 01243 216900 or email us at info@legalmatters.co.uk.

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