Wills, Probate & Trusts

Wills, Probate & Trusts Services

Wills

It is important to make financial provision for family members, loved ones and causes or institutions which you support in the event of your death. Other life events may also require the updating of your will: the arrival of children, a breakdown in a relationship or marriage, or even being left property by somebody else may all mean that you should reconsider your will. Failure to plan adequately may lead to disputes or financial or emotional pressures for your surviving family. We advise clients on all aspects of will drafting and estate planning. Most people in the UK die without making a will and thereby depend upon the Intestacy provisions to produce the desired result. This can lead to disputes where there are disappointed beneficiaries or worst still claims against the estate where inadequate provision is made for dependants. An up to date will which reflects your circumstances and priorities is more likely to produce the right result when you die and provide you with piece of mind in the meantime.

Trusts & Lifetime Tax Planning

Where appropriate we can include trust provisions within your will. These can be helpful not only from a taxation perspective but also in safeguarding your assets for future generations. They can be used to ring-fence assets which might otherwise be taken into account in assessing a surviving spouse’s liability towards the cost of nursing care in old age.

At the other end of the age spectrum Trusts can be useful in protecting beneficiaries who are too young to manage large sums of money responsibly. They are sometimes used where there are concerns about future divorce or bankruptcy and the possibility of third party claims. Trusts also provide a solution for the Testator who wishes his Trustees to have the flexibility in the future to respond to changes in the circumstances of his beneficiaries.

We advise those looking to take lifetime steps to mitigate the Inheritance tax burden on their estate. Examples include:

  • The gifting of assets in to Trust. This can include the appointment of the Settlor as a Trustee where there is a wish to retain some control over the assets to be gifted.
  • Taking advantage of Inheritance Tax reliefs such as those on business and agricultural property
  • Regular Gifting of Surplus Income
  • Deeds of Variation/Disclaimer
  • Protection of death benefits from life insurance, pension plans and death in service
  • Cross option agreements supported by life insurance and trust provisions.

Estate & Trust Administration

The property and assets left in your estate after your death will need to be distributed to those entitled to receive them. This is usually done by obtaining a grant of probate (if you have a will) or administration (if you do not leave a will).Our specialist probate lawyers use their experience to guide you efficiently through the administration of an estate. We will interpret the will or the intestacy provisions, should these apply. We liaise with asset holders, beneficiaries, HMRC, the Probate Registry and complete the exercise by providing comprehensive estate accounts.

We also offer a Trust Administration service where the Will provides for on-going Trusts. We will advise you as to your responsibilities as Trustees and prepare annual accounts and Trust tax returns.

In the unfortunate event of a dispute arising, we can advise on how to take the steps necessary to contest or defend a will.