Frequently Asked Questions

Don’t see your question listed below? Please get in touch.

What is Estate Planning?

Estate planning is deciding how you would like your assets to be distributed after you pass. Having a legally binding plan in place ensure your wishes are honoured and to prevent disagreements between your relatives. Estate planning includes a number of different services such Wills, Trusts, Lasting Power of Attorney, Probate and Funeral Plans

What is my estate?

Your estate includes any assets you own such as property and possessions, e.g. cash, shares, houses and cars. Anything you owe such as credit cards and loans must come out of your estate before it is settled.

Why make a will?

Over 60% of people don’t have a will in place. If you do not make a will intestacy rules will decide how your estate is distributed. This means that your estate will pass to any surviving spouse or children. In some cases this can cause your estate to pass on in ways you may not have wanted example if you’re cohabiting this will mean your children or other blood relatives will inherit instead of your partner, or if you’re remarried your assets will pass on to your spouse and then their children instead of your own. To avoid this and other complications it’s essential to talk to an estate planner to put in place a legally binding Will. Aside from how your estate is distributed a will can also cover other wishes such as what you’d like to happen to pets after your pass or whether you want to be buried or cremated.

Can I write my own Will?

Yes, it is possible to write your own Will, although in most circumstances it is not a good idea. There are general rules for what you say and how you say it, standard ways of writing which remove any confusion about what you mean. Using the wrong wording could mean your instructions aren’t followed, or your will could be declared invalid. There is also the risk of relatives contesting your will, and being ambiguous or forgetting something important could cause problems for your loved ones. If you have simple circumstances such as you want to leave everything to your spouse and eventually your children, and you don’t have complex trust arrangements, foreign property nor do you wish to avoid inheritance tax, then a self-written will should suffice. But if you have more complex circumstances or you want to be sure everything is done correctly you should get in touch with professional will writers such as ourselves.

Do I need an estate planner to make a Will?

A solicitor can also help draft a will for you, but they may not have the knowledge or experience of an Estate Planner. Our consultants have put in place plans for hundreds of people and so have experience of many different circumstances and scenarios and can use that knowledge to advise you on the best way forward. You’re welcome to discuss any plans we suggest with a solicitor to get a second opinion.

What will happen to my estate if I don't have a Will when I die?

If you don't have a Will when you die how your estate is distributed will be decided by the law, this is known as dying "intestate". Dying without a Will means you have no control over who inherits from you, meaning someone in your family could receive some of your estate who you would not wish to benefit. And your loved ones may also find it more difficult and expensive to deal with your estate.

I am not wealthy, do I need a Will?

Yes, if you own any property such as a car, home, furniture, bank account or anything on sentimental value then you should have a Will; otherwise the rules of Intestacy will apply, and you won’t have any control over who they go to. You’re welcome to speak to our consultants to see if we’re the best fit for your needs, we can also recommend providers who can help with less complex estates at low cost.

How often should I review my Will?

You should review your Will at least every three to five years or sooner if your personal circumstances change, for example, if there are new additions to your family such as a new marriages, grandchildren or if there are deaths in your family or any financial changes which affect the amount of inheritance tax you will pay.

Does marriage, civil partnership or divorce affect my Will?

If you marry or enter into a civil partnership after making a Will, it will automatically become invalid unless it states that it is ‘made in contemplation’ of the marriage or civil partnership - this means that the Will is still valid in the event of a marriage or civil partnership. If you get divorced after making Will it remains valid but your spouse won’t inherit any of your estate, and the Rules of Intestacy will apply to that portion of the estate.

What is a Mirror Will?

A Mirror Will is prepared when a couple wants to make almost identical Wills, for example leaving everything to each other respectively and after that to the children, or where there are no children, to a named beneficiary. They must be individual Wills, so in effect, they are separate legal documents with similar content.

What is dying intestate and what are the rules of intestacy?

When someone dies without a Will, they are said to have died intestate. In cases like this, the Rules of Intestacy apply and these, which were created in 1925, determine the administration and beneficiaries of the estate.

I have a disability or visual impairment which makes it difficult for me to read or sign things. Can you help me with my Will?

Yes, we can. If you have any particular requirements, we can take these into account when preparing your Will and guide you through the process of signing and witnessing your Will. We make sure all our clients are fully aware of the process at every stage so you will be left with peace of mind that everything is in order.

Is there anyone who can't make a Will?

To make a Will, you must be over 18 and also have "testamentary capacity" otherwise known as "of sound mind". This means you understand that you are making a Will and the effect that this may have on those who are dependent on you. And also that you understand the extent of your assets and what you are leaving behind.

I have property overseas, can I still make a Will in England?

Yes, you can still make a Will, but you should also have a Will prepared under the local law of that country to comply with local probate and inheritance laws.

How do I protect my children's inheritance if I die before my partner?

There are several options for protecting your children's inheritance if you die before your partner. It all depends on the age of your children when you die and what kind of provisions you would like to make for your partner.

I have a disabled child or a child with learning difficulties. can I make provisions for their care after I have died?

Yes, this can be covered in your Will, our Will Writers have experience of helping families in this situation making sure that your child will be looked after once you pass.

What is sideways disinheritance?

Sideways disinheritance is the name used to describe the circumstances where children, often unintentionally, don’t inherit their parents’ share of an estate due to remarriage. This is because under the laws of intestacy assets automatically pass to your spouse and then on to their children or other family members, rather than your own. Which is why having a robust Will in place is essential if you are remarried.

What is a trust?

A trust allows you to set aside assets for your relatives or friends (the beneficiary) and administered by a person or organisation (the trustee). For example, you could appoint a trustee to hold some money for your daughter until she turns 25. There are different types of trust’s, and our advisors can suggest the best one based on your needs.

I’m not wealthy, do I need a trust?

Yes, trusts are not just for the super-rich. Anyone who has assets they would like to protect for a relative or a friend needs a trust. For example, if you have a new partner but want to pass on your house to your children. Putting that property in a trust will mean your partner can remain in the home until they pass and have the house pass on to your children.

If my house is in a Trust, and I wish to sell and purchase another, what happens?

Yes, trusts are not just for the super-rich. Anyone who has assets they would like to protect for a relative or a friend needs a trust. For example, if you have a new partner but want to pass on your house to your children. Putting that property in a trust will mean your partner can remain in the home until they pass and have the house pass on to your children.

Can I avoid care home fees by putting my house into a trust?

Other estate planning firms have made bold claims that by putting your property in a trust and naming someone (usually your children) as the trustees you’ll be able to avoid care home fees. The idea being that as you no longer technically own the house, and value would no longer be calculated when it comes to means testing for care home feeds. It sounds like a good idea, but local authorities have become wise to these types of schemes. When assessing they will ask about any previously owned assets and take into account any reasons you’ve had to hand over assets or property to other people. They’ll consider timing, alongside any motive or intention and the fee. If they decide you have been deliberately moving assets to avoid care home fees (deliberate deprivation), then they will include these assets when mean testing.

What is a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA)?

A lasting power of attorney (LPA) is a legal document that lets you (the ‘donor’) appoint one or more people (the ‘attorneys’) to help you make decisions or to make decisions on your behalf. This comes into play if you have an accident or an illness and can’t make your own decisions (known as ‘lacking mental capacity’). There are two types of LPA covering different areas of your life: Health and welfare Property and financial affairs You can choose to make one or both

Do I need a Lasting Power of Attorney?

The government is encouraging everyone to set up an LPA. Illness or accident can happen at any time, and It’s highly likely that most of us will reach the point where it would be difficult to handle our own affairs. Having an LPA in place makes life easier for yourself and your family member during a stressful time.

Do I need a Will if I have a Lasting Power of Attorney?

Yes, an LPA is a different legal document to a Will. A Will determines what happens to your estate after you pass whereas an LPA covers your welfare, health, financial and legal issues while you’re alive but don’t have the capacity to make decisions for yourself.

I’m married do I need Lasting Power of Attorney?

If you’re married or in a civil partnership, you may assume that your spouse would automatically be able to deal with your bank account and pensions and make decisions about your healthcare. But this is not the case. Only an LPA will give them the authority.

What are the different types of LPA?

There are two types of LPAs: Property and Financial Affairs LPA This type of LPA gives someone the authority to manage your property and money. This could include bank or building society accounts, bills, collecting a pension or benefits and even selling your home. Health and Welfare LPA This covers your health and wellbeing, including decisions around your daily care (washing, dressing, eating), medical care and treatment or whether it’s time to move into a care home. It’s sometimes called a Personal Welfare LPA. You can choose to make one or both.

Who should you pick as an attorney in an LPA?

The attorneys need to be over 18 and not subject to a debt relief order or declared bankrupt. Other than that, it’s up to you. However, you should pick someone who knows you well, is organised and interested in ensuring that your wishes are met, and most importantly, someone who can be trusted. Many people pick their spouse, children or siblings, but you can also choose a professional such as a solicitor or doctor. And although not a requirement it would be sensible to choose someone who is in good health, because if they pass away or lose their own mental capacity, the LPA is invalid. It is also possible to appoint replacement attorneys who can step in if for any reason the original attorneys are unable or unwilling to act on your behalf.

How many attorneys can you appoint?

There is no limit to the number of attorneys you can appoint. You can also assign different decisions to different attorneys.

Can a person refuse to act as an Attorney?

Yes, this is why it is important to get their permission before registering.

What if an attorney dies?

If there are replacement attorneys, then they will be able to step in and make decisions for you. If there are no replacement attorneys, then a new LPA can be drawn up if you still have mental capacity. However, if you don’t, a deputyship will need to be set up through the Court of Protection.

Can another attorney be added after the LPA has been registered?

No, to do so a new LPA would need to be registered.

Do you need to use estate planners to register an LPA?

No, it is possible to download the documents and register it yourself. But it is sensible to have a professional help you through the process to make sure you fully understand everything, and also that it is set up correctly. It is especially important to seek the help of an estate planner if you have complicated assets, or want to ensure that any restrictions or conditions don’t invalidate the LPA.

What happens if I don't have an LPA?

If you don’t have an LPA registered and lose your mental capacity. Then a deputy will be appointed for you through the Court of protection. This is a more expensive, long-winded and involved process than a Lasting Power of Attorney. And you won’t be able to choose your own attorney. It’s much better to put a lasting power of attorney in place while you still can.

What is the court of protection?

The Court of Protection (COP) is the specialist court to deal with issues for people who cannot make specific decisions about their personal welfare, financial and property. If there is an LPA registered you need to apply to the COP to activate it. Or if there is no LPA, the COP will appoint a deputy on your behalf.

What is Probate?

Probate is the process of dealing with someone’s estate after they have died. It involves collecting in all of the person’s assets, settling any debts and using what’s leftover to pay the beneficiaries as directed by the will. If there isn’t a will, the rules of intestacy will determine who receives the person’s assets. Whether you need probate depends on the value and contents of the estate. Usually It depends on the value and contents of the Estate you are administering as to whether you need probate. But generally, if there is a property, a substantial shareholding or cash assets of more than £25,000 you will need to obtain probate. Before the next of kin or Executor named in the Will can distribute the estate, they may have to apply for Probate. Only when Probate has been granted through a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration can the next of kin or Executor start to deal with your assets as per your will.

Whose responsibility is probate?

Probate is the role of the executors named in the will.

Do executors and administrators have personal liability?

Executors and administrators are personally liable to the beneficiaries for any mistakes they make in the administration of the estate, for example not paying all the debts and other liabilities before distributing the estate, paying assets to the wrong people, or not settling creditors’ demands in the correct order. Other problems could include going ahead with distributing the estate assuming there is no valid will when there is one, or using a will which is proved to be invalid.

What is a Grant of Probate?

A Grant of Probate is the document that is issued to you by the Probate Registry and confirms your right to administer the deceased’s estate. This includes cashing the estates' assets and distributing them as outlined in the Will.

Do I need to use a Solicitor for Probate?

You don’t need to use a solicitor, but it often helps to ease the burden after someone close has passed away. Probate can be a lengthy and time-consuming process, which can take many hours of administrative work and it can take up to a year to complete the whole process. Also if you make any mistakes when carrying out any of the many required Estate administration duties, you could be held legally and or financially responsible. Most Probate solicitors take a percentage of the value of the estate as their fee. However, we can fix the cost of using solicitors to manage Probate ahead of time so that the process is completed in a timely manner and with expert support at a low cost.

How long will Probate take?

Probate can often take anywhere from 6 to 12 months. It could take longer if the estate is complicated. Probate does require some laborious and highly detailed administration work.