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Wills


You may have often wondered whether you should have a Will and found the thought quite daunting.

A Will is an important document regardless of your wealth or age, and it safeguards a person’s right to many decisions, including who serves as a guardian for young children. It is a mistake to assume that your next of kin will inherit your entire estate (or an equal share) if you do not have a Will.

By contacting Beacon Wealth Legal you can be sure that your Will shall provide the best protection for your property and affairs. We listen to our client’s needs and offer specific advice to assist and guide you.

You must make sure a Will is valid and there are certain elements that must be present, therefore it is important to consult with a solicitor to make sure the document is valid. Rest assured that our experience and professionalism will guide you in the right direction to ensure your affairs are protected in the best way possible.

Beacon Wealth Legal cover all matters to do with Wills such as:


Will Requirements


In order for your Will to be valid you must:

  • Make it voluntarily
  • Be of sound mind
  • Make it in writing
  • Sign it in the presence of two witnesses who are both over 18 (and are not beneficiaries; who in turn would then sign as witnesses or acknowledge the signature)

Any changes to your Will must follow the same signing and witnessing process.

Please REMEMBER having a D.I.Y or poorly drafted Will can cause problems for your loved ones at a later stage, which can result in high costs and delays.

STEP (Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners) is a worldwide professional body for Solicitors advising families across generations. Members are subject to an extensive Code of Professional Conduct, requiring them to always act with integrity and in a manner that inspires confidence, trust and respect in clients. STEP members are required to keep up to date with the latest legal, technical and regulatory developments. Sally Power and Linda Eaton are fully accredited Trusts and Estate Practitioners and Sally is a full member of STEP.


Gifts


The estate may not have to pay Inheritance Tax on assets that the deceased gave away as gifts. A gift can be anything that has a value (Money, Property, Possessions).

Examples of Gifts:

  • You can give gifts up to the value of £250 to as many people as you like in a year
  • If a gift of over £6000 has been made then the original owner must live for seven years after giving the gift. If a gift has been made less than seven years before death, it counts towards the Inheritance Tax threshold (£325,000)
  • Parents may sell a property for below market value to their children. The difference is considered to be a gift and its value is counted towards your threshold

You do not have to pay Inheritance Tax on ‘annual exemption’. Annual exemption states that the estate does not have to pay Inheritance Tax on up to £3000 worth of gifts given in each tax year. Left over annual exemption can be carried over from one tax year to another; however, the maximum exemption is £6000. If you need further information on how we can help, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Gifts

Will Trusts


Will Trusts are another way of paying less or no inheritance tax. They are created in an individual’s Will, and only come into effect when the person has passed away.

Issues regarding inheritance tax can be confusing, Beacon Wealth Legal are here to help. We can assess your situation and advise you on the best course of action on all matters of Inheritance Tax.

If you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Will Trusts

Powers of Attorney


Powers of Attorney enable someone you trust i.e. a family member, friend or professional to manage your property, financial affairs and/or your health and welfare, should you become unable, mentally or physically to deal with such matters.

Beacon Wealth Legal can assist you with drawing up the documents, right through to registration. Alternatively, we can provide an advisory service.

There are different types of Powers of Attorney.

Powers of Attorney

General/Specific Powers of Attorney

If you want to give someone full access to make decisions and take action on matters concerning your finances while you still have mental capacity, then this is called General/Specific Power of Attorney. This is only valid while you still have mental capacity and you can limit the amount of power, they have so that they can only deal with certain assets.

Lasting Powers of Attorney

Lasting Powers of Attorney give someone the authority to make decisions on your behalf if you are unable to deal with matters personally, but can only be used once they have been registered with the Office of the Public Guardian in England and Wales. Beacon Wealth Legal can advise and deal with the entire process for you.

Please remember that Lasting Powers of Attorney must be made while you still have the requisite mental capacity, although they do not have to be used until required. They are a safety tool for you to have in place. There are two types of Lasting Powers of Attorney – one for Property and Financial affairs and one for Health and Welfare.

Property and Financial Affairs Power of Attorney

With this in place you can give your representative the power to make decisions about how money is spent and property is managed.

Health and Welfare Lasting Power of Attorney

Health and Welfare Lasting Powers of Attorney allows you to choose someone to make any or all decisions about your health and personal welfare should you no longer be able to do so.

Beacon Wealth Legal are experienced in dealing with Lasting Powers of Attorney and various other Powers of Attorney (Enduring Powers of Attorney and General/Specific Powers of Attorney) accordingly. If you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.


What to include in a will


Different people need to cover different areas in their Will depending on their situation.

If you are elderly or a parent you would consider Powers of Attorney more than someone who is young, unmarried and has no dependents.

If you are unsure about the different topics you need to cover in your Will, Beacon Wealth Legal can help and advise you to make sure that your loved ones are fully protected.

What to include in a will

Elderly

While you are still of sound mind it may be useful to register Lasting Powers of Attorney, as a safety measure. You can have up to four Attorneys. You would also need to appoint executors to carry out your wishes in accordance with the Will. These can be a friend, family relative or even a solicitor.

It is important to plan your estate and have everything in order, this reduces the stress to loved ones in an already upsetting time.

Family

If you share ownership of a property with a spouse or partner then your half of the property may automatically pass to your spouse or partner under the law of survivorship. In the event that both of you die it is important to state who you wish your estate to pass to, and who will be the executors of your Will.

Children

For children under the age of 18, your Will should clearly state who will become the guardian of your children and how you will support them. If you are living together and have children from a previous relationship then their biological parent would have the responsibility to look after them if they are fit and willing.

It should also state where the money should come from in order to look after them; this usually comes in the form of trusts.

If children inherit money or property it will be held in trust until they have reached the legal age of 18 when they can choose how to manage the trust.

Single

If you have no living dependents but you have assets (savings, a property etc.) you should still consider having a valid Will in place to state who your estate will pass down to. To do this you need to appoint executors to carry out your wishes in the event of your death.

If you pass away without a Will you are said to have died intestate, this means the estate will be subject to the intestacy rules (who your estate is passed to), in which there is the potential of unwanted family members inheriting your estate.

Beacon Wealth Legal listen to their clients’ needs and offer specific advice to assist and guide them. Importantly, where possible, Beacon Wealth Legal offer fixed fee quotes to ensure that there are no hidden costs, and explain our terms clearly from the outset.

We understand that advice can often be sought at a difficult time, therefore we always approach each client with compassion and sensitivity, which is backed by being members of Resolution. For assistance on Wills, please do not hesitate to contact us.


When someone dies


Feeling confused and alone is natural when losing someone close to you, but sometimes these feelings are exacerbated when it comes to sorting out a loved one’s estate.

A Will is such an important, powerful, document which can make the estate administration of the deceased a much smoother, less complex process.

Unfortunately, however, many people pass away without having a Will, or indeed an up to date Will, (i.e. circumstances may have since changed; marriage, their family extends to include more children, or is reduced due to death or divorce).

When someone dies

What to do when someone dies without a Will (Intestate)

Unfortunately, it is a very easy position to leave your loved ones in, no matter how unintentional. A Will is often something on the end of an ever growing ‘To-Do’ list, and as nobody has a crystal ball it is unlikely you will ever know when a Will may be required, which is why a Will should be revisited every couple of years, or as your circumstances change.

If a person dies without a Will, they are deemed to have died intestate, and the estate is therefore administered as per the Intestacy Rules. Family members can often be left to go through a minefield of documents ascertaining information about the deceased’s estate and tracing distant family members. It is important to know that who you consider to be your family is not guaranteed to inherit your estate if you leave no Will or an invalid Will.

For those families dealing with an intestacy, a talk with a local Solicitor is crucial. The person with the responsibility of acting, and indeed inheriting, may be a distant relative.

What to do when someone dies with a Will (Testate)

Wills can be stored anywhere that the client believes to be safe (often found with personal belongings or held by their Solicitor or bank (which should be free).

It is commonplace for a family member or close friend to have been asked to be the executor (the person who they wish to take responsibility for carrying out instructions) in which case they may know where it is stored.

When found, and established that it is legally binding, the wishes within the Will are carried out by the executor who is responsible for registering the death, arranging the funeral, sorting out the property, possessions, investments, and payment of debts and liabilities. Please take a look at our Who to Contact factsheet.

The executor is required to contact organisations connected with the estate in order to ascertain the total estate value; property and possessions valuation, outstanding bills and loans, total of monetary assets (savings/ investments/ pensions). Once they have collated this information, they will then need to apply for Grant of Representation (should the estate require this to realise and distribute the estate).

If inheritance tax is payable, the first instalment of tax is paid by the end of the sixth month after the person has died.

Many people prefer to instruct a Solicitor to deal with the estate administration and/or simply obtain the Grant of Representation, nonetheless, an Executor can make a personal application if they feel able and confident to do so.

If the entire estate does not exceed £15-25,000 it may be that a Grant of Representation is not required and the Small Estates process can be used to administer the estate.

If a Grant of Representation is required, then once this has been obtained the Grant will allow executors/administrators or the solicitor acting on their behalf to release the assets and deal with any sale/transfer of property or land, and settle the debts of the estate. A process which can be made longer if being disputed e.g. someone feeling unfairly left out.

Once the assets have been collected in and/or sold and all debts, liabilities and tax has been paid, the estate accounts (a record of the assets collected, interest earned, liabilities paid and the distribution account) will be prepared and approved by the Executors, and, residuary beneficiaries before distribution.

The process can sometimes take longer than otherwise expected and can be very confusing and daunting to someone who has never been an executor/administrator particularly at such an emotional time. For this reason a Solicitor can help.

For more information read our What to do When Someone Dies factsheet

If you have any questions about what to do when someone dies, Beacon Wealth Legal can help and guide you through the necessary processes. For further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.


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